Heat, Fatigue and Victorian Clothing

The UK has just experienced the hottest July in years and everyone’s really enjoying the summery weather.

Except those of us who aren’t.

Most people with neurological disorders find their symptoms are exacerbated by heat. In other words, we’re the grumpy ones who complain it’s too hot when everyone else is hunting for skimpy clothing and slapping on the factor 15. Or in my case, sweltering under heavy clothes to keep the rays off my vampiric skin that burns at the first touch of sunlight.

MSers commonly list fatigue as their worst symptom. It’s also the hardest
to explain. It isn’t “feeling a bit tired” or “tiring easily” – it’s more like something suddenly stealing all your energy without warning and leaving you unable to do anything. No, getting more sleep doesn’t prevent it, not does taking things easy for a few days. And it usually gets worse when we’re too warm. One of my MonSter’s favourite tricks is to lie in wait while I cook dinner and pounce so I’m too fatigued to lift the fork to my mouth. It’s debilitating, annoying and can be downright embarrassing.
So why do I agree to attend an event in Victorian-style clothing on a hot day? It could be that I don’t want to let the organiser down. Or it could be plain old-fashioned masochism. Or maybe it’s because I’m too bl##dy-minded to give in to the MonSter today.

Whatever the reason, looking forward to seeing some more lunatics in Steampunk attire at the Punknic. And I’ll try not to be too grumpy!

BTW. Chrystal Heart is at the reduced price of £2.99 for the weekend. (Amazon willing!)
Click Here

Protected: Chrystal Heart Prologue 2

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Chrystal Heart Prologue 1

My first novel will be published in March, 2013. I will post a few teasers here for followers of this blog.

Feel free to leave comments and I hope you enjoy meeting Chrystal.

October, 1851

Philomena Mercedes Carstairs slipped away from the crowds leaving Hyde Park, straightening the hat pinned over her neat chignon. She twitched her short cape into place over her tight, grey jacket and turned into an unlit side street, away from the throngs of merrymakers flooding towards purveyors of refreshments on more fashionable streets. Although the coffee houses claimed to welcome ladies as well as gentlemen, she knew from experience that the more popular ones would not serve a woman on her own. Especially when more rewarding customers were queueing for places at their tables. She would avoid the crowds, following the back streets to her lodging-house and brew coffee on the stove there.
Unbeknown to Philomena, her passage did not go unnoticed. Three shadows detached themselves from the heavy darkness beneath an overhanging wooden building. One figure turned down an alleyway, hurrying to get ahead of her, whilst two wraith-like others slid silently in her wake, careful to prevent her discovering them.
“ ‘Scuse me, Missus,” said a voice in the darkness beside her.
“Oh,” Philomena stopped, her hand rising to her chest where her heart thudded against her corset.
“ ‘M sorry, Miss. Didn’t mean to startle ya,” said the man.
Now that Philomena had turned, she could see the man more clearly. He would have been almost as tall as her, had he not stooped so. His coat was well-cut but worn at the cuffs and stained in many places, while his rough accent spoke of life in the murkier parts of the city. She gathered her scattered wits enough to smile at the stranger.
“Can I help you, Sir?” she enquired.
“Wondered if you might spare a few coppers for an ex-army man down on his luck?” said the man, moving closer.
“Oh, of course,” Philomena lifted her bag for her coin purse. A sudden sound from behind made her turn. Seeing another figure reaching for her, she ducked and spun about, backing away until the back of her bell-skirted dress touched the dirty brick wall, her bosom heaving with fear.
Footpads. And I let them trap me, she thought. Someone tore the velvet cape off her shoulders. A hand reached for her bag and she grabbed the wrist, twisting to throw her slender weight against it. She heard a satisfying yelp and released the damaged limb, looking around for the second assailant. He blocked her escape but made no attempt to engage. As she looked for an opportunity to break past, a third figure came running and Philomena found herself, once again, backed against the wall with her two opponents facing her more warily this time. The man whose wrist she had injured was pulling himself to his feet, a knife in his left hand.
Made of stern stuff, these bandits, she thought as she searched for a way to evade their tightening circle. She pulled the purse from her bag and threw it behind the men, where it fell with a loud rattle.
“That is all I have. Take it and be damned,” she shouted.
The nearer two men hesitated, glancing towards the purse, but the injured one never took his eyes off hers.
“I think we’ll take more than yer purse, Missus,” he said.
“I have nothing further!”
None of the men spoke, but the knifeman moved in, the other two flanking him and thwarting any possible egress for her. He lunged with the blade and she barely managed to knock it away with her right arm. There was a loud crack, her frilled sleeve tore and blood spurted as she ducked under their advancing hands, trying for the open street. A fist struck her shoulder, throwing her towards the man in the centre. Shouts and running footsteps sounded as if they were several miles away and she got a clear view of the attacker’s face as his knife penetrated her ribs. Her knees buckled and her vision failed as she heard a group of men attacking the thieves who’d struck her down. There were shouts from the robbers and softer words in a foreign language and then nothing but blackness.

To be continued…

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: http://shoresofnight.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/my-next-big-thing.html

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 http://jaywalkerwriting.co.uk/chrystal.html

(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 ( http://www.facebook.com/#!/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 ( http://robdarke.wordpress.com/ ) 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. 🙂

Planning a Book Launch


Chrystal Heart will be my fifth published book, but the first time I’ve actually had a proper launch. For various reasons, it’s just never happened.

But this will be my first published novel and I’m determined to launch it proper.

So – where to hold a launch? It’s got to be somewhere suitably booky. A bookshop, perhaps? So why not the biggest chain of booksellers in the UK? It’s taken some arranging, but I have reached agreement with the largest branch of Waterstones in Wales – in The Hayes, Cardiff. It’ll be on Wednesday 13th March, starting at 18:30 – after the store has closed. Drinks and nibbles will be provided and I look forward to seeing you all there! Free tickets will be available through Waterstones sometime early in 2013.

Chrystal Heart is about a Victorian lady who’s still alive in the 21st Century due to some enhancements she was given after being attacked in 1851. And she’s got an interesting approach to modern technology, since the archaic aetheric devices she’s been using for more than a century work just as well. Her companion Sam (Samantha) is a modern girl, who always thought Steampunk was a bit of fun. She never used to take it seriously. But now…

And there will be quite a few of us in Steampunk attire on the night. If you’re coming along, feel free to join in.

What is This “Steampunk”?

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 usually includes some original gadgets and semi-feasible engineering or scientific principles.

Steampunk culture is beginning to invade the mainstream media. As well as books in the genre, 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 Aardman Pirates! extravaganza. Certain classic novels are now regarded as beginning the Steampunk oeuvre, such as Jules Verne’s fantastic tales and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine – which features an imagined technology based in a 19th Century framework.

If you’re thinking about putting together your first Steampunk outfit, think Victorian meets sci-fi and apply your own interpretation. Engineers, Lords and Ladies may rub shoulders with Explorers, Pirates and Mad Scientists at a Steampunk meet. Ladies of loose morals could strike up a conversation with a Vampire Hunter and a Priest in period costume. Have a look online for inspiration and let your imagination run wild. (Not compulsory, by the way. You can turn up to the launch in jeans and a t-shirt and no-one will mind!)

What Happens at a Book Launch?

Well, it varies. I’m afraid I’ll be doing most of the talking. I’ll be reading an extract from the new book, answering questions and then signing copies of the book. There will be drinks and nibbles for all and hopefully we’ll have lots of fun. There will also be a few little details that I’m not talking about in advance. Though I may drop a few hints on here.  😉

So, if you’re free on March 13th and fancy coming along to Cardiff and sharing an hour with the author of a new Steampunk novel, watch this blog for more info.


Steampunk Novel: Interview and Crowdfunding

My main writing project at the moment is a Steampunk novel about a Victorian lady who’s still alive in the 21st Century by virtue of having a Chrystal Heart. I will be self-publishing in March, 2013.

I’ve written a short story featuring the same character. The Collector has already been published in an anthology http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Souls-Asylum-Steampunk-Compilation/dp/0956674429/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1350134066&sr=8-4 and will be featured in the inaugural issue of eSteampunk magazine – due out imminently. The magazine have also posted an interview with me, which can be read here: http://www.efictionmag.com/steampunk/

Secondly I’m crowdfunding to raise money for printing this book – and also for a launch party which will be in Cardiff, Wales next March. If you’re interested and would like to know more (including a sneak preview of the novel), see here:


You don’t have to purchase, the sneak preview is free to read. 🙂