Interview With Lara Nance, Author of Revenge of the Mad Scientist
I discovered Lara Nance‘s The Airship Adventure Chronicles quite by accident. One of my Galaxy Express blog followers had told me about one of the author’s sci-fi romances. When I visited the author’s Web site to learn more, I was met with a jackpot of steampunk romances!
The pulpy titles and covers immediately caught my eye. I love action-adventure steampunk stories, so the first book, Revenge of the Mad Scientist, seemed right up my alley. I’ve since bought it and read it, and subsequently invited Lara Nance to my Steampunk Café for an interview.
First, the blurb:
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When Lady Arabella Trunkett’s father, the High Lord Minister of Urbannia is kidnapped, all clues point to the mysterious country of Gandiss and the world is thrown into political upheaval. Arabella is convinced the more sinister nation of Carabarras is to blame, urged on by a mad scientist seeking revenge. So, she sets out on a perilous airship journey across a variety of exotic locales to save him, and halt the potential world war. But airship pirates, secret assassins and slave traders aren’t her only trials. The fickle hand of fate has made the captain of the only airship available for charter, the man that left her at the altar. For eight years she’s wished him dead. Now he’s her only hope.
The blurb delivers on its promise of action-adventure. During the search for her father, Lady Arabella and her team encounter multiple obstacles and adversaries. The story features an ensemble cast of characters, including Benji, her ward, and other characters they meet along the way. One of the airship pirates is very striking and would make a great heroine of her own story. An action scene with the butler, Jasper, is also very memorable.
Given the amount of action and worldbuilding, I’d tag this book as romantic steampunk. In other words, the romance is more of a subplot. The romance builds slowly, has a sweet heat level, and is one of reunited lovers. Lady Arabella and Captain Everett Brockton, the man who jilted her, have a lot of baggage to work out and the process takes time. In fact, neither the external plot nor their HEA resolves in the first book. But since the entire trilogy is out, there’s no wait, either.
Lady Arabella has a lot of agency in this story and her decisions drive the plot. At first, some of the perils convinced me she was going to wind up as a damsel in distress, which isn’t my cup of tea. Lucky for me, the author thwarted my expectations at every twist and turn! Lady Arabella’s wealth is instrumental in funding her mission, but her philanthropic and altruistic nature play key roles as well.
The story includes many steampunk inventions as well as airship action. Despite the lighthearted nature of some parts of the adventure, the stakes are continually being raised and the story has a few dark moments.
Those are just a few of the tags that apply to Revenge of the Mad Scientist. My interview with Lara Nance reveals some as well. Read on to discover more about her steampunk romance trilogy, which also includes Rescue From The Baron and Attack of the Automatons.
Heather: The fun, pulpy titles of your steampunk trilogy–The Airship Adventure Chronicles–really caught my eye! What inspired this series?
Lara Nance: I’ve been in love with steampunk for a long time and before that I always gravitated to stories by Jules Verne, like Around the World in 80 Days. So, I wanted to write an epic adventure and at the time, Steampunk was making a big cross over into mainstream. So I thought I would make my adventure take place in an alternate Victorian universe and give it a steampunk spin.
Heather: Revenge of the Mad Scientist features a heroine, Lady Arabella Trunkett, taking charge of the mission to rescue her kidnapped father. What is it about steampunk/steampunk romance that gives heroines so much agency as well as the chance to be leaders?
Lara Nance: I think it’s because the movement is non-traditional in so many aspects. For instance, how women wear corsets on the outside instead of under their clothes. It’s Victorian, but with a twist. Inventions are key, and inventors are usually free thinkers who look beyond the status quo. The only hard and fast rule is that steam is the power of the day, all other rules can be broken, and that includes traditional views of women.
One of the themes running through my stories is about overcoming the suppression of women’s rights. So the steampunk theme is a good frame for that.
Heather: Airships are described with loving detail in this trilogy! Tell us about the world you created for your trilogy and how steampunk technology ties into it.
Lara Nance: If you notice closely, the countries in my alternate universe bear close resemblances to real countries, and the political and social issues are similar, too. I did this on purpose so I could address some issues and make points in a subtle way.
Within each country there are different levels of development, just as there are in today’s world. So their development of steampunk devices matches their overall advancements.
Heather: What basics should readers know about the romance arc in The Airship Adventure Chronicles?
Lara Nance: The basics are that Belle and Rett had an arranged marriage when they were younger. They’d known each other and were friends, so it was assumed by their families that they would make a good match. However, it wasn’t the right time for them. They both had to go about separate paths to learn about themselves and lose some of their naiveté. Then when they meet eight years later at the time of this story, they are able to face each other with all pretenses stripped away. Of course Belle was hurt by the desertion, so she’ll have to get over being angry with Rett before she can consider her true feelings for them. That’s the fun part for us!
Heather: What can readers expect as far as heat level from your steampunk romance stories?
Lara Nance: They are all sweet, so appropriate for teens as well as adults. The adventures are the constant and the arc across the first three books is the story of Belle and Rett’s romance along the way.
Heather: Book # 3 is called Attack of the Automatons. What do you think makes automaton characters so appealing?
Lara Nance: Artificial intelligence is always fascinating I find. With steampunk, the trick is how to automate them without modern technology like computer chips and lithium batteries. Also, it’s harder to kill something made of metal, so there has to be some ingenuity involved in beating them. They create great conflict for the heroes to overcome that is so much different than typical human bad guys.
Heather: What types of steampunk stories have you enjoyed reading or watching?
Lara Nance: I like Cherie Priest’s books and the Parasol Protectorate and Vampire Empire books, but I still consider Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and even Mary Shelley an earlier form of steampunk. I love them, too.
Heather: Tell us about your latest steampunk romance, The Asylum Prodigy.
Lara Nance: Actually this is not really a romance. It’s a short story that tells how Belle and Benji first met. It’s interesting for those who’ve read the series as backstory.
The next novel in the series is called, Realm of the Ice Queen. It continues the story of Belle and Rett and there’s an introduction of another love story. It released on Oct. 1, 2014 in all formats.
Heather: Where can readers find you?
Lara Nance: Come on over to my website at www.laranance.com I’d love to hear from you.
You’ll also find me on Facebook here
I’m also on Goodreads if you like that venue.
Thanks for having me! These were great questions! Very thought provoking.
Ms. Nance, thanks for your time, and for your art!
About the author
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author in the genre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.