According to self-published author, Billy O’Shea from Denmark, and sometimes Ireland, Steampunk is “a feeling, an atmosphere, more than a set of rules.” Steampunk offers a world of possibilities in every aspect from individual creations to virtual reality. A place where technology is beautiful and exciting. His favourite Steampunk elements are the numerous gadgets, the artwork, and designs. He enjoy “the work of visual artist Vadim Voitekhovitch, the designer Dmitriy Tikhonenko and the fantastic creations of Pierre Jean Tardiveau and Thomas Kuntz.” O’Shea works and writes in a room filled with brass telescopes, clockwork toys, and numerous other Steampunk items

Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure that I ever really consciously decided that I wanted to be a writer. I have just always written stories, ever since I was a child. My first publication was a short story in a newspaper in Limerick when I was fourteen, but I had to wait until my fifties before I published a book. Like most writers, I have to earn a living as well, so I work as a freelance translator.


Q. I noticed that your website is Black Swan; is that your own publishing company?
Yes, it is. The black swan, an eala dubh, is the totem animal of the O’Shea clan in Ireland, where I come from. Of course the symbol has other meanings as well, which is an added bonus.



Q.
What company do you use to print your books?
I use a local printing company, Scandinavian Book. It’s expensive to get books printed in Denmark, but I’ve been very satisfied with the quality.



Q. What are the pros of self-publishing?
Total control. You do what you want in your own way.

 

Q. What are the cons of self-publishing?
Total control! Everything is your responsibility: the artwork, layout, typography, marketing, book-keeping. You need to be something of a jack of all trades.

 

Q. What advice would you give another author?
Self-publish by all means – but get some honest, objective criticism first.

 

Q. How were you first introduced to steampunk?
Like a lot of people, I was into steampunk before I even knew it existed. I just liked the look of crazy old machines and clockwork. Then when I finally found steampunk on the net I was delighted, because it meant I could easily find lots of the stuff that I liked, and other people who liked it, too.

 

Q. What intrigues you most about the subculture?
I’m not a maker, but I am absolutely fascinated by those who are. I greatly admire their skill and artistic talent, and I love to see all the different things they come up with.

 

Q. Why do you think steampunk is so popular?
My own theory is that it’s a longing for beauty and technology to be combined. There’s no reason why vehicles, buildings or machines shouldn’t be beautiful, but the modern doctrine is that functionality should be beauty in itself. Back in the sixties, they told us we would one day see high-rise blocks as beautiful. The generations come and go, and we’re still waiting. No wonder people begin to imagine or recreate worlds in which technology could look good. 


Q. You mention Clockpunk on your website, how do you see that as different from steampunk?
Clockpunk is a sub-genre of steampunk that involves worlds where there is clockwork, but no steam. I don’t have anything against steam and Victoriania, but really I’m in love with the renaissance, so my books are set in a distant, renaissance-like future in which mankind is gradually recovering from a catastrophe brought about by industrialism. The settings for the books are Scandinavia and Ireland – neither of which, as far as I know, have featured in steampunk fiction before.

 

Q. I noticed that you’ve done 3D art, do you do your own covers?
I leave the front cover art to a professional artist, Andrey Dorozhko, but I design my own back cover pictures, book markers and publicity material, which is fun. It took me forever to construct a 3D model of the Round Tower of Copenhagen, but it’s been very useful. One of the things I did was to create a short animation.

I also designed a metal USB stick for the audio version of Kingdom of Clockwork, which has been quite popular.

 

Q.  Any additional thoughts, comments, or feelings you’d like to share?
I think steampunk fiction now is roughly where science fiction was in the nineteen-fifties. Back then, it was all aliens and laser guns – but then, in the sixties, science fiction really took off as a vehicle for creative ideas. When people eventually get tired of dashing heroes and daring heroines, I think we will start to see something very interesting happening.  There’s nothing at all wrong with adventure and escapism, of course – but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t make you stop and think occasionally, too.

Finally, I should mention that my paperbacks and audio books are available post-free from blackswan.dk, and the e-book versions are on Kobo, Amazon and Smashwords.

Book Titles:

  • Kingdom of Clockwork
  • It's Only a Clockwork Moon