As a writer, E.A. Hennessy tends to focus on two main things: exploring the personalities and relationships of her characters, and sending them on exciting adventures–all the things you would wish for in a steampunk author.
My name is Liz and I publish under the name E. A. Hennessy. By day I work as an environmental engineer, and by night I’m a dancer and a writer! I love to balance my very technical job with creative pursuits. Writing has been a necessary part of my life since I was a kid, and I’m excited to share my stories with the world.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school. I always had an active imagination and loved coming up with fictional versions (from aliens to elves!) of myself and my friends. I wrote about our imagined adventures.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I always considered myself a writer. My thinking has always been: I write, therefore I’m a writer!
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My debut novel, Grigory’s Gadget, is Book 1 of my Gaslight Frontier Series (Book 2 is in the works!). The story follows Zoya and her friends from the bitter, hostile nation of Morozhia who set out to start a better life. On the way to their new home, they’re kidnapped by pirates. What’s more, the pirates have a particular interest in Zoya’s family heirloom: a small gadget of compacted wires and gears. Unsure what power the gadget holds, Zoya knows she must protect it with her life.
What inspired you to write this book?
I started writing the first iteration of this novel over 10 years ago when I was going through a pirate-obsession phase. The original story involved time travel and a necklace instead of a gadget, but the plot and characters were otherwise very similar.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to write in a very conversational way. I love writing dialogue, as it seems to be what comes most naturally to me. I also like to keep some levity in the story, to balance out when a scene gets a little dark.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
I knew I wanted the word “gadget” in the title. I also tend to gravitate toward alliteration. The name Grigory, which is the Russian form of Gregory, jumped out at me. I felt the combination of “Grigory” and “Gadget” set the tone for the setting of my story: a Russian-inspired steampunk world.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is a strong theme of friendship and loyalty throughout the novel. I would say the main message is to seek out those true friends who deserve your loyalty, and not to be fooled by false friends.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
Some characters were originally based on friends of mine, though I have taken many liberties since their original creation. There are also a couple scenes inspired by stories I’ve heard, such as my high school Russian teacher’s story about how she narrowly escaped the Soviet Union as it collapsed in the early 1990s and her experiences upon arriving in the United States as a refugee.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I had to think about this question a lot and feel like I might be cheating a bit with my answer. A lot of authors have had a huge influence on my writing, but what about my life overall? I think that honor would have to go to story collectors and anthropologists! I’ve always loved mythology and learning about different mythologies from around the world definitely influenced my worldview. I also used to read a Grimm’s fairy tale every night before bed (no wonder I tend to have weird dreams!).
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of writers who have influenced my writing. I have to acknowledge R. L. Stine and his Goosebumps books, because reading those books led to my passion for reading and, by association, writing stories. As for my current writing style, I would say it is most influenced by Clive Barker, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gail Carriger (odd combination, I know!). I love Barker’s vivid descriptions, Vonnegut’s humor and satire, and Carriger’s overall take on the steampunk genre.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
My cover was designed by Deranged Doctor Design. I shopped around a lot, and the covers by DDD really impressed me. They have a great range, and every cover is gorgeously done. They also have straightforward and affordable pricing, which is great for a self-published author like me.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t let yourself get discouraged – I know that’s easier said than done! Remember that you are your own worst critic and that a first draft will always be far from perfect. Don’t let these things stop you from writing!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
As a first-time, self-published author, I am so grateful for the support I’ve received so far! Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this crazy writing adventure, and I hope you enjoy my stories!
E. A. Hennessy
Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design
Emerald Owl Publications