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Interview with Author Robyn Bennis
Posted By Flames On June 21, 2019 @ 12:40 pm In Authors | No Comments
Hello FlamesRising.com readers! Today, we are sitting down with author and biologist Robyn Bennis. Her first novel, an action-packed steampunk tale called The Guns Above , debuted in May 2017. Since then she’s released a sequel titled By Fire Above  and a brand new book titled The Devil’s Guide to Managing Difficult People . If you’re curious about her and her work, visit www.robynbennis.com  or read The Devil’s Guide to Managing Difficult People preview  here on Flames.
In steampunk, it’s helped me to think about how technology does and doesn’t work, so I can provide those sweet, sweet tech descriptions that all the nerds love. More generally, being able to think critically and honestly about flaws in my ideas–in science, you either learn humility or you get steamrolled by material reality–has helped me to self-edit, to see what is and isn’t working in a story, and to adjust it accordingly.
No, it hasn’t changed! I still adore the aesthetics of steampunk. I love the simple idea that you can do pretty much anything with a bunch of gears and a boiler. There’s a weird kind of optimism to that, that calls back to the early Information Age, when we thought in ten or twenty years we’d have flying cars and would be taking day trips to the moon.
I am proud to say that my editor, the amazing, twice-Hugo nominated editor Diana Pho, was one of the earliest to start that conversation. She held my hand while we were working on the first book, The Guns Above. Although neither book comes at colonialism head on, I believe we succeeded in our goals to avoid glorifying it and took a few pot shots at the subject along the way.
The inspiration was primarily taken from my own life and experiences. Dealing with the death of my mother, in particular–who never was a huge or positive part of my life, but who I nevertheless loved very much–took me years to process. Jordan, the main character, goes through the process of mourning a bit faster with the help and abuse of Dee, the Devil. ‘Course I never had those advantages.
I didn’t do a lot of research to worldbuild, but then again I grew up Catholic — I didn’t have to. My version of the Devil is largely a trickster god archetype and therefore, at least in my mind, defining the rules in my head would’ve been counterproductive. Instead, I provided her with abilities as the needs of the story and characters dictated. During revisions, I then went back and clarified the rules for her character.
Insofar as all my characters are drawn from aspects of my own personality? Yes, very much so. Absolutely. I don’t think of any of my main characters as being particularly good people, which probably says a lot about me.
I don’t remember the specific inspiration for that portrayal, but it had to have been partly inspired by Terry Prachett. I’ve always loved the way he could blend cutting social commentary with the goofiest supernatural portrayals.
Probably being set on fire by an angry mob and thrown in a ditch? Failing that, I am currently writing a book which is provisionally titled Up the Well, about a trans girl on an agricultural space station. You get a lot of the small town queer dynamics that I grew up with alongside cool space stuff.
This interview was conducted by FlamesRising.com contributor Monica Valentinelli.
Article printed from Flames Rising: https://www.flamesrising.com
URL to article: https://www.flamesrising.com/interview-with-author-robyn-bennis/
URLs in this post:
 The Guns Above: https://amzn.to/2RwoQYD
 By Fire Above: https://amzn.to/2RyPjoE
 The Devil’s Guide to Managing Difficult People: https://amzn.to/2Ycm3Gg
 www.robynbennis.com: http://www.robynbennis.com
 The Devil’s Guide to Managing Difficult People preview: http://www.flamesrising.com/pre-order-and-excerpt-for-the-devils-guide-to-managing-difficult-people/
 Image: https://amzn.to/2IXwp6Q
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