Guano, Steampunk Visualization, and Writing Inspiration with Author Dana Fraedrich

This week I got the opportunity to chat with the lovely Dana Fraedrich about her newly released novel, Into the Fire. Follow along as we discuss funny research paths, novel births, and writing inspirations. You won’t want to miss it!

Q: Your latest book, Into the Fire, the second in your Broken Gears series, just released September 5th. Tell us a little bit about this novel and how it was born.

A: In the first book in the series, Out of the Shadows, we meet Lenore. In that story, we see her struggle to survive, which has a profound effect on her. Losing her parents and living as a thief is traumatic and gives her a lot of trust issues. The second book, Into the Fire, continues her journey. She’s found a home, and things are good…if you don’t count being pursued by assassins, but she’s got great allies to help her out with that. Some of her old fears return as things begin to go awry, though. Smaller side characters get more of the spotlight this time around, and the net of secrets that surrounds Lenore begins to unravel, which causes problems for everyone. Sometimes the discoveries are hilarious, and others are devastating.

Q: You mentioned that your favorite part of the writing process is researching, and that for Into the Fire, you ended up researching guano. This sounds like a story we need to hear!

A: Haha, I never imagined I’d ever know so much about poo. I was really stuck at one point. I needed to drop in (no pun intended) some clues about a plot twist, and research is often how I come up with ideas. I was in a Wikipedia spiral when I came upon a bit that mentioned saltpeter (potassium nitrate) is often found in guano. What I found in the Wikipedia article on guano fit perfectly in with some of the environments explored in Into the Fire, so I ran with it…which turned out to be pretty unfortunate for one of my characters.

Q: What was your inspiration for the Broken Gears series, and Into the Fire, specifically?

A: I started the Broken Gears series as kind of a lark, to be honest. I really enjoy the steampunk genre and wanted to see if I could write it. I had a dream at the beginning of Out of the Shadows’ creation process, which really informed me as to what the city of Springhaven would look like. Gadget, a side character, was actually born straight from that dream too. Regarding Into the Fire, I knew Lenore’s story wasn’t over. There’s so much more for her to explore, not to mention some loose ends to tie up. I knew from the get-go my characters were going to be stretched in this book, that they were going to get hurt. Everyone in this book ended up being tested harder than I’d imagined, though, some in more ways than one.

Q: You have published four novels, to date. How has your writing process changed or evolved over the course of those novels?

A: I think my writing gets better with each book. At least I hope so *nervous grin*. The feedback I’ve gotten back from readers and editors has really taught me a lot. I plan a lot better than I used to, too, though I’ll still always be a little bit of a Panster. Especially since my characters always end up scrapping my plans halfway through writing because they tell me what’s actually supposed to happen. I’m definitely more aware of my strengths and weaknesses now.

Q: What was the toughest part of writing Into the Fire?

A: There’s a high-action sequence near the end. Those are always difficult for me. I always worry it’s totally unrealistic. I don’t know why. I’ve seen Die Hard. And Transformers. And a lot of others…maybe I need to chill out about that part. There were a lot of moving pieces to keep track of, though.

Q: I know it is kind of like picking a favorite child, but which character from Into the Fire do you feel the most connected to?

A: Oh gosh. That’s really tough. They all have such unique personalities. I guess Lenore? She and I both have a lot of trust issues, though they differ in some ways. And her thought process in the chapter entitled “Please don’t send me home” came from a deep place of fear in me. I didn’t actually realize it at first, but that chapter made me face some…stuff. Lenore is also incredibly curious, which comes straight from me.

Q: You mentioned that you got your Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Roanoke College in VA. and majored in scenic design for theatre. How did this impact your writing or your writing process?

A: It’s kind of funny that I majored in scenic design because I’m not actually very artistically talented. I have a mind for how pieces fit together, though. Figuring out how to cleverly design and assemble sets helped me to envision the physical steampunk elements – e.g. the Winged Zeppelin and the Subaquatic Sloop – in the Broken Gears series. Lenore’s department, Arc-Tech, is also sort of based on the backstage theatre workshop at Roanoke, but a lot bigger. Likewise, Copper definitely takes after my old theatre tech professor.

Meet the Author:

Dana Fraedrich is the author of the steampunk fantasy series Broken Gears, which Into the Fire and the Amazon bestseller, Out of the Shadows. She is an independent author, blogger, dog lover, and self-professed geek. Even from a young age, she enjoyed writing down the stories that she imagined in her mind.

Born and raised in Virginia, she earned her BFA from Roanoke College and is now carving out her own happily ever after in Nashville, TN with her husband and two dogs. Dana is always writing; more books are on the way!

Connect with Dana Fraedrich:

Check out Fraedrich’s website, WordsByDana, , for book reviews, articles on the indie author life, and author interviews.

You can also connect with her on your favorite social media platform:

Don’t forget to check out Into the Fire, the second in the steampunk fantasy series Broken Gears!

An expedition to an exotic foreign city. An assassin in hiding, waiting to strike. World changing discoveries.

The Springhaven Museum’s expedition to Bone Port is underway! Opportunities await Lenore and her colleagues, but discovery and enlightenment are not all they will find in southern Invarnis. Back home in Springhaven, Rook is searching for answers but seems to find only more questions. Who took out a hit on Lenore? What is Bloodstone? A trail of clues becomes fraught with danger, and the quest for truth might demand a price he’s not willing to pay.

The land of Invarnis is on the precipice of a new age, and the lives of its inhabitants will never be the same again. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble endeavor, but sometimes one must ask: how much is knowledge worth? Some things were locked away for a reason…

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