Tag Archives: Steampunk

Novellablog: Seven Days Left for The Kairos Mechanism on Kickstarter!

That’s right, one week remains. Seven days, friends, count ’em. If at any point you were thinking you might want to get involved with the glorious insanity that is The Kairos Mechanism and its equally glorious Kickstarter campaign, now’s the time! Here’s the link. What’s in it for you? My endless thanks, plus goodies. There are so many ridiculously exciting rewards, you just won’t believe your eyes. BUT BELIEVE THEM!!

At the time of my writing this, the campaign is sitting pretty at 110% (that’s $7205). Let me remind you why I still need you:

  • At $7500, the fourteen kid artists behind the illustrated digital edition get their paychecks bumped up, and all backers get a brand-new crossroads story, The Devil and the Scavenger, from me as a PDF. In it, you will meet a new character who also turns up in The Broken Lands. Insights into the secret lives of strange folk, just for you!
  • At $9500 I can commit to a paperback edition of Arcana #2 for May 2013, and all backers will be asked to weigh in on what that novella will be. I’ll post a poll with three simple synopses, and I’ll go with whichever gets the most votes. Want a say in what I write next? Get thee to Kickstarter and ante up.
  • At $13000, I can commit to a reader-illustrated edition of Arcana #2.

And, as always, re-tweets, re-blogs, and spreading the word by any means at your disposal are hugely appreciated. On that note, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to some wonderful folks who’ve hosted me on their sites and programs in the last week.

So, here we go! The last week! What will I be up to?

  • On the Novellablog, I’ll be discussing McNally’s self-pub services and Outbrain’s content referral services, two things that have been immensely helpful during this process. I’ll also have a guest post from Kid Editor Mason.
  • I’ll be guest blogging steampunkily at Steamed on June 7th. I’m thinking I’ll talk about E.T.A. Hoffmann, because he’s how I wound up well-and-truly obsessed with automata.
  • I’ll be at BEA! I’ll be lurking rather than doing anything official, but if you see a girl with a bag of holding or a girl taking pictures of a stuffed animal made out of socks and gloves, you’ve probably found me. (Lish McBride can’t make it to BEA, so I am crafting an avatar to escort around in her stead. The things I get myself into on Twitter…) And if you find me…well, I *might* have advance copies of things in the Bag of Holding. Just maybe. So you should come say hi. I will probably be glad to unload an ARC on you.

Evidently this post is all about bullet points.

Seven days! Here we go! Let’s bring it home, kids. And, as always, thank you, thank you, thank you. I would hug each of you and bake you a cake if I could.

The Boneshaker: A List of Seriously Cool Stuff that’s in This Book

Velocipedes, patent medicines, phrenology, Winton motorcars, blues, psychotic harlequins, snake oil salesmen, electroshock, automata, an Edgar Allan Poe-quoting fortune-teller, and a contest of skill played at the crossroads against the Devil.

You’re wondering now, what is this list of weird, cool stuff?

It’s a list–a very partial list, mind you; it isn’t even a complete list–of weird, cool stuff in The Boneshaker.

At long last, things are happening. The book comes out in four months, and I’m starting to get emails and phone calls from contacts who have received advance copies. After one week of play, the Feburary Facebook Boneshaker ARCmania Game (today’s randomly-chosen exciting name) is in full, highly-competitive swing; at last count (and I am counting obsessively) 81 new members have joined The Boneshaker’s FB group for this contest (and I hope you all win). A whole bunch of people have showed up here at The Clockwork Foundry. I hope you’ll all visit often. All things considered, it seemed like a good time to tell you a little bit about the book and why you are going to love it when it shows up on your doorstep on May 24.

For a basic summary of the book, I will direct you to Powell’s (where, conveniently enough, you can pre-order it if you haven’t already). For this post, I have decided to list all the Cool Stuff that went into the story. If you like these things, you are probably going to like this book just on principle.

Cool Stuff that was percolating in my head in 2003 (or whenever it was that I wrote the first draft):

  • Item: New Yorker article about the Jamaica Ginger epidemic of the 1930’s, referenced by various blues musicians as jake leg, the gingerfoot, and the old jake limberleg blues. In order to bypass Prohibition regulations that were intended to make the patent medicine called Jamaica Ginger Bitters (or jake) less drinkable, a pair of bootlegger chemists added a plasticizer to it that turned out to be a neurotoxin. (For clarification: patent medicines=cool and interesting. Net results of neurotoxins being added to them=not so cool.)
  • Item: Horatio’s Drive, the Ken Burns documentary about Horatio Nelson Jackson’s 1903 cross-country drive in a Winton motorcar, accompanied by a professional bicycle racer-turned-mechanic.
  • Item:  Les Automates (French-language photo-essay book about automata purchased at the Strand Bookstore).
  • Item: A selection of old books of American folklore, including 3 on the subject of Jack Tales.
  • Item: Ray Rupelli’s apartment, with Cool Stuff including but not limited to an antique dentist’s chair found on the street; a coffee table decorated with guitar picks; a piece of iron grate; and a Robert Johnson record, found (I believe) in a box of records cleaned out of some apartment and left by somebody, like so many treasures are, on the sidewalk for pickup on trash day.

So, percolating in my head that year: patent medicines, blues, the Devil at the Crossroads, bicycles and motorcars. Then I started commuting from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and listening to audio books. Which brings us to:

  • Item: Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes (purchased as an audio book to keep me from falling asleep at the wheel while commuting from Brookyn to New Jersey).  I fell in love with Bradbury’s language and the dark wonder of Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, as well as the small-town setting of Green Town. (Although I can’t cite it as a Cool Thing That Influenced This Book because I only read it last month, Arthur Slade’s Dust is another wonderful story about a menacing traveling show that wins over a town, and the single kid to whom it falls to rescue everyone and everything he loves.)
  • Item: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (also bought on audio to keep me from passing out while commuting). Lots of people feel really strongly about the His Dark Materials trilogy or about Pullman himself; some are fans, some aren’t. I’m not getting into any of that. I loved the books, but what I loved most was Lyra Silvertongue, Pullman’s fierce heroine.

So now, to the percolating Cool Stuff you can add: a diabolical traveling showman and a fierce young girl, the only person who can save everyone and everything she loves from Impending Doom:

The Diabolical Traveling Showman: Dr. Jake Epiphemius Limberleg, proprietor of and head of research for Dr. Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show. Also in Limberleg’s corner are Willoughby Acquetus, Paracelsus Vorticelt, Thaddeus Argonault, and Alpheus Nervine: the Paragons of Science, four specialists in the arts of Hydrotherapy, Phrenology, Magnetism, and Amber Therapy.

The Fierce Girl: Natalie Minks, daughter of the town’s bicycle mechanic and the woman who knows all the weird stories about their crossroads hometown of Arcane. Natalie loves all things mechanical, the Wright Brothers, and the antique Chesterlane Eidolon velocipede her father fixed up for her, even though it’s a meanspirited, hateful, impossible-to-ride boneshaker of a bicycle.

Then there’s Jack, the green-eyed drifter with a carpetbag and a tin lantern, and nobody knows what he’s up to. Except for maybe Simon Coffrett, the man who lives in Arcane’s only mansion…but nobody’s real sure about that Rilke-quoting recluse, either.

Subway Literature: Cherie Priest’s BONESHAKER

Not long ago I was in Orlando at a company conference when I got a phone call from a very nice gentleman at McNally Jackson, one of my favorite bookstores. My copy of Boneshaker had arrived and was waiting for me when I got back to NYC. Hooray!

No, not my forthcoming first novel, in which a young girl battles the demonic forces of a traveling medicine show with the help of, among other things, an antique bicycle. I’m talking about Cherie Priest’s novel of the same name, which broke my heart when I first heard about it, despite the fact that the second I read the description I was immediately dying to read it. (Here’s Cory Doctorow’s review on BoingBoing: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/09/29/boneshaker-cherie-pr.html.) Well, last weekend, I finished reading it. This much I’ve already said on Twitter and Facebook: if I gotta share a title, this is the book I want to share with.

I’m a newbie novelist. Of course I hated the idea that my baby, my firstborn, after a long and painful title change process, had to share. I first learned about Ms. Priest’s book when I wrote a post about the agony of finding the perfect title (it’s here, for anybody who’s interested: http://community.livejournal.com/enchantedinkpot/21833.html). The first comment was a concerned poster wanting to be sure I was aware that the new, perfect title I’d changed mine to was a duplicate. I was, needless to say, not aware. But it turned out my publisher was, and Clarion had decided that, for a number of reasons, the duplication was a non-issue. My book’s for ages 10 and up; Ms. Priest’s is for adults. Her boneshaker’s a drill, mine’s a bicycle. Mine’s coming out six months later, and in a different format. No biggie, basically. Which makes me happy, because, as I said, I just finished reading BONESHAKER, and it’s so very good. If you like zombies, airships, Seattle, or maniacal inventors, you should really go pick this book up right now. Love steampunk? Love horror? This book is for you.

In Cherie Priest’s imagined Seattle, it’s 1879 and the Civil War is stretching on, and most of the city has been enclosed in a wall to hold in the disastrous effects of a blight gas loosed by the Boneshaker of the title. (Sixteen years ago, Leviticus Blue built and tested the Boneshaker, which was intended to expedite mining in the Klondike. Instead, it tore through the underpinnings of the city, releasing the Blight, which turns those who breathe it into flesh-eating undead “rotters.”) Ezekiel Wilkes, son of Leviticus Blue, is desperate to redeem the memory of his father, and finds a way into the enclosed city to search for something to prove Levi wasn’t the monster history has made of him. His mother, Briar, goes in after him when she discovers him missing. What follows are spectacular and deadly hijinks in a nightmarish landscape peopled not only with zombies but those who have, for one reason or another, chosen to make the deadly heart of Seattle their home. It’s a tremendous adventure (it’s going to make an insane film for somebody—I’m looking at you, Terry Gilliam; get cracking) but what I love best about it is the city Ms. Priest has built on the historically mutated bones of her hometown. Cities are and always will be my favorite characters, and although both Briar and Ezekiel are wonderful, it’s the scrappy survivor that is blighted Seattle that the author brings most vividly to life: a place that is at once hellish and awesome. This city is the perfect embodiment of Freud’s uncanny: homely and unknowable all at the same time.

So anyway, I recommend it. Highly. Go get it, why don’t you? And since you might have to order it, why not go ahead and order both Boneshakers? Just make sure you have Amazon or whoever send them separately. My book you’ve got to wait until May for, but Cherie Priest’s zombie phantasmagoria is out now. It’ll at least get you through October. Then you’ll only have four months to wait for mine.