Posts Tagged ‘Riding the Mainspring’

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Facing off against the mad genius.

I love Lego. I love telling stories. What better way to combine my passions than by building Lego models based on my own stories? So here’s my depiction of gentleman adventurers Dirk Dynamo and Sir Timothy Blaze-Simms battling the preserved head of Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci has been lurking for centuries in the sewers below Venice, perfecting his army of automata and preparing to take over the world.

Getting up close with danger.

Getting up close with danger.

Pity poor Leonardo - it's lonely being a mad genius.

Pity poor Leonardo – it’s lonely being a mad genius.

I had great fun doing this, and will definitely make more. Next time ninja!

The full story of ‘The Secret in the Sewers’ can be found in my steampunk short story collection Riding the Mainspring, free to anyone signing up to my mailing list.

A steam-powered cowboy with a taste for death.

A daring art heist in a moving city.

A zeppelin flight through the smoke-filled skies of a Europe torn apart by volcanoes.

And much, much more…

Riding The Mainspring - High ResolutionI’m giving away my steampunk short story collection, Riding the Mainspring, to anyone who signs up to my mailing list. So if you’re looking for some exciting steam-powered action, why not go and sign up here.

If you’ve already read Riding the Mainspring and don’t want to miss out then never fear – just sign up to the mailing list and then email me. Let me know that you’ve already read Riding the Mainspring, and which of my other ebooks you’d like for free instead, and I’ll send you a copy. You can see a list of the books here.

If you’re on the mailing list then you’ll also get my Flash Friday stories delivered direct to your inbox each week, along with updates on my upcoming books. There’s no cost, and no need to buy anything. Just click the link to enjoy some free reading!

I love world building, that distinct part of speculative fiction that is creating a whole new environment from scratch. The flora, the fauna, the technology or magic, the politics and culture… Even though we never build worlds from nothing, taking elements from reality and other settings, it’s always fun to craft a place of our own.

A world above

‘The Promise and the Reckoning’, one of the stories I put into Riding the Mainspring, was inspired by a world building idea. During the hugely disruptive Icelandic eruptions of 2010 large numbers of flights were cancelled because modern airliners couldn’t fly through the ash-clouded atmosphere. At the time someone pointed out to me that airships would be able to fly in these conditions. Having heard the word ‘airships’, naturally I started thinking steampunk.

Eyjafjallajokull volcano plume – imagine a whole continent of that. Photo by Boaworm via Wikimedia commons.

The challenge for me became creating a setting in which that ability of airships to fly through volcanic ash would be relevant. And so I set about creating a world in which volcanic ash had become a huge problem in the 19th century.

Rubbing two ideas together to create a spark

At the time, I was also very conscious of how unrepresentative speculative fiction can be. There are plenty of examples that aren’t centred on characters from America and Europe or their fantastical equivalents, but they still dominate the bookshelves. So I wanted a reason to shift that around as well, a context that would remove the advantage of 19th century Europeans, turning the power dynamics on their heads.

What better way to provide ash-clouds and remove European dominance than to blow Europe up with volcanoes?

So I created a world in which vast volcanoes have destroyed vast swathes of Napoleonic Europe, leaving a wasteland of ash and fire. The survivors cling on to what habitable land remains, or build settlements high above the ground, desperately clinging to the remains of their old lives. Because lets face it, that’s what people do.

World building that drives character building

Interesting characters are at the heart of any good story. So if your story’s job is to explore and expose a world you’ve built then you need a central character with a reason to expose and explore. Mine was Professor Ondieki, a vulcanologist from Mombassa who flies into Europe determined to prove his theories about the cause of the Reckoning, the event that laid waste to a continent. By making him an academic and an outsider I provided reasons for him to ask and talk about what was going on. And by making him African I scratched that itch to reduce my Euro-centrism, while still using my knowledge of European history to inform the setting.

As I thought about this world all sorts of extra details cropped up – cloudberries, a British diaspora, what happened to Napoleon and to French cuisine. But it all came back to that central concept – blowing Europe up with volcanoes.

Tell me about your worlds

I know I have quite a few world builders reading this blog, so tell me, where did the inspiration for your worlds come from? What triggered your core concept, and how did you expand from there?

For more examples of intricate and well-considered world building check out The War of Memory Project, a great example of world building explored in breadth and depth.

And if you want to learn more about Professor Ondieki and the world of the Reckoning then check out ‘The Promise and the Reckoning’ in Riding the Mainspring, available on all your different Amazons, including Amazon.com for the Americans, Amazon.co.uk for us Brits, and all those other different-ending Amazons.

A steam-powered cowboy with a taste for death.

A daring art heist in a moving city.

A zeppelin flight through the smoke-filled skies of a Europe torn apart by volcanoes.

Riding The Mainspring - High Resolution

No, these are not just random words that I’ve thrown together to fill my blog. They are among the many exciting stories featured in my new collection, Riding the Mainspring, out now on all your different Amazons, including Amazon.com for those of you living in Mickey Mouse country and Amazon.co.uk for those of us who shop using pictures of a lady in a crown.

This collection brings together nine stories of mechanical endeavour and daring do from worlds where pistons and clockwork are king. Each short story explores a different steampunk possibility, from the Wild West to the sewers below Venice. Starring scientists, detectives, criminals, and more machines than you can shake a pair of brass goggles at.

Mud and Brass - High Resolution - Version 2

And if you’re looking for something a little smaller, my brand new short story Mud and Brass is also available as an Amazon e-book for only 99c – again available on all Amazon sites including your Yankee website and our tiny island nation version. It’s a story of mud, mechanisms and romance in a steampunk city.

If you read these stories then please let me know what you think. And better yet, please leave a review on the relevant Amazon site, as that’s hugely useful for me.

These are just the first in a series of short story releases I’m planning over the next few months. If you’d like to win a free copy of the next release then please leave a review of one or both of these steampunk books on Amazon and paste a link to the review in the comments below. Anyone who leaves a link to their review by the end of August will go into a draw to receive a free copy of the next collection.

And for those of you who don’t use Amazon, fear not. I’ll also be releasing these e-books on other platforms soon – keep an eye out here or join my mailing list to find out when that happens.

I hope you enjoy the stories and look forward to reading your opinions.

Happy reading!

 

This arrived in my email yesterday:

Riding The Mainspring - High Resolution

That, dear readers, is my first ever book cover.

ISN’T IT EXCITING?!?!?!?!

It’s still going to take me a few days to finish formatting the book and get it out to e-book retailers, but once that’s done I’ll let you know.

I’ll also be releasing a previously unreleased steampunk story as a stand-alone short for 99c, and sending that out free to people on my mailing list. That’s my story release mailing list which you can sign up for here or at the top of my blog, not the email alerts when I put a blog post up. So if you’d like to get a free copy of Mud and Brass, a story of love, mudlarks and mechanical ingenuity, then please go sign up for the list.

More on the book to come – very excited!