Interview: Dawn Vogel, Author of the Brass and Glass Steampunk Trilogy

DawnVogelHey guys! Today I got the chance to interview NW Author Dawn Vogel about her soon-to-be-completed Steampunk trilogy. Pull on your Jodhpurs and aviator goggles and let’s get cracking!

Let’s start with a quick run-down of Brass and Glass. What’s it all about?

The Brass and Glass trilogy follows the adventures of Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko and the crew of her airship, The Silent Monsoon. They’re pirates of a generally good bent who catch wind of a missing cask of valuable whiskey, so they set out to find it. Along the way, they learn that the casks of whiskey hide a treasure map, which they then start piecing together. The series culminates in them going after the treasure … which is at the bottom of the currently boiling ocean. It’s lots of action and adventure, geyser-driven platform cities, an arboreal kraken, an automaton, and plenty of intrigue.

What appeals to you about writing steampunk?

My background is in history, and steampunk fits into this interesting niche of quasi-historical but also fantastical–as my blog is named, History That Never Was. I also like getting to make up science and technology that may or may not actually work. Finally, I love the aesthetic of steampunk fashion and décor. So when you combine all of those things, it winds up being a perfect genre for me to write. Beyond that, there’s an undercurrent of resistance to a corrupt government that seems to flow through a lot of the steampunk genre (or at least the parts I enjoy), which also appeals to me greatly.

If Brass and Glass were turned into a movie, who would you cast in the key roles?

From the get-go, I cast Jason Momoa as Larson Kavisoli, the love interest for my protagonist, Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko. But it’s only recently that I’ve narrowed down my casting for Svetlana herself. Eva Green would be my top choice, even though she’s a little bit taller than I picture Svetlana. But they can do all kind of magic in Hollywood, so it could work out. I also had Vertiline cast from the start as Christina Hendricks. And while I still haven’t cast most of the crew of The Silent Monsoon in any sort of definitive fashion, I would love to see Gina Torres as Doctor Annette Campbell. There are another couple of characters I’ve cast in my mind, who don’t appear until book 3. Dargon, the ruler of the Unfathomed Enclave, could only be Rahul Kohli, and his assistant, Guaa, is Danai Gurira.

What role have TTRPGs had in your writing?

Quite a lot. Back when I was a baby writer, I wanted to write novels of D&D adventures. As I learned more about writing, I realized what a bad idea that was, but it still planted a seed of getting inspiration from the characters and plot threads of role-playing games.
While Svetlana was originally inspired by a piece of art, I’ve played her as a character in both a Savage Worlds one-shot and a Dragon-Blooded Exalted campaign, prior to when I started writing the short story that ultimately became Brass and Glass. While the Svetlana that appears in my novels is different from both of those characters (who are in turn different from each other), playing her in games helped me figure out what she needed to be a good character for a novel–in this case, it was a crew that’s like a family. She’s a much more interesting character when she’s got a regular cast of other people to interact with.

What rituals or routines do you have around your writing process?

My primary routine is that before I start writing something new, I have to have my Word document set up in standard manuscript format–double spaced, Courier New 12 point, with indents pre-set. To me, that’s how words are supposed to look as they come out of my brain. I can write using the notepad on my phone, but that’s much slower going, in large part because of autocorrect and the tiny keyboard. I’ll also occasionally draft up a small bit of text in my email, but for it to feel REAL, it has to be in Word, and properly formatted. I even write my novels in standard manuscript format, where it’s TOTALLY unnecessary to do so.

What’s the coolest thing about writing?

For me, it’s having an outlet for all of the ideas that are constantly bouncing around in my brain. Some of those ideas could be fodder for role-playing games, but there’s only so much time for gaming. So being able to write my wacky ideas into stories rather than games works better.

Now that you’ve finished this series, what’s on deck next?

I’ve always got a ton of ideas I’m working on, but there are a couple of semi-immediate projects. I’m currently finishing up a young adult urban fantasy novel about a fae exile trying to survive supernatural reform school while someone is out to get her. I’ve also got a 1950s noir detective superhero novella set in an alternate Hollywood in the works that needs some revisions. The next thing I haven’t started yet is a middle grade urban fantasy novel with wizards. So yeah, it’s all over the place in terms of genres and audiences, because that’s how I roll.

Dawn Vogel’s academic background is in history, so it’s not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. The final book in her steampunk adventure series, Brass and Glass, will be out October 22, 2019. She is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA, and Codex Writers. She lives in Seattle with her husband, author Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. Visit her at or on Twitter @historyneverwas.

The final book in the trilogy can be pre-ordered here.

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