Thursday, 20 November 2014

Jeffrey Cook , author of "Dawn of Steam"

Today I'd like welcome Jeffrey Cook, author of  "Dawn of Steam" to the Thursday interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!

Jeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, but has lived all over the United States. He’s contributed to a number of role-playing game books for Deep7 Press out of Seattle, Washington, but the Dawn of Steam series are his first novels. When not reading, researching, or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football.


No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?

What law? In general, I'd have to say that I probably would. I used to work event security, and I know that reacting and doing what it took to protect people, even total strangers, came before strict adherence to the rules. There is, thankfully, also some allowance, usually, for rule-bending when lives are at stake.

No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Having something in your life that you're passionate enough about to give your life meaning. It doesn't necessarily matter what it is. Travel, raising your children, charity work, writing, a career, etc. You don't even have to love every second of it. But having something that motivates you to pursue it, and get up the next day, or work towards it, rather than just existing, is the difference. 

No.3 What motivates you to write?

I've always wanted to be a writer. My mother loves talking about when I was 6 years old, reading voraciously, and scribbling out my own stories within the worlds I read about. I've loved reading from an early age, and really love the idea of transporting other people to the worlds I write about the way the books I read transport me.

No.4 Why do humans want children?

I'm sure there's a lot of different reasons. In some cases, it may go back to the drive to reproduce and carry on your line that exists in all species. Some people just have that nurturing side. I don't have children, and I'm fine with that. I have rescue dogs instead. They keep me busy enough.

No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book “Dawn of Steam" ?

Editing and rewrites are always a lot harder for me than the initial writing. I'm very good at putting a lot of words on a page. I'm not a very good editor. (Which is why I went out and found a fantastic editor. It's gotten much easier since then.)

No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?

I would like to thank author Leslie Feinberg for the articulation of this particular thought. The most important thing you can be in life is someone you can live with.

No.7 How did you come up with the title "Dawn of Steam" ?

The Dawn of Steam series focuses on the roots, or potential roots, of Steampunk. A lot of the tropes and imagery aren't there yet. The world has some higher technology, and changes resulting from it, but the politics, social tendencies, important figures, etc. are very similar to the real world's 1815-1819. The series helps explore where some of the common tropes of Steampunk might have emerged: a world with a more egalitarian social structure, tremendous influence from England on fashion, manners, etc. So the stories try to move towards that world while still showing the distinct feel of different cultures and the struggle there would be in history for female scientists and mechanics and potential airship captains, right alongside the emerging technology. Once I had the 'Dawn of Steam' idea, all of the sub-titles build off of that, with First Light and Gods of the Sun out so far.

No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?

My editor says I take criticism too well at times. I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to negativity, and I like opportunities to improve. The one thing I will say for the people giving criticism: mention the positives too, if there are any. Not just to make writers feel better, either. The single most painful criticism or response I've gotten from a reader who helped beta read was "Why did you take out my favorite part?" And the answer, really, was that it could have been saved, but it was an easy way to modify other things that other betas had issues with... and the reader didn't tell me it was their favorite part. That's important too. When I get criticism, I try to take it in the spirit its intended, and try to improve based on the constructive things. That said, it doesn't always work. In terms of improving my punctuation, especially when I get on major writing tears, all the advice in the world only goes so far. My editor despairs.

No.9 Why should people read your book?

If you're curious about Steampunk (1800s-style science fiction), but want a soft landing into the genre, in terms of the elements that you commonly see, it's a good start. If you want something that immerses you in the feel of the setting, the book is all letters and journal entries from the characters, written in Regency voice. If you want an adventure novel with plenty of historical references and research tied in, it's not a bad choice. The Dawn of Steam books aren't fast reads, which is intentional, but if you don't mind Regency style writing, and you're looking for something different, I always love new readers. Finally, if you're the type who always wants to ask the author questions, I'm friendly, easy to reach, and love responding to readers and helping people along with their own writing based on my own (limited) forays into both self- and traditional publishing so far.

No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?

That opens up all sorts of theological and scientific questions. I don't know, so I think I'll quote a Faerie Lord I've been writing for a work-in-progress (nothing to do with any current books) instead, since I think I say it better as him than otherwise. "What, because we're faeries, science or religion are supposed to be anathema to us? I love science. I love religion. I love how they create wonder and stories and open up minds. I love that they open up the big 'whys.' The only time they're a problem is when people stop wondering, stop grasping for those whys. When the thought that an unseen hand, or some invisible set of rules, drives things makes people search for the answers and meaning, or striving to get closer to those things – that's marvelous. It's only when people stop wondering, stop searching, stop researching, or stop caring about the whys, and just have a pat answer of 'Because science,' or 'Because God,' before they move on – that's when those things become anathema to faeries."

 Thanks Jeffrey for taking the time to answer my questions & the best of luck with your new book! 
Check out "Dawn of Steam" on

Gregory Conan Watts has been hired to prove the impossible. To do so, he’s expected to assemble a crew that includes war heroes, carnies, respectable women, and one wilderness scout who may or may not be entirely insane. They’ll have the best of 1815 technology: a state-of-the-art airship and the steam-powered battle suit that almost single-handedly brought down Napoleon’s alliance. Finding vast uncharted wonders Gregory’s not even sure are there sounded complicated enough; he wasn’t expecting natural disasters, outright sabotage … or another war. Dawn of Steam: First Light is an alt-history/early-era Steampunk epistolary novel.



  1. Many thanks to Patrick and Sara for the opportunity and exposure. Its been a pleasure, folks.


  2. Great Interview :)