You may, or may not, have noticed, Gentle Reader, that I've been hosting
more authors recently. Party this I because I feel guilty that I
haven't the time to read as much as I'd like, so I'm passing the buck on
to you with more options. Partly, I feel that the steampunk community
has been awfully good to me and I want to reach out to other authors and
showcase them where I can. And partly, it allows me to provide you with
new and different content. Plus, I have fun with silly questions.
Today, I have an interview with the lovely Lev. His book, All Men Of Genius
is a kind of Twelfth Night meets steampunk meets Oscar Wilde. Cross
dressing, ho! He and I also went to the same undergraduate university.
Odd, I know. He managed to do this interview from his apartment in poor
decimated NY. I asked, and most of his steampunk stuff survived Sandy.
Although, he apparently has plans to turn a didn't-quite-make-it vintage
lampshade into a belt. I demand pictures!
About you, the Author
Tea or coffee and how do you take it?
chocolate! One should always indulge. No marshmallows, whipped cream if
I’m feeling naughty. The darker and less artificially sweetened, the
better. It should be both sweet and bitter.
*Gail interjects: you must try Mountain Man's cocoa blend, it is marvelous.*
Describe your personal style for author appearances.
depends on the venue. If it’s a library or bookshop, I’ll dress fairly
plainly, collared shirt, tie, etc. But I’ll try to pick a tie with gears
or bees or something I feel relates back to the community. For
steampunk appearances, sadly, it depends on the weather. If it’s cold, I
have the Oscar Wilde fur trimmed coat (which is actually from the
1970s, but it passes) that I wear in my author photo. If it’s warm I
shouldn’t be out anyway. I hate to sweat. But I do have an astounding
vest my friend Kate made for me, the back is a Beardsley-esq print of
black and white flowers on a gold background and the front is chartreuse
with brown dotted lines. On the back, also, are chains for tightening
it, instead of the usual fabric. It goes splendidly with my brown plaid
trousers. Alas, Kate moved to Egypt, and so I can no longer employ her
as my personal tailor. Sadly, I don’t have any photos of myself in the
vest, but I have a few photos of it just laying about, as waistcoats are
wont to do.
I were to observe the writer beast in its native environment, what
surprising thing might I see? What does the environment look like?
very often in just my underthings, which may be surprising, or maybe
not, depending on how well you know me and how you got in there in the
first place. As for the environment, I have an office/library – not very
big, but it has plenty of books, a desk covered in papers, bulletin
boards also covered in papers and some little items I’m particularly
proud of, like my mid-1800s medical slides. I had them framed with a
glass back and some rivets, to really bring out the vintage medical
creepiness of them. Up close, each slide has a sample, with a
handwritten label. Sadly, whenever I try to take a close up, all I get
is my reflection.
*Gail interjects: Of you in your underthings? Because I think most of my readers would enjoy that.*
And also this wonderful postcard I found of pinned butterflies, which I put in a little wooden frame.
If you drive, what do you drive?
live in Manhattan. I do not drive. I take the subway. I like to think
back to the times when the Subway first opened and City Hall station had
a chandelier and a grand piano that someone would play and people would
dress to ride the subway. If I close my eyes while riding it, I can
almost imagine I’m back there. But failing that (usually due to a
smell), it’s a good place to read.
No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)
if we’re talking no toppings or anything mixed in, then chocolate in a
sugar cone (see the above note, regarding indulgence). But if I can add
other things to the mix, I think vanilla is better for showcasing candy,
sprinkles, and so forth. Especially if peanut butter cups are somehow
involved. Which they would be, if I had any say in the matter.
*Gail pronounces you entirely sane.*
What's most likely to make you laugh?
very proud to say that I laugh easily and often. Most often at general
wackiness, or perhaps a particularly piercing zinger (directed at
someone who can take it). I do not laugh at awkwardness. I know many
people who do, but it just makes me so uncomfortable. I like it when the
people I’m laughing at are laughing too, and for the same reason. But
I’ll laugh at almost anything otherwise. Swearing rabbits, cats that
don’t quite reach what they’re leaping for, children dressed in animal
costumes who are clearly displeased with the costumer. I could go on.
Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what's your poison?
like a Jack Rose. Sadly, they’re hard to find, as many bars don’t keep
AppleJack in stock year round, but this is the time of year when I can
find them! I also love the Honey Jack Daniels they have out around now,
mixed with ginger-ale. I think I’m an autumnal drinker.
LEV AC ROSEN
grew up in Manhattan. He attended Oberlin College (and, like Gail,
immediately fled back to civilization afterwards) and received his MFA
in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. His work has been featured in
Esopus Magazine, Tor.com, booklifenow.com and numerous other blogs and
webzines. He is addicted to cardigans, and sees nothing wrong with
owning one in every color – that’s every color, not just the seven
you’re thinking of. He only just got married a few weeks ago, and lives
in lower Manhattan with his husband, who is just as insane as he is,
though probably more stylish.
About your book!
What should readers eat while consuming your novel?
I think it’s probably best enjoyed around sunset or just before, with a
cocktail made of lemonade and St. Germain, with frozen sliced cucumbers
for ice cubes. Along with that, perhaps some cucumber sandwiches, and
scones. Frosted ones. I like the pumpkin scones with maple frosting,
which again, are found only this time of year.
What form does evil take within its pages?
Well, I don’t want to give away too much of my book, All Men of Genius
but there are a number of unpleasant people; Violet dresses as a boy to
enter London’s most prestigious school of mad scientists, and one of
her fellow students, Malcolm Volio is just awful, but perhaps not as
awful as the Astronomy Professor, Bracknell, who bullies his students
(it’s inspired by 12th Night and The Importance of Being Earnest). But
perhaps most unsettling are the strange mechanical automatons in the
labyrinthine basement. They have claws and seem strikingly familiar
But the real evil, of course, is the society which excludes Violet from Illyria College because of her sex.
Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?
think the secret to being a good writer is wanting to kiss all your
characters, even (or especially) the naughty ones. So, Violet of course,
and Ernest (because yum), but most especially Fiona and Miriam. Fiona
for her outrageousness and because you know the kissing would be good,
and Miriam because she’s just so interesting and deserves the kissing,
although I suspect she’d perhaps ask me not too. Jack would also be a
good kisser, and Ashton and Anthony… the options are endless.
What's your favorite period in history and does it influence your world building?
love the late 1800s - Wilde’s period. I’ve studied Wilde extensively
and the book, obviously, is heavily influenced by it - a Steampunk
Wilde. I love that this was the time when all the science of the
Victorian Era had gone from being “just developed” to more commonplace,
and so people were asking “what next?” were theorizing all sorts of
amazing mad science. Dandies and Aesthetes were in bloom, women were
seeking specialized doctors to relieve their “hysteria.” And the bustle
was fluctuating wildly in size, which I imagine must have been very
Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?
I don’t think any of them should be slapped. Except maybe Bracknell.
And Volio. And Ernest, sometimes, but in a loving, “snap out of it” way.
Without spoilers, what's the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?
tells me its Oscar, the rabbit who Jack performs an experiment on,
switching his vocal chords with that of a parrot brought back from South
America by sailors with some very... salty language. After the switch,
Oscar, grey and white and lop eared, develops the ability to speak, but
only very rude phrases, many of which he proclaims at incredibly
If your story smelled of something, what would that be?
Violets, warm bronze, cigar smoke, grease and the lingering mossy smell
of old basements. Quite a mix, I know. I dabble in cologne making, in
fact (and All Men of Genius features a perfume maker), and have been
meaning to blog about
what scents each of my characters would wear. So stay tuned for that.
Perhaps you and I should have a day of perfume-mixing fun, Gail! The
only downside is that everything should be tested on the skin, and so
afterwards you may smell… confusing.
*Gail whoheartedly supports this idea although he would like to add that she always prefers to smell like food.*
All Men of Genius
was an Amazon Best of the month, on over a dozen best of the year
lists, and has been nominated for multiple awards. Publisher’s Weekly
says it “puts a steampunk spin on the Victorian comedy of manners while
sneakily critiquing the gender biases of both genres.” It is available
now in paperback
More praise here
GAIL'S DAILY DOSE
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Sometimes meat likes to dress up and feel pretty.
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Sushi made to look like cake
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
10 More Lies You Might Tell Yourself While Editing
PROJECT ROUND UP
~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First:
Release date Fall 2013. Rough draft done. Read through & TKs now.
Curtsies & Conspiracies
~ The Finishing School Book the Second:
Title changed. Copy edits arrived must finish Prudence
Etiquette & Espionage
~ Finishing School Book the First: Release date Feb 5, 2013.
Working promo schemes to begin September.
~ Soulless Vol. 2: (AKA Changeless
) Reviewing chapter by chapter, each drops on YenPlus
by subscription. Print release Nov. 20, 2012.
Did you see? Rough draft of Prudence
is done! Yes!
Quote of the Day:
"Finally, he should not say the kettle is boiling when it is not. This is an inexcusable offense, but universal."
~ Steel & Gardiner, 1888