I am pleased to announce 27 Days to Midnight, a fabulous Steampunk novel coming soon from Giant Squid Books, an indie publisher devoted to emerging authors of Young Adult fiction and their readers.
I had the privilege of interviewing the author of 27 Days to Midnight, Kristine Kruppa, in anticipation of the novel’s release. Kristine is a mechanical engineer, writer, and world traveler. Her days are spent designing cool new car parts, but her evenings are filled with writing and cats. She has traveled solo to fourteen countries on four continents. Her other hobbies include hunting for the perfect cup of coffee, exploring used book stores, and accidentally climbing mountains.
Is it possible to find someone more qualified to write a brilliant Steampunk novel than a mechanical engineer who travels the world in between her job of designing cool new car parts? I don’t think it is.
As an educator, it’s fascinating to me to see how Science and Engineering are reflected in art and literature. We so often think of art and science as antithetical to one another, but of course they aren’t. The fusion of imagination and discovery is what makes Steampunk so much fun.
In anticipation for the release of 27 Days to Midnight, I asked Kristine about her writing process, inspirations, and favorite books.
Tell me about the origins of your idea for 27 Days to Midnight.
I got the idea for 27 Days to Midnight from an old clock tower in Detroit. I took guest classes at a university there one summer, and I walked past that clock tower every day on the way to and from the parking structure. It got me thinking about time as a story concept. I tried to write about the idea over the next few years, but I couldn’t make any headway. That’s when National Novel Writing Month came along.
For those of you who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month (known affectionately as ‘NaNoWriMo’) is a worldwide event where aspiring authors set out to write 50,000 words in one month. That’s how 27 Days to Midnight was born. But, of course, the book is a lot longer than that. The last 30,000 words took me nine months.
What were your favorite books as a young person?
I was always a Harry Potter kid. I remember reading Chamber of Secrets by flashlight under the blankets. Once my dad discovered the series, he started buying each book on release day and bringing it home for me to read first (since I could knock it out in a day or two). When Deathly Hallows came out, I locked myself in my room, barred the door with a giant Harry Potter poster, and spent the entire day in there reading. Yes, I’m a nerd. No, I’m not ashamed.
Who are some of your favorite authors as an adult?
Let’s see…I love Jim Butcher for his urban fantasy series, The Dresden Files, about a wizard fighting evil in modern-day Chicago. Christopher Wooding is another of my favorites, particularly for Retribution Falls and its sequels (if you’re a steampunk fan and you haven’t read them yet, you should!). China Miéville is fantastic for his world-building (Perdido Street Station, anyone?). And Scott Westerfeld has a kick-butt alternate history steampunk series starting with Leviathan.
But if I had to choose one author to read for the rest of my life, if would be Markus Zusak. I own two copies of The Book Thief; one for lending to friends and one just for me.
Describe your writing routine. When do you write, and what tricks do you have to share for getting started?
I write whenever I find the time to! Usually after work or on the weekends. I’m also a big fan of writing in cafés, since it takes me out of my normal surroundings and gets me into ‘book mode’. I allow myself unlimited café goodies as long as I keep writing. If I get distracted on the interweb, I leave. No more cookies.
What are some of the advantages you’ve found with an independent publisher with such enormous integrity? (Okay, that might be begging the question just a tiny bit. Full disclosure: I am also a Giant Squid Books author.)
The GSB team has been absolutely FANTASTIC to work with. They’re so enthusiastic about the books they publish; it’s wonderful to see people who love 27 Days to Midnight just as much as I do! Plus, I have a lot more control over the project than I would if I’d pursued a traditional publisher.
How does your background in engineering contribute to your fiction writing?
I love sneaking bits of engineering into my writing, and steampunk is the perfect venue for that. I get to play around with mechanical animals, cyborgs, weird inventions, and (my favorite) airships! Early in my career, I spent a short time working in the maritime industry. The airships in 27 Days to Midnight have a lot in common with the ships I worked on, right down to the rumbling sound of the engines.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write what you want to write. Don’t worry about following market trends or trying to crank out a book that you think your friends will like. Write something because you love it. Write a novel that’s 100% uniquely your own, and the readers will follow.
Thanks so much, Kristine Kruppa, for taking the time to answer my questions. I can’t wait to read 27 Days to Midnight.