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Frederickland presents a podcast

Steampunk in Frederick: A series of brief interviews with attendees.

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Character on the Couch: Anne Renwick’s Lady Olivia

Read the entire interview with steampunk author Cecilia Dominic Here


1) If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Lady Olivia would certainly go unwillingly. She is trained in espionage and would be wary about revealing any information away that could be used against her. But… she might be persuaded, perhaps, if she were convinced the psychologist could cure her of her phobias (blood, needles and heights).

2) Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

Most definitely. Both internal and external. Almost immediately, Olivia’s career aspirations conflict with her desire to both keep her feet on solid ground and avoid all things medical. No sooner has she met the hero, a research physician, then the next scene drops her onto a dirigible. Needles soon follow.

3) It’s always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?

You’d best serve tea. If there are cream cakes, Olivia will settle onto the edge of a chair and attempt to engage you in a lot of inane chatter. She’s been raised to act the part of a lady, to win a man to her side. Confronted with a female psychologist, she might struggle with her approach but, ultimately, she’s all for women having equal career opportunities.

4) Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?

First you’re going to have to share that wonderful recipe for the cream cakes. She’s already contemplating how to improve her steambot’s baking skills. If she’s been forced to visit, you might already know about her phobias. Convincing her to speak about them will be difficult, tied up as they are in her brother’s unfortunate accident. Possibly she will begin by telling you about her sister, Amanda, who is pursuing a medical degree. You’ll hear about what a trial it is to live with a would-be physician who delights in torturing her with such topics. Eventually, you’ll grow impatient and mention blood. Or needles. Then she’s going to sway. You do have smelling salts handy, right?

5) Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Olivia is a lady. She should walk right past. But… there’s a small chance curiosity will get the better of her, and she’ll slide inside. If she can work up the nerve, she’s going to order a man’s drink. “I’ll have what he’s having.” 

6) When you’re building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?

I don’t have any exact tricks, though I spend quite a bit of time thinking about and developing backstory. I try to determine what ‘wound’ they carry around with them that will influence their decisions. There are a few questions I try to keep in mind. For example: What do they really want? What do they cling to that keeps them from getting what they want? What will finally make them step outside their comfort zone and reach for it?

Heather Massey interviewed me for her Steampunk Cafe at Coffee Time Romance!

Read the full interview here.

From An Interview with Heather Massey:


1) Imagine I stop by your booth at a comic book convention (where there are also many excellent steampunk cosplayers, of course!). What are the first three things you tell me about The Golden Spider?

Lady Amanda is a medical student who has invented a mechanical spider that can re-spin damaged nerves. Lord Thornton, her professor, needs this technology—both in his laboratory and to heal an injury to his leg. When her clockwork spider is stolen and linked to a string of murders, they must work together—all while fighting a forbidden attraction—to catch the spy before it’s too late.

2) Please describe the world of the Elemental Web Chronicles. What can readers expect to discover in this series?

The series takes place midst an alternate version of Victorian British society. Though much will feel familiar to historical romance readers, technology progressed differently.

Dirigibles fly overhead, steam carriages and clockwork horses mingle with more traditional transportation upon the streets, and strange creatures are taken for granted, such as the kraken that swarm the Thames. But in the world of the Elemental Web Chronicles, the Victorian fascination with all things anatomical has also led to a number of biotechnological advances.

Deep inside the windowless laboratories of Lister University School of Medicine, brilliant men and women work hard to develop novel biotechnology devices—and struggle to keep them from the hands of Britain’s enemies.

Though the first book in the series takes place in London, book two sends us on an adventure outside its borders.

3) Despite their lofty titles, Lady Amanda and Lord Thornton sound like a couple of adorkable nerds. Tease us with a few non-spoiler tidbits about them!

Career-minded, Lady Amanda wants nothing to do with the marriage mart. But the scientific skills of women—particularly the daughter of a duke—hold little value in the eyes of the ton. She resorts to blackmail to gain entry into medical school… and lands herself in the classroom of the one man who dares insult her by calling her research rubbish.  

Lord Thornton enjoys inserting occasional lies into his lectures, lies couched in complicated and nearly indecipherable scientific and technical terms. He’s fishing for brilliant minds, hoping that one of the students will challenge him. Not once did he expect a woman would do so, especially one that makes his blood boil.

4) About how much science action can readers expect from The Golden Spider?

No one wants a science lecture when they’re reading for entertainment. And I certainly didn’t want to write one. The science—and science fiction—is blended into the story, hovering about in the background and helping to drive the story forward. But the story focuses on the hero and heroine, what they bring into each other’s lives and what they must go through to stop a murderer.

5) Describe some of the cool stuff you got to work on while employed at a biological research facility.

What drew me into research was a fascination with embryological development. For me, the coolest thing I did was trace the migration of mouse neural crest cells as they formed structures of the skull and face. Except… well, at the end of the day, it was also fun to play *carefully* with leftover dry ice and liquid nitrogen. It’s very hard to freeze and shatter a rubber glove. You have to be fast.

6) What can you tell us about The Silver Skull, book two in the series?

The heroine of The Silver Skull is Lady Olivia Ravensdale, sister to Lady Amanda. When we first meet her in The Golden Spider, she is the classic ton debutant, focused entirely upon marrying a gentleman with a title. But as the story progresses, hints of unusual talents are revealed…

Lady Olivia is not all she seems.

Trained for marriage to an assigned political target, her skills lie in programming household steambots to serve tea, dress her hair… and sound the alarm while she picks locks and listens at doors. Humiliated by a failed assignment, she decides to redeem herself by tailing a suspected double agent.

Lord Rathsburn must flirt with treason.

Struggles to cure a horrible disease have met with unexpected complications. The cells he engineered can make a man’s bones unbreakable, but the side effects are fatal. He believed the research terminated… until his sister was kidnapped by a German count. Her ransom? A cure.

Piloting a stolen dirigible, he uncovers an unlikely stowaway, Lady Olivia.

Arriving together at a crumbling castle, an impossible task is set before them: cure the count’s guardsmen. Amidst their fake marriage, a very real growing attraction, dying guardsmen and escalating hostilities, Lady Olivia and Lord Rathsburn are thrust deep into the world of international medical espionage from which there may be no return.

7) What are some of the steampunk/steampunk romance books/comic/films books you’ve enjoyed?

A trick question. There are many, many steampunk books I’ve enjoyed. It wouldn’t be fair not to list them all. How about one from each category? Steampunk book: Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti. Steampunk romance: The Kraken King by Meljean Brook. Comic book: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. Film: Firefly/Serenity.

8) What’s this I hear about the mysterious “Elemental Web Weavers”?

This is a closed Facebook group that gathers together fans of The Elemental Web Series so they can discuss the books, all things steampunk… or just chat. It also allows me to give readers sneak peaks into my writing, ask them questions and pass on early looks at covers. 

Join here: Elemental Web Weavers

9) Where can readers find you and your books?

Readers can find me at I’m active on Facebook and would love to hear from readers at AnneRenwick1 [at] gmail [dot] com.

My ebook(s) are available at both for purchase and in the Kindle Unlimited program. Paperback copies are also available both at and at CreateSpace.

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