MFT Interview and Giveaway with Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris!

Welcome to Day 6 of My Favorite Things: Steampunk Week!

Today on the blog I have Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, authors of the steampunk adventure Phoenix Rising.! Also up for grabs 2 copies of Phoenix Rising to two winners (please see giveaway details at the end of the post)!


*Don’t forget to check the My Favorite Things Event Schedule to see what’s going on not only here, but also at Candace’s Book Blog!

Your awesome steampunk collaboration, Phoenix Rising, dropped in late April. I especially enjoyed the witty repartee between Welly and Eliza! Do our two heroes take after each of you, even just a wee bit?

Pip: I think there is quite a bit in that. I’ve known Tee for nearly ten years, and we’ve always bantered together. We both enjoy wordplay and jokes, so Eliza and Wellington’s snap probably comes from there. 

Tee: On our first collaboration, a promotional push in 2008 called Double Trouble, Pip and I made many appearances on podcasts. The catch phrase spawned from that collaboration was “Back in your box, Morris!” which still tends to resurface today. We became well known for our snark back and forth between one another; and at live appearances we let the snark fly in between readings and story tellings.

You both have extensive experience writing fantasy and that talent shows in Phoenix Rising. What inspired you to write a steampunk adventure, and why do you think it’s become so popular recently?

P: I’ve always loved historical fantasy books. I’ve written two before this, and so my take on steampunk has always come from there. I think there are a lot of reasons the genre is becoming so popular. It is nostalgia for past that we think we know. It’s the draw of the technology that we feel we can understand. Added to that romance and manners. A heady combination. 

T: We dedicated the book to Jared Axelrod and J.R. Blackwell (as in the two scientists of the Ministry’s R&D) who introduced us to steampunk. The more I saw of the genre, the more I wanted to write something in it. Works like Girl Genius and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen kept pushing me into that direction, and finally I had an idea come to me that eventually became this book with Pip.I think another part of steampunk’s appeal comes from that same appeal of The Avengers or the early James Bond films. Secret agents with wild gadgets on call, and then as a backdrop you have the romance, flair, and pageantry of the Industrial Age. Throw in there a sense of wild imagination and passionate creativity, and it’s hard to fathom why it still remains underground. I say “still” because I describe to people not into Science Fiction what I’m writing, and most times they haven’t a frame of reference. We’re still a long way from mainstream, but we are close. Very close.

What were your favorite scenes to write in Phoenix Rising?

P: I loved writing the opera scene. It was such a lot of fun, combining action, verbal barbs and a lush location. Eliza got to have her moment in the spotlight—literally. 

T: I have many favorite scenes. The book, for me, has a very organic feel. This vignette leads to another that links with another and the book flows from moment to moment. Like Pip, I’m partial to the opera scene, but I also have a big smile for the day after where we meet Eliza’s maid Alice and the Ministry Seven. There is also the grand finale (nope, no spoilers here) that was a real blast to write. But yes, I do think with Phoenix Rising, there is a flow to the turn of events. It was fun to write. Even more fun to edit. (That’s when magic happens!)

I’m always fascinated when two authors collaborate on a project, and always wonder what goes into the process. What does your typical writing day look like?

P: Well I tend to write during the day, and Tee writes during the night. In between our shifts we argue/discuss the direction of the novel. 

T: Pip has this very big stick. And when she thinks I’m wrong, which is rare…(sound of a bat hitting Tee upside the head)Working with Pip is a joy and delight. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What are some of your favorite Steampunk tales (recent or not so recent)?

P: I love Cherie Priest’s books. They are quite different from the Ministry books, but full of fright and beauty. 

T: Currently, I’m reading Changeless from Gail Carriger, but I will probably be diving into Priest’s works next or possibly O.M. Grey’s. I do want to find more of what is out there, but I tend to be a fussy reader. Also with my schedule of day job and writer, spare time is hard to find. (I mean, I just started watching The Guild. I know. 5 point loss on my geek cred card…)

I personally can’t wait for Eliza and Welly’s next adventure! Can you tell us what’s next for our intrepid duo?

P: Eliza isn’t going to stop at one case. The next one has more of the New Zealand flavor and involves suffragettes. There are plenty of chases, fights and maybe a couple of embraces in there. 

T: I can also drop in there the next book offers more gadgets, more action, more airships, and more rugby. And if you can’t wait we do have an addendum for you to sample. On our website,, we have a podcast called Tales from the Archives. We’re halfway through Volume 1, and there will be — rest assured — a Volume 2. Stay tuned, gentle readers!

Read my review of Phoenix Rising!

*Giveaway is for 2 copies of Phoenix Rising to 2 winners!

About the book:

Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.
These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.
For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!



  1. Midnyte Reader

    No need to enter me, I met the authors at a convention and they are so nice! They read the first chapter of the book and it sounds fabulous. I added Cherie Priest to my wish list.

  2. Boo Canada and USA only…you know it's unjust, don't you? I love steampunk and I am prejudiced against just because I live in Europe…boooo….

  3. Michelle @ The True Book Addict

    Thank you, Kristin! This book sounds intriguing.

  4. Stacy (Urban Fantasy Investigations)

    This looks like something I would enjoy, Thanks for the interview.

  5. This is one case where I don't need to fill out the contest form, since I've already bought, read and thoroughly enjoyed "Phoenix Rising." (I should probably mention that the purchase was due to the combination of Pip's Guest Blog Post back in April and Kristin's review of the book.) I'll be anxiously awaiting the second book!

  6. Offbeat Vagabond

    Another great interview & giveaway. Thanks to Pip and Tee visiting again. I love how well these two collaborate. When it comes to creating anything, especially art, people tend to clash and nothing gets done LOL! Glad that is not the case here. I too am adding Cherie Priest as well, sounds great. Thank you guys so much 🙂

  7. Offbeat Vagabond

    LOL! She sounds great, my fail for not realizing it was the author's name. Oh yeah, time for bed LOL! Thanks again 🙂

  8. This sounds like a roller-coaster of a read. Thanks for the review and chance to win the giveaway!

  9. Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett...

    Hi! Kristin…
    The book "Phoenix Rising"is sitting on my "virtual" bookshelf…soon to go in my []cart.
    I also let the members Of my Steam-punk Ning know about the book-giveaway contest.
    Thanks, for sharing the interview too!
    DeeDee ;-D

  10. I am so eager to read this!!! It's on my "to-read" list. Thank you for sharing the interview!

  11. Anachronist-So sorry…I'm not the one that decides whether these giveaways will be international or not…

  12. Thanks to everyone for welcoming Pip and Tee to the blog! You guys rock!

  13. sorry, i entered this twice because i noticed my email was typed wrong as soon as i hit submit…correct email is jmluker at winco dot net..thanks

  14. Thank you!

Comments are closed