The Ghost Engine – An Interview with Theresa Fuller

by MC D’Alton

Theresa Fuller was born in Singapore to Peranakan parents. She was encouraged in her writing by her teacher, Chia Hearn Chek, a well-known local author. Educated in Singapore and Australia, she worked as an analyst/programmer and later as a high school teacher. Her first short story THE CRICKET SON was published in VOICES OF THE PAST, An Anthology of Stories Passed Down In Australian Families.

Her breakthrough novel is the Steampunk YA THE GHOST ENGINE, published in March 2018. It won a mentorship at the Australasian Horror Writers’ Association. THE GHOST ENGINE combines her love of technology with her enthusiasm for Victorian England.

Theresa currently resides with her family in Sydney, Australia.

Q. What got you interested in writing?

I grew up with ghosts outside my door. They haunted dark trees and cemeteries and were the spirits of young girls betrayed by lovers. These stories were made real by my cousins who were always telling me how just last year a child around my age had been snatched by one of these ghosts – Pontianaks. And never seen again… Then there were the rumours of babies abandoned in the rainforest because they were girls. Whenever I met Chinese girls raised by Malay families, I wondered how much truth was in these stories.

In Singapore it is considered a treat to bring children to Haw Par Villa, originally a venue for teaching traditional Chinese values. Here children are shown the ten views of Hell. I had nightmares for a week after each visit. Even today, I can visualize the demons as they tortured liars by pulling their tongues, elongating them grotesquely.

This is probably why I never wanted to be a writer. Initially.
Writers bend the truth. A little.

Then I came to Australia for my education, met my husband, married and stayed.

When my first son was born I read him stories, and somehow something stirred. I remembered my grandfather and how he would tell fairy tale after fairy tale, at least ten per night until in frustration he would record them to be spared reading the same stories repeatedly.

Thus, in a strange land far away from my own family and what was familiar, I began to write. And in my stories, I could come home.

To a land where boys turn into crickets and mousedeer dance laughing upon the backs of crocodiles.

The Ghost Engine

She thought she could change the world…
Ada Lovelace’s granddaughter purchases an engine in the fight for equality for women
Until her world became that of the machine…
Brought down to the level of the machine, she learns the meaning of equality in a race against the machine
Woman versus Machine
Who’ll win?
Who’ll die?

Q. How long have you been writing?

Over twenty years. I am a very slow writer. 😊

Q. Do you have any goals/projects in the pipeline?

Yes, several, but here is one that I have been working on for the last 14 years. This is my epic fantasy – THE WOMAN COUNTRY.

I am hoping to finally publish it next year.

Q. What do you like most about writing?

Writing can be very frustrating when the words don’t come, but when they do, the emotion is exhilarating!

Q. What genre do you write?

I write imaginative stories dipped in romantic lore and horror. Among the genres you will find everything from steampunk, epic fantasy, YA and children’s picture books.

Q. What draws you to this genre?

I like creating my own blends, cooking up different flavours that make a story richer. The Ghost Engine, for example, is a YA Steampunk dipped in romance and horror.

Q. Where do you get your ideas?

I like creating my own blends, cooking up different flavours that make a story richer. The Ghost Engine, for example, is a YA Steampunk dipped in romance and horror.

Q. Tell us about your process, how do you get into a writing mindset?

I do what the late great Douglas Adams used to do, I paint myself in a corner. He used to take baths to help him think so the closer he got to a deadline, the cleaner he got.

Q. What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on THE WOMAN COUNTRY.

When Anya’s father morphs into a python in order to devour her, rescue comes in the form of a 1 000-year old dragon. In the land where women are chattel, and purity is all, Anya is a half-breed—the girl never meant to have been born. Then ten suns arise to smite the earth, and the world turns to this unlikely saviour. But if the Land of Dreams shapes the future, then it is more powerful than the real world, and Anya’s father will eventually break her neck.

Q. Which writers inspire/influence you?

My favourite author of all time is CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

Q. What else about your writing journey should we know?

Ada_Lovelace_portraitI write about girls saving the world, and in the process, themselves.

The Ghost Engine, for example, was inspired by Ada Lovelace. Ada would have been the world’s first programmer if she hadn’t died young and in pain because she was a woman.

Ada died of cancer. In great agony, she had asked her physician if she could request a second opinion. The physician’s answer was as I stated in THE GHOST ENGINE, that should Ada do so, he would wash his hands of her.

I burned with fury at the doctor’s answer. He treated her as stupid because she was a woman. I started imagining all the ways in which Ada could be saved if only the computer had been invented, as thanks to its speed it would have hastened the speed in which research could be done. The computer as we know it, a device so ubiquitous and necessary today, the invention that is forever linked to her name, didn’t exist until around the time of the second world war (depending on which text you read).

Berd, my plucky protagonist, was born out of this wish to save lives.

Q. Where can we find you?


Q. Where can we buy a copy of The Ghost Engine!?

Angus & Robertson:
Barnes and Noble:


Theresa, thank you so much for being our guest on the BookBaybZ Blog!

12 thoughts on “The Ghost Engine – An Interview with Theresa Fuller

  1. Enjoyed the post, Theresa. I’ve recently become interested in the Victorian and Elizabethan eras after a couple trips to the UK and reading the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I love how you describe your books as girls saving the world. Makes me want to read them all. Women truly have the capacity, strength and compassion to save our world. Good luck with The Ghost Engine. Love the cover.


  2. Interesting interview to read. I like the sound of ‘The Woman Country’, and will be eagerly awaiting its publication.


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