Friday, July 08, 2016

Arabella of Mars Blog Tour - Interview with David D. Levine and Giveaway!

Please welcome David D. Levine to The Qwillery as part of Arabella of Mars Blog Tour and the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Arabella of Mars will be published on July 12th by Tor.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

David:  I've been writing SF since I was a kid, to the extent that my middle school and high school writing teachers asked me to try writing something else. But I stopped writing fiction after college, when I was working as a technical writer and it was too much like the day job. I started writing fiction again when I changed from technical writing to software engineering in 1999.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

David:  I am SUCH a plotter. I've tried pantsing, and it's just impossible for me to start writing a story without, almost immediately, knowing what comes next and the ending. That being said, as I grow more experienced I find myself outlining in less and less detail, and pantsing more and more between outline points.

TQYou've written over 50 shorts stories, have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Campbell and Sturgeon Awards, and have won a Hugo Award. What were the biggest challenges for you when writing a novel? What did you enjoy the most about writing a novel?

David:  The biggest challenges when writing a novel were keeping all the details straight in my head and just finishing the darn thing. It takes me about two years to finish a novel draft, and I really hope I can find some way to speed that up because my next deadline is only a year away. My favorite part of novel writing is having the time and space to really learn about the world and characters.

TQDescribe Arabella of Mars in 140 characters or less.

David:  ARABELLA OF MARS is a Regency Interplanetary Airship Adventure. It's the story of a Patrick O'Brian girl in a Jane Austen world.

TQTell us something about Arabella of Mars that is not found in the book description.

David:  I've tried to be as faithful as possible to real physics and the technology of the early 19th century... which is not to say I haven't handwaved some things.

TQWhat inspired you to write Arabella of Mars? What appeals to you about writing Alternate History?

David:  I started with the idea of a solar system full of air, then began to wonder how people would first have discovered this. I figured it would have been during the Enlightenment, which led to the idea that the exciting period of interplanetary exploration would have been in the 1700s. My writing style has been described as old-fashioned, so I decided to turn this bug into a feature and write historical fiction!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Arabella of Mars?

David:  I read tons of reference books and primary sources on the Regency, the Napoleonic Wars, the East India Company, and the British presence in India and China... and lots of Patrick O'Brian novels.

TQThe novel is set primarily on Mars. In your opinion what is the allure of Mars?

David:  Mars is our nearest neighbor in space and a near-twin of Earth. It's been a fascinating place for people to project their ideas about the possibilities of life other than what we know for the entirety of human history and probably even before that. What's not to love?

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

David:  Captain Singh was the easiest. He is very much like me: cool, intellectual, and distant. Arabella was the hardest, because she's on stage for the whole book and she needs to go on a difficult journey both physically and emotionally.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Arabella of Mars?

David:  With this book I have tried to examine issues of gender, race, and cultural relations using the Regency period as a lens to focus on our own time. Arabella, a tomboy raised by Martians, is an outsider in her world, but she also has considerable privilege because of her race and class. In her adventures she abandons some of that privilege (leaving the gentry for a life as a common airman) but also gains privilege (leaving the woman's world for life as a man) and learns much in the process.

TQWhich question about Arabella of Mars do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: Would the flying ships you've described really work?

A: I've done my best to make them at least plausible, but I think that for them to really fly would require an adjustment to the force of gravity and some other fundamental physical constants.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Arabella of Mars.

"Some day, Arabella thought, perhaps she might take passage on such a ship. To sail the air, and see the asteroids, and visit the swamps of Venus would be a grand adventure indeed. But to be sure, no matter how far she traveled she would always return to her beloved Woodthrush Woods."
"Setting her candle down, Arabella seated herself on the floor behind the automaton and lifted its skirts, in a fashion that would have been most improper if it were human. Beneath the suffocating layers of muslin and linen the automaton’s ingenious mechanisms gleamed in the candlelight, brass and ivory and mahogany each adding their own colors to a silent symphony of light and shadow. Here was the mainspring, there the escapement, there the drum. The drum was the key to the whole mechanism; its pins and flanges told the device where to place its fingers, when to nod, when to appear to breathe. From the drum, dozens of brass fingers transmitted instructions to the rest of the device through a series of levers, rods, springs, and wires."

TQWhat's next?

David:  At this writing I have just finished the first draft of book 2 in The Adventures of Arabella Ashby, currently titled "Arabella and the Battle of Venus." There will be a book 3, and I've begun thinking and researching for that. I've also just completed a short story, the first one of those in many months.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

David:  You're very welcome!

Arabella of Mars
The Adventures of Arabella Ashby 1
Tor Books, July 12, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!

About David

DAVID D. LEVINE is the author of more than fifty science fiction and fantasy stories. His story "Tk'Tk'Tk"won the Hugo Award in 2006, and he has been shortlisted for such awards as the Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. His stories have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, five Year's Best anthologies, and his award-winning collection Space Magic. He lives in Portland, OR, with his wife, Kate Yule. You can visit him online at

Website  ~  Twitter @  ~  Google+

Facebook  ~  Tumblr

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a copy of Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine from the publisher. US / CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on July 22, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 13 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Beaverton, OR Wed., July 13 -  Powell’s
     (3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd)  - Reading & Signing 7:00 PM

San Diego, CA Fri., July 15 -  Mysterious Galaxy
     (5943 Balboa Avenue #100)  - Reading & Signing 7:30 PM

Los Angeles, CA Sat., July 16 -  Shades & Shadows
     (Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum, 3204 W Magnolia Blvd)  - Group Reading 8:00 PM

New York, NY Wed., July 20 -  Fantastic Fiction
     (KGB Bar, 85 E 4th St)  - Reading 7:00 PM

Bainbridge, WA Thurs., July 28 - Eagle Harbor Books
     (157 Winslow Way East)  - Reading & Signing 7:30 PM

Seattle, WA Fri., July 29 -  University Bookstore
     (4326 University Way NE)  - Reading & Signing 7:00 PM

San Francisco, CA Sat., August 13 - Writers with Drinks

San Francisco Sun., August 14 -  SF in SF

Blog Tour Schedule

July 8  –  The Qwillery

July 11 – Dark Faerie Tales

July 12 – Sci-Fi Chick

July 13 – Powder and Page

July 14 – Ageless Pages Reviews

July 15 – Fantasy Literature

July 18 – Fantasy Book Critic

July 19 – Bookwraiths

July 20 – Between Dreams and Reality

July 21 – On Starships and Dragonwings

July 22 – The Arched Doorway


  1. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Planet is my favorite Mars novel.

  2. Current favorite is Ben Bova's Mars series.

  3. For reality (well, somewhat) I love the movie "The Martian." However, for science fiction with a steampunk twist I love the movie "John Carter," and the books are of great interest.

  4. Mu favorite book that is set on Mars is "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

  5. I can't think of any that I've read that feature Mars specifically. The closest I can think of is Larklight by Phillip Reeve. Or maybe Into the Dark by JA Sutherland. Both really good books.

  6. I haven't read any books set on Mars that I have 'loved' yet but I did enjoy 'The Martian'. 'The Martian Chronicles' wasn't actually set on Mars but that's the next best answer I have. :)

  7. I really enjoyed Ice Red (Once Upon a Red World, #1) by Jael Wye - romantic adventure. :D

  8. I cannot wait to read this one, sounds like fun!