Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TBR welcomes Brooke Johnson

TBR: TBR is happy to present Brooke Johnson. Will you share a little bit about yourself, Brooke?
Brooke: Well, I am a twenty-something writer from Northwest Arkansas, where I live with my husband and dog. I like wearing the color purple, listening to techno, and doing nerdy things like playing Dungeons & Dragons.

TBR: Tell us about The Clockwork Giant and where it's available.
Brooke: The Clockwork Giant is a steampunk adventure tale, full of geeky science and a touch of romance. It’s available at most online retailers, most notably Amazon.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
It's 1881, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Chroniker City, the global hub of technological advancement in the modern world. Based off the British coast, the city is home to the most prestigious polytechnic university worldwide, a center of mechanical ingenuity teaching everything from clockwork mechanics and thermodynamics to electromagnetism and electricity.

Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, dreams of one day becoming a member of the Guild, an elite group of inventors and innovators who envision a future fueled by technology, but her ambitions will only come to fruition if she can find a way into the illustrious university—an institution reserved for men only. When she meets Emmerich Goss, an accomplished engineer newly recruited into the Guild, Petra discovers that he needs help building a top-secret, government-sanctioned automaton, and she is just the girl to help him.

Together, they craft the clockwork giant, and as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra finds that she can love more than gears and mainsprings.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
I wanted to tell a story about a girl who despite her current situation isn’t afraid to follow her dreams, even if she has to fight the entire way. It’s something I’ve always believed in. If you’re determined enough, you can achieve anything, no matter what life throws at you.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Brooke: I try to make my characters as realistic as possible, giving them dreams, flaws, past relationships, etc. But t
he most important thing about a character is what they want, why they want it, and how far they’ll go to get it. You can learn a lot about a character based on their dreams and how they react to obstacles, more so than their current occupation or eye color.

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Brooke: I didn’t really create a playlist, but I did have a long list of albums I’d listen to while writing, including the TRON: Legacy, Atonement, The Painted Veil, The King’s Speech, Finding Neverland, Spirited Away, Steamboy, Howl’s Moving Castle, and House of Flying Daggers soundtracks. I also listened to a lot of Daft Punk.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Brooke: Almost everyone who has read the book can agree that the last person from Chroniker City they’d want to see at their dinner table is Tolly. He’s crude, selfish, and a sorry friend. That dinner party would not go well, and it would probably end up with Tolly badly injured.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Brooke: I think the biggest thing that sets it apart from other steampunk books is the fact that there are absolutely no paranormal elements in Chroniker City. No vampires. No werewolves. No zombies. No magic at all. I wanted to create a world that celebrated science and the ingenuity of its people—in this case, the Victorians—and I think I accomplished that. Chroniker City is a testament to scientific progress and innovative vision, cultivating the talents of anyone who dares to dream big. There, anything is possible.

TBR: What's next for you?
Brooke: Now that the post-release jitters have gone, I’ve started the sequel to The Clockwork Giant, currently untitled. Petra’s story will continue through this book and probably a third. But after that? I plan on doing something different. Maybe a Norse epic, or a space opera, or may a handful of standalone novels. I have a good two dozen book ideas, so rest assured, there will be something after Petra’s story is over.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Brooke: I find the whole experience challenging. The moment I realize that I’m no longer challenging myself with each book, that will be the moment I’ll be most disappointed in myself. Writers should always challenge themselves. It forces them to be more creative, takes them to places they could never imagine, and it creates books that are passionate, daring, and awesome. The most rewarding thing about writing is finishing something that you never thought you could do. When I got the idea for The Clockwork Giant, I didn’t think I could write it. I knew it would be far more difficult than anything else I had written, and I was afraid of it. But I wrote it anyway. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written, the most challenging thing I’ve ever written, and I hope I can continue to say that with each book I write.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Brooke: I love anything written by Diana Wynne Jones. She is a storytelling goddess. My favorite book of hers is Howl’s Moving Castle. I also love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, as well as the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain, the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, and the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Right now, I’m reading the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell, and I have several other books lined up, including Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry. You can of course see everything I’m reading on Goodreads (link below).

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Brooke:  My website:

TBR: Readers, Brooke is giving away a copy of The Clockwork Giant, either ebook or paperback (winner’s choice). She'll pick a winner from among the commenters on January 25 and announce the winner here.
Thanks for visiting TBR, Brooke. Best of luck to you.


  1. Welcome Brooke. Love the premise of The Clockwork Giant.

  2. I've just discovered steampunk and find I like the combination of science, alternate history and all the ways a novel can go with it. It sounds like you have a winner, Brooke.

  3. A fun interview! Enjoyed it very much. I also prefer my steampunk without the woo-woo elements, though I don't mind reading some when its well done. The book sounds really fun! Congrats on your release!

  4. Just wanted to let Pauline know she won the copy of The Clockwork Giant!

  5. Thank you so much! Look forward to reading!


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