The Author Spotlight Questions and Answers is here with a new addition - this time we have a post from Simon Kewin, who is talking about his new book ENGN, and life in the English countryside.

Who are you and where do you call home right now?

- I’m a writer and software developer, and the father of two teenage daughters. I was born and raised on the Isle of Man which sits in the middle of the Irish Sea near the UK, but I’ve lived in England for many years. We live deep in the countryside of Herefordshire surrounded by grassland and woods - which is about as delightful as it sounds. Until we get snowed in and/or the local cattle invade the garden…

Tell us about your latest book: your inspiration for it, how you got through your most difficult challenge in writing it, and what you love about it?

- The idea for Engn was to place a story about staying true to your youthful ideals in a cool, clockpunky, steampunky world. I liked the idea of a machine so vast that people lived, worked and got lost within it. I also wanted it to be a world where things don’t necessarily make sense, because I think we all accept really big matters as “just the way the universe is” and become blind to them. That said, quite a few things will be explained in the sequel to the book…

The interesting part was imagining what the machine might be like, and what the people who live there do. Mapping out the geography (and history) of it was fun, although challenging.

In some metaphorical sense the book is sort of autobiographical, which I enjoyed creating immensely. I also loved Mrs Megrim. She might be my favourite character in it.

What are a few of your hobbies?

- Walking in the wilds, reading, loud rock concerts, gardening.

If you had your own food truck, what would it serve?

- It would be something Indian: curries served wrapped in nan breads.

What do you want to get better at doing, writing-wise?

- My capacity to generate ideas for books far outstrips my capacity for writing those books. I’d like to get better at keeping up with my ideas…

What TV series are you into right now and why?

- We’re just catching up on the latest series of Homeland, which remains a compelling watch. I’m also part way through the new Star Treks; I assume no explanation is needed as to why!

What movie do you quote the most?

- Perhaps predictably, The Lord of the Rings. I quote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a lot, too, but it tends to be the books rather than any adaptations.

What do you collect, even a little bit? Tell us about your favorite one.

- The only thing I really collect is music: I have collections of vinyl, CDs and, these days, many many MP3s. I have a lot of music. My favourite one? It’s almost impossible to say; it changes so regularly.

What’s your preferred genre of book when you just want to escape?

- Fantasy, I’d say. I read widely in most genres, but I always come back to fantasy.

What do you like to do on vacation?

- I’m useless at relaxing and doing nothing, so I tend to like walking and looking at interesting archaeology and strolling through art galleries. Everyone in my family loves a good theme park, too.

Is there another genre you’ve been itching to write in?

- I mainly write fantasy and science fiction, but I have written mainstream short stories, and I would like to write a real world, contemporary novel at some point.

What unusual object do you like to bring with you if you leave the house?

- The writer’s notebook I carry in my head.

If you had a champion racing pigeon, what would you name it and what would its tagline be?

- I’d call it Smaug, the Mighty and Terrible.

Finally, give us one recommendation for something - movie, TV, game, food - that you enjoyed recently.

- I’ve been smitten with the computer game Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s one of the greatest things humanity has ever produced.

About Engn

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 friend. Finn thinks he, at least, is safe - until the day the ironclads come to haul him away too.

Yet all is not lost, because Finn has a plan. In the peace of the valley he and his friends 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. Are his friends really working to destroy Engn?

Or have they become part of the machine?

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