Ah…finally got away from work, sat down, and put this together.
There might not be another interview for next month, as every time I do this, I make sure I’ve read the works of author so as to get it right. And I’m a slow reader. So, you know, we’ll see.
But for now, everyone, enjoy!
Aden: Hello everyone! Welcome back to our Author of the Month series, where I interview indie authors about their books and stories, alongside two of their characters. Today, we have K.R Kampion, author of Reconstruction. Along with her are Isaac Benjamin and Solomon Israel. How are you all? Care for an introduction?
KR: Hi Aden! I’m doing just fine. Very excited to be here with you today!
Isaac: Uh, hello there, I’m Isaac Benjamin, sheriff of Lawrence. And I’m very well, thank you. Yourself?
Aden: I’m doing well, Isaac, thanks for asking.
Solomon: Name’s Solomon Israel, I’m the deputy sheriff of Lawrence. Be sure to add that I’m the better lookin’ one if you need to describe us.
Aden: Don’t worry Solomon, I’ll make a unicorn comparison to show your majesty.
Isaac: Y’know, the horse with the horn on its-
Solomon: I know what a unicorn is, Isaac!
Aden: Anyway, K.R, do you mind giving us an introduction to Reconstruction? I understand you are into your second book now.
KR: Yes, “No Rest for the Wicked”. The Reconstruction Trilogy is a redemption story set against the backdrop of a steampunk Reconstruction period. It follows Isaac Benjamin, a Union colonel turned lawman, and his team as they try to deal with the fallout of the Civil War and protect the town they’ve all grown to love. Wow, that sounded pretentious.
Isaac: Hell and damnation, it’s a trilogy?!
Solomon: You didn’t tell us it was a three-parter!
Aden: Oh, mysterious mystery is mystifyingly abound. Moving on, you use the hashtag, #VoltaPunks to gather your readers. Is voltapunks a steampunk thing? Is there a story behind that tag?
KR: There are several stories actually. I created the term voltapunk because, in spite of being a steampunk story, none of the tech in Reconstruction actually uses steam, it’s all electrical. At the time, I was looking into other ‘punks’, you know, like cyberpunk, solarpunk, teslapunk, to figure out where Reconstruction fit in. The tech more closely mirrors teslapunk with the heavy use of electricity, but the story predates Tesla by quite a bit so I hesitated to call it teslapunk. While I was researching the history of electricity to figure out how all this crazy tech came to be, I stumbled onto the work of Alessandro Volta, inventor of the first battery in the late 1700s and well, I thought the term voltapunk illustrated what kind of tech we’d be getting in Reconstruction very nicely. As for the hashtag, one of my friends decided that my fledgling fandom needed a name so I took the question to the Jukepop comments section. It was actually the fabulous Jen Flath of Black Pearl fame who gave me the idea to refer to my readers as VoltaPunks.
Solomon: *whistles This one’s a keeper, Isaac, she really knows her stuff!
Isaac: Well, we don’t really have much of a choice since she’s the author but, yes, indeed she does. Glad Miss Caroline and I ain’t the only ones that read Volta.
Aden: Speaking of Miss Caroline, quick question. What do you all think of her? She is a main lead, and, if not obvious enough by the first few chapters, Isaac’s love interest. Right? Isaaaac~? … … I’m sorry, I’m not good with romance genres…
Solomon: Ooooooh! You’re on the spot now Sheriff!
Isaac: *turns as red as his hair and clears throat very loudly several times, glancing at K.R. pleadingly*
KR: While Isaac pulls himself together, I absolutely adore her. She’s smart, she’s tough, she’s kind, she’s got mad weapons skills. I mean really, what’s not to like about her? Right, boys?
Solomon: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Caroline Winchester is a true queen among women. She’s a better friend than I could’ve asked for. Isaac over here is completely head over-
Solomon: What? Come on! It ain’t like y’all are subtle Mr. Moony-Eyes. And she’s just as bad as you! Don’t try to deny it!
Isaac: *still red as his hair* She’s an incredible young lady and I’m truly honored to be considered her friend.
Solomon: Friend he says…
KR: *snickers (End)
Aden: Ah, romance and stun guns. What a weird but entertaining combination. And the story takes place in an alternate post Civil War period as well, which is interesting. Can you tell me why did you pick this specific time period? Is there a reason? Interesting or otherwise?
KR: For starters, I’m a massive history buff. My grandfather was always telling me weird little bits a pieces of historical trivia that were really obscure and no one really talked about. I loved learning about all the blank spaces that the history books missed. The Reconstruction period isn’t widely taught in American high schools. There’s kind of this black hole between 1865 and the turn of the century that just wasn’t talked about. I didn’t learn anything about it until my sophomore year of high school and I was fascinated. It’s such a tumultuous time in American history and how little most people know about it is staggering. Since it was such a turbulent time there are so many “what ifs” to play with and that was what really drew me to it as a setting for a steampunk story.
Aden: That’s interesting. I’m not well versed in American history, so the Civil War is just the thing Marvel used for their comics to me. I’m going to have to read up on it. Now, standard question. I ask this to everyone I interview. What do you think of your fellow interviewees? Any juicy secrets you’d like to share? Maybe like how Isaac keeps secret portraits of Caroline in his room or something?
Solomon: *laughing* The look on your face!
Aden: It’s honestly fine to keep secret portraits of people. I’m not judging lifestyle choices.
KR: Well for starters, Isaac certainly doesn’t do that. He’s a perfect gentleman in spite of being more than a little love struck. Oops…did I say that out loud?
Isaac: Y’know, I was gonna say somethin’ nice about you, Miss K.R. and now I might not.
Solomon: *still laughing*
KR: See, even when I’m not so nice, Isaac Benjamin is a gentleman. He doesn’t swear at ladies even when they probably deserve it. As for Solomon, well, I could tell you a couple things, but they’d all be spoilers.
Isaac: And mine wasn’t?
Solomon and KR: No.
Solomon: Sorry sheriff, guess I’m just better at keepin’ my secrets than you are.
KR: As for what I think about these two, I love them to death. They’ve had to brave a lot because of me and they’ve done it all with flying colors. You guys are the best.
Solomon: Aw, she’s makin’ me blush. As for K.R., well, every damn thing we do has some kind of consequence. But, she’s fair, and seein’ her now, I think she certainly cares a hell of a lot ’bout what happens to us. She seems pretty capable.
KR: Aw, thanks Solomon. Now you’re making me blush!
Solomon: Your turn, Isaac.
KR: Oh no…
Isaac: Well, she sure as hell doesn’t make things easy on us, that’s for sure. Every step we get forward, she knocks us two back. But, she did make sure I met you and the rest of the team, Solomon-
Solomon: And Caroline.
Isaac: …and Caroline. So she can’t be completely heartless. But sometimes I wonder…
KR: *cringes slightly* Would telling you the ending’s happy help?
Isaac: I dunno, because I’m not sure if I believe you…
Solomon: No worries, K.R. as long as he gets with Caroline in the end, he’ll be fine.
KR: Duly noted!
Aden: In Reconstruction, the tech plays a tremendous role in setting the world. It’s unique in the sense that these ‘voltapunk’ constructions are somewhere between what a steampunk and mondern equipments would be. Care to share your thoughts about them? And maybe a little in-story history?
KR: The tech is by far the most difficult part of the story to write and describe. Not only because of the complexity, but because it has to work. Not just be practical, but work within the confines of the semi historical world I’ve created. I can’t just say, ‘lasers are cool, I should give them to this character’. If I want lasers, I have to sit down and research how I could possibly get a laser to work in a world that is only just on the cusp of the Energizer battery. It’s very time consuming. As for their history, the Industrial Revolution happened at the end of the 1600s thanks to German inventor Otto von Guericke, who created the first crank generator. Instead of dismissing the invention like he did in our history, he continued to study it, and his work led to the first steam engine. The revolution was brought to the Americas with the settlers where it continued to evolve into what you see today.
Isaac: My work stems more from that of Alessandro Volta and Daniell. The battery pack for my sabre is modeled after his Voltaic pile battery with some hybridization from the Daniell cell. I’m hopin’ I’ll be able to figure out how to make it a little smaller. It’s a bit cumbersome.
KR: Might be sooner than you think!
Solomon: So when’re we gonna get to my questions? I ain’t a technical expert like those two oddballs.
Aden: Oh, relax Solomon. I’m saving the best for the last part. Are you more of a unicorn or a mermaid? Just kidding. Let’s touch the touchy. Most of the characters in Reconstruction: Spoils of War that we see are pretty cool with races. And though most of the story is focused on conspiracy, we do see remnants of the post-abolishment of slavery. Now, I don’t have a question about this. I want both you and K.R, and if Isaac wants to join in, to just give your opinion on this topic in consideration to the Reconstruction Era. Because you are the deputy for Isaac. And from what I understand, that’s a very radical move for that time period, am I right?
Solomon: Indeed it is. In most places I’d be disrespected at best and lynched at worst. There are a few towns like Lawrence that are kind to freedmen but it sure as hell ain’t the norm. Anythin’ is better than slavery, but a lot the treatment we get now ain’t exactly decent. Every day is a struggle, even when we have other people backin’ us up our efforts always seem to get lost on the larger institutions. Funny the way that works, huh? Things are gettin’ better, but we’ve got a long road ahead of us.
Isaac: Well said, Solomon.
KR: Oh man, I don’t know if I can follow that up. The world of Reconstruction very closely mirrors our own. I knew going in, that if I wanted to write a racially diverse cast in the 1870s I would have to delve into a lot of ugliness. Many of the policies of the Reconstruction Era did more harm than good to both the north and the south. People were horrible to freedmen and other non white people. It was appalling. A lot of the damage done in the 1870s hasn’t healed. As a writer, I can’t ignore that. But Reconstruction is also a story of hope and redemption and I wanted to present a world very similar to our own that has these problems, that has this ugliness, but also has the hope of healing.
Solomon: Oh there’s definitely hope. Captain Israel always told me that you can find good people anywhere if you look hard enough, even in the ugly places. I’ve found that I haven’t had to look too hard, probably ‘cuz I try not to go near the real ugly places. But even if the bigwigs don’t care. There’s always someone that does. Problem is no one likes listenin’ to the people that care.
Aden: That’s a lot to think about. Hopefully, the point of all the good gets through to people who read. Well, the last question here goes to K.R. It’s a pretty simple and straightforward question. How has Reconstruction affected your life? Or vice-versa, how has your life affected your writing?
KR: When you say “affected” do you mean “completely overrun”? *laughs* It’s affected the way I view our real history more than anything else. I’ve started really seeing where things went wrong and how they still affect our world today. Watching some aspects of history repeat themselves almost daily is a really chilling feeling. I never would have started noticing the parallels if not for Reconstruction.
Aden: Well answered! We’ve come to the end of this interview! Everyone, do check out Reconstruction. The first book, Spoils of War, have finished serializing, and K.R is now on her second book, No Rest for the Wicked. With that, K.R, Isaac, Solomon, any last words?
KR: I just want to say thank you so much for having us! It was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!
Isaac: I think this is probably the best encounter with any sort of press I’ve ever had, so thank you for that.
Solomon: Hear, hear! Thank you for lettin’ me talk, it ain’t often a voice like mine gets heard, at least not where I’m from. Keep up the good work!
(K.R. Kampion is a self-described Twitter Wizard. It’s like a normal wizard, just less sparkly. You can check out her Twitter magic @KRKampion.)