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Gail Carriger made a book tour stop in Houston, Texas for her new release, PRUDENCE : The Custard Protocol: Book One. In this latest novel, Alexia’s girl, now all grown up, with all the spunk of her mother and then some ventures to the exotic land of India. Her high priority, top secret mission involves tea, vampires and weremonkeys. 

At Murder By the Book, Gail shared with her fans that she did a lot of research for this novel as it is set in India. The mythology used in the book including that of the Rakshasas, India vampires, and the Vanara, India weremonkeys is accurate. In her research she also uncovered the interesting historical tidbit that Bombay was originally several islands the English engineered into one by means of land reclamation projects.

Ms.Carriger also discussed how she comes up with such interesting names for her characters. She uses names for humor. Sometimes the name just comes to her as she’s writing like it did for her main character, Prudence. She also looks names up in Victorian registries and on tomb stones. Sometimes she likes a word so much she just adds a letter or letters at the beginning or end to make a name.  Another way she choses names is what she calls cookies, meaning it’s a treat for anyone willing to do the research. She’ll pull a name from a real historical character or the name will have a hidden meaning or she’ll spell a word backwards for a name. One such cookie is Lord Akeldama. If you don’t know where and what Akeldama is, google it. It’s interesting. I have to say my favorite new character name in Prudence is Spoo, she’s a lively member of the Spotted Custard’s crew.

At the book signing, Ms. Carriger was asked how she explains Steampunk to people who aren’t familiar with it? She says, “Imagine living in a time period where you can take a hot air balloon to the moon.” Speaking of fiction genres, she also divulged that she likes military sci-fi including Rachel Bach’s Paradox series and Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff. And she likes some romance in her sci-fi reads. Ms. Carriger even has a book club on Goodreads where you can read along with her. A book she likes is chosen each month.  Also on My Book The Movie blog you can see who she would chose to cast for Prudence if it were a movie.

I read Prudence and I love the line,

Rue was moved to italics by the gesture. “Mine?”

As you can see from that sentence, PRUDENCE is as charming and humorous as all of Ms. Carriger’s books.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

In PRUDENCE, the adventure begins when Dama gives Prudence an airship, which she paints to look like a lady bug and she names it the Spotted Custard. Of course her good friends Prim, Percy and Quesnel come along. Intrigue and espionage ensue, which Prudence thinks is all due to the special tea Dama has sent her for but it turns out it’s also about supernatural beings in India, the vampiric Rakshasas and the Vanara, weremonkeys.  I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say of course in the end Prudence manages to save the day.

The book is a funny, sweet, fresh delight. It’s ever so creatively original – after all it’s by Gail Carriger. I highly recommend PRUDENCE for anyone who likes good books and of course it’s a must read for all Gail Carriger fans.

Here is a video from Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego 03/17/15

Other Gail Carriger related post on Steamed:

Book Monday: Timeless by Gail Carriger

Maeve Alpin Reviews Gail Carriger’s Timeless
How To Make A Proper Pot Of Tea by Gail Carriger 
In Which We Get Cozy with Gail Carriger
In Which Author Gail Carriger visits

~      ~      ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 26 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Seleste steampunk bustle

At a young age, Seleste deLaney discovered the trick to not being afraid of the monsters under the bed was to turn them into heroes. Since that time, she’s seen enough of human monsters that she prefers to escape to fictional worlds where even the worst demons have to play by the rules and the good guys might end up battered and bruised (or dead), but they always win. And really, isn’t that the way it should be 

She is in the process of relocating to southeast Michigan with her two kids (and a pair of fierce, attention-hungry slobber-monsters of her own) and is hard at work on her next book. In those rare moments when she isn’t battling terrorists, vampires, or rogue clockworks, she can be found all over the Internet, where she loves to interact with readers. To that end, you can find her at her WebsiteBlogFacebook ProfileFacebook PageTwitter, and Pinterest.    

The Big “What If?”

By Seleste deLaney

It’s been said that all the best stories start with “Once upon a time…”

Then of course, there’s the redneck version of that which says all the best stories start with “Hey, y’all, watch this…”

For myself, all the best stories start with a storyteller sitting back and thinking to themselves “What if?”

  • “What if vampires roamed Victorian London?”
  • “What if the Black Plague brought forth a mutant gene that turned nobles into monsters but let them live forever?”
  • “What if the monsters are us and a simple potion makes them come forth?”

SL_Badlands_250x400Sci-fi and fantasy are all based on the “What if?” And nowhere is this more true than with steampunk. It allows us to imagine a world where genetic manipulation, advanced prosthetics, and all sorts of wonderful things were created and perfected far before their time. More than that, though, it allows us, as readers, a glimpse of a world that might have been, if only tiny bits of history had changed and advancement had never been stalled.

When I first wrote Badlands, I knew I wanted a region run by women, but I didn’t know how it would have come about. Thoughts of Australia as an English penal colony came to mind, and I thought to myself, “What if the United States had done that? Sent all their criminals off to somewhere else?” For me, that question was the birth of Ever’s people. Criminals would be shipped across the Mississippi and their families would often follow. Eventually the wildness would need tempering, giving rise to leadership that wouldn’t automatically be distrusted by the Union—women. Not the criminals themselves, but their wives and daughters. (There were sons too, but with nameless and faceless criminals, they’d be more suspect.) Violence would spawn the need for control, resulting in the Border Guard.

The funny thing about questions is they tend to spawn more questions. Readers wanted to know more about the world Ever, Spencer and the Dark Hawk crew lived in, so I wrote more. The sequel, Clockwork Mafia, comes out at the end of the month, and I do hope you’ll all check it out.

But for me, the most interesting bit was how questions about the world that wasn’t led me (via questions from my children…go figure) to conversations about multi-verse theory and the possibility that all worlds imagined by authors exist in some other universe. And that led to time travel and dimensional rifts and…eventually it will lead to a new series very different from Badlands, but with that same heart of adventure and political intrigue.

That’s the joy of story telling—there are no limits but what can be imagined. And in the world of steampunk, the imagination has no limits.

More about Clockwork Mafia (coming April 29 from Carina Press):

Clockwork_Mafia_final

Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father’s duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can’t resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal.

His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason’s strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands.

With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He’ll have to win over Henrietta’s trust, and her heart, before it’s too late…

Pre-order Clockwork Mafia at Carina PressAmazonBarnes & NobleAll Romance Ebooks, and Bookstrand.

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When we made berth along the river, I snuck back to the engine room and gathered my things. It was time. I couldn’t go on like this anymore, not with so much weighing on me. With a sad glance toward the engine that I’d put so much blood and sweat into, I hoisted my pack and set off toward the bridge.

Everyone else was off, doing whatever assigned chore the captain had set them on. Only she remained, standing on the deck, hands clasped behind her back as she stared out over the water. My toe caught on a raised board and I hissed in a breath, breaking the fragile quiet.

“Lolita Seleste, I wondered how long it would take before you came.”

Maybe it was the stupid pain in my stubbed toe, but I really didn’t understand her words. “Ma’am?”

“You’re leaving. I’ve known for a while.”

Oh. “It’s not forever. At least, not if you’ll take me back when I’m ready.”

She still hadn’t turned around, but her fingers flexed as if trying to hold onto something–something that wasn’t there. “It has to do with whatever you found when I sent you on shore leave with Lolita Cindy, doesn’t it?”

“How did you…” I winced at the admission.

Her sigh was heavy and full of the kind of disappointment I’d never hoped to hear again after I left home. “There are a great many things that happen on this ship, Lolita. Few occur without my knowledge. And of course we’ll be happy to have you back, whether as a permanent member of the crew or not.”

There was no way in the world she knew how much it meant to me to have a place I could come back to, one where I was welcome, appreciated even. “Thank you, ma’am.”

Finally, she spun on her heel, her eyes meeting mine. The glimmer of tears there made me stop breathing. “I always knew our paths would only travel together for a time, Seleste. It is my sincere hope that they cross again.” She nodded toward the corridor. “Safe journeys.”

A strange part of me wanted to hug her–an urge I’d never had in regard to our stoic captain, but she wasn’t my captain anymore. I nodded at the dismissal. “To you as well, ma’am.”

And then I strode down the corridor, past my beloved engine room, and departed the airship Steamed.

~~*~~

I love this blog so very much, and it was with great difficulty that I spoke to Suzanne about my need to pull back from posting. I’m at the point where I’m stretching myself too thin, and since I write more than steampunk, it was getting harder and harder for me to keep my posts here even remotely interesting and still stick with the genre.

So, I’m moving from regular Lolita status to guest/fill-in Lolita. That means I will be back, and maybe I’ll even manage to keep up the silly little story I’ve been building into the beginning of my posts, but I won’t be here every other week anymore.

I do hope if I’ve entertained you that you’ll check out my published work. Badlands  is out now, and the sequel (Clockwork Mafia) comes out in April. I’m also still (periodically) hanging out on Twitter and Facebook, and my e-mail “door” is always open.

Again, a huge thank you to Suzanne for having me. Another to all of you for tolerating and upon occasion even liking some of my ramblings. Safe journeys to each and every one of you, no matter where life is taking you 🙂

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I twisted the wrench, securing the new equipment in place. The gauges and dials all read in the green. The ridiculous machine that shouldn’t have even been possible was working perfectly.

Another Lolita–I didn’t know her name, to me she has always been “the annoying one”–stepped up and frowned, tapping the instrument. “This isn’t right.”

A heavy sigh escaped me before I could stop it, but once it was out I felt better and vowed not to stifle my exasperation again. “The captain told me to make it work, and it works.”

“But it’s not right,” the annoying one insisted, tapping it again. “Anyone who knows engines will question not only its purpose but its effectiveness and–“

Calmly, I wrapped my fingers around her wrist and pulled her hand away from my invention. I might have applied a bit more pressure than necessary, but I was done playing nice with her. “And anyone who knows this ship will see that it works and, at the end of the day, that is what the captain wants. Why don’t you go about your business and do your job. I’m sure you will perform it exactly right.”

Scowling, she spun on her heel and stalked out of my engine room.

Before the door hit her skinny backside, I muttered, “I’m sure you’ll remember where to find me when you break something else.”

~~*~~

When writing steampunk (or any fiction for that matter), there is an issue of terminology. Often there is a proper term and a common term that an author has to decide between. When writing non-fiction, of course one should err on the side of the “correct” word. But, with fiction, an author isn’t necessarily dealing with an expert. Not everyone who enjoys science fiction is a rocket scientist (or even understands any math beyond–hopefully at a minimum–some basic algebra). Not everyone who reads historical fiction is necessarily an expert in that era or even a history buff at all. Most people who are drawn to fiction are drawn to the story. Therefore, when choosing terminology, it’s often in an author’s best interest to select things that are recognizable to a general audience.

Take, for example, Clockwork Mafia. The history of organized crime in the United States traces back to Italy and Sicily where “The Black Hand” operated. It was essentially an extortion racket wherein the group would offer “protection” for a fee. This is similar to what most people know of the early mob in America. The name traveled with the “business.” The term mafia came into use in the late nineteenth century and was used in the US, but didn’t become popular until prohibition. 

Now, in the world of the Badlands, history has been tweaked. To that end, when organized crime came into the story, I had no problem whatsoever with using the word mafia. (My editor did cut “mob,” but I was okay with that.) I honestly would have argued had it been suggested that I change “mafia” to “The Black Hand.” Granted, the latter has this dramatic flair that speaks of dark evil and all sorts of foul deeds, but to the average non-history-buff, the term would have been meaningless. Everyone knows what the mafia is, and since these are steampunk romances we’re talking about the focus is supposed to be on the couple.

Anyone who knows my work knows that I aim for balance but, at the end of the day, I could either slow down the pacing of the book to explain to the average reader what The Black Hand was, or I could let the word mafia speak for itself. I chose the latter because it works and serves the purpose. 

And, considering the word was used often in print by 1891 in the states, it’s actually not wrong either. 

 

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Free from duty for a few moments, I made my way from the mess to the cargo hold. At the moment, crates and boxes stacked higher than the top of my head filled it with only a meandering path left between them. I dropped into the hold, fully prepared to lose myself in the maze.

“Hold it right there.” The voice was far too deep to belong to one of the lolitas.

Keeping one hand on the ladder, I turned slowly and stared past the barrel of the gun pointed my way to the man behind it. He was young and quite handsome with his shadowed eyes and chiseled jaw. The badge pinned to his chest, however, gave me pause.

“Who are you?”

“I’m in charge down here, and if you have concerns about that, feel free to haul yourself back up to the bridge and ask your captain.” He didn’t drop the weapon, but he did step back, allowing me room.

Now I remembered that the captain had mentioned a passenger traveling with our cargo. If I’d known he was a lawman, I would have avoided the hold like the plague. Time for a hasty retreat to anywhere else. “I only came down to lose myself in the boxes for a bit. The hold has never been this full, and I couldn’t resist the lure of a few moments alone.”

He lowered the weapon at last and scrubbed at his jaw. “Apologies, miss, but I can’t allow that. This crap is intel destined for the task force that’s–”

“It’s what for what?” I blinked at him, his words nothing but gibberish. “No. Never mind. I should return to my duties. Good day, sir.” I raced up the ladder and back to my station where things made some small degree of sense.

 

A couple days ago I finished up line edits on Clockwork Mafia. It was a huge reminder of the fact that research doesn’t end with facts and dates and names. The number of anachronistic words and phrases that had slipped into my narrative was… Well, let’s just say I became paranoid on my read-through that there were more.

In many ways, steampunk is anachronistic–modern technology and attitudes shoved into an older society. But that doesn’t mean that anything and everything goes. For instance, there is a flamethrower in Clockwork Mafia and, while I don’t think its existence is a problem (even though in our world they weren’t used until WWI), I did change an instance of the point-of-view character thinking of it as a flamethrower. (The totality of that part in the scene is more complicated than that, but it was adjusted more than once to correct reality with Badlands-reality.)

There were a few of those instances where the real-world use of a word or phrase wasn’t that far removed (in time) from the events in Clockwork Mafia, but they were changed in order to keep as much of my alternate reality consistent with the known world as possible. It does, however, beg the question of how much leeway do readers allow for such things. The mob was not known as “the mob” until prohibition era. In a story about pre-prohibition mafia in an alternate reality, would that bother you as a reader? Task force didn’t come into use until WWII. So, where is the line drawn?

(Note: This is in no way a negative comment on my editor. I changed all the anachronistic words and phrases because I want my reality to be as realistic as possible. It just made me very curious how others felt about such things in general.)

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“Lolita Seleste!”

I snapped to attention as the captain strode toward the engine, her bustle sweeping through the soot on the floor. Soot I should have cleaned hours ago. “Aye, Captain!”

“I was under the impression you had some experience with steam engines when you requested to take up this post. Was I mistaken?”

My gaze darted to the left where turbines and pistons moved in much the same manner as they had when I arrived. Which meant they weren’t yet at full capacity. “No, Captain. The hitch in the works is a wee bit more complicated than I–”

“Excuses, Lolita I have no time or tolerance for them. We need to be at full power by nightfall. Get back to work.” Picking up her bustle as she spun around, she scowled at me. “And this place will be ship-shape by morning. Have I made myself clear?”

“Aye, Captain.”

As soon as she left the engine room, I kicked the offending turbine. “Work, blast you!”

When I said I could fix the steam engine, I’d anticipated a simple problem. Something quick. I’d been down here for three days, tinkering with the damned thing. By nightfall, she said. If I didn’t figure this out soon, I had a feeling my time on board might quickly be reaching its conclusion.

~~*~~

In other words, I am neck deep in revisions for Clockwork Mafia. They’re going fairly quickly (which is nice), but small changes have proved very invasive and have led to… a lot of changes. As I announced on Twitter last night, readers who felt Badlands was too short will be happy to know that this installment of the story is roughly twice as long. And… I got a release date last night! Clockwork Mafia will go on sale April 29, 2013. I know, I know, it’s a long way off, but I am hoping to have the third book out in 2013 as well. (As long as the writing gods cooperate at least.)

For now, however, I need to get back to Henrietta Mason and her rogue clockworks. I do promise a more infotaining post next time (that’s informational/entertaining for those who didn’t know :P)

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I must admit, I’ve stowed away once or twice on the great ship Steamed! This last time though, your lovely Captain, Lolita Suzanne, said the ship was in need of some new crew members. Since she had the most adorable little pink and pearl gun pointed at my head, I didn’t bother to ask what happened to the others. Instead, I told her to point me to my new quarters.

Warrior women in a time of steam work, right?

After getting settled into a spot somewhat more comfortable than the back corner of the cargo hold, she informed me that one of my primary duties would be posting an update to our log once a fortnight. The topic, of course, needs to focus on all things steam.

“But what of vampires?” I asked.

“Are they clockwork?” she replied.

With no intimate knowledge of that sort on the vampires, I asked, “But what of gods and romance and warrior women and…”

She cut me off with a look that told me in no uncertain terms that her princess gun was close at hand. “Steam, Lolita Seleste. If it does not fit in the world of steam, it has no place here.”

To which I smiled, nodded, and wished desperately that the cat hadn’t stolen my knives. But, upon closer examination, I realized that with the exception of the vampires (who I’m fairly confident have no clockwork parts) I could indeed speak on the others if only I could work in the proper angle. As I’m bucking for the job of chief mechanic on this bird, I’m pretty good with angles…

To that end, it is with great pleasure that I announce that the story of the warrior women of the Badlands and the dirigible The Dark Hawk is not ending with Badlands. I have recently sold the sequel, (tentatively titled) Clockwork Mafia, to Carina Press. I do not have any information on release date yet. However, I can tell you a couple things. First, there are two more books planned in the series beyond this one. Clockwork Mafia focuses on Henrietta, book three will center on Mahala, and book four will wrap up the series by following Laurette.

And, as you may recall, the last time I stowed away (prior to the insanity of being caught…) I offered up a prize that included a digital copy of Badlands as well the opportunity to have a Badlands warrior in one of the future installments named after them (there is a SLIM chance this could still happen with Clockwork Mafia). This ingenious device known as Random.org drew from the twelve comments other than my own and came up with the number four. That devious Lolita Cindy obviously tampered with the machine. And as there is already a Spencer in all of the books, she and I are destined to have words over this. It took me a moment, but I repaired the machine, and the new winner is comment #5… CLOTHDRAGON! Congratulations! Please contact me at selestedelaney(at)gmail(dot)com to collect your prize!

In the meantime, if you are curious enough about this stowaway turned crew member, you may find me lurking in various places (as lurking is one of the things I do best), such as:

Website: http://selestedelaney.com

Blog: http://selestedelaney.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SelestedeLaney

Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/seleste.delaney

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seleste-deLaney/111903172206874

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4243796.Seleste_deLaney

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/selestedelaney/

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