Being a writer of steampunk or alternate history novels myself, I was very delighted to discovered Glen Robinson with his interesting mix of fictional and historical characters. Glen writes his steampunk novels under the pen name of Jackson Paul. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming him here at No Wasted Ink.
My name is Glen Robinson. I am a professor of Communication at a small university outside Fort Worth, Texas. I have been happily married for 37 years and have three grown kids and one grandson. I have been teaching for 14 years and before that I was a book and magazine editor.
When and why did you begin writing?
I have had a passion for writing ever since high school. Every job that I have taken since college has been one that either called for me to write or allowed me time to write on the side. I write because, as a Christian, I feel I have something to say. And I write because I enjoy it—some projects more than others.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was in high school in the 70s, but my first book was published in 1983, so I guess that’s when I first officially considered myself a writer. Although even today, during the writing process, there are times when I feel I haven’t learned enough to consider myself a writer. But everyone goes through that.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
I am working on several projects at present, but the book we are talking about here is “Tom Horn vs. the Warlords of Krupp.” I probably had more fun writing this book than any of my other book projects. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at a steampunk America and Europe, the last years of the Old West, and alternate history. The story is littered with real historical characters, who as far as I know never met each other, but could have. The premise is that Tom Horn, a western gunslinger, is recruited by old friend Teddy Roosevelt to escort his 16-year-old niece Eleanor Roosevelt to Vienna. The Krupp Weapons Corporation is intent on making World War I happen (early actually), and a summit peace meeting in Vienna is intended to stop the war. Eleanor has a special talent of persuasion, and Roosevelt thinks she can help prevent war. But the Krupp people send assassins and other bad guys to stop them on their trip.
What inspired you to write this book?
Since moving to Texas in 1998, I have been inspired by the heritage that is around me here. I am also a big fan of alternate history.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My background is news writing, so I tend not to be too flowery with my writing. I especially love to allow my main character to develop a distinctive voice, and follow that whenever it happens. That’s a lot of the fun of this genre and this particular story. Also the contrast between Eastern and European “sophistication,” versus Western directness and simpleness.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
I look at it as along the lines of old serials of the 50s, so I tried to find something that would fit that mold.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If there’s any message, it’s that simpleness is not always stupidness. Sophistication has its own issues.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
You mean like falling from a dirigible, being chased across snow by Germans in a steam-powered tank, or launching a glider from the top of the Eiffel Tower? No, most of the experiences are pretty well made up.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I like Orson Scott Card, Tom Clancy and Jerry Pournelle. I like how Card can weave spirituality into an otherwise straight science fiction story. I like Clancy because of his dedication to giving technical details that suggest credibility. And Pournelle was an early writer that got me inspired about the possibilities in my own writing.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Right out of college, my mentor was a fellow named Arthur Milward. He mostly wrote short stories for Reader’s Digest, Redbook and Saturday Evening Post. But he was very good, and had a lot of good advice for me. I miss him a lot.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I teach a class called Applied PR and Advertising, and one of my students suggested I look on deviantart.com for an illustrator. The cover art is by Mateusz Ozminski, also known on Deviant Art as artozi, who lives in Poland. He gave us a good price. The typography was done by my son, Matthew Robinson.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yeah lots. That’s why I teach writing classes. But in a nutshell, you have to keep trying, no matter what anyone else says. And keep your priorities straight.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope to do a sequel to Tom Horn one of these days. In the meantime, check out my many other books under my name or my pen name Jackson Paul on Amazon or on Smashwords.
Author of 11 published books in Christian suspense, steampunk/alternate history and science fiction.
Tom Horn vs. The Warlords of Krupp
Cover art by Mateusz Ozminski