I’m pleased to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Engn by Simon Kewin! I was really happy to be approached by new e-book only publishers December House and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future! In the meantime, learn more about the mysterious Engn where it all takes place…
Guest Post from Simon Kewin
The Engn Fortress
Engn is both the name of my novel and the name of the city-sized, steam-powered machine where most of the action takes place. When the hero – Finn – first sees it we’re told this:
The track ran off in an unbroken line, from Finn’s feet away to the horizon. He could see grey clouds massing over there, like the bulk and peaks of another mountain range. At one point the clouds formed a sharp funnel down to the ground, as if they were being sucked out of the sky. He had never seen anything like it. He wiped his eyes and looked again. Now he could make out buildings beneath the funnel, a great clutter of misshapen blocks, with chimneys of different heights reaching up. A plume of grey smoke poured from the tallest chimney, widening into the delta that merged with the clouds. The whole sky was being made there; a sky of smoke from the chimneys of Engn. … Here and there, bars of sun through the clouds picked out the distant scene with white spotlights, glistening off metal towers and wheels nearly as high as the chimneys. It stretched all across the horizon: an entire, artificial mountain-range of machinery.
I made this great and terrible machine the focal-point of the novel for several reasons. First off, it just seemed cool. If you’ve ever stood beside a really big steam engine in full flow you’ll know how impressive they are. All that wheezing and pumping makes them seem alive. They’re like some breathing metal beast with their gleaming black steel and billowing steam. So I got to thinking how neat it would be to scale that up to the epic scale of Engn – a machine so big no-one even knows what all the parts of it do any more (or do they? Don’t want to give the game away.) I couldn’t resist the idea of this great machine with all its mysteries and hidden secrets.
As well as Engn being a fun setting I figured it would also give me lots of scope for danger and adventure. Again, without giving anything away, Finn learns this pretty quickly. Engn provides an endless array of machinery for him to puzzle over, climb, fall off, get lost within. The really interesting part of any novel is what goes on in the characters’ heads, of course. But, given that you need a setting, you might as well make it an exciting one.
I also simply liked the notion that the machinery is so vast and incomprehensible. Partly that’s a fun idea on its own and partly I think it works on a metaphorical level. Engn is a symbol for … well, I’ll leave that up to the reader to decide. I had a definite meaning in mind when I wrote the novel, but I was very conscious that another person might read Engn in a different way. Or might just see the book as a fun adventure, nothing more. I think both those responses are completely fine and dandy. My only hope is that anyone picking up the book finds it an enjoyable and intriguing read…
Release: 15 July 2013
Publisher: December House
Finn’s childhood in the valley is idyllic, but across the plains lies a threat. Engn is an ever-growing steam- powered fortress, that needs a never-ending supply of workers. Generation after generation have been taken away, escorted into its depths by the mysterious and terrifying Ironclads, never to return.
The Masters of Engn first take Finn’s sister, then his best friend, Connor. He thinks he, at least, is safe – until the day the ironclads come to haul him away.
Yet all is not lost, Finn has a plan. In the peace of the valley he and Connor made a pact. A promise to join the mythical Wreckers and end Engn’s tyranny.
But now on his own, lost and thwarted in the vastness of Engn, Finn begins to have doubts. Is Connor really working to destroy Engn? Or has he become part of the machine?
About Simon Kewin:
Simon was born and raised on the misty Isle of Man, but now lives and works deep in rural England. He divides his time between writing SF/fantasy fiction and computer software. He has had around fifty short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, along with a similar number of poems. He has a degree in English Literature from the Open University.
He is currently learning to play the electric guitar. It’s not going that well, frankly.
He lives with Alison, their two daughters Eleanor and Rose, and a black cat called Morgan to which he is allergic.