Welcome to this edition of Q & A with D.G. Kaye. Today I’m featuring Sci-Fi and Steampunk author Richard Dockett, who writes under the pen name Richard Dee. Richard is going to treat us to some insights on his writing and introduce us to his latest book The Sensaurum and the Lexis.
Richard Dee is from Brixham in Devon. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a
supermarket, then he went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.
He has also worked as an Insurance Surveyor, Lockmaster, Harbourmaster and Ships Pilot, taking over 3,500 vessels up and down the Thames, passing through the estuary, the Thames Barrier and Tower Bridge.
Since the publication of his first Science Fiction novel, Freefall, in 2013, Richard has written another twelve novels, a textbook and a selection of short stories. He has been featured in several anthologies, including 1066 Turned Upside Down and Tales from Deepest Darkest Devon.
He writes Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures and also chronicles the exploits of reluctant amateur detective Andorra Pett.
Richard is married with three adult children and three grandchildren
Is Jackson Thwaite ready to discover the secret of Makewright Orphanage?
Although he doesn’t know it, he has been selected to be part of something vital to the land of his birth.
Norlandia is a country under threat, as never before. The old heroes are but a memory, while evil forces gather, seeking power. They are armed with the latest devices that perverted science has devised. Control of Norlandia and everyone in it is their ultimate aim.
Who will stand in their way?
Under the command of the mysterious Mortimer Langdon, all that stands between civilisation and anarchy are Jackson and the rest of The Orphan Detectives.
“A fantastical world filled with gears, pneumatics, airships, and intrigue aplenty that kept everyone on their toes. It has that rare ability to pull you deep into the story even when things are building and moving slowly, you sit down to read for a few minutes and all of a sudden; its hours later!”
Now let’s get to know more about Richard and his books and writing, and then he shares an excerpt.
My thanks to Debby for letting me loose on her website today. I’m
Richard Dee and I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as
chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective.
D.G. – Welcome to my blog Richard, I’m delighted to have you over, and I’m sure my readers will enjoy learning about you and your books. 🙂
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your
books and if so, why?
I currently have thirteen published novels, two collections, about 10
separate short reads as well as short stories in a couple of anthologies. And a
textbook on World Building. There are also about six or seven projects in
various stages of production. They can all be loosely categorized as Science
Fiction, but they vary between cosy crime, space opera, psychological thriller,
Steampunk adventure and just about everything in between. Most of them
started life as a single idea that grew into a short story and occasionally into a
novel. Some, like those featuring my amateur detective Andorra Pett, are now
series in their own right, while others have possibilities for sequels, prequels
and spin-off stories. My favourites are Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café
and Life and Other Dreams, a cosy crime mystery set in space and a
psychological thriller respectively.
D.G. – Fascinating how you can write in blended genres.
What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
Personally, I’m a big fan, with the important condition that the product
must be produced to a similar standard as any traditionally published book. In
some ways, it almost needs to be better, due to the prejudice that still exists in
some parts of the industry. In other words, you should be unable to tell a self-
published from a traditionally published paperback when side by side on a bookshelf. So self-publishers need proper editing, formatting and cover design.
These may all cost money but their lack will impact on sales and reputation.
The great thing about self-publishing is that it has allowed so many stories,
separate from the latest trends and demands of the industry, to have a voice. I
read about 90% self-published books these days and have found some amazing
work; it upsets me to think that, without self-publishing, it might never have
seen the light of day.
D.G. – I wholeheartedly agree with all you’ve said Richard, from the stigma of self-publishing, to what’s involved to do it properly, to the amazing talent that wouldn’t have a platform otherwise.
What prompted you to write in your chosen genre?
This is a constant source of amusement to me. While I was always a sci-fi
fan, I initially started writing Sci-fi under the impression that you wouldn’t
need to do much research. All you had to do was invent a future and add a
story. In fact, I do a tremendous amount of research, just to make sure that,
while nothing is true, it all sounds true. I read technical journals, surf the web
for interesting facts and try to ensure that all the details in my future (and
alternative) worlds are based on facts. I might spend a morning getting to grips
with the technicalities of something, just so I can add a couple of paragraphs of
I have invented (if that’s the right word) a means of faster than light
travel (based on known electromagnetic effects), used quantum theory to
build galaxy-wide communications, square coffee cups (easier to carry four at a
time) and several other things, all based on sound scientific principles. Perhaps
I’m in the wrong job?
D.G. – Okay, these are definitely lovely insights we’re learning about your writing. Best description: “just to make sure that, while nothing is true, it all sounds true.”
Where do you believe your passion for storytelling originated from?
I have absolutely no idea! Maybe the years of travelling the world locked ideas
away in my head. Wherever it came from, I just got a thought in my head one
day that wouldn’t go away. I felt that I had to write it down. As soon as I did,
another one popped in to take its place. Before I knew what was happening, I
had written a novel, and then another one. And the ideas keep coming. It’s
strange because I never used to be able to write much. When I worked abroad,
I had trouble thinking of what to say in my letters home. Thanks to that one
random thought, I’ve become obsessed with creating, with realism, with
research and with telling the best story that I could.
D.G. – What a gift to have all that inspiration.
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas
for books you’re working on?
As well as the Andorra Pett series, which has its fourth part coming soon,
I’m developing sequels to several of my novels, as well as some new projects. I
never really know when a new idea will strike, I get inspired by snippets of
conversation that I might overhear; or an item in the news. I try, in all my work,
to take the ordinary, a situation with which anyone would be familiar and give
it a new twist. By taking present days situations into the future (or an
alternative now) and seeing where they lead, I try to carry the reader with me,
so that they’re not sure where the truth ends, and the fiction begins.
My latest release is a Steampunk adventure, set in a place which is not
unlike Victorian England. There’s a mad scientist bent on world domination
and a motley band set against him. Featuring the latest devices powered by steam and clockwork, The Sensaurum and the Lexis is, according to one advance reader, “A fantastical world filled with gears, pneumatics, airships, and intrigue aplenty.”
D.G. – Amazing Richard. I look forward to reading some of your work. Thanks for being here with us today. 🙂
Richard is indulging us with an excerpt from his new release.
The Sensaurum and the Lexis, Extract
Here is a short extract, one of the orphans, a boy called Jackson, is introduced to a new
One of the wood panels on the far wall swung open. Alyious and the other man had returned. “Alyious you know,” said Langdon. “His companion is Mr Fairview.”
Alyious held out his hand. “No hard feelings, Jackson,” he said.
Hardly knowing what to make of the last few hours, Jackson shook it.
“We’re all prepared outside. Sir Mortimer, ma’am,” Fairview spoke in the accent of a man from the wild, forbidding northern parts of the country.
“Good. Come on then, Jackson, you’re about to find out what the boots can do. Did you feel the lump by your toe? It has a purpose.”
Intrigued and excited, Jackson fell in with the rest as they moved outside. He prodded at the lump with his toe, but nothing happened.
They went through the door in the panelled wall and arrived in a small courtyard, between the back of the house and the wall that encircled the orphanage. It was hidden by the shape of the building and Jackson had never guessed at its existence before now. The wall was at least fifteen feet high, of red brick with a small door set in it. Gas lamps threw dark shadows. It had stopped raining and a pale moon added to the illumination.
Jackson gazed about. He thought that he saw movement; a figure came from the shadows and moved towards them. Jackson saw that it was a girl; in fact, it was one that he recognised.
Tall and pleasantly rounded, she had long dark hair piled on her head and secured with an ornate pin, looking like two entwined swans. Jackson had often wondered how she had retained it from the lighter fingered among the females, now he was starting to understand a lot more of the hierarchy of the orphanage.
“Jessamine Batterlee,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
She smiled. “I’m to be your accomplice, Jackson. I see you have the boots, like mine.”
Jackson stole a glance at her feet. Peeping out from beneath her skirts were the toes of boots, highly polished like his. He had never noticed her wearing them before, and he had stolen more than a glance at her when he thought he was unnoticed. Now, she tugged at her waist and the skirts fell away. Underneath, she was clad in trousers not unlike his, except they were tighter. Jackson felt embarrassment, he had never seen a woman dressed so, never guessed at the shape that was revealed. The narrowness of her waist was emphasised by the wide black belt she wore, her hips full and shapely, the legs longer than he had supposed.
Jessamine was obviously unconcerned with her new appearance. “Follow me, Jackson,” she called, running toward the wall. Jackson was about to shout at her to be careful, it seemed that she could not stop before she dashed herself against the brick. She jumped at the vertical face, swinging her feet up to kick at the wall. Jackson fancied that he heard a click as she stuck fast, her feet three feet from the ground. Then she started to climb, moving up the wall as a babe crawls over the floor. It was as if the wall were horizontal. She swiftly reached the top and sat astride the bricks, her leg swinging.
“Well, Jackson?” said Mrs Grimble. “Your turn. What are you waiting for?”
To learn more about the world of The Orphan Detectives, you’ll have to read the book. You can find it at mybook.to/The_Sensaurum
Reviewed in the United States on March 26, 2020
I received a free advance copy of this book from the author, for the purpose of finding any last-minute errors prior to release. The decision to review, and any opinions herein, are my own.
Richard’s latest offering is a steampunk delight. His plot twists keep the pace moving speedily and yet there are fragile human moments interspersed throughout. The action is presented realistically, with a side helping of serious Victorian common sense maintaining its stiff upper lip.
I chuckled at a few hidden gems of wit in unexpected places, delightfully reminding me of Sir Terry Pratchett’s pithy style of prose. This is definitely a page-turner where the mundane world as we know it, has been turned quite solidly on its head and presented from a delicious new viewpoint.
I look forward to reading the dashing exploits of our heroic couple in the next book.
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