Author Interview: Robyn Bennis

Today I am interviewing Robyn Bennis, author of the new steampunk novel, The Guns Above, first book in the Signal Airship series.

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DJ: Hey Robyn! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Robyn Bennis: Let’s see… I’ve been a biologist for nearly 20 years now and a writer since I could first hold a pencil. That’s been the one constant in my life, even as I move from place to place and job to job. Even in school, I was always the kid who was coming up with weird tales during recess, or drawing spaceships in my notebook. I’m still that kid, in a lot of ways.

DJ: What is The Guns Above about?

Robyn: The book follows the travails of Josette Dupre, Garnia’s first and much-maligned female airship captain, and Lord Bernat, the sexist fop sent to undermine her command. Along the way, you’ll get airship combat, heroic last stands, and badass ladies who shoot people.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?

Robyn: I think readers will appreciate their wit. Although my characters are put into tough situations that might inspire sympathy, they are not fundamentally sympathetic characters. They’re bad people, perhaps made even worse by the courage of their convictions—that belief that they’re doing the right thing. But they’re funny and not afraid to bite, which can endear a reader to almost any character.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the Signal Airship series like?

Robyn: Garnia is in the middle of a technological revolution. Amid that upheaval, they’re facing a historical moment of truth, as they’ve been running short on young men to fight in all the wars Garnia gets itself into. But it’s a very, ahem, traditional society, unready to see women in combat. Some in the royal court have recognized that Garnia’s future depends on finding new sources of manpower, so to speak, and are waging a desperate PR fight to get the public ready for it. So when Josette is wounded in a heroic action after boldly taking command of an airship in battle, the time may be ripe for Garnia to accept a new sort of military.

DJ: What is it about steampunk that you like so much?

Robyn: Well, it’s just so cool, isn’t it? The aesthetics are beautiful and it presents such a great canvas for a writer to paint on. In the early stages of The Guns Above, I loved to just sit back and ask myself how certain fanciful technologies would impact Garnian society, politics, and everyday life. I’d follow those threads wherever they led. For a writer, that kind of exploration is like catnip. Plus, I got a cool book out of it!

DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Guns Above that you can share with us?

Robyn: Oh, let me see if I can find you a good one that I haven’t shared somewhere else… Ah, here we go:

“These things are built to take a beating.” She gave the top of the steamjack a reassuring thump, which must have caused something to pop out inside the housing. Grey’s face froze as some bit of metal tinkled down through the turbine blades, bouncing from one to the next, hitting a dozen on its way down, until after several long seconds it finally reached the bottom of the housing and began rolling back and forth inside. “Shit,” she said.

I kind of love that moment.

DJ: Now that The Guns Above is released, what is next for you?

Robyn: I’ve been trying not to think too far ahead, for fear my heart will seize up from the stress, but I guess I have to, don’t I? I suppose the next big project is getting the sequel ready to go out. Tentatively titled By Fire Above, it should come out sometime next year, and will continue Josette and Bernat’s adventures, plus explore other characters in more detail.

In the short term I’m thinking of a long, long vacation somewhere.

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?


Amazon Author Page:


Twitter: @According2Robyn


Author Newsletter:


DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Guns Above and the Signal Airship series that we haven’t talked about yet?

Robyn: I guess I’d want them to know that I had a great time writing it. I took the advice—I can’t remember where I heard it—of writing the sort of book I like to read. I’ve done that, and it came out wonderfully. I think my readers will feel the same way.

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

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*** The Guns Above is published by Tor Books and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | Kobo

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About the Book:

In the tradition of Honor Harrington and the high-flying Temeraire series, Bennis’s THE GUNS ABOVE is an adventurous military fantasy debut about a nation’s first female airship captain.

They say it’s not the fall that kills you.

For Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. Bernat’s own secret assignment is to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision.

So when the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?

“Full of sass and terrific characters. Great storytelling. Loved it.” ―Patricia Briggs

About the Author:

Robyn Bennis is a scientist living in Mountain View, California, where she works in biotech but dreams of airships. She has done research and development involving human gene expression, neural connectomics, cancer diagnostics, rapid flu testing, gene synthesis, genome sequencing, being so preoccupied with whether she could that she never stopped to think if she should, and systems integration. Her apartment is within sight of Hangar One at Moffett Airfield, which was once the West Coast home to one of America’s largest airships, the USS Macon.


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