I need to decide what to do about my steampunk YA novel Engn. It’s been published twice, once by the now-defunct December House press…
And most recently by Curiosity Quills, a press that isn’t technically dead but which has stopped moving and which I’ve pulled the novel from because, well, they look as good as dead to me.
Lost in the great machine…
Finn’s childhood in the valley is idyllic, but across the plains lies a threat. Engn is an ever-growing steam-powered fortress that needs a never-ending supply of workers. Generation after generation have been taken away, escorted into its depths by the mysterious and terrifying Ironclads, never to return.
The Masters of Engn first take Finn’s sister, then his best friend, Connor. Finn thinks he, at least, is safe – until the day the Ironclads come to haul him away too.
Yet all is not lost, Finn has a plan. In the peace of the valley he and Connor made a pact. A promise to join the mythical Wreckers and end Engn’s tyranny.
But now on his own, lost and thwarted in the vastness of Engn, Finn begins to have doubts. Is Connor really working to destroy Engn?
Or have they become part of the machine?
So now I need to decide what to do with the novel. There’s also the fact that I’ve written a sequel to the book (The Clockwork War) which has never been published. Curiosity Quills were supposed to be putting that book out, but completely failed to.
Also, I think it’s fair to say that Engn has had a somewhat complicated reception – some people absolutely loved it, some were indifferent. Although on one level it’s a YA adventure, it’s also a story about how some ideas are too large to see properly, because you’re inside them. As a metaphor for this, the purpose of the great machine that Finn finds himself lost within is never explained – in Book 1 at least. The machine just is, in the same way that many of our ideas and attitudes to life are accepted as the way the universe is, even when that’s clearly not true. I think some readers found that lack of explanation troubling, although for me it was the whole point. Book 2, incidentally, does explain the actual purpose of the great machine…
So, what to do – see if a third publisher is interested, or publish the books independently?