eSpec Books interviews Jeff Young, author of Spirit Seeker and contributor to After Punk: Steampowered Tales of the Afterlife, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer, funding now on Kickstarter.

eSB: What can you tell us about the story you have written (or plan to write) for After Punk?

JY: This will be the second story in Kassandra Leyden’s timeline. Now that she knows she’s one of the few that can speak with the dead, she should learn how to do it properly. Enter one Madam Foss, well know medium who has some spirits rather than skeletons in her closet. She maybe showing Kassandra her first view of the other side, but they should both beware what might enter when that door is opened.

eSB: Why did you chose that particular aspect of the afterlife to ‘punk up? How did it lend itself to the theme?

JY: A lot of the other stories in the anthology will be taking on specific legends and aspects of the afterlife, whereas I’ll be looking at the way a character interacts with it, ie. Kassandra Leyden Spirit Seeker. That doesn’t mean I won’t be doing a little world building of my own. Recently, I went for a walk on rail to trail conversion and after about a mile or two of walking on a straight path you reach a point with nothing but woods on either side. If you stop in the middle and look both ways, the path disappears into the distance and the similarity of the trees blends together. It’s an optical illusion that I’m using to describe the interface between the living and the dead. You don’t get to see the other side unless you take a one-way trip, but a medium like Kassandra can straddle the border.

eSB: Does you story introduce new characters, or are they old friends you revisit often…to torment mercilessly?

JY: I would hardly say I torment Kassandra, I see her as someone smart enough to find a way out of whatever I throw at her. On the other hand, sure there are a few new characters in the story. This is part two of her origin tale. Kassandra knows her ability to speak to the dead is unusual; now she’s going to learn from someone more experienced how to make it work for her.

eSB: Do you have any plans to expand your story…or write in the same universe? If so, what more can your readers expect?

JY: This story falls under the collective known as The Kassandra Leyden Adventures. It’s grown organically over time due to requests from various Steampunk anthologies. After a while it did occur to me that I should start filling in the gaps. So there are some stories about Kassandra growing up and then there are those where she’s partnered with Cobham Peckwith. In those cases so far the viewpoint has shifted to Cobham because since he’s not the believer in the phenomenon they experience, his view fits better with that of the reader. In the future, if the novel ever gets written, the idea is to switch viewpoints every chapter. So why keep calling it The Kassandra Leyden Adventures? Well because that sounds cooler, that’s why.

I’m sure there’s lots more to do in New Britain. One of the new stories will be about the use of pre-electronic listening devices to detect dirigibles trying to sneak across the southern border. Kassandra and Cobham will investigate the mysterious deaths of the soldiers garrisoned a listening post set in the Mississippi Delta. I am barely resisting the urge to include clockwork crocodiles.

In a longer story, I plan to bring back villain Emond Ressex who got the better of Kassandra in “Fox Chase”. Our pair of heroes are dispatched into the Red Lands to seek the aid of the natives to cure a violent outbreak of disease. When they reach the city of Cahokia they will discover that Emond is posing as a shaman and using his automaton animals and captured spirits to gather influence. The story is tentatively titled “White Shaman in Red Lands”.

There are certainly more stories to tell, but the big piece in the picture is the novel, which has the working title The Emancipation of Maxwell’s Ghosts. Kassandra and Cobham are charged with protecting dilettante genius Godfrey Kensington from assassins. When they return to Londinium from his father’s estate, they discover that Kassandra’s father has left on an illegal expedition to the Old World. Using various means of transport they follow and discover a diabolical plot to ensnare a god by Sante Moore (first introduced in “Ambergris on Ice”) and that Moore has convinced Casimir Leyden to join him. I have a certain fondness for Moore because, while I tend to let him grandstand like a Bond villain, he’s actually a morally gray character. He believes that the society can’t continue the way it has and that there most be another answer rather than steam power. He’s seen what burning wood and coal does and the effects on the environment around Londinium. I really wanted a villain who stood for something good, but was willing to do anything to achieve it, including step over socially acceptable lines. 

eSB: The coffin or the pyre, which one for you and why?

JY: Probably the pyre. I’m an outdoor person and I’ve always tried to leave things the way I find them following the minimum impact rule. I don’t really see the need to hold onto a piece of the world in terms of a cemetery plot after I’m gone. 

eSB: What are some of your own works readers can look for?

JY: This eSpec Kickstarter will be helping to put together my short story collection Spirit Seeker, which features several previously published Kassandra Leyden stories as well as some new material. These steampunk stories set in New Britain cover Kassandra’s awakening as a speaker to the departed through to her pairing with the ever practical Constable Cobham Peckwith. Fortress Publishing has published a collection of my other short stories, TOI 2 Diversiforms. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my work included in a number of other anthologies: Writers of the Future V.26, In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, Clockwork Chaos, Gaslight and Grimm, By Any Means, Best Laid Plans, Dogs of War, Man and Machine, If We Had Known, Fantastic Futures 13, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson, TV Gods & TV Gods: Summer Programming

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

JY: Aside from writing more Kassandra Leyden stories (One short, one novella and one novel in the works), I’ve been asked to contribute to the upcoming anthology Defending the Future: In Harm’s Way. This military science fiction collection features stories about field medics and will be produced by eSpec Books. I do have a few more long term invites to other anthologies and of course there are at least a dozen other things I should be writing, editing and more but that life thing tends to get in the way.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you? 

JY: and follow or view the social media tags. Don’t worry I’m a low effort follow. Or if you prefer a little more, try the Watch the Skies website for the SF&F reading group that I run ( and facebook group ( where things are much more active.


Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune. He is an award winning author who contributed to the anthologies: Writers of the Future v.26, By Any Means, Best Laid Plans, Dogs of War, In an Iron Cage, Fantastic Futures 13, Clockwork Chaos, TV Gods, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson and Gaslight & Grimm. Jeff’s work was also published in the magazines eSteampunk, Realms, Cemetery Moon, Trail of Indiscretion, Realms Beyond, Carbon14 and Neuronet. He is also an editor with Fortress Publishing for their Drunken Comic Book Monkey line as well as the anthologies TV Gods and TV Gods : Summer Programming. Jeff has helped run the Watch the Skies SF&F Reading Group of Harrisburg and Camp Hill for more than fifteen years. Finally, Jeff is also the proprietor of the online eBay and Etsy shops- Helm Haven, which produces Renaissance and Steampunk costume pieces.


Facebook –

Twitter – @jywriterguy

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Amazon Author Page –

Blog Address –

Instagram – ironmind42



After a bit of a hiatus while we relocated and regrouped, eSpec Books is back with three delightfully punky tomes for your reading enjoyment. Won’t you help us make these fantastical books a reality? We bring you familiar favorites and shiny new names, but as always wonderful fiction. This campaign will allow us to cover production costs, pay the authors, and possibly include artwork in these books. It hasn’t launched yet, but you can check out the campaign here. And below you can read about the upcoming books…. 

 THE CLOCKWORK WITCH by Michelle D. Sonnier 

 The seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, Arabella is destined to disappoint, when she was expected to shine. Though she descends from a long line of gifted witches she has earned the moniker of a “brown bud” showing no sign of magical talent. 

 When it truly seems her lot can grow no worse, she discovers an unnatural affinity for…of all things…technology. Not only are the mysteries of the mechanical world open to her, but her new-found ability allows her to manipulate them, making her the first ever clockwork witch and anathema to the nature of the witching world. 

 How will she come to grips with her new power when she must question if she will survive the judgement of her family and her peers? 

 SPIRIT SEEKER by Jeff Young 


 The Kassandra Leyden Adventures 

 The Leydens were people of extraordinary means. The father a well-known adventurer. The mother a spiritualist oft consulted by the government of New Britain. 

The daughter, Kassandra, inherent of both the skill and sense of adventure that made her parents great. But when her mother vanishes without a trace, and her father turns toward spirits of a fluid nature as he loses himself in memory, Kassandra is left to find her own way and purpose. She quickly learns a sense of caution as she discovers there is as much intrigue as adventure about the world she lives in. And not all those she’s had faith in are to be trusted. 

 With the whispers of spirits in her ear and unlikely allies at her back, Kassandra strives to defend both the living and the departed…after all… It’s the Spirit of the matter…

 AFTER PUNK: STEAMPOWERED TALES OF THE AFTERLIFE edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer 

 While mankind can scarce hope to pierce the Veil without crossing it, a few intrepid souls will ever bend their will against the aether, combining artifice and the arcane to uncover its secrets. 

 From voodoo death cults to the Day of the Dead, mummy parties, the wheel of reincarnation, the practice of death portraits, and so much more, these tales leave no gravestone unturned. 

 Be it heaven or hell or the limbo in between, the hereafter is about to get ‘Punked. 

 With stories by Jody Lynn Nye, David Sherman, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, James Chambers, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jeffrey Lyman, Bernie Mojzes, Travis I. Sivart, Jeff Young, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.  

Once again, you can preview the campaign for Tales of Paranormal Steampunk here, it should be launching in just a few days.




edited by Mike McPhail

Beyond the Cradle of mankind, the universe is vast, unknown,
dangerous to the unwary…or those caught in the path of intrepid explorers proceeding without forethought.

Thirteen authors explore what it is to pioneer the future with tales fraught with danger and remorse, tempered with hope, luck, and serendipity. We face the monsters. We face the truth. We face ourselves.

Whether the frontier is that of science or space, there is no doubt that at some point one must ask …If we had known, would we have followed this course?


The Necessary Enemy by Ian Randal Strock

The Steady Drone of Silence by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

The Last Man on Earth by Jody Lynn Nye

Chasing the Ball by Peter Prellwitz

The Janus Choice by Jeff Young

Between Scylla and Charybdis by Patrick Thomas

The Star Gazers by James Chambers

Giraffe Children by Robert E. Waters

Good Advice by John L. French

Egg by Christopher M. Hiles

Youth by Judi Fleming

Meeting the Other by Nancy Jane Moore

The Third Heaven by Robert Greenberger


It’s that time again, where you get a chance to win a free copy of one of our books. This time Man and Machine (Defending the Future book 7) edited by Mike McPhail.

mam-proof-finalThe plan had been to un-man the battlespace; replacing flesh and blood with steel and carbon fiber. Machines, both remote-guided and autonomous, would fight and be destroyed in the name of freedom, sparing the troops. However, as with all arms races, the opposing side’s technology eventually catches ups to yours, resulting in the need to put lives back on the frontline to deal with the unknown.

Gear up! This fight is far from over in 14 new stories of the struggle to survive, the new machines of war.

With stories by Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer Brozek, Ronald Garner, Aaron Rosenberg, Brenda Cooper, James Chambers, Nancy Jane Moore, Patrick Thomas, Jeff Young, Eric Hardenbrook, Robert E. Waters, Anton Kukal, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.


We are excited to present to you the cover of Man and Machine, Defending the Future Volume 7. After a three-year hiatus, editor Mike McPhail has given us another great volume for your reading enjoyment, featuring series veterans Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer Brozek, James Chambers, Patrick Thomas, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, Eric Hardenbrook, Nancy Jane Moore, Judi Fleming, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, plus our newest recruits: Ronald T. Garner, Aaron Rosenberg, and Anton Kukal.

In addition, the collection contains a final farewell from CJ Henderson, written just before his passing, about his participation in the Defending the Future Series.


Back Cover Copy

The plan had been to un-man the battlespace, replacing flesh and blood with steel and carbon fiber. Machines, both remote-controlled and autonomous A.I.s, would fight and be destroyed in the name of freedom; sparing the troops at the cost of the nation’s treasure.

However, as with any arms race, the opposing side’s technology eventually catches ups to yours, resulting in the need to put lives back in harm’s way on the frontline; to deal with, and adapt to the unknown, as only humans can.




Hard to believe that Philcon is already coming up. eSpec Books will have a table in the dealer’s room, for those who need to bring their library up to date. We will also be holding a launch party Saturday from 7pm to 9pm in the Con Suite (823). Hope to see you there! Below is our full schedule.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Sat 7:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 1
Sat 8:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 2

Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod), Mike McPhail, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, James Chambers, Eric Hardenbrook, Lawrence M. Schoen

eSpec Books launches their new titles, The Best of Defending the Future, edited by Mike McPhail and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, POST by Brenda Cooper, and In the Lamplight, by L. Jagi Lamplighter. Join the authors and editors for food, fun, and prizes

Sun 11:00AM in Plaza III (Three) – Marketing Multi-Genre Works
Sun 1:00PM in Plaza III (Three) – So Should I Just Self-Publish Through Amazon, or What? 

Mike McPhail
Fri 9:00PM in Plaza III (Three) – “Reverse the Polarity? But that Would…!”

Sat 11:00AM in Executive Suite C – Shared Storytelling in Games
Sat 12:00PM in Plaza II (Two) – What To Do When Real Science Outpaces Your Current SF Project 
Sat 7:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 1
Sat 8:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 2