Guest Blog: Finding the Science in Steampunk by Brooke Johnson author of The Guild Conspiracy

As part of my Guest blog series for authors and fellow bloggers I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Brooke Johnson the author of The Guild Conspiracy has been kind enough to write a guest blog post for MightyThorJRS today. I am very excited and I would like to thank Brooke and Harper Voyager for the opportunity to host this Guest Blog.

The Guild Conspiracy

by Brooke Johnson

is out August 9, 2016!

So go grab a copy!

“Finding the Science in Steampunk”

by Brooke Johnson

My first foray into steampunk fiction was Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, and ever since I finished the last book in the series, I have searched for the next great science-based steampunk novel to read—no fantasy, no magic, no vampires or werewolves or fey. As much as I love books like Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices and Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, there is something special about a purely science-based steampunk story. It was one of the driving forces behind why I wrote The Brass Giant, the first book in the Chroniker City series: I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill.

Of the many science-based steampunk novels I’ve read, I found most of them stale, nigh unreadable, and completely lacking the sense of wonder and adventure that I fell in love with while reading Leviathan. Westerfeld spoiled me. Either the element of steampunk science was so bare that it hardly classified as steampunk at all, or the science that did exist was nothing more than a pretty backdrop, a landscape of gears and boilers but nothing more. I wanted something that brought the science of the Victorian era alive, much like Westerfeld accomplished with the innovations of the Clankers and Darwinists. The machines and biological creations were every bit a part of the story as the characters, more than just some neat thing to prettify the setting. I wanted a steampunk story that felt just as magical as a spell-slinging fantasy, just with gears and springs instead of wands and incantations.

When I couldn’t find that book, I decided instead to write it.

With scientific purpose in mind, I built my fictional setting from the ground up, starting with a simple idea and building outward until I had a completely realized world that not only provided the backdrop for the characters but acted as the cornerstone for the story. The city itself is mechanically alive, a ticking, humming, hissing machine that stands as a testament to the imagination and intelligence of the world’s greatest engineers, the foundation for all the scientific wonder of that world. Without Chroniker City, the story wouldn’t exist—couldn’t exist.

But to truly bring the science to life, I needed a character who understood the intricacies of the technologies in play, someone who looked at a machine with wonder and saw the inherent beauty in its construction. Through Petra Wade, I hoped to open a window into the world of Chroniker City, to share her passion for machines with the reader, and give the scientific aspects of the story an almost magical quality. Once I had Petra, the rest of the characters quickly followed—devoted engineers and shrewd scientists alike—and before long, I had an entire Guild of Engineers, an entire institution of genius talent driving innovation and invention across the modern world.

There are many powers at play in Chroniker City, especially evident in The Guild Conspiracy, but at the center of all that conflict is an unbridled desire—a need—for scientific progress. How that progress should be achieved varies from character to character, but it makes for some interesting inventions in the meantime. What else would motivate a group of students to start an underground fight club with combat mechs?

It’s my hope that readers see the city and its technology with the same awe and excitement I felt when I read Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. If nothing else, the greatest compliment to me would be a reader saying that the city and the characters came to life for them as they read, that it felt real, because that will mean that I was able to translate something that once existed only in my head onto the pages of my book. And there is no greater feeling than that.


BROOKE JOHNSON is a stay-at-home mom and tea-loving writer. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she journeys through life with her husband, daughter, and dog. She currently resides in Northwest Arkansas but hopes to one day live somewhere more mountainous.


In the face of impossible odds, can one girl stem the tides of war?

It has been six months since clockwork engineer Petra Wade destroyed an automaton designed for battle, narrowly escaping with her life. But her troubles are far from over.  Her partner on the project, Emmerich Goss, has been sent away to France, and his father, Julian, is still determined that a war machine will be built. Forced to create a new device, Petra subtly sabotages the design in the hopes of delaying the war, but sabotage like this isn’t just risky: it’s treason. And with a soldier, Braith, assigned to watch her every move, it may not be long before Julian finds out what she’s done.

Now she just has to survive long enough to find another way to stop the war before her sabotage is discovered and she’s sentenced to hang for crimes against the empire. But Julian’s plans go far deeper than she ever realized . . . war is on the horizon, and it will take everything Petra has to stop it in this fast-paced, thrilling sequel to The Brass Giant.


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