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I Belong

Guest Post & Giveaway: Dragonfly by Erica Hayes

December 6th, 2012 Angela Posted in Guest Post 14 Comments »

We are pleased to have author Erica Hayes here today to talk about Evil Lairs, in honor of her newest contribution to the romantic Sci-fi genre.  Dragonfly is the first book in this science fiction series and is available now. Quick, go get it!  Read Sheila’s review here.

Thanks to Erica Hayes, we are giving away a $20 gift certificate to Amazon!

About Erica:

Erica Hayes was a law student, an air force officer, an editorial assistant and a musician, before finally landing her dream job: fantasy writer. She writes dark paranormal romance, urban fantasy and romantic science fiction, and her books feature tough, smart heroines and colorful heroes with dark secrets.

She hails from Australia, where she drifts from city to city, leaving a trail of chaos behind her. Currently, she’s terrorizing the wilds of Northumberland.

You can visit Erica around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Erica Hayes?

Hellcursed (Shadowfae, #0.5)ShadowfaeShadowglassPoison KissedBlood CursedRevelationHex Appeal (Phoenix Chronic...Hunter's Blood


Hello everyone! Thanks to Sheila for inviting me to Dark Faerie Tales to celebrate my new romantic sci-fi book, DRAGONFLY. I’m stoked to be here!

Creating your own Evil Empire

The Evil Empire is a must-have in space opera. Whether it’s a military dictatorship, a ruthless corporate dominion or a galaxy-wide cult of religious nutbags, one thing is clear: empires are the way of the future. And eeevilness! goes without saying. No point having all that power if you’re nice to everybody.

Also, our sci-fi good guys – who, let’s face it, aren’t all that virtuous – need something vast, corrupt and unimaginably eeevil! to fight. Someone who makes them look good by comparison. After all, one girl’s crew of sexy rebels on a rusty planet-hopper is another girl’s galactic terror cell. It’s a blurred line.

So: how to go about setting up your own Evil Empire? Well, you’ll need a figurehead in charge – that’s you! Get yourself a lair – preferably a sexy space cruiser or an impregnable station of enormous power – and a cool, evil-looking costume. Black robes are good, or a shiny leather suit or iron carapace. If you can speak with a British accent, that’s a plus.

If you possibly can, get a vast spaceship fleet and millions of obedient minions. Brainwash them if you have to, or feed them mind-altering drugs, or inject them with a mutant nano-virus that turns them into mindless drones. You can even clone them from your favourite bounty hunter or other wicked scumbag, if you’re patient and have the cash.

Magical powers come in handy, to strike fear into your staff and terrify potential rebels. If you can use the Force, that’s a great start. If not, pretend you can. Or find everyone who really can, and slaughter them right away.

And of course, a loyal henchman (or henchwoman) is a must – a powerful, ultra-nasty villain who you can send out to crush all opposition, so you won’t get your hands dirty. Just take care that he/she doesn’t steal your Empire out from under you.

Looking for some examples on which to model your Empire? I present four popular Evil Empires, graded from 1 to 10 for Evilness! and Effectiveness. Let the darkness begin!


The Galactic Empire (Star Wars)

Rule by virtue of: the Death Star, enormous spaceships, and storm troopers who can’t hit the side of a barn.

Figurehead: Emperor Palpatine. Looks like a skeleton and shoots lightning from his fingertips. Chances his Empire isn’t evil? Slim.

The real bad guy: Darth Vader, force-choker extraordinaire. He finds your lack of faith disturbing.

Evilness: 9/10. Would be a ten, if they’d only raise the bar at storm trooper recruitment. “This door’s locked. Let’s move on.” Uh-huh.

Effectiveness: 5/10. Sadly, the Old Republic is barely limp in its grave when Vader is defeated. Fail.

The Peacekeepers (Farscape)

Rule by virtue of: cool uniforms and a solid work ethic that involves ‘recreation’, forced breeding, and taking kids away from their parents to brainwash them. Nice guys.

Figurehead: Captain Crais, specialising in pigtails, smarmy smiles, and murdering amorous subordinates. Ruthless and quite cool, just not very smart.

The real bad guy: Scorpius, fetish-leather-wearer and all-round fun guy. Ruthless, cool and very smart. Bonus points for being a half-breed cyborg.

Evilness: 6/10. Secretly, we kind of like them. That’s not very evil.

Effectiveness: 8/10. They do okay, until the super-powered aliens arrive.

The Necromongers (Chronicles of Riddick)

Rule by virtue of: killing everyone in the entire universe who won’t submit. Simple, but effective.

Figurehead: Karl Urban in a sexy metal suit. With a truly epic mullet.

The real bad guy: religious nutbag-ism.

Evilness: 10/10. These freaks would rather die than let you live in peace. Reason can’t compete with that. Bonus evil points for the best big-head-shaped spaceship ever.

Effectiveness: 9/10. Only the singular ultra-coolness of Vin Diesel can defeat them. No shame in that!

The Borg (Star Trek)

Rule by virtue of: adding your biological and technological distinctiveness to their own. No, really. They mean it.

Figurehead: the Borg Queen.

The real bad guy: drones. Millions and millions of indefatigable drones.

Evilness: 8/10. Zombies in space. Bonus evil points for being mindless and utterly indiscriminate.

Effectiveness: 7/10. Would be higher, but for getting whupped by Species 8472. Interdimensional stick insects. Honestly.


So there you have it. Do-it-yourself Evil Empire. For extra pointers and to avoid potential traps, be sure to carefully peruse the Evil Overlord List.


This contest is provided by Erica Hayes

One lucky winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to Amazon!

Dragonfly (#1) by Erica Hayes

Available December 1, 2012 from Pan Macmillan Australia/Momentum

About this Book:

Carrie Thatcher is a tough Imperial counter-terrorism agent. Her mission: pose as a sexy cyber-thief to entrap the notorious rebel Dragonfly, who’s planning a heist on the space station Casa de Esperanza – an orbital casino on the fringe of Imperial space.

And this assignment’s personal: Dragonfly murdered her closest friend, and she’s in no mood to show him mercy. Even getting stuck with the partner from hell—Malachite, her sociopathic ex-lover and the Empire’s most dangerous agent—can’t dampen her relish for the kill.

With Carrie’s expert weapons skills and penchant for cracking codes, insinuating herself into Dragonfly’s confidence should be easy. But is he the ruthless killer she was led to believe? Or has her precious Empire deceived her? With Malachite watching her every move, the slightest flinch in loyalty means death.

Carrie is soon racing to uncover an audacious treachery that will shock the Empire to its core … if she can stay alive for long enough to expose it.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Break Out by Nina Croft

October 18th, 2012 Kristie Posted in Guest Post 14 Comments »

Today we have the pleasure of having author Nina Croft stop by at Dark Faerie Tales. Nina has written an interesting post about immortality. Break Out, the first book in the Blood Hunter series, was released in paperback in August. Deadly Pursuit, the second book in the series, is available now as an eBook. The paperback version will be released on December 11, 2012. You can read an excerpt of the book here. Want to know our thoughts on Break Out? Read Sheila’s review here.

At the end of this post we will be giving away a digital copy of Break Out. Thanks to Nina Croft for today’s giveaway!

About Nina:

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

You can visit Nina around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Nina Croft?

 Break OutDeadly PursuitTiger of TalmareBound to NightBound To MoonlightChosenThe CallingEnchantmentExiledBlackmailed by the Italian ...The ProphecyThe DarknessMid-Winter Magic


Who wants to live forever…

Me! I do!

I suppose I might change my mind in a few thousand years, but until then it seems a better option than the alternative.

I’m Nina Croft, and I write all sorts of romance but usually with a speculative element. Sometime science fiction, sometimes paranormal, or—as with my Blood Hunter series—a combination of the two.

The Blood Hunter series is essentially science fiction romance with a paranormal twist. The books are fast, fun and sexy, but there is a more serious underlying theme as well, that of man’s fear of death and search for immortality, whether through science, religion or by some paranormal means.

The idea of immortality, and the price people would be willing to pay to obtain it, has always fascinated me, and I believe it’s one of the things that draws people to paranormal. It’s part of the lure of the vampire—the fact that they cannot die (well not easily anyway). It’s certainly one of the main things that draws me to the paranormal as a writer

The Blood Hunter series takes place in a future when man has fled to the stars and there they have discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian—a rare substance available to only a few and a new class has evolved. The Collective are super rich and immortal, they rule the universe. And just about everyone is desperate to earn enough money to pay for the Meridian treatment.

Break Out (#1) by Nina Croft

The books follow the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of the crew of the space ship El Cazador de la Sangre (which is Spanish for The Blood Hunter). In book one, Break Out, Ricardo Sanchez, my hero, is the owner and pilot of the ship. Unlike most of the civilized universe, Rico isn’t interested in Meridian. He doesn’t need it, because he’s already immortal. Rico is a vampire and has lived a long time (he was born on Earth in the middle ages).

The price Rico paid for immortality is that he lives with a darkness inside him—a darkness that craves blood and death. He’s accepted it, and has a code, which he tries to live by, and most of the time he succeeds. He’s also found that plenty of sex helps keep the darkness at bay, and that’s really not a problem for him, because Rico likes sex.

The other powerful faction in my future world is the church, and book two, Deadly Pursuit, looks at the church’s role in more detail. The church had almost vanished until the discovery of Meridian. Now in the aftermath, it has reemerged stronger than ever, because everyone wants to live forever but very few can afford Meridian. The church offers an alternative form of immortality, if not quite as reliable.

Finally, book three, Death Defying, tells Tannis’s story. Tannis, the captain of El Cazador, will take on just about any job as long as the price is right, because she’s desperate to get the treatment and become one of the exalted Collective. Tannis’s story explores further the price of immortality, because the Collective are going to find that the price is higher than they thought. And some of them are going to decide it’s too high.

So what do you think? Would you like to live forever? And just how much would you be willing to pay? Let me know for a chance to win an ecopy of Break Out.


This giveaway is provided by Nina Croft

One lucky winner will receive a digital copy of Break Out

Break Out (#1) by Nina Croft

Available August 14, 2012 from Entangled Publishing

About this Book:

The year is 3048, Earth is no longer habitable, and man has fled to the stars where they’ve discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Unfortunately, the radioactive mineral is exorbitantly expensive and only available to a select few. A new class comprised of the super rich and immortal soon evolves. The Collective, as they’re called, rule the universe.

Two-thousand-year-old Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and rogue pilot of the space cruiser, El Cazador, can’t resist two things: gorgeous women and impossible jobs. When beautiful Skylar Rossaria approaches him to break a prisoner out of the Collective’s maximum security prison on Trakis One, Rico jumps at the chance. Being hunted by the Collective has never been so dangerous–or so fun!

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Moonstone and Miss Jones by Jillian Stone

October 8th, 2012 Kristie Posted in Guest Post 17 Comments »

Please join us in welcoming author Jillian Stone here today to Dark Faerie Tales. Jillian was able to get an exclusive interview with Phaeton Black, the leading man in her Paranormal Investigator steampunk romance series, The Moonstone and Miss Jones. The second book in this series was recently released on September 25, 2012. You can read an excerpt from the book hereThis series is also featured in our UF/Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge 2012.

A huge thanks to Jillian for today’s giveaway! Entry details are listed in the post.

About Jillian:

Jillian Stone is the author of The Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator series, which includes The Seduction of Phaeton Black, and the just released, The Moonstone and Miss Jones. The third sequel, The Miss Education of Doctor Exeter, is scheduled to release in summer 2013. Jillian is also the author of The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. Watch for A Private Duel with Agent Gunn in late November!

You can visit Jillian around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Jillian Stone?

The Seduction of Phaeton BlackThe Moonstone and Miss JonesAn Affair with Mr. KennedyA Dangerous Liaison with De...Lesson in Chemistry with In...A Private Duel with Agent Gunn


An interview with Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator: More on the just released, The Moonstone and Miss Jones.

Jillian: “How would you describe the paranormal side of the plot in The Moonstone and Miss Jones?”

Phaeton: “Ah yes, Phaeton and America part deux: a tale of two Londons. Well, where do I begin…upon our return to London, we quickly discover an alternate future London––one that is sucking the bloody life out of my city, the dark, and often dreary metropolis of 1889––the one I know and love. For lack of a better name, we often refer to this parallel city as Outremer London, admittedly, a rather hasty use of the French word meaning ‘distant lands beyond the sea.’ But then, when one is on the run from Skeezicks, Reapers and other strange dregs––what’s a paranormal investigator to do, but choose an overly romantic name for such an odd phenomena?”

Jillian: “I manage to introduce a number of new characters. Some of them, like the Nightshades, help you battle the strange Outremer creatures. Still others…well who knows if they are friend or foe? All of them are interested in one thing, and one thing alone.”

Phaeton: “The Moonstone. As I said, we’re under attack by these strange creatures who plague 1889 London, and, well, I suppose there’s no other way to explain it, but things appear to be unraveling––on both sides. With the help from the Nightshades, Miss Jones and I venture into this alternate London to extract the Moonstone and close the rabbit hole between the two worlds. Plot-wise, this is all I will reveal, and suffice it to say, Miss Jones and I have our own issues to work out, as well. The series reader has a new flock of characters to get to know and dare I say––the story continues well beyond The Moonstone and Miss Jones…”

Jillian: “What exactly are these issues you and America Jones have to work out?”

Phaeton: “I will reveal this much––we take turns being angry at one another, but the sex is lively––an RT reviewer’s warning: SCORCHER. The story picks up a few months after The Seduction of Phaeton Black. If you recall­­, America and I sail off into the sunset happily ever after––or at least happy for now. Then, in The Moonstone and Miss Jones I am quite rudely shanghaied in Shanghai. America, rightly or wrongly, believes I abandoned ship and chases me back to London. Needless to say, the moment she catches up to me, we become entangled in a nefarious plot by powerful Outremer moguls of industry to recover the Moonstone, and the one person in 1889 London who can unleash its energy and save both worlds.”

Jillian: “And who might that be, the author asks with a grin?”

Phaeton: “Who do you think?” Phaeton winks.

Just for Commenters:

Jillian: “Phaeton, do you have a question for commenters? Something you’ve always wanted to ask the romance reader?”

Phaeton: “This will likely cause a lovely blush to the reader’s cheeks, but I can’t resist. I love it when America teases me and is somewhat sexually aggressive. Not long ago, on another blog––far, far away in cyber space––a commenter told a story about a first date kiss. I found it unbelieveably hot. She wrote: ‘I grabbed the front of his jacket and pulled him in for a kiss.’ The lucky bloke became her husband! So tell me, my darlings, what naughty bit of first date kissing can you share?

Jillian: “As a special treat for commenters today, Phaeton Black will be answering your comments––so prepare to fall in love!”

To celebrate the release of book #2, I will be giving away a signed copy of the  readers choice: The Seduction of Phaeton Black or The Moonstone and Miss Jones to a lucky commenter chosen at random.

Thanks to Kristie at Dark Faerie Tales. Love this blog! Jillian



This giveaway is provided by Jillian Stone

One lucky winner will receive either a signed copy of The Seduction of Phaeton Black or The Moonstone and Miss Jones

Available September 25, 2012 from Kensington Brava

About this Book:

A master of paranormal deduction—and paramour seduction—Phaeton Black has a knack for bumping into things that go bump in the night, from ghoulies and ghosties to long-leggedy beauties…

Mooning For The Moonstone

Barely escaping the clutches of a succulent succubus, Phaeton Black returns to London only to get sucked into another unearthly scheme. Professor Lovecraft has been tinkering with the secrets of life and death, replacing body parts with the latest mechanical marvels. To succeed, he needs to tap the power of the fabled Moonstone—and he needs Phaeton’s help. Of course, Phaeton would prefer to investigate the more interesting body parts of Miss America Jones. Perhaps, bringing his lady friend along for the ride won’t be to too much trouble…

Shanghaied In Shanghai

The bewilderingly beautiful and bountifully gifted daughter of a Cajun witch, Miss Jones is always up for an adventure, especially with Mr. Black as her traveling companion. But when Phaeton is mysteriously shanghaied in Shanghai, America thinks he’s run out on her. Stranded in the Orient—and steaming mad—she’s prepared to look under every stone for the missing detective. The case has put them both in the most compromising positions, but this time, Miss Jones is on top and Mr. Black is at the bottom…of a truly infernal plot.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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**Please note: There is no Rafflecopter. The giveaway will be randomly chosen from the comments.**
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Guest Post: The Thirteenth Sacrifice by Debbie Viguié

September 9th, 2012 Kristie Posted in Guest Post Comments Off on Guest Post: The Thirteenth Sacrifice by Debbie Viguié

We are pleased to have author Debbie Viguié here today to talk about her novel The Thirteenth Sacrifice. The Thirteenth Sacrifice is the first book in the urban fantasy Witch Hunt series and is available now. The second book in the series, The Last Grave, will be released March 5, 2013. Want to know our thoughts on the book? Read Sheila’s review here.

About Debbie:

Debbie Viguié is the New York Times Bestselling author of over a dozen novels including the Wicked series and the new Crusade series co-authored with Nancy Holder. Much of Debbie’s writing has a dark edge to it, including her retold fairy tales, her latest being Violet Eyes, a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. In addition to her epic dark fantasy work Debbie also writes thrillers including The Psalm 23 Mysteries and the upcoming Kiss trilogy. When Debbie isn’t busy writing she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks. They live in Florida with their cat, Shrödinger.

You can visit Debbie around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Debbie Viguié?

The Thirteenth Sacrifice: A...Kiss of NightKiss of DeathThe Lord Is My ShepherdI Shall Not WantLie Down in Green PasturesBeside Still WatersThe Summer of Cotton CandyThe Fall of Candy CornThe Winter of Candy CanesThe Spring of Candy ApplesUnleashedCrusadeDamnedVanquishedWicked: Witch & Curse (Wick...Wicked 2: Legacy & Spellbou...Wicked: Resurrection (Wicke...


Samantha Ryan is an incredibly fun character to write. She is deeply religious, deeply scarred, and exercises a lot of control over her life because she’s terrified of being out of control.  She is also a woman who has denied and rejected part of herself.  In the Witch Hunt books, magic is something you either have or don’t.  It’s genetic.  It is not tied to any particular religion.  It’s more like a talent or gift like being able to sing or play sports.  Because the coven she was raised in used their talents for evil, she has rejected the gift entirely since her escape.  This makes her a very conflicted individual because the talent in and of itself is neither evil nor good.  It’s how it is used that is one or the other.  Unable to disconnect from the evil she experienced as a child, she has also been unable to reconnect with her ability to use magic.

When she is forced to go undercover as a witch and must once again wield that magic it creates a crisis of faith and identity for her.  There is the Samantha she has become and the Samantha she would have become had her coven not been slaughtered and she continued to use magic for dark purposes.  It has not yet occurred to her that there is a third, different Samantha.  This is the Samantha she could be if she learned to see the magic as a gift and to use it for good instead of shutting off that part of her completely.

Samantha is not the only one of my characters who undergoes a drastic transformation and a crisis of identity along the way.  In many ways the character of mine she most closely resembles is Cindy Preston from the Psalm 23 Mysteries.  Cindy also has a tragedy in her past that has changed her and made her a very closed off person who tries to live a very controlled life.  Like Samantha, Cindy’s world is turned upside down by a serial killer.  This one is recreating the events of Passion Week in her community.  (Think the Garden of Gethsemane, The Last Supper, the Crucifixion all staged as a tableau with murder victims.)  Cindy goes from witness to potential victim to hero in the course of her story and it helps her break out of her old patterns just a little bit.  Her journey is also continued over several books as she comes to grips with what happened to her as a child and learns to keep it from destroying her future.  Learning to accept yourself and transforming yourself from victim to victor is something a few of my characters have in common.

The character of mine that Samantha least resembles probably is Susan from Kiss of Night.  Susan lost her parents as a child but the experience didn’t leave her damaged.  As an adult she has a level head and doesn’t have any real baggage she’s dealing with.  An encounter with a mysterious stranger in Prague, though, sets off a chain of events that will help shape the world.  Susan is a key weapon in a war vampires are waging against each other.  She begins the series with a fearlessness that Samantha doesn’t have.  Susan’s real journey is more a story of learning to accept others rather than herself as she struggles with the vampire Raphael and her feelings for him.

All characters go on a journey that changes some aspect of their lives.  Samantha’s is far from over and I can’t wait for everyone to see where she goes from here!


Available April 3, 2012 from Signet/Penguin

About this Book:

When young women start dying, Boston cop Samantha Ryan is the perfect person to investigate, for only she knows what the archais symbol carved into their flesh means. The last in a long line of ruthless witches, she grew up in a coven seduced by power and greed. And now she’s sure that bad witches have returned to Salem. Reluctantly, Samantha goes undercover-into a town obsessed with black magic, into her terrifying past, and into thedark, newly awakened heart of evil.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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Guest Post: All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

July 5th, 2012 Angela Posted in Guest Post Comments Off on Guest Post: All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

Please join us in welcoming author Lev AC Rosen here today to Dark Faerie Tales. His first novel, All Men of Genius, released last September. You can read an excerpt from the book hereWant to know our thoughts on the book? You can read Sheila’s review here. We are also featuring this series in our Steampunk Reading Challenge 2012.

About Lev:

LEV AC ROSEN grew up in Manhattan. He attended Oberlin College and received his MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. His work has been featured in Esopus Magazine and on various blogs including He lives in lower Manhattan.

You can visit Lev around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook


Building Illyria

 by Lev AC Rosen

As I’ve said before, the first image I had when I started All Men of Genius was the wall of gears.  I was haunted by this image of gears reaching up to the ceiling, breaking only for stained glass windows, their eternal clanking powering… something.  I wasn’t sure what.  But that was the cornerstone of my world, and I built up from there, adding more metaphoric gears in the form of characters, inventions, plots, etc.  Everything was meant to link together, pushing things forward, each at its own pace, all building to a common end.

That was the inciting image of my steampunk worldbuilding.  But then I needed to actually build – starting with Illyria College itself.  This is where most of the action takes place, and the only completely fictional location.  London and the surrounding countryside are, to the best of my knowledge, real, so when I started building that part of my world I had to be more careful.  But we’ll get to that later.

Illyria: fictional but world-famous scientific college, aka school for mad scientists.  It had to rival Oxford and Cambridge, but it was going to be in London.  It had to feel authentically, brutally Victorian, but still have all that completely outrageous science.  These, in my opinion, are the two facets of Steampunk worldbuilding: historical accuracy and mad science.

I grew up reading Victorian novels, so I felt like I had the style of the novel down and understood most conventions of Victorian society.  Still, I didn’t know much about science, so I read up on it.  Graphically.  Uncomfortably.  And when I created Illyria I didn’t want to shy away from the gruesomeness (by today’s standards) of Victorian science.  Some people found the scene with the snakes and dying mice disturbing.  I’m one of them.  But it is also extremely Victorian – the cavalier attitude Valentine has towards the animals, the way it’s presented as mildly humorous – these were there to disturb you.  I’m a big believer in humor and discomfort going together to make people think about things.  My hope is that scenes like the mouse in snakeskin scene would seem somewhat humorous and light, but also make you shudder.  My characters aren’t meant to be insensitive to the animals’ deaths; they are simply products of their time.  This was a period, after all, when kicking dogs in the street was an actual pastime.  Cruelty to animals, though unsettling, was the norm.  I wanted to be honest about that.


I tried to be honest about other things, too: the regularity of lower class women being taken advantage of, of women needing to resort to prostitution.  I didn’t try to paint these things as attractive, nor did I make them into melodrama.  I tried to present them as simply how things were, which I hoped would make readers think about them more, and which would also be more impactful.  When building steampunk worlds I think it’s important to know your history and treat it with respect; to most of us, I’d guess, sleeping with servants and experimenting on animals willy-nilly seems uncomfortable, but back then it was a common occurrence.  I didn’t want to have my characters somehow “above” actual Victorian people.  That would have felt extremely false.  So I made sure to keep as much to Victorian culture in the book as possible, both good and bad.

The other main feature of building the world of Illyria was the mad science.  And for that, I needed rules – obviously this wasn’t going to be real science, it was going to be the Victorian conception of science fiction.  So what did that mean?  What could happen?  I settled on a very simple rule: when creating an invention or scientific creation of some sort, I’d ask myself “is this possible in a world where electricity would bring a patchwork corpse back to life?”  If the answer was yes, then it was allowed.  If no, then I couldn’t do it.  Thankfully, that rule allowed quite a bit.  I didn’t want to create some new fictional power source or anything – that struck me as too “magic.”  I realize how silly that sounds since the science in my book works like magic – but I didn’t want it to feel like magic.

So the two main aspects of steampunk – Victorian Realism and Mad Science – were settled.  From there, Illyria almost built itself.  Of course there was a mysterious basement and secret train, of course there were labs with beakers and huge machines.  It flowed naturally.  As long as I kept my eye on those aspects and my rules, it was easy to build up.  Outside of Illyria it became more complex, though.  How had these scientific wonders affected greater London?  Not much, was my final decision.  Otherwise, why would Illyria be special?  Certainly, there would be changes: simple, cheap automatons would be more commonplace, and people would be talking about science quite a bit.  For the most part, though, science was, historically, the purview of the upper classes, and there were plenty of people who weren’t upper class living in London.  So, would science affect the cheap pub Violet and friends went out to?  No.  Would the prostitutes on the street get cyborg parts?  No – they wouldn’t be able to afford them.  London proper stayed mostly historically accurate, which was great, because it let me contrast Illyria’s closed off world of scientific wonders with the dirtier outside world.  One of my favorite lines is one Fiona delivers to Violet, telling her how yes, her mission will clearly bring joy to spoiled rich girls everywhere.  Violet’s growth as a character doesn’t happen because she’s in Illyria, it happens because she gets to see the outside world, too.

Once I began to really understand the history I was working with and had developed rules for the mad science, the world flowed pretty naturally.  Characters were integrated from there; gears upon gears, and soon the whole thing was the big creaking wall I’d originally envisioned.  That’s the best I can say about steampunk worldbuilding: have a good foundation and understanding of your world, both imagined and historical, and the rest will creak along from there.


Available September 27, 2011 from Tor Books

About the Book:

Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, “All Men of Genius “takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible.

Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father’s policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.

But keeping the secret of her sex won’t be easy, not with her friend Jack’s constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet’s alter ego, “Ashton.” Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has a secret past of his own), speaks to her. She soon realizes that it’s not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it’s surviving that long.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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