So, last year I requested and was accepted to receive an ARC of Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart. A fantastical, fun story set in a steampunkesque world following a young girl called Lily.
Lily Hartman finds Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy boring, and dull. She’s not allowed to read her Penny Dreadful magazines as they’re forbidden, and all the girls are horrid. But that’s okay, because she only has to wait until her father John Hartman comes to get her at the end of term, she can handle that. That is, until she is told by her headmistress that her father’s zeppelin, the Dragonfly, has crashed and her father cannot be found, and is presumed dead. She leaves the academy with her housekeeper Ms. Verdigris to head back to Brackenbridge Manor. On the way Lily finds herself crossing paths with Mr. Roach, a strange man with silver eyes, and from this point on her life is thrown into turmoil as she soon finds out that there is a group of nasty men out to find a secret contraption that her father has invented. And they will stop at nothing to get it. Lily doesn’t know who to trust as she starts to unravel the truth of her past, with her mechanimal Malkin, and the clock maker’s son Robert, she sets off to try and find safety, and hopefully, her father.
This book series is aimed at I’d say middle grade readers, but is still enjoyable for an older audience.
I was lucky enough to be contacted in regards to Peter Bunzl’s blog tour!! I was so over the moon about it, that meant that I got to ask Mr. Bunzl some questions. So without further ado, here is my little interview with Peter Bunzl, author of the Cogheart Adventure Series:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the world you created in Cogheart?
A: I was reading about real clockwork robots that existed in Georgian and Victorian times. They were called automatons and were incredible pieces of engineering. If you look some of them up on youtube you will see how amazing they are. Automatons were built to do simple tasks like write their name or a few lines of poetry, or play an instrument, or a card trick or some of them were clocks with moving figures on. But I wondered, what would happen if the technology back then had got so good that they could make clockwork robots that could do everything and anything. Robots made of bits of metal that were almost human and alive. Could they feel and think? Could the spark of life ever exist inside them? And what would that mean for their inventors and owners?
Q: Was Lily’s character based on anyone?
A: She’s a little bit based on my sister when she was young – just her personality, not anything that happens to her in the story.
Q: Have you always had a love for steampunk?
A: I must admit, I hadn’t read masses of steampunk when I started Cogheart. The books I had read were mostly for children, because that’s what I’m writing. I love His Dark Materials, Mortal Engines, Leviathan, UnLondon, Neverwhere – some of those are more a mix of genres. I prefer stories that crossover – so there’s a smattering of steampunk and a smattering of something else.
I don’t like too much technology talk in my steampunk, I prefer that to be backgrounded as it would be in real life, so the story is about the characters and their emotional journey as much as it’s about the steampunk world. I would say that was the most important thing to me in writing Cogheart – how emotionally invested the characters are in their adventure.
Q: Do you have a set planning process for writing, or do you just go with flow when creating?
A: In terms of the way I write, I would say I was both a plotter and a pantser: so kind of plantser. Before I start writing I write a synopsis of 5-10 pages, which includes as much of the plot as I have at that moment. There will be holes, but I try not to worry about them. Then I go ahead and write the book from start to finish. If I get stuck writing in order I’ll skip ahead to a bit I’m sure of, later, on the second pass, I go back and fill in the blanks and rewrite bits that are not right.
Q: How did the idea for Malkin come about?
At the time I was writing Cogheart we had a fox living in our garden and I wrote one of the first scenes of the story (Chapter 2) with him in mind. I had originally planned for Malkin to be a mechanical cat being chased through the woods but that just didn’t seen right. So I thought what other animal would be chased through the woods by men with guns? I decided on a fox, and from that moment on I knew the voice of the character and who he was, and he just seemed to come alive and just jump off the page.
How awesome to be able to ask these questions of an Author and get their take on things. I feel super humbled and blown away that I got this chance. I sincerely hope it’s not the last invitation I get for one of these!!