January 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

‘The Inventor’s Secret’: Behind the Scenes with Andrea Cremer

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

Andrea CremerWhile most steampunk novels are set in the late-19th to early-20th centuries and, more often than not, in Europe, the history I wanted to reinvent was much earlier, exploring a period of American history very near and dear to my heart. Prior to becoming a full-time novelist I was a history professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. My research specialization focused on the intersection of religion, gender, and violence in the British colonies and I’ve long held an interest in the transition from colonial rule to republic in early America.

The Inventor’s Secret posits the question: what would North American society have looked like if the American Revolution failed? As a nation and society, the United States locates the beginnings of our highest values: freedom, equality, the pursuit of happiness as a result of a successful 18-century revolution. What then would be the fate of those values and that society if the Revolutionary War had been won by the British?

The Inventor's SecretThe central characters of The Inventor’s Secret, a band of teenagers who are the children of men and women still resisting British rule, are struggling to survive in this alternate reality: Having failed to secure the aid of France in the war, George Washington and the Continental Army are unable to defeat British forces. The revolution is quelled, its ringleaders hanged as traitors, and the United States never comes into existence.

The Inventor’s Secret takes place in a world that reveals the way in which machinery and industry create things both wondrous and devastating and explore the ways that technology affords us our greatest triumphs and lays bare our most craven tendencies.The year is 1816, just after the Napoleonic Wars conclude in Europe, the British Empire is on the verge of achieving dominance in the Western Hemisphere. As the novel’s protagonists uncover nefarious secrets and confront the violent tyranny of the Empire, they come to grips with the very questions that remain at the heart of American identity. What is the value of liberty? At what cost must it be won?



SLJTeen header

This article was featured in our free SLJTeen enewsletter.
Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a month.

A Day-Long Celebration of Fandom-Beloved Stories and Characters
Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our inaugural LibraryCon Live! We’re excited to offer this day-long virtual festival for book nerds, librarians, and fans of graphic novels, sci-fi, and fantasy. Network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you’ll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. You’ll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.