My Next Big Thing

I’ve been passed the baton in a chain of authors answering the same set of questions on their blogs and author pages. Last week was the lovely Steve Cotterill whose blog can be seen here:

Steve is a fellow writer of Steampunk and lover of cats whose work is appearing in an increasing number of anthologies and various places online. He’s one of those people who always make me smile and I look forward to the next time I bump into him with his lovely wife Eve. xx

So now it’s my turn to become part of the chain…

What is the working title of your book?
Chrystal Heart.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Hmm, which idea?
I’d been working on several ideas that I thought might come together in some way. I was determined that it would be kind of sci-fi but set in the 21st Century, incorporating the various apocalyptic prophecies relating to our current times. Also, I have a strong eco-streak and a love of 19th Century fantasies. I’m not sure where Chrystal came from – she just strode into my head one day and introduced herself. Most people are a little scared of the dark corners in my mind (I am!), but she’s completely undaunted. Since then, she’s been telling me about her recent adventures and introducing me to her friends.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s Steampunk. For anyone who doesn’t know, Steampunk is a rapidly-growing genre which combines science fiction with nostalgia for a past that never was. Set in worlds where history diverged from our own during the Victorian era (the Steam Age), it is often heavy on original gadgets and inclusive of semi-feasible engineering or scientific principles.
Steampunk culture is beginning to invade the mainstream media. As well as many books, clockwork robots spar with Dr Who; steam engines, airships and Victorian characters appear in films from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen via The Golden Compass to the recent Aardman Pirates! extravaganza.
Certain classic novels are now regarded as beginning the Steampunk oeuvre, such as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, which features an imagined technology based in a 19th Century framework and many of Jules Verne’s tales.
A growing Steampunk community exists, both online and in the real world where people dress as their various personae for social events including weekend-long gatherings all around the world, especially the UK and the US.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It’s hard to say. I don’t write a complete draft and then go back to edit – my writing is kind of more organic. Or less organised.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I know everybody says this, but I don’t think there’s anything similar out there. Chrystal is a Victorian lady who is still alive in the 21st Century. Her survival is due to aspects of certain sciences which were understood 150 years ago but have been lost in the intervening decades. She teams up with a young modern woman and they get involved in, well, things that are far older even than Chrystal. If anyone else knows of a similar plot, please let me know. (I’m aware of occasional characters who’ve lived that long in one or two TV series, but they’re very different to Chrystal.)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been writing since I had to retire from full-time work back in 2004. Since then, I’ve self-published three collections of short stories and a memoir (The MonSter and the Rainbow). And sold sufficient copies to make a profit. I regard this as kind of apprenticeship and felt ready to tackle a novel-length piece. What I didn’t anticipate was that Chrystal’s story would take more than one book to tell. I’m really enjoying working with her and it’ll be fun to start work in earnest on the sequel in 2013.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Chrystal is a 188-year-old, bisexual cyborg vampire. Apart from that, she’s just your average Steampunk.
In 1851, a young Victorian lady is stabbed and left for dead, but rescued by a group of Tibetans who came to London for the Great Exhibition. They replace her damaged heart with the Chrystal Vitalis, a gem believed to have life-giving properties. This not only saves her life, but prolongs it to the point that she is still alive in the 21st Century where she passes as a Steampunk to explain her idiosyncratic taste in clothing and old-fashioned speech. Educated in steam power, clockwork and what modern science would dismiss as “ætheric mysticism”, she addresses the challenges of our world in a very different way to the oil-based culture that has evolved over the last 160 years.
The book is set in modern-day London, Wales and Central America. The narrator is Samantha (Sam), Chrystal’s 21st Century companion and lover, a victim of the economic downturn who turned to petty crime to pay the bills.
Chrystal Heart (ISBN: 978-0-9552602-4-7 ) will be launched at Waterstones in Cardiff on 13/3/13 and can be pre-ordered from

(Come back for a Sneak Preview of the book over the next few days.)

And we’re done, time to pass the baton on to the next authors to delight your senses.
May I present for your entertainment and edification:

Susan Hooper (!/SusanCHooper )”>is a busy Mum and member of CRAG writers’ circle in Chepstow, South Wales. Her first novel An Hour Year will be published in March 2013. Her novel began as a NaNoWriMo project and is an interesting psychological drama. I’ll leave her to tell you the rest.

Robert Darke ( ) is another member of CRAG and also Cardiff Writers’ Circle. A few of his stories have appeared in magazines and he presents a regular show on Hospital Radio Glamorgan. His first novel, provisionally titled White Van Man, is currently being edited to within 2.54 cm of its life.

Watch for their blog chain posts next Tuesday

P.S. For some reason links aren’t posting properly today. Please copy and paste them into your browser instead. 🙂

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