Welcome to my stop on the Mechanica Blog Tour! I'm thrilled today to have author Betsy Cornwell popping in to answer a few fun questions about tiny metal animal companions, inventions, royal balls and more, so I hope you guys get excited about this one and add it to your lists. Be sure and check the bottom of the post for all the details on a fantastic giveaway as well as the list of participating blogs so you don't miss out on any Mechanica awesomeness!
If you could pluck one of Nicolette’s inventions from her world and bring it into ours, what of hers would top your list?
Nicolette’s tiny metal horse, Jules, is technically her mother’s invention, so I don’t think I can say him! But she also makes a mechanical glass carriage to get herself to the royal family’s Exhibition of Art and Science. I need a new car, but ‘glass steampunk carriage’ would definitely be my dream vehicle if I had my choice.
What are three books we might find on the shelf in the secret cellar workshop Nicolette discovers?
Ooh, cool question! Nicolette’s a pretty omnivorous reader, so even though she lives in a fantasy world I would open a magic portal to slip her a collection of Christina Rosetti’s poetry (especially “Goblin Market,” which helped inspire the Night Market in Nicolette’s world), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Ada Lovelace’s work on the Analytical Engine. All of those brilliant women would be kindred spirits for Nicolette, and I know she’d fall in love with each of them.
I would personally love a tiny metal horse of my very own (come live with me Jules!). If you could make yourself a tiny metal companion, what type of animal would you choose and what would his/her name be?
Jules pretty much became my favorite character as I wrote the book, and I think a tiny steampunk horse with great fashion sense would be an ideal companion. Especially after seeing this amazing fanart by Laya Rose, I’d have to bring him to life if I had the chance!
However, I love this question, and if I could have a tiny metal companion who wasn’t in the book, I would make a rattlesnake named Vivian who could slither around my house and eat dust and clutter in hard-to-reach corners, and maybe rest on my feet while I write (I’m always cold, and steam-powered metal animals must stay pretty warm).
What’s one modern-day dance you think would liven up a typical royal ball?
I am suddenly picturing royal ball-goers dancing to The Jacksons’ “Blame It on the Boogie,” and now I can’t give any other answer.
Nicolette doesn’t necessarily want the standard fairy-tale happily ever after. If you could choose one book that doesn’t have a happy ending and change things around, what book would you choose?
Okay, spoilers ahead if you haven’t read this children’s classic: I have always loved Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, but when I first read that ending it broke my heart. Of course, I was eleven, but all I wanted was for Winnie and Jesse to be together. I couldn’t fathom why she made the choice she did. I mean, you could live forever with a guy that cute?
I hate to tell my eleven-year-old self this, but now I think the ending of Tuck Everlasting is perfect. Winnie made exactly the right choice, and I can see Jesse’s flaws much more clearly now (even though I still think he’s a wonderfully drawn character). That’s the book that sprang to mind right away, but I actually love when a story’s ending kind of beats me up, so I can’t think of any that I would really want to change.
. . . Wait, there is one. If Will and Lyra were real, I would let them be together at the end of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Pullman’s ending is transcendently good, but I still ugly-sob when I think about those two sitting alone at their bench every year.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Betsy!
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Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.
But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.
Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.
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Hi! I'm Betsy Cornwell, an American writer and teacher living in a stove-heated cottage in west Ireland, together with my horse trainer spouse, a small herd of dairy goats, and an increasing number of other animals. I write fiction and nonfiction and blog about Irish folklore, travel, wild food, goats (of course!), homesteading, and growing up.
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- 1 winner will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA and a beautiful watch necklace from this etsy shop! US Only.
- 2 winners will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA. US Only.
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