Interview With Anne Renwick, Author of The Golden Spider
Author Anne Renwick has launched The Golden Spider, the first steampunk romance in her Elemental Web Chronicles. Now, steampunk romances often feature scientist/inventor characters and so does The Golden Spider, but what intrigues me about this book is that both the hero and heroine are scientists! Not only do they sound brilliant, they’re going to solve a murder mystery and fall in love. I don’t recall encountering this kind of couple too often, so I’m keen to check out her book.
Here’s the blurb:
Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed.
After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention–a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves?
Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed.
Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful–and brilliant–new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury.
Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder.
Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.
Clockwork spiders, grisly procedures, and forbidden romance…oh my! Lady Amanda and Lord Thornton sound like a couple of super genius cinnamon rolls just waiting to be devoured. I reached out to Anne Renwick for an interview so we could learn more about her book. Happy reading!
Heather: Imagine I stop by your booth at a comic book convention (where there are also many excellent steampunk cosplayers, of course!). What are the first three things you tell me about The Golden Spider?
Anne Renwick: Lady Amanda is a medical student who has invented a mechanical spider that can re-spin damaged nerves. Lord Thornton, her professor, needs this technology—both in his laboratory and to heal an injury to his leg. When her clockwork spider is stolen and linked to a string of murders, they must work together—all while fighting a forbidden attraction—to catch the spy before it’s too late.
Heather: Please describe the world of the Elemental Web Chronicles. What can readers expect to discover in this series?
Anne: The series takes place midst an alternate version of Victorian British society. Though much will feel familiar to historical romance readers, technology progressed differently.
Dirigibles fly overhead, steam carriages and clockwork horses mingle with more traditional transportation upon the streets, and strange creatures are taken for granted, such as the kraken that swarm the Thames. But in the world of the Elemental Web Chronicles, the Victorian fascination with all things anatomical has also led to a number of biotechnological advances.
Deep inside the windowless laboratories of Lister University School of Medicine, brilliant men and women work hard to develop novel biotechnology devices—and struggle to keep them from the hands of Britain’s enemies.
Though the first book in the series takes place in London, book two sends us on an adventure outside its borders.
Heather: Despite their lofty titles, Lady Amanda and Lord Thornton sound like a couple of adorkable nerds. Tease us with a few non-spoiler tidbits about them!
Anne: Career-minded, Lady Amanda wants nothing to do with the marriage mart. But the scientific skills of women—particularly the daughter of a duke—hold little value in the eyes of the ton. She resorts to blackmail to gain entry into medical school… and lands herself in the classroom of the one man who dares insult her by calling her research rubbish.
Lord Thornton enjoys inserting occasional lies into his lectures, lies couched in complicated and nearly indecipherable scientific and technical terms. He’s fishing for brilliant minds, hoping that one of the students will challenge him. Not once did he expect a woman would do so, especially one that makes his blood boil.
Heather: About how much awesome science action can readers expect from The Golden Spider?
Anne: The science—and science fiction—is blended into the story, hovering about in the background and helping to drive the story forward. But the story focuses on the hero and heroine, what they bring into each other’s lives and what they must go through to stop a murderer.
Heather: Describe some of the cool stuff you got to work on while employed at a biological research facility.
Anne: What drew me into research was a fascination with embryological development. For me, the coolest thing I did was trace the migration of mouse neural crest cells as they formed structures of the skull and face. Except… well, at the end of the day, it was also fun to play *carefully* with leftover dry ice and liquid nitrogen. It’s very hard to freeze and shatter a rubber glove. You have to be fast.
Heather: What can you tell us about The Silver Skull, book two in the series?
Anne: The heroine of The Silver Skull is Lady Olivia Ravensdale, sister to Lady Amanda. When we first meet her in The Golden Spider, she is the classic ton debutant, focused entirely upon marrying a gentleman with a title. But as the story progresses, hints of unusual talents are revealed…
Lady Olivia is not all she seems.
Trained for marriage to an assigned political target, her skills lie in programming household steambots to serve tea, dress her hair… and sound the alarm while she picks locks and listens at doors. Humiliated by a failed assignment, she decides to redeem herself by tailing a suspected double agent.
Lord Rathsburn must flirt with treason.
Struggles to cure a horrible disease have met with unexpected complications. The cells he engineered can make a man’s bones unbreakable, but the side effects are fatal. He believed the research terminated… until his sister was kidnapped by a German count. Her ransom? A cure.
Piloting a stolen dirigible, he uncovers an unlikely stowaway, Lady Olivia.
Arriving together at a crumbling castle, an impossible task is set before them: cure the count’s guardsmen. Amidst their fake marriage, a very real growing attraction, dying guardsmen and escalating hostilities, Lady Olivia and Lord Rathsburn are thrust deep into the world of international medical espionage from which there may be no return.
Heather: What are some of the steampunk/steampunk romance books/comic/films books you’ve enjoyed?
Anne: A trick question. There are many, many steampunk books I’ve enjoyed. It wouldn’t be fair not to list them all. How about one from each category? Steampunk book: Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti. Steampunk romance: The Kraken King by Meljean Brook. Comic book: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. Film: Firefly/Serenity.
Heather: What’s this I hear about the mysterious “Elemental Web Weavers”?
Anne: This is a closed Facebook group that gathers together fans of The Elemental Web Series so they can discuss the books, all things steampunk… or just chat. It also allows me to give readers sneak peaks into my writing, ask them questions and pass on early looks at covers.
Heather: Where can readers find you and your books?