Today we welcome Middle Grade Author J.S. Lewis, co-author of the popular Grey Griffins series. The Grey Griffins are a group of kids who become monster hunters. In their newest adventures, The Clockwork Chronicles meld Steampunk with adventure and magic. “The Brimstone Key” is the first book in this new series featuring the Grey Griffins. We have a copy of “The Brimstone Key” and and some amazing posters up for grabs.
J.S. Lewis is an American novelist and comic book writer. His novels include Invasion (coming December 2010), as well as The Brimstone Key (from the Grey Griffins Clockwork Chronicles), and the original Grey Griffins trilogy: The Revenge of the Shadow King, The Rise of the Black Wolf, and The Fall of the Templar (co-authored by Derek Benz). Lewis also wrote a twelve book comic book series based on Sony’s virtual world phenomenon, Free Realms.
A graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Broadcasting, Lewis has explored a career that includes news reporting, radio production, animation, graphic design, web development, mural painting, speech writing, video game development, voice over work, and marketing. He currently resides in Arizona with his wife and children.
Introducing a New Generation to Steampunk
by J.S. Lewis
I have a love/hate relationship with Harry Potter. Initially I refused to read the series because of the hype. Like most people, I have a rebellious streak. If you tell me how much I should love something, more likely than not I’ll despise it. Why? I wish there was a good explanation, but I can’t come up with one outside of stubbornness.
Years after its release, I finally picked up the first Harry Potter book. I was going to prove that the sensation credited for single-handedly bringing kids back to reading wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. I couldn’t wait to tell the world that J.K. Rowling was a hack. But there was a problem. I got hooked from the first chapter and now I’m a fan.
I truly am thankful that Rowling re-introduced kids to the wonders of books. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that in many ways I owe my writing career to her. Without Harry Potter, the Grey Griffins likely wouldn’t exist. Neither would Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Artemis Fowl, Fablehaven, The Spiderwick Chronicles, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Eragon, Charlie Bone, and a slew of other titles geared toward kids.
There is one problem, though. Any book with children and magic is in danger of being judged as derivative, whether it’s true or not. Is Percy Jackson simply Harry Potter with Greek gods? What about Eragon? Harry Potter on the back of a dragon?
In our latest release (The Brimstone Key) the Grey Griffins transferred from an average elementary school that would exist in just about any town in the United States, to Iron Bridge Academy, a special school for Templar youth where they learn to fight the monsters that go bump in the night.
Now if I were in Las Vegas, I’d bet the house that the word “Hogwarts” just popped into you head. I can’t blame you. Harry Potter is an enormous part of pop culture, so the comparisons are inevitable. That didn’t stop us from trying to make it different, though.
So if Rowling owns magic, we had to find our own niche if we didn’t want to be seen as derivative. Was that going to be science? Not likely. I can watch nature shows on television all day long, but I’m not a scientist and I don’t find the minutia of science interesting enough to become an expert. What about technology? Now there’s something I’m fascinated with. And is there any technology – real or imagined – more interesting than Steampunk?
We wanted to find a way to introduce a generation of young readers to the Steampunk subculture in the same way that Rowling introduced them to magic. We took our favorite elements and fused them with a secret society that lives in the shadows of today’s modern world. It gave us an exciting blend of today with the romantic qualities of an alternate history where Charles Babbage was Bill Gates, and clockworks served as nannies, butlers and soldiers.
We’re not alone in our quest, either. Thanks to books like Boneshaker and Dreadnought by Cherie Priest and Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, Steampunk is becoming a household name – and that’s exciting!
How would you introduce a new generation to Steampunk? Buy your kids brass goggles? Hand out gears instead of candy next to the neighborhood kids next Halloween? Give everyone on your holiday gift list Steampunk books?
Two lucky commenters will win a great prize.
One commenter will win a copy of The Brimstone Key and a bookmark.
The other will a set of the following amazing posters (these are beautiful and suitable for framing):