Jen: Today we are happy to welcome Colleen Kwan to Romancing the Book. Colleen, please share a short bio with us and include where you can be found online.
Colleen: I’ve been a bookworm all my life. At school English was my favorite subject, but for some reason I decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, I wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. I love writing contemporary romance whether it’s sweet or sensual, and I’ve recently discovered a whole new genre in steampunk romance.
I live in Sydney with my partner and two children. When I’m not writing I enjoy avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office.
Jen: Please tell us about Asher’s Invention and where the idea came from.
Colleen: Asher’s Invention is a steampunk romance set in Victorian England. Asher Quigley, the hero of my story, is a brilliant inventor who is approached by Minerva Lambkin, his ex-fiancée to help rescue her kidnapped father. Asher still despises Minerva for betraying him, but he’s a gentleman and can’t refuse her request. As they work together to rescue her father, he discovers to his chagrin that his feelings for her aren’t as dead as he once thought.
I’m not sure where the idea for this book came from. Originally I wanted a short break from writing contemporary romance and thought I’d tackle a steampunk novella. I really enjoyed writing it, and the story just seemed to flow out of nowhere.
Jen: Why steampunk?
Colleen: Steampunk is a rich and diverse genre which offers the writer endless fascinating possibilities. I like the juxtaposition of strict Victorian mores and unconventional inventions and gadgets. Characters can be colorful and avant-garde, but they’re also operating within a highly rigid society, and that makes for lots of intriguing conflict.
Jen: Do you have a writing process?
Colleen: I’m a great believer in planning. I’m not one of those authors who can write by the seat of their pants. I need to know where I’m headed and how I’m going to get there. However, I also find that while I’m writing to my plan other possibilities sometimes spring to mind, and I’ll often go with them. I try to write every day for at least a few hours, and I’m working on upping my daily word count.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Colleen: I have too many to list them all, but some current favorites would be Gail Carriger, Janet Evanovich, Jonathan Tropper. I’ve just started reading The Convict’s Sword by I J Parker. It’s a whodunit series set in eleventh century Japan, and I’m really enjoying it.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Colleen: Heartfelt. Emotional. Unexpected.
Jen: Do you have anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Colleen: I’d love to know what influences readers when choosing books. Do they mostly go for known authors? Do they use reviews? What makes them take a chance on an unknown author?
She lifted her chin. “Parlor trick or not, my father’s life is in danger. I’ve searched my father’s workshop high and low, and I don’t have anything resembling a millennium machine. Only you can help me, Asher.”
Suspicion riffled across his face. “Why? Do you think I’ve still been working on the millennium machine?”
“You have invention in your blood. I cannot imagine you not thinking about the machine during the past five years. Or working on it.”
“And what if I were? What if I did happen to solve the insolvable?” His eyes had become mere slits of jade as he scrutinized her with all the intensity of a jungle cat. “Do you propose I should simply hand over my endeavours in order to save the man who stole it from me in the first place?”
Put in those terms, it sounded ludicrous, even Minerva had to admit. Her shoulders slumped. Exhaustion washed over her. She’d barely slept or eaten for the past three days, and the stony cliff of Asher’s hostility felt more insurmountable than the Swiss Alps. Unable to stand any longer, she sank back down on the settee and laced her fingers together to steady them.
“You’re my last hope, Asher.”
A distant grandfather clock chimed the hour. A log in the fire crackled. Asher clapped his hands softly. “Bravo, Minerva. I’ve not seen a better performance at Drury Lane. So prettily done. I half expected a piteous tear to roll down your cheek.”
She gritted her teeth and crushed her fingers into the soft damask of the settee. “You think this is all pretense?”
“Oh, not all of it. I’ve no doubt your father is in sticky financial trouble. He attracted so many investors with the promise of the millennium machine, and he’s managed to keep one step ahead of them all these years. But finally he’s run out of time. He needs to produce a working machine, something that’s useful, or the moneymen will come after him. But he has nothing. So what does he do but enlist the help of his ever-faithful daughter once again.”
He bared his teeth in a smiling snarl. “Do you really think I’d fall for your lies yet again? What kind of fool must you think me!”