If you like steampunk, spies, Jane Eyre, magic, and rebellions, you’ll enjoy Rebel Mechanics. When I originally read the synopsis, I thought that it sounded really interesting, and I’m happy to say that I was right!
Something that I liked about Rebel Mechanics was the fact that Verity, the main character, was smart. She picked up on some clues that I didn’t even see, and I LOVE when that happens. There were a couple of moments where I was like, “how did I not see that?” Also, she got thrown into some frightening scenarios, but she kept her wits about her, and managed to get through all of the situations. Another reason why I loved Verity was while she was independent, she wasn’t afraid to ask for help. I wish that more books had a hero and/or heroine that wasn’t afraid to ask for help. After all, smart people know that two heads are better than one.
The one thing that I didn’t love about this book was the romance. I just didn’t find the romance to be realistic. It felt…flat. I read it, and I felt nothing. It was disappointing to me, but I do know that some of my friends did enjoy the romance. I’m not sure why I didn’t love the romance…maybe it was just me. But again, that was just one small part of the book. I really enjoyed the rest of Rebel Mechanics!
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and give it 4/5stars.
What was your process in choosing the time period for Rebel Mechanics?
There were a lot of things at work in choosing that time period. For the most part, I wanted to set the story in the Gilded Age. That was an era ripe for revolution in that there was a great divide between rich and poor. The rich were ridiculously rich and lived lives so extravagant that even the most high-living Hollywood stars of today would be astonished, while the poor were crammed into terrible tenements in crowded slums. There were crazy trends like “slumming” tours, in which rich people would go tour the slums just to watch the people there, or where their idea of charity was to let poor children watch them eat a huge feast because that would inspire them to work harder. It was an era when worksmanship mattered, so things were not only functional but were also beautiful. These were all ideas I wanted to work with in the story. But to be totally honest, I narrowed down the period within the Gilded Age based on the clothing. I wanted to be past the age of the really crazy bustles but before the enormous leg-o’mutton sleeves became a trend.
I love the name Verity! Did you happen to pick it because it meant truth, or was there another reason behind your choice?
I think the name first came to my attention in Connie Willis’s novel To Say Nothing of the Dog, which is set around the same time (well, part of it is — it’s time travel), and there was a mention of how the name was appropriate to the time. When I was naming my heroine, this was the name that sprang to mind immediately because it sounded like the sort of thing a professor would name his daughter. The meaning of the name is important on multiple levels. She figures out that her father probably named her as a cruel joke related to her origins, but within the story she represents truth even while struggling with it and trying to figure out what’s true.
If Rebel Mechanics was made into a movie, who would your dream cast be?
I haven’t even considered that! Sometimes I mentally cast my novels just to give me a starting point, but in this case, the images of some of my characters were inspired by some old photos I found at an antique show, so I never bothered looking for actors to play those roles in the movie playing in my head. I’m afraid I’m not too familiar with actors in the right age range.
In comparison to your other novels, did you find Rebel Mechanics easier or harder to write? Why?
It was harder to research because this was my first book in a historical setting rather than being contemporary, but I think once I started writing, the story came together fairly easily. It was perhaps a little more difficult to write than my Enchanted, Inc. series but much easier than my Fairy Tale series. I did do a lot of edits and revisions, though, so maybe it wasn’t as easy as it seemed at first.
What’s your favorite food? Curious minds want to know… 😉
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
After staring at my bookcase for a while, I can’t think of one. If I love a book, then I love it as it is and wouldn’t want to take it away from that author. I can say that I wish I’d had the core idea for the TV series Once Upon a Time first (actually I did have something a little bit similar, but with different characters and executed in a different way) so I could have written it as a series of novels. Alas, the concept is too unique and the twists on the characters are too critical to the story for me to come up with a way to write my own version and file off the serial numbers so it would be “original.”
Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you give us any juicy details? 🙂
I’m currently revising the third book in my Fairy Tale series. This one is going to put my characters in some new situations and explore their relationships in more depth. I’m just starting to do some research for a possible sequel to Rebel Mechanics.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how have you gotten past it?
I have two different issues that might fall under the heading of “writer’s block.” One is what I call the “don’t wannas,” which is when I would rather do anything other than write. This winter when I went through that, I painted my bathroom and cleared out my closets. Other times, I’ll obsessively post on Internet message boards. I’ve found that this often happens when the book I’m working on is going in the wrong direction and I need time to think about it before I go too far down the wrong path, but once it starts, it’s hard to get back to writing. I usually force myself to power through it by setting a writing appointment and a goal, and once I get started it usually starts flowing again.
The other issue is being outright stuck, not knowing what happens next. That’s when I’ll go somewhere with paper and a pen and brainstorm. I may put myself in the head of some other character to see what actions they might take that my hero will have to react to, make lists of things that could happen, or list all the things going on in the book and then draw links between them. Usually this helps me figure out what happens next. I may also call my mom or a friend and talk it through.
I saw on Goodreads that you took a class in parageography (the geography of imaginary lands). Do you think that class helped you to visualize the settings in your novels?
Oh, most definitely! I learned about that class when I interviewed the professor for a radio story and was intrigued enough that I registered for it the following semester. It was an elective I didn’t need for my degree, but it was one of the more valuable courses I took for what I ended up doing for a living. We learned all about the things that make a place what it is, so it wasn’t just about maps but was about worldbuilding as a whole, looking at how the setting affects the people who live there, and vice versa. That has a lot to do with the kind of extrapolation I had to do in creating an alternate history, working through how adding magic to the ruling class would have affected society and history and what that world would look like.
Shanna Swendson is the author of the popular adult romantic fantasy series, Enchanted, Inc. Rebel Mechanics is her first novel for young adults. She lives in Irving, Texas.
Macmillian has also been generous to donate TEN copies of Rebel Mechanics!