Interview with Steve Turnbull

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Steve Turnbull, author of a number of fantasy works. Let the games begin!

Is there something you never leave the house without – be it a specific item from your wardrobe or an accessory, or something less tangible than that?

My writer's scarf. It's important to appear to be the thing you're being, and as I am being an author I have to look the part.

What does an adventurous gentleman such as yourself drink?

I ought to say something like absinthe, or even just beer. But sadly the answer is that I don't drink alcohol. It's not a religious thing but I learned in my youth that alcohol and I were destined never to be friends.

But I drink tea. And that's quite delightful.

Are you a cat person, dog person, or other, and why?

I would say, by preference, that I am a cat person but my wife is a dog person. So we have both and currently we have two particularly needy cats who won't just sit quietly being cats. One demands attention because she's queen and the other demands attention because he's ... just needy. The dog, on the other hand, will lie down and be a foot warmer.

What is the most exotic place you have been?

The Copenhagen red light district when I was eleven years old. It was an educational school trip around coastal Scandinavian bits of Europe. And that part was shockingly educational.

Tell me about an incident you were involved in that is so funny or shocking, it cannot possibly be true, yet is.

Not so much an incident, more of a period of time. I am technically a cockney and spent my first five years living in what was essentially a slum consisting of two rooms (well, one room with a partition) with my parents and two sisters. Gas lighting. Cold water from a tap down the hall. And this was the late 50s - early 60s. People don't believe it, but it's true.

Word association: I say “steampunk”, you say…?


Now, why don't you tell me about your book.

What, you mean Murder out of the Blue and its sequel Blood Sky at Night? Those old things? (They're novellas so together they just about make a novel.)

With which character do you most identify?

Every character is part of me and most of my characters are female. I'm not sure what that says about me - perhaps I'm in touch with my feminine side, you'll have to ask my wife about that.

The protagonist, Maliha Anderson, is a Holmesianly brilliant young woman whose intelligence (and the fact she's mixed race) makes her an outcast from society. This is something I identify with (the clever outcast bit, as I'm neither female or mixed race).

Her male associate, William Albert Valentine Crier (Bill to his friends), has difficulty coping with women and especially her. That would also be me.

Mrs. Makepeace-Flynn is arrogant, aloof, and doesn't suffer fools gladly. That would also be me.

I tend not to identify too much with the people who get murdered. This has not yet happened to me.

Is there a particular character you love more than any of the others?

I'm probably desperately in love with Maliha. Oh wait, you didn't mean that ... sorry, embarrassing. But then how can you not love someone so tortured?

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Now that's a deadly serious question. While I'm sure most people who would read steampunk wouldn't be racist or sexist (or any other type of bigot), I hope people will have a deeper understanding of how bad these things can be. I hope I can be one of those writers who is dragging steampunk kicking and screaming away from British-centric stories.

It's true my stories take place in the British Empire - but I am not uncritical of that institution.

Why don’t you wrap this up by telling me about your upcoming projects and where we can find you!

Oh right well. The next Maliha Anderson story (Halo Round the Moon) takes us to another new place in this world with a focus on female sexuality, and I'm afraid I am particularly cruel to my protagonist (but she's very stubborn and refuses to learn). Bill doesn't enjoy this story either. That should be out in a couple of months, it's fully plotted so I just need to get the words down.

I've also just published the first in a straight fantasy trilogy called Elona (yes, I write female protagonist almost exclusively, I want to be Joss Whedon when I grow up). Of course, when I say "straight" it's anything but that.

Back to the steampunk, and set in the same universe, I'm working with the wondrous Theamat (check her out on deviantArt) creating a comic book called The Lazarus Device. This is a five-part story, the first part should also be out in May.

I also have stories planned for Miss Winifred Churchill (in my universe Winston Churchill was born female), an investigating journalist.

In addition I am serialising a free (yes free) story called Frozen Beauty for people who sign up to my newsletter. You get a new part every two weeks, plus all the news about what I'm doing, and other general steampunk things. (I try to play down what I'm doing - people who sign up don't want me trying to sell to them every other week.)

My website is and you can sign up for the newsletter at that last website is a kind of Wiki which describes the alternate historical timeline of my steampunk universe. I'm on Twitter at, and I do have a FB page but it's not worth the effort since I'd have to pay to ensure everybody got the notifications. The newsletter is better.

Anyway buy my books, tell everybody you know to buy my books too, because at the moment I have a day job and it gets in the way of the writing - and I have so many stories I want to tell you. 

~Steampunk Snark~

“Well, such an incompatibility would give a whole new meaning to bedroom relations if the result was explosive.” -- The Daemon Device 

~Next Episodes of Sounds of Steam~

April 21, 2014 - Props - Real or Fantastic - BANNED!
April 28, 2014 - Adventures at Steampunk Empire Symposium