Interview With Gill McKnight, Author of THE TEA MACHINE
A fellow reader turned me on to author Gill McKnight’s The Tea Machine (The Teatime Chronicles #1) and honestly, it didn’t take anything more to convince me than learning her story featured time travel, a lesbian romance, and space squid. Talk about using some magic words!
And oh my stars, did the promise of time travel, a lesbian romance, and space squid ever pay off!
Before I share non-spoiler tags and some of my impressions about the story, here’s the blurb:
The story of a love that never dies…except it does, time after time after time.
London 1862, and Millicent Aberly, spinster by choice, has found her future love—in the future!
She meddled with her brother’s time machine and has been catapulted into an alternative world where the Roman Empire has neither declined nor fell. In fact, it has gone on to annex most of the known universe.
Millicent is rescued from Rome’s greatest enemy, the giant space squid, by Sangfroid, a tough and wily centurion who, unfortunately, dies while protecting her. Wracked by guilt and a peculiar fascination for the woman soldier, Millicent is determined to return in time to save Sangfroid from her fatal heroics. Instead, she finds her sexy centurion in her own timeline. And Sangfroid is not alone; several stowaways have come along with her.
Soon Millicent’s mews house is overrun with Roman space warriors and giant squid.
I’d characterize The Tea Machine as romantic steampunk since the primary focus is on the characters’ wacky time traveling adventures. The story features a cozy ensemble cast and a variety of settings. The time travel aspect is fun, but the real star of the show are the characters. Millicent and Sangfroid are such a delightful couple! A spinster and a futuristic centurion is the type of couple I never knew I always wanted. Their chemistry worked wonders on my heart and the genderbending aspects of their relationship is like icing on the cake. I would pay a premium price for action figures based on this couple!
The time travelling aspect glosses over the romance development a bit and I would have loved for there to be more scenes of them getting to know one another, but that’s more a “me” thing than a fault of the story. And the romance arc ended on such a cute, clever note!
The heat level is sweet. Some of the action scenes involve gore and are described in what I’d call glorious detail, heh. Also described in wonderful detail are the space squid. They are far from the ordinary kind found here on Earth, a fact Millicent’s brother Hubert discovers in the most, shall we say, scandalous way possible.
The Tea Machine is a quirky tale and one thing I didn’t expect was how funny it was going to be. Its smart dialogue and witty comedic elements make for great escapist entertainment.
In my experience, The Tea Machine is a one-of-a-kind romantic steampunk story and worth its Kindle ebook price if this type of adventure is up your alley. I don’t say that lightly, either, since I dig deep for eccentric tales like this one, which, unfortunately, are few and far between.
Now that I’ve filled you in on the book, it’s time to learn more about the author. Please enjoy my interview with Gill McKnight!
Heather Massey: Tell us three essential facts about you.
Gill McKnight: I live on a Greek island. I’ve been a published writer for ten years. I found an abandoned seven week old puppy and kept him and he is now the love of my life. He’s called Wally and he has the biggest ears in the world…oh, and green eyes and a ginger nose.
Heather: Please describe The Tea Machine in seven words.
GK: Don’t mess with time traveling Victorian spinsters.
Heather: What was the spark of inspiration for The Tea Machine?
GK: I once had an excellent history teacher who said if the Roman Empire had discovered the true potential of steam (rather than for their spas) we would all be living on Mars now – such was the will to power of the Romans.
Heather: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the action-adventure elements in this story?
GK: The action comes in huge swathes of nines and tens if you like mechanical elephants and tigers combating Victorian spinsters in the gladiatorial arena. Otherwise some tea cups get cracked – that’s a two.
Heather: What fascinates you the most about squids?
GK: The taste.
Heather: Do you have any favorite time travel movies/shows?
GK: The book tips its hat at several early or prototype SF books that made an impression on me as a bookworm teenager. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is an obvious one. Lovecraft’s The Call of the Cthulhu, Haggard Ryders She, and all of Jane Austen (though that’s subtle and harder to see and probably only in my head).
Heather: When you’re not writing, you’re…
GK: Working on my garden, walking Wally on the beach, restoring a Greek village house, dining al fresco with friends, working on the 2016 LesvosLesfic convention, editing, and planning my next book/s.
Heather: Can you share anything about your upcoming book projects?
GK: Book two in the Teatime Chronicles is out next November, it’s called Parabellum and is set mostly on the Roman space troop ship. I have another contemporary romance out before that, Welcome to the Wallops by Ylva Publishing – no Roman centurions, no Victorian time travelers or colossal squid – just regular people falling in love.
Heather: Where can readers find you?
And that’s a wrap! For more information about The Tea Machine, here’s an in-depth review via Psychotropek.