Kid Lit Frenzy is hosting Colleen Gleason on her blog tour for The Spiritglass Charade, which is the second book in the Stoker and Holmes series. Having been enthralled whilst reading the first book, The Clockwork Scarab, I've been excitedly anticipating the release of the second book. Here are some questions Colleen graciously answered for us:
What inspired you to create the alternate Victorian-Steampunk world that serves as the setting in the Stoker and Holmes novels? Are there any specific historical events that you created that supposedly shaped that world (other than electricity being banned by the government)?
Other than the banning of electricity by the government, I didn’t have any particular historical event in mind when defining my steampunk world. I wanted to create a world that looked and felt very similar to the actual Victorian London of 1889, and so I started there.
I began to look around online for inspiration—there is a lot of steampunk art and fashion out there—and I found this image. I literally gasped when I saw it and I thought, “This is my London!”
I tracked down the artist and asked for his permission to use the image of Odysseus’ Departure on my website and/or as I spoke and wrote about the book (should the need arise), as long as I credited him. He graciously agreed, and I was so pleased I bought a print of the image. It hangs in my office and is also my computer desktop wallpaper, so I see it every day.
[Photo credit to: Olek Zemplinski. http://www.biolinia.com/odysseus-departure/]
What made you think of having your protagonists be the relatives of such famed literary figures? Are there any other characters from Victorian literature we can expect in any of the books?
A traditional element of steampunk is the juxtaposition of literary characters with that of real historical figures, so I knew I’d be starting with that concept. Then, being a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, I knew I wanted to begin with a female version of the brilliant detective. When I learned that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker were actually friends, the idea of melding in a vampire element made a lot of sense—especially since I’d also written a series about a female vampire hunter during the time of Jane Austen.
Aside from Miss Adler, Mr. Holmes and Doctor Watson, there aren’t any other literary characters who’ve made an appearance yet. But I do have some ideas for other literary nods, though none have made appearances yet.
However, on the actual historical side, besides Bram Stoker, we do meet Olympia Babbage, the fictional granddaughter of the very real Charles Babbage—who designed but never built the first computer—in The Spiritglass Charade. We also meet Queen Victoria, Princess Alexandra, and we learn about Dr. Gray, who is the nephew of the author of Gray’s Anatomy.
Both books involve young women being taken advantage of in different ways. Do you think that the repression of women in Victorian society left women more vulnerable?
Women were vulnerable in Victorian society, there is no doubt about it. Think only of what they were forced to wear! They were literally and figuratively bound and restricted, protected and cossetted. Their clothing allowed for little movement, and surely the literal lack of oxygen from corsets and lack of exercise contributed to the repression and inability to do much of anything physical (including protect oneself).
However, whenever there is repression and restriction, there are those who are determined to rise above and beyond it—and it was those strict times, that sort of imprisonment, that inspired women like Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst to break out of that structure and create change.
The books explore time travel and the concept of there being an alternate world, but that's a secondary plot line. Any chance we'll see more of that in upcoming books?
Dylan remains a main character through the third book, which I’ve just finished writing (tentatively titled The Chess Queen Enigma, and due to be released October 2015). The whole concept of time travel is fascinating, and one that, of course, can be used to compare and contrast our society with that of Victorian England as well as raising moral questions. I’ve always loved playing with the idea of time travel and its implications, so I don’t foresee that element disappearing at all.
If you could live in any time period (including an altered historical time period), which would you choose?
Well, I’ve gotta be honest here…I pretty much love my heated blankets, automobile, air travel, and hot baths…so I think I’m just fine right here and now. However, to visit another world—knowing I could come back—I have a whole list of places—including Evaline and Mina’s London and the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Any chance that there will be a book 3? If not, what are you working on that you can share?
Indeed. Book three is complete and centers around a missing chess queen…along with the return of the Ankh.
What is your favorite indie bookstore and why is it a favorite?
I love Schuler’s Books in East Lansing, Michigan. It’s exactly what a bookstore should be: well-stocked, staffed by book-knowledgeable people, it has a great coffee shop, and the store creates and hosts wonderful events that bring book-lovers and authors together on a regular basis. I love going in there…and I always come out with a huge bag of books!
The Spiritglass Charade
By Colleen Gleason
Chronicle Books, October 2014
udience: Ages 12 and Up
After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa appear lunatic using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, there are no coincidences. It will take all of Mina's wit and Evaline's muscle to keep London's sinister underground at bay.
About the author:
Colleen Gleason is a New York Times bestselling author with more than two dozen novels in print, including the international bestselling paranormal romance series The Gardella Vampire Chronicles—about a female vampire hunter who lives during the time of Jane Austen. Check out her Stoker & Holmes Tumblr
Follow the Tour:
10/7/2014 Esther's Ever After http://everafteresther.blogspot.com
10/8/2014 Chronicle Books Blog http://www.chroniclebooks.com/blog/
10/9/2014 Anna's Book Blog http://annavivian.blogspot.com/
10/10/2014 Kid Lit Frenzy www.kidlitfrenzy.com
10/11/2014 Caught Between the Pages http://caughtbetweenthepages.wordpress.com
10/12/2014 Mother Daughter Book Club http://motherdaughterbookclub.com
10/13/2014 Cracking the Cover www.crackingthecover.com
10/14/2014 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com
10/15/2014 Forever Young Adult www.foreveryoungadult.com
10/16/2014 SciFiChick.com Http://SciFiChick.com
10/17/2014 On Emily's Bookshelf www.onemilysbookshelf.com