Monday, February 19, 2018

A Chat With Gwendolyn Clare, Author of INK, IRON, AND GLASS

We have with us today Gwendolyn Clare, whose debut novel Ink, Iron, and Glass hits shelves on February 20 (tomorrow!). Keep reading to learn how she chooses her characters' names, what her challenges are, and what books she'd recommend to her readers. 

I’m Gwendolyn Clare, and I write fantasy and science fiction. My debut young-adult steampunk novel — INK, IRON, AND GLASS — is forthcoming from Macmillan/Imprint (Feb 20th, 2018). My short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and my poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award. I’m represented by Jennifer Azantian of Azantian Literary Agency.

I’m a New Englander transplanted to central Pennsylvania, with long stops in Chicago and North Carolina along the way. I have a BA in Ecology, a BS in Geophysics, and a PhD in Mycology, which completes my acronym collection (for now, at least). I love the fieldwork aspect of being a scientist, and I’ve been lucky enough to work in awesome places like Italy, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guyana.

I enjoy practicing martial arts, adopting feral cats, and overstaying my welcome in local coffee shops while writing. I’m still in the market for a cybernetic left arm, though my rotator cuff seems to have forgiven me for past transgressions and started functioning properly again.  
(photo and text taken from Clare's 

How did you come up with the premise for Ink, Iron, and Glass

It's like the video game Myst meets the comic Girl Genius but set in Italy -- so basically, I smooshed together three things I love in order to come up with something new.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to? 

I can't listen to anything with lyrics, unless it's music playing in a coffee shop that blends into the background noise. Mostly I find music distracting.

How do you like to pick your characters' names?

Baby-naming websites are a writer's best friend. For this book it was a little easier than usual: most of the characters are Italian, so I had a specific range of names to search through.

What's more challenging for you as a writer: wrapping up the end of a novel or starting the first chapter? 

Wrapping up the end, definitely -- but that's because I don't write linearly. I write whatever scenes I'm most excited about first, so "the end" for me isn't the climax and resolution, it's all the connective tissue I wasn't super-stoked about working on the first time through. So, in a way, I save the hardest parts for last! Maybe not the best plan in retrospect, but that's how I work.

What was your favorite part of writing Ink, Iron, and Glass?

Probably the character interactions. As much as I love action scenes, I think I'm really in it for the characters -- as a reader and a writer.

What is one underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

I adored Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer, a rainforest fantasy with compelling characters and incredible worldbuilding. It was marketed for adults, but it has definite crossover potential and I'd encourage YA readers to give it a try, too. You'll love it!

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Can she write a world gone wrong?

A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation, where her mother―a noted scriptologist―constantly alters and expands their reality.

But when her home is attacked and her mother kidnapped, Elsa is forced to cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative Victorian Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of young scientists with a gift for mechanics, alchemy, or scriptology―and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.

In this thrilling debut, worlds collide as Elsa unveils a deep political conspiracy seeking to unlock the most dangerous weapon ever created―and only she can stop it. 
(taken from