Today we’re happy to welcome author Coleen Kwan to Basia’s Bookshelf! Coleen’s latest book, a tasty bite of a steampunk romance, has just been released by Carina Press, and she was kind enough to take a few moments to chat with me about the book, her writing process and some of her favorite authors.
Welcome to the blog, Coleen!
Tell us a little about Asher’s Invention.
Coleen: Asher’s Invention is the story of brilliant inventor, Asher Quigley, and his ex-fiancée, Minerva Lambkin. Five years ago Minerva’s father, who was also Asher’s mentor, duped Asher and stole his invention. Thinking Minerva had colluded with her father, Asher broke off their engagement and left. Now, Minerva’s ne’er-do-well father has been kidnapped. The kidnapper is demanding the invention, but Minerva’s father has never been able to get the invention to work. The only person who can help Minerva is Asher. Despite still despising her, Asher agrees to help Minerva. As they work together to find her father, he finds his feelings for her aren’t as dead as he’d like to think.
Asher’s Invention features quirky inventions, drama, an estranged couple, and romance.
Did you have an idea before you started writing the book that you were going to the steampunk genre or did the steampunk come first and the story flow from there?
Coleen: I wanted to try out the steampunk genre, so definitely that came first. I had several ideas, but the story about Asher seemed the strongest and what I obviously wanted to write, so I went with that.
I’ve seen (or read) different authors with different ideas of what goes into steampunk. What would you say are the top five elements you couldn’t imagine not including in your book?
Coleen: That’s a difficult question! As you say everyone (authors and readers) have different ideas of what is steampunk, and some people are very passionate about their list. I would say, in no particular order, that my top five elements would be:
(a) a gritty, Victorian-style setting where industrialization is firmly established
(b) characters who don’t always conform to the morals or standards of their peers
(c) an environment where forward-thinking scientific discovery clashes with backward-leaning Victorian ideals
(d) speculative elements. The imagination can run wild here with all sorts of cool inventions!
(e) high-stakes danger or conflict.
What’s your writing process like? Plotser or pantser? Any little quirks (asks the OCD interviewer)?
Coleen: I am definitely a plotser. I need to get the storyline nutted out first, otherwise my writing freezes. It’s like using a map. If I don’t have one I don’t know where I’m headed or how I’m going to get there. However, as I write, I do find the occasional ‘pantser’ moment hitting me, and then I’m ready to follow it, but if it leads me nowhere, at least I still have my map.
Your first book, When Harriet Came Home, and Asher’s Invention have both been published with Carina Press. Had you ever thought about self-publishing before or do you think it would be an option that would work for you?
Coleen: These days I think every writer has thought about self-publishing, including myself. It might be an option for me, but I like working with my editor. She’s managed to make my stories so much better.
So what’s on your bookshelves/ereader? Are you a solid romance reader, eclectic, have a secret love for Stephen King? Do you prefer paperback, hardcover, ebooks or a mix depending on keepers vs. maybe-keeps?
Coleen: I read a lot of genres, but love romance or books with romance elements, as they make the books so much more memorable. I don’t care what formats books come in. At the moment I’m reading Trade Winds by Christina Courtenay.
Do you like the mystery of a cliffhanger, the possibilities of an ambiguous Happy For Now, a solid Happily Ever After or one step farther, an HEA with an epilogue including the wedding, new house and kids? Or are you a cruel person who likes unhappy endings (haha)?
Coleen: No, I definitely don’t like unhappy endings. Ambiguity is good if it fits the tone of the book, better than having a false overly sunny HEA. As for epilogues showing the wedding, new house and kids, usually they’re not necessary, and if they’re unbearably syrupy they can spoil the ending, in my opinion. The only time for an epilogue is to tie up some loose ends in the story, and then they should be very brief.
If you could go off for a week-long writing workshop with three of your dream authors, who would you pick? You can just go off on a long week of hanging around on the beach drinking mimosas if you prefer.
Coleen: Only three? It’s hard to choose, but I would have to pick Winston Graham (loved his Poldark novels), Anna Quindlen (amazing writing), and Janet Evanovich (I’ve gotten so many stitches from laughing while reading her Stephanie Plum novels. Hopefully she would show me how to write humor, a very tricky and subjective thing to write.)
So you’ve written contemporary, now you’ve written steampunk – any itch to write another genre?
Coleen: Who knows what inspiration will hit me in the future? However, for the moment I’m happy to concentrate my writing on contemporary and steampunk. I feel there’s still so much I could improve in both genres.
What projects are up next on your horizon?
Coleen: I’m finalizing edits on the sequel to Asher’s Invention! The book, tentatively titled Asher’s Dilemma, will be released in January 2013. I’ve also got another contemporary romance coming out in October with Entangled Publishing.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Coleen! We’ll be keeping an eye out for the sequel and your new book with Entangled.
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: June 25, 2010
Five years ago, Asher Quigley broke his engagement to Minerva Lambkin, believing she was an accomplice in a scheme to steal his prototype for a wondrous device. Minerva swore she was innocent, though the thief—and Asher’s mentor—was her own father.
Now, sheer desperation has driven Minerva to Asher’s door. Her father has been kidnapped by investors furious that he’s never been able to make the machine work. Only Asher, now a rich and famous inventor in his own right, can replicate the device. He’s also become a hard, distant stranger far different from the young idealist she once loved.
Despite their troubled past, Asher agrees to help Minerva. He still harbors his suspicions about her, but their reunion stirs emotions and desires they both thought were buried forever. Can they rebuild their fragile relationship in time to save her father and their future together?
Coleen Kwan has been a bookworm all her life. At school English was her favorite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance whether it’s sweet or sensual, and has recently discovered a whole new genre in steampunk romance.
Coleen lives in Sydney with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office.
Contact Coleen at her website www.coleenkwan.com.
I’ll be reviewing Asher’s Invention next week! ~Barbara