Today we welcome Author Zoë Archer She will be giving away a copy of SCOUNDREL to one lucky commenter. Contest closes Sunday, October 24th, 2010 at 11:59 pm PST.
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. Her BLADES OF THE ROSE series—featuring dashing men and fearless women—is available now. Zoë and her husband live in Los Angeles.
Technology in Blades of the Rose
When I started writing my BLADES OF THE ROSE series, my goal wasn’t to write steampunk romance. What I planned on writing, what I wanted to write, were books that defied romance categorization. I set out to create romances that I always longed for but never saw on the shelves. The BLADES books would have action, adventure, exotic locations, magic, history, and a healthy amount of hot love scenes.
I conceived of the Blades of the Rose as a secret organization of men and women who travel the globe seeking and protecting the world’s magic from theft and exploitation. In essence, they are a spy team acting on behalf of magic rather than the interests of any one nation. To make things interesting—and difficult—the Blades cannot use magic that isn’t theirs by gift or right. Of course, the villains of these books have no qualms about stealing and using magic to further their goals of world domination. Which leaves the Blades at a distinct disadvantage.
Thinking about the spy team model, I decided that the Blades needed a Q. If you remember, Q supplies James Bond and other members of the British Secret Service with diabolical gadgets to aid them in their espionage. Some of Q’s awesome inventions include car ejector seats, dagger shoes, rings concealing cameras and deadly pens, just to name a few. In the Bond films, 007 stopped by Q’s lab, and an exasperated Q would demonstrate the latest in gadgetry, followed by a stern admonition for Bond to please not destroy the merchandise. Of course, Bond always used the gadgets and they almost always were destroyed during the course of the mission. Poor Q.
I wanted the Blades to have their very own Q. But instead of a research and development team headed by a single man, the Blades had the Graves family—several generations of scientific and mechanical geniuses who utilize the current technology to assist the Blades in their work. The key there is current technology. Why? Because the first four BLADES OF THE ROSE books are set between 1874 and 1875.
Here is where the steampunk element comes into play. Catullus Graves, the current scion of the Graves family, does not use any magic when inventing devices. Nor does he have difference engines, robots or any other advanced technology. He is limited solely to what is available in the mid 1870s. Not only that, but because the Blades take his inventions out into the field, the devices he builds must be portable and easy to use at a moment’s notice. To put it plainly, steam-powered mechanisms are out. It would be far too cumbersome for a Blade to haul around a steam engine when adventuring in the wilds of Mongolia (as they do in WARRIOR), sailing the Aegean (SCOUNDREL), trekking through the rugged Canadian Rockies (REBEL), or journeying to undiscovered lands (STRANGER).
I’m going to straight up own right now that I had my own scientific genius helping me in the conception and design of Catullus Graves’s diabolical gadgets: my husband. He and I would brainstorm ideas for cool devices that could only use late Victorian technology, with my husband’s scientific understanding helping to fill in the gaps of how something worked. Liberties were taken. I don’t know if the implements created by Catullus could actually work. But they are, at least, plausible. Sometimes, the idea for the gadget came first, and then we’d think about a scenario in which the gadget could be used. Sometimes, a situation in the plot would arise and the challenge came to see what kind of device might be useful. Both approaches were a blast to write and add a cool element to each book.
Catullus even gets his own book—and I knew, without a doubt, that I would have to put him in a scenario where he needs to “MacGyver” his way out of a tough situation using only items on hand. What kind of things does Catullus invent and what do the Blades use in the field? I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment in discovering these gadgets, so you’ll have to read the books to find out.
It’s been suggested that the BLADES OF THE ROSE books are steampunk. That might be overstating the case too much. If you’re looking for airships, clockwork robots and ether-guns, you won’t find them in my series. But what you will find is adventure, magic, danger, hot romance and very fun gadgets, which I think is a blueprint for a rollicking good time.
— Zoë Archer