Austin Hackney Interview

Austin Hackney



Austin Hackney is the author of the Steampunk themed book, Beyond the Starline and The Island of Birds.


Hi Austin, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on this website.

Very briefly, how would you describe your novel, “Beyond the Starline.”

“An orphaned child. A mysterious device. Cut-throat pirates who’d kill to get it.

When her mother is murdered by pirates, Harriet Howland is thrust into a dangerous quest to find her missing father. A fast-paced steampunk adventure for everyone from 9 years old and up.”

It’s a story about courage, friendship and belonging.

Why do you write?

Because I’m a reader, a word-lover and a storyteller at heart, and because I can’t hold down a proper job.

What did you like to read when you were growing up?

Anything and everything from my father’s theology library to my mother’s copy of Cosmopolitan. Theology gave me a good grounding in the mechanics of fantasy fiction and Cosmo into what makes people tick. My favorite authors as a child were Ursulal le Guin, Joan Aiken, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, H G Wells and Conan-Doyle. I also devoured folklore, fairytales and mythology.

Who are your favorite authors?

The list is too long. My taste is broad and I read widely. I’m currently reading works by Umberto Eco, Mark Hodder, Virginia Woolf and Philip Pullman.

Why do you write for middle grade readers?

I don’t exclusively write for middle grade readers. I’ve written for teens and adults, too. My next project is a New Adult urban fantasy series. Each story has its own natural readership.

How did you get interested in steampunk?

I was nostalgic for the Victorian scientific romance I’d enjoyed as a child in the works of Conan-Doyle, Wells and Verne. I don’t remember exactly when I discovered steampunk, but I knew I’d found the missing cog in the machine when I did.

When you begin a new book, do you outline the plot first? Or is it a more organic process of creation?

I create a very detailed outline starting from a single sentence which sums up the whole story and then I plan in increasing levels of detail down to the individual components of each scene.

How do you approach editing and re-writes? Do you let anyone else read your work in progress?

All good writing is rewriting. It’s not only an iterative process, but for me a collaborative one, too. I’m not precious about my work and I’m always striving to improve. My editor and beta-readers are an essential part of that.

When you’re not writing, what are your favorite ways to relax and have fun?

Reading, bird-watching, hiking, dinner parties and concerts.

What are some of your pet peeves in life?

I prefer to think positively.

What inspires you?

Young people. The current generation is so much wiser, more in touch and switched on than my lot. The young people I meet today give me hope for the future.

Talk us through a normal writing day.

  • 5 am Get up, walk.
  • 6 am Write or edit.
  • 9 am Breakfast.
  • 10 am Write or edit
  • 1 pm Lunch, walk, read.
  • 3 pm Write or edit
  • 5 pm Walk, read, cook, dinner,  family, etc.
  • 9 pm Business.
  • 10 pm Bed.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I work as a freelance copywriter to earn a living. I’ve been a script writer and editor for theater and TV. I’ve published quite a lot of short stories in print magazines and ezines. I still do, there’s one coming out next month. I recently set up my own small press which has published my first novel length fiction.

What is the worst piece of advice you were ever given as a writer?

I’ve always been given really good advice, I think. The trick is to act on it.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Stop aspiring immediately. “To write” is a verb. You know, a doing word. It’s a thing you do. Not a thing you aspire to do. As soon as you start writing, you’re a writer. As soon as you stop, you’re not.

Be patient, develop a gentle but determined discipline, roll up your sleeves, embrace mistakes, learn on the job; it will be hard and take a long time and you’ll need friends, so be kind and generous to yourself and others and never, ever, give up.

You are also the proprietor of Clockwork Press, can you tell us a bit about that? What future projects are in store?

Clockwork Press is a new adventure in independent publishing (as of 2016). We publish and arrange worldwide distribution of novels, novellas and commissioned anthologies. We are currently only interested in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Steampunk, Gaslamp Fantasy, Supernatural, and Victoriana for Middle Grade, Young Adult and Adult readers. Clockwork Press operates on the collaborative strengths of a small team of professionally engaged, independent creatives. Current projects for this year include the completion of the Dark Sea Trilogy for Upper MG, early YA readers; then a six-part series of YA/New Adult urban fantasy novellas and a ghost story anthology. Going into next year, we’ve a range of works in the pipeline and we’ll also be opening the doors to submissions for upcoming anthologies.

For you, what does success look like?

The freedom to keep telling stories which people love to read.

Can you give us a sneak peek into the next book?

Sure. It’s the direct sequel to “Beyond the Starline.” It’s titled “The Island of Birds.”

“When a princess discovers a sinister plot against her she becomes a fugitive in her own kingdom and must choose between her honor and her throne.”

Captain Harry and her crew arrive on the Island of Birds only to find there is a dangerous underbelly beneath the superficial beauty and perfection of the fabled isle. In a kingdom defined by intrigue and deception, they stumble upon the island’s dark secret and are thrown into a struggle not only to save themselves, but the island itself, from destruction.

You can find out more about it all here: and when you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll be entitled to get the ebook editions of both books completely free in the format of your choice.

Thank you, Austin.

Austin’s book, “Beyond the Starline”, is featured on this site’s ‘Best Steampunk Reads’, and is available via Amazon or direct from the Clockworkpress.




A Dystopian steampunk Author

%d bloggers like this: