Interview with Steampunk Author Kara Jorgensen: Creative and Professional Writing
Kara Jorgensen is an independent author with two highly successful steampunk novels—The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden—and a novella—An Oxford Holiday—in her Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. Her newest novel, The Earl and the Artificer, will be released on January 30, 2016. But the publication of this novel is unusual; it also serves as the Master’s Thesis for her MFA in Creative and Professional Writing. Not only did Jorgensen have the clamoring voices of her fans demanding the next installment in the series when she was writing, but her thesis advisor adding pressure as well!
What first drew you to the steampunk genre?
I think what first drew me to steampunk was the way it combined my favorite era, the Victorian era, with whimsy and creativity. The Victorians seemed so refined, so uptight, but steampunk frees it from that stereotype. As much as steampunk is women in corsets and gentlemen with monocles, it’s also mad scientists, mechanists, and proto-feminists. Steampunk was a way for me to explore the past and the future at the same time by tweaking the past. By opening that void in the universe, I can imagine how things could have been different, how the world today could have been altered by what happened over a century ago.
Please tell us about your creative writing program:
I have been at William Paterson University for 2.5 years working toward an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing. For this program we have to take 14 classes, 2 of them devoted solely to our thesis project. For the first class, we work closely with our advisor (who is a full-time professor/writer of fiction or poetry) and also workshop our project weekly with the rest of the students who are completing their theses. For the second half, we work independently but still meet and work closely with our advisor. At the end of the second class, we must turn in a full-length novel, play, short story anthology, or chap book of poetry.
Were you still taking classes during this time?
Along with our creative writing classes, the MFA program also requires us to take literature classes to ensure we can properly analyze texts and pedagogy classes to understand how to teach writing and rhetoric. At the time of the thesis project, I was taking a rather rigorous pedagogy class where we learned how to teach creative writing.
Sounds like you were busy! Did you have to submit a proposal or could you just start writing?
To prep for my thesis, I had to provide a 12 page proposal where I delineated the themes, the literary influences that led to this project, and where I thought the project would go. This was then evaluated by the graduate thesis committee and approved.
It sounds a bit like submitting a book proposal to a publisher.
Honestly, the proposal was much more prep work than I ever put into my writing. It was daunting to think of “everything” before actually writing the piece, and at first, I got into a paralyzing rut because I thought I had to write exactly what I proposed. My advisor reminded me that I didn’t have to and eventually I stopped looking at the proposal and wrote. Most of The Earl and the Artificer was written over the summer, about 50,000 of 93,000 words.
I would like to send a special “thank you” to Kara Jorgensen for taking the time during a very busy period to answer questions about her newest steampunk novel and to provide an insider’s view of obtaining an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing. There are only a few more hours to wait before The Earl and the Artificer hits the booksellers and her fans are able to appreciate all of her effort! Until then I leave you with a small taste . . .
About The Earl and the Artificer
What mysteries lay buried beneath weeds and dust?
Following their wedding, Eilian and Hadley Sorrell journey to Brasshurst Hall, his family’s abandoned ancestral home. As Eilian struggles to reconcile his new roles as husband and earl, he finds the house and the surrounding town of Folkesbury are not as they first appear.
Behind a mask of good manners and gentle breeding lurks a darker side of Folkesbury. As the Sorrells struggle to fit in with the village’s genteel society, they find their new friends are at the mercy of Randall Nash, a man who collects secrets.
Soon, Eilian and Hadley become entangled in a web of murder, theft, and intrigue that they may never escape, with the manor at the heart of it all. Something long thought lost and buried within Brasshurst’s history has been found—something worth killing for.