Update on the website.

October 31, 2014

After missing my computer-lady’s slot for my website update I have had to wait through her busy season to have all my new writing details added. They are now active. I will give an idea of the changes here, but you could as easily go to http://www.christopherhoare.ca/ to see them.

The background is very similar to the original site, and there are only two new books shown in the home page…but they are my new “Roberta Stephenson Trilogy” releases from Tyche Books. They have links to Tyche, http://tychebooks.com/books/steam-and-stratagem/ but as I write this the release of the second novel “Spies and Subterfuge” is a month or so away.

What else is new? Well I have new publishers listed. Having given the original e-book publishers of the Iskander series novels and the fantasy “Rast” the old heave-ho I am published by Tyche and Autarkikal. The crunch came when I realised the little test piece novella at XinXii, “Visiting Pemberly” had outsold all six of the novels from the ebook publishers. So now the Iskander novels are sold as ebooks on XinXii as well and will be joined by Rast when it is ready. The link is http://www.xinxii.com/adocs.php/en?aid=34289 I hired an artist to produce new covers for the Iskanders as the originals were the property of the publisher. The first quarter’s royalties are much improved, even though I reduced the sale price to $3.99.  I should also mention that XinXii also distributes through Amazon, B&N and a number of other sites, so you can also find the ebooks there.

I still have some of the older print copies left and tell readers how to get them from me on the website. I have no plans for new Print on Demand copies unless anxious readers start banging down my door, LOL. Autarkikal is my imprint; it was needed when I applied for ISBNs and submitted copies to Digital Legal Deposit, the ‘record’ of the books accepted.

Rast” will join the other books on XinXii by the end of the year, depending on the length of time taken to decide on a new cover image. I want to change the title a little because Googling Rast turns up all kinds of people whose company I would eschew. At the moment I am expecting to rename it “The Peril of Rast”.

That’s about it. I am to have access to the code on this new site which will give me the ability to do much of the updating. We will see how that goes…I was planning on getting away from software issues as I gave up coding when I retired from my survey contracting. This new site is supposed to be friendly, so if I have the patience to write a WordPress blog I should be able to manage the updates to the website.

All the best for Halloween and then Christmas and the New Year. (I should keep that up…I’m almost into Spring already.)

Progress with the Roberta Stephenson Trilogy.

August 26, 2014

The editing of Spies and Subterfuge is finished and the cover image is finalised…now we are on track to release the novel before the end of the year.

Spies and Subterfuge

Spies and Subterfuge

While the first novel introduced Roberta, her new gentlemen friends, and her sale of ten ships of her “Spiteful” design of steam ram to the Admiralty, Spies and Subterfuge focuses on spying on Napoleon’s secret steam ships that will lead his latest attempt to invade Britain. There is a serious development in the romance thread of the trilogy as well.

I have finished the last novel of the trilogy, Scandal and Secrets, which has a lot of new material because its original story was planned to be the second and last in a two novel series and it outgrew its planned length no matter how much material I cut out. Spies and Subterfuge took mostly the material of the first part of the original while Scandal was brought up to length with a lot of new material that had missed incorporation into the earlier plot. I’m waiting to see if its new role in closing the story pleases my publisher.

This third novel brings everything together; the building of the Spitefuls; the training of the crews; and the new design of a larger vessel to counter Napoleon’s steam ironclad. Everything has to be done in overtime to be ready for the dispatch of the French invasion at the end of summer 1815; and double-quick for Roberta who has to contend with scandal affecting her personal life and distracting her while she keeps the shipbuilding on track.

The real history of 1814 enters into the plot and new characters abound. Roberta meets the Prince Regent, the Duke of Wellington, and foils Napoleon’s attempted escape to America. (But his brother Joseph, the deposed King of Spain, escapes there with half of the Spanish crown jewels—as happened in actual history.) Field Marshal Blücher, Tsar Alexander, Marshal Wittgenstein, and Prince Schwarzenberg are on stage when Britain’s allies attack Napoleon on land. Lord Bond and my import from War and Peace, Count Nicolei Rostov, perform sterling service keeping track of the wide ranging Cossacks as the allies try to enter Paris and Napoleon fights the campaign of his life to keep them out.

And the romance? Does the girl get the man? Ah, I have to keep the secrets there, but the plot has as many as four new relationships founded by the time the dust settles.

I will take advantage of this space to update what had been going on with Gisel Matah’s world while Roberta has been saving Britain. I did a lot of cleaning out surplus material from Deadly Enterprise that had arrived there when it was the first published novel of the series. It is available with the others at http://www.xinxii.com/adocs.php/en?aid=34289 and reads a lot cleaner now…in fact I’m beginning to think it may be the most satisfying of the five novels.

My fantasy Rast is waiting for a new publisher to give a verdict, but I have done no work on it since getting it back from its first publisher. And Mindstream is undergoing a new polish, which must count as the seventh draft. The publisher that had it on the pile for two years put a new editor on it who said a couple of nice things but decided it was not right for them. I will work right through this draft and update with some new things in the Mind field and tweak the relationship between the science and Eastern hallmarked psychic power. I don’t know where I will try to launch it yet, but I may not worry about that until the Roberta Stephenson novels are done.

Gisel Matah is Back!

May 8, 2014

I will interrupt the posts for “Steam and Stratagem” for long enough to tell you what has happened to my Iskander series. It had been growing to a five novel series since 2008 but sales had never been good with the e-book publisher who had it.

The last straw was the comparison between their sales and those of my little novella “Visiting Pemberly” on the distributor site XinXii in Europe―it was outselling all five and had never been planned as a major attraction. I began writing it as a test piece when I decided to write the Regency Romance/ Steampunk that became “Steam and Stratagem”. When the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” neared, I decided to complete it as a novella in celebration.

So the Iskander novels and Vis-Pem can be found here http://www.xinxii.com/adocs.php/en?aid=34289 As I write this I have one more of the novels to post, but it is “Deadly Enterprise”, which was the first published and needs some editing to remove scenes and text that never came to light as well as a horrible slew of info dump as I tried to squeeze all the backstory into gaps in the action. The big attraction now are the new covers I commissioned to get away from some of the disasters with doll-like figures in the original ones. Here is one:—

iskander001-arrival333x500
Arrival

I have also been able to get the cover blurb to identify the order in which the stories should be read.

I think I had better insert some of the “Steam and Stratagem” news in the spaces between the Iskander covers. The editing of “Spies and Subterfuge” is nearly complete and it will hopefully be released this year.

iskander002-masquerade333x500
Masquerade

Masquerade didn’t get a lot of editing, except I rewrote the final scene dialogue which I had never been able to get right before.

“Spies and Subterfuge” grew like Topsy and had to be turned into two novels. I have a lot of new material to add to S&S 3 when I get back to writing it. The novel has the working title “Scandal and Secrets” at the moment.

iskander003-deadlyenterprise333x500
Deadly Enterprise

DE may not be available anywhere yet but the cover image is too striking not to add. The distributor has sent the new e-book Iskanders out to many other outlets besides its own website. I have asked them for a list so I can tell readers where else they may find the novels. I know they are on all the different Amazon country sites.

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The Wildcat’s Victory

I should also mention I have reduced the price of my novels on XinXii. The Iskander novels are listed at $3.91and Vis-Pem is $2.99. Prices seem to drift about on the site, they tell be there is a bug in the software they cannot find, so I usually wait a few days after the upload to check and have it corrected.

iskander005-wildcatsburden333x500
The Wildcat’s Burden

Is currently the final book in the series, but I may work on another one day. I provided an afterword where I highlighted some of the stories of characters in preceding novels―as well as Yohan receiving a knighthood from Wasbia, which makes Gisel Lady Felger. She jokes that Yohan has made a lady of her at last.

Lieutenant Alfred Worthington RN

April 1, 2014

A word of apology to readers. The past month has had its up and downs, the first being an invasion of mallware that robbed me of the use of the Internet and of my computers while they were in quarantine. Since I have long come to mistrust the durability of computers I lost very little of my writing because I keep it in flash drives. So, to skip over everything else, here is the latest post about “Steam and Stratagem” and “Spies and Subterfuge”.

I decided to share a bit of the background of the three bachelors of “Steam and Stratagem”…the first on parade is Alfred Worthington, naval officer and engineer.

In the novels practically nothing is known about him except his rise from the Black Gang to an officer’s rank in the Royal Navy—another part of the plot that is 50 years anachronistic. However, this is Steampunk, and Steampunk makes its own rules. Just what did he do in the Black Gang and how did he get there?

Stokers_in_the_boiler_room_on_board_HMT_STELLA_PEGASI,_Scapa_Flow,_6_June_1943._A17189
Stokers

But even this is not the start of his story—how did he get from the farm to the stoke hold of a ship in the first place? Yes, farm. In the course of the story action he reveals something by his Yorkshire accent—and while Yorkshire had coal mines, in the Regency it was predominantly rural/agricultural. If he started work in the mines, he must have left the farm or the village to get there.

The rule for farms at that time was that the farmers were all tenants of the land, which was owned by someone rich…in all probability a noble family. He would either have had to receive permission to leave the land, or had stolen away in the night to hide himself in one of the new industrial towns. Let’s make him legal. The landlord was sympathetic to the father’s plight—what was he to do with this son who was superfluous to the small farm and becoming a large and restless 15 year old?

He had to have had an older brother, Jack, who had already laid claim to the farm as his father’s firstborn. Young Alf was only a help when they had extra work; the rest of the time he mooned about watching the steam trains go past on the track across the valley. When father heard that the engine man in the nearest coal mine needed a strong lad he sent him off to try his luck. Alf didn’t mind…he was excited to make his way in the world…here is a pic I found when I was looking for images of stokers; he visits the farm whenever he gets leave from the Navy.

Morgan-and-Family
Farm family

I’m worried that the reader has already formed a different image of him, but Worthington had to be a big chap to make his way in the stokehold. Here is a stoker with his mother and father and his Brother Jack, who looks a bit put out at not being the top man in the picture. (Yes, this group is a hundred years anachronistic, but where am I going to find a Regency period family picture like this?)

So Alf became the engine man’s helper, oiling the machinery, stoking the fire, fetching and carrying, and doing all the rough and dirty work that the boss didn’t care to handle. He would have done the same as the young George Stephenson and used some of his meager wages to educate himself—first to read and write and then to learn the mysteries of the new wonder of the age—steam. Within another year he was already restless again, seeing no advancement at the colliery, he heard about another engine man who had taken a contract with the navy to operate the machinery on a naval tugboat, and who needed another stoker.

At the beginning of the Royal Navy’s venture into steam propulsion there were no naval engineers or personnel in the Black Gang—they hired engine men under contract the take care of the despicable smell and grime involved in making the ship go. The engineers were civilians, not even counted as petty officers like the carpenters and other tradesmen aboard ship, they lived in the grime of their coal holes as best they could and no doubt smelled of the foul concoctions they used to lubricate the machinery. The helpers of the despised engine artificer were the lowest of the low.

Royal Navy Stokers in Training
Engineroom

Somewhere along the way Alf must have found his way into one of the first steam frigates where the engineroom staff became indispensable crew members if they had a breakdown hundreds of miles from port. He must have come under the mentorship of an artificer who valued his enthusiasm and reliability enough to make him his head helper. To rise above that he must have benefited from Commander Ripley’s foresightedness in bringing the workers of the steam directorate into the regular rank and file of the navy, as well as his insistence in having the young men admitted to an education that served their duties. (We have met Commander Ripley, an invented character, in the Admiralty offices several times.) Alfred Worthington may not have been the first of those young men to be promoted into officer’s rank, but he must have stood out among them to be appointed an inspector of steamships undergoing assessment by the Admiralty.

So here we may think of him dutifully writing his reports for the information of their Lordships and pining over a young woman who by her position must be forever beyond him.

(For much of my story of steam in the Royal Navy here I am indebted to Prof. Michael Lewis and his book “The Navy in Transition”.)

Napoleon at Home.

February 21, 2014

In line with my blogs about both the fictional and historical figures in my novels I come to the man at the centre of all events in Europe in that age—Napoleon I, Emperor of France. But how do I let him in, that wily schemer, without him taking over the whole show? Well, I fall back on the novel’s identity as Regency romance for this posting—this will be about Napoleon’s loves.

In 1795, The young General Napoleon met the fashionable widow Rose de Beauharnaise through the actions of her young son Eugene. Here is the report given in the Memoirs written by Bourrienne, a school friend of Napoleon’s who became his confidential secretary for five years during the Consulate and into the Empire.

220px-Josephine_by_Appiani

Pic 1 Josephine de Beauharnaise

–["Eugène was not more than fourteen years of age when he ventured

   to introduce himself to General Bonaparte, for the purpose of
   soliciting his father's sword, of which he understood the General
   had become possessed. The countenance, air, and frank manner of
   Eugène pleased Bonaparte, and he immediately granted him the 
   boon he sought. As soon as the sword was placed in the boy's hands
   he burst into tears, and kissed it. This feeling of affection for his
   father's memory, and the natural manner in which it was evinced,
   increased the interest of Bonaparte in his young visitor. Madame de
   Beauharnais, on learning the kind reception which the General had
   given her son, thought it her duty to call and thank him. Bonaparte
   was much pleased with Josephine on this first interview, and he
   returned her visit. The acquaintance thus commenced speedily led to
   their marriage."--Constant]


Napoleon_I_of_France_by_Andrea_AppianiPic 2 The Young Emperor

Alexandre de Beauharnaise, Josėphine’s first husband had been 
Guillotined during the “Terror” and she had been imprisoned and 
had barely escaped the same fate. She and Napoleon became lovers,
 when she switched from the name Rose to please him, and 
they were married within a year. She was six years his senior.  

Bourrienne reports:-

[Madame de Rémusat, who, to paraphrase Thiers’ saying on

   Bourrienne himself, is a trustworthy witness, for if she received
   benefits from Napoleon they did not weigh on her, says, "However,
   Napoleon had some affection for his first wife; and, in fact, if he
   has at any time been touched, no doubt it has been only for her and
   by her" (tome i. p. 113). "Bonaparte was young when he first knew
   Madame de Beauharnais. In the circle where he met her she had a
   great superiority by the name she bore and by the extreme elegance
   of her manners. . . . In marrying Madame de Beauharnais,
   Bonaparte believed he was allying himself to a very grand lady; thus
   this was one more conquest" (p. 114). But in speaking of
   Josephine's complaints to Napoleon of his love affairs, Madame de
   Rémusat says, "Her husband sometimes answered by violences, the
   excesses of which I do not dare to detail, until the moment when,
   his new fancy having suddenly passed, he felt his tenderness for his
   wife again renewed. Then he was touched by her sufferings, replaced
   his insults by caresses which were hardly more measured than his
   violences and, as she was gentle and untenacious, she fell back into
   her feeling of security"

Readers who know both of these S&S novels, this last observation 
may remind you of someone. Here is Napoleon writing a letter to his 
wife after the battle at Arcona.

Andrea_Appiani_-_Joséphine_Reine_d'Italie

Pic 3 Josephine as Queen of Italy

VERONA, the 29th, noon.

   At length, my adored Josephine, I live again. Death is no longer
   before me, and glory and honour are still in my breast. The enemy
   is beaten at Arcola. To-morrow we will repair the blunder of
   Vaubois, who abandoned Rivoli. In eight days Mantua will be ours,
   and then thy husband will fold thee in his arms, and give thee a
   thousand proofs of his ardent affection. I shall proceed to Milan
   as soon as I can: I am a little fatigued. I have received letters
   from Eugène and Hortense. I am delighted with the children. I will
   send you their letters as soon as I am joined by my household, which
   is now somewhat dispersed.

   We have made five thousand prisoners, and killed at least six
   thousand of the enemy. Adieu, my adorable Josephine. Think of me
   often. When you cease to love your Achilles, when your heart grows
   cool towards him, you wilt be very cruel, very unjust. But I am
   sure you will always continue my faithful mistress, as I shall ever
   remain your fond lover ('tendre amie'). Death alone can break the
   union which sympathy, love, and sentiment have formed. Let me have
   news of your health. A thousand and a thousand kisses.

424px-1801_Antoine-Jean_Gros_-_Bonaparte_on_the_Bridge_at_Arcole
Pic 4 Napoleon on the Bridge at Arcola.

In this very abbreviated account, I have to go directly to the ending, 
but on the way that both had lovers during their marriage, and that it
was often a stormy passage. 

This next comes from Wikipedia.

220px-Josephine_de_Beauharnais,_Keizerin_der_Fransen
Pic 5 Empress Josephine

When, after a few years, it became clear she could not have a child, Napoléon while he still loved Joséphine, began to think very seriously about the possibility of divorce. The final die was cast when Joséphine’s grandson Napoleon Charles Bonaparte who had been declared Napoléon’s heir, died of croup in 1807. Napoleon began to create lists of eligible princesses. At dinner on November 30, 1809, he let Joséphine know that — in the interest of France — he must find a wife who could produce an heir. From the next room, Napoléon’s secretary heard the screams.[citation needed]

Joséphine agreed to the divorce so the Emperor could remarry in the hope of having an heir. The divorce ceremony took place on January 10,1810 and was a grand but solemn social occasion, and each read a statement of devotion to the other.[citation needed]

On March 11, Napoléon married Marie-Louise of Austria by proxy; the formal ceremony took place at the Louvre in April. Napoléon once remarked after marrying Marie-Louise that “he had married a womb”.[citation needed] Even after their separation, Napoleon insisted Josephine retain the title of empress. “It is my will that she retain the rank and title of empress, and especially that she never doubt my sentiments, and that she ever hold me as her best and dearest friend.”

The story of Napoleon's wives would not be complete 
without saying something about the “poor Womb” that 
he married for dynastic reasons, Marie-Louise of Austria. 

377px-Jean-Baptiste_Isabey_003
Pic 6  Empress Marie-Louise

Wikipedia again:-
The end of the War of the Fifth Coalition resulted 
in the marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise in 1810, 
which ushered in a brief period of peace and friendship 
between Austria and the French Empire. Marie Louise 
dutifully agreed to the marriage despite being raised 
to despise France. She was an obedient wife and was 
adored by Napoleon, who had been eager to marry a 
member of one of Europe's leading royal houses to cement 
his relatively young Empire. With Napoleon, she bore 
a son, styled the King of Rome at birth, later Duke of 
Reichstaedt, who briefly succeeded him as Napoleon II. 
As a princess of the royal family of Austria she didn't 
need anyone to cry for her. After Napoleon's abdication 
she returned to Austria, became Duchess of Parma 
and after his death married, morganatically, twice more,
and bore three more children to her second husband. 

Steam and Stratagem has a sister.

February 6, 2014

The big news this time is that we have signed the contract for the sequel “Spies and Subterfuge”. Editing is early in the planning stage now but the novel could be released either early next year, or if Plan A works, it could be out this Fall. Which is good, because I have already had a couple of local purchasers asking when the sequel will appear.

It means I can use some info about the sequel now…as long as I don’t give away any spoilers. While Steam and Stratagem has the start of Lord Bond’s new spying mission to Antwerp, the sequel has a lot more spying and more characters involved. Napoleon’s spy-master Joseph Fouché, le Duc d’Outrante, is in several scenes, trying to terrorize some of the team to make them panic and lead him to everyone else.

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Fouché

He is an interesting character in history, too. He was first a revolutionary republican and became deputy of a revolutionary département in 1792. In 1793, he and a colleague crushed a royalist uprising in La Vendée with cruel thoroughness and he was soon given the position of Commissioner of the Republic in another department. He later put down another revolt and became known as the “Executioner of Lyons” for his sending about 2000 citizens of the city to their deaths by firing squad and by firing grapeshot from cannons at chained prisoners.

So, that gives you an idea of the man Lord Bond’s spies are up against. He first became Minister for Police in Paris in 1799 under the Directorate. When Napoleon returned from Egypt he switched sides and helped destroy the Directorate, for which Napoleon kept him on as chief of police. But on becoming First Consul in 1802 he decided Fouché was too powerful and had him removed.

Fouché_Joseph_Duke_of_Otranto

Fouchė 2

But Fouché was too good a police chief and spy-master to stay out of power for long. In 1804 when Napoleon became Emperor, Fouché was again made Minister of Police and later given the title of the Duc d’Outrante. I’ll skip more of the detail of his on and off again relationship with Napoleon, who never trusted him, and head to 1814 and 1815 when Napoleon was being advised by his marshals to abdicate as the armies of the 6th Coalition advanced on Paris. Fouché, as a senator, advised the French senate to make peace with the Royalists and send for Louis XVIII to return as King.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, when Napoleon abdicated a second time, after the loss of the Battle of Waterloo, Fouché became the head of the Provisional Government that the now deposed Napoleon had to apply to in order to ask for a passport from the British Government, that would allow him to find sanctuary in America. The Brits refused and one can imagine that Fouché shed no tears over that—a helpless Napoleon on the South Atlantic island of St Helena probably suited him very well. In my novel I have the scene where a British chargė d’affaires visits Fouchė about the request—want to guess which fictional character is the British official?

Louis XVIII appointed Fouché his Chief of Police when he became King of France, although the arrangement did not last long before he was dismissed and given the post of French ambassador to Saxony. In 1816 he was proscribed by the King’s government and exiled. He died in Trieste in 1820, but descendants of his son still live in Sweden.

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Magic Portal

I have lately been looking at Pinterest pages about reading….pinned by readers. It is inspirational for a writer to read some of the comments about books that attest to the idea that writing is a service to society even more than an art. And it’s not all about making the best-seller list. I want to connect with people who love books through my own writing…if only they can find me. If you know any dedicated readers you might send them to me.

Steam and Stratagem: Roberta stayed at Number 6 St James Square

January 17, 2014

On her first visit to London Roberta stayed in the rooms her father engaged for business visits to the city. For the purposes of the novel I chose to make those the premises in Number 6 St James because I had found photos of the inside of the house as it looked in 1958 when it was demolished, and used the same surroundings for Roberta’s visit in 1814. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40550

I have to admit that this was another true story I had fudged. The house of 1814 had also been rebuilt— in 1818-1820 and the pictures are of the new premises. However this merely makes them more representative of the time—the way I time shifted the railways and things. So the pictures I have to show are photos taken as record before the 1958 demolition—that’s why the cars out front in the first picture are there—they weren’t time travellers.Front Num 6

Roberta and her Aunt Nelly stayed in rooms in the back premises…a kind of rear wing located beyond an open court on the ground floor. The rooms would have been above a large formal room on the ground floor. The hallway they used to reach the rest of the house and the stairs they descended are shown next.

Hallway to rear Num 6image num 6 stairs

The main drawing room where they met Lord Bond has a few pictures (as it survived until 1958).

image inside num 6Lounge entry Num 6image number6 st James

You can ignore the broken brickwork in this last picture—I assure you it wasn’t there when Lord Bond stood in 1814 to greet them.

Before I end this I have two things to report. First, the publisher and I are in agreement about publishing the sequel to Steam and Stratagem entitled “Spies and Subterfuge”. I expect to receive the contract docs later this week. SandS 2 will carry Roberta’s story on to the end of the Napoleonic Wars. I’m sure it is not a big spoiler if I tell you she gets to meet Napoleon twice.

My other active blog, Rustic Realizations, will have a new post about the same time as this is posted and I want to mention that I give a link to a new global initiative to end all war that is just starting and looking for members. It is at http://worldbeyondwar.org/ In my blog I draw parallels between the end of the Napoleonic Wars (just a bit past 1814), the beginning of WWI in August 1914 and our world in 2014.

Steam and Stratagem: Roberta and her Father.

January 3, 2014

 

When I started writing the chapters about Roberta Stephenson that became Steam and Stratagem I wanted to ground her in the real world of 19th century Britain even if she herself was a fictional character. I had planned to have her be a steamship engineer, and a few Wikipedia searches of the early engineers soon showed me that George Stephenson had the most interesting background. An illiterate son of an illiterate coalmine pumping-engine fireman, George by his own efforts became the first president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on its formation in 1847. One could hardly find better father for her story.

 

Image George Stephenson

 

He used money from his first job, as an engineman, to educate himself, which in the story is more than enough evidence that had his real daughter Fanny (who had died mere days after her birth) survived she could well have been sent to the fictional Miss Mather’s Acadamy for Girls in place of Roberta. He did educate his real son Robert; early on the two studied engineering together, and when he became prosperous he sent Robert to a private academy to study. He also took care that his son spoke ‘posh’ English to avoid the southern prejudice against northerners with thick accents. I have given Roberta a similar refined voice throughout the novels.

 

The disputes with Sir Humphrey Davy over the invention of the miners’ safety lamp is mentioned in the story and was a result of academic prejudice. Although two investigations came to the conclusion that Stephenson’s invention was independent of Davy’s the educated southern elite preferred to believe that a mere engineman could never have produced the design unaided and Davy went to his grave still believing his design was stolen. In the story I have Roberta’s father letting her go south with their designs to approach the Admiralty—a reflection of the way he made Robert his mouthpiece and manager of his locomotive works.

 

Imagelocomotive

 

While the Trevithick loco of 1802 is considered to be the first practical steam locomotive, George Stephenson’s 1814 travelling locomotive for the Killingworth wagonway is credited with being the first successful flanged wheel adhesion locomotive and the forerunner of all railway locomotives today. The steamship yard in the story is a pure fiction, he never built ships, but the railway planning still used today of following the least resistance to travel by keeping rail grades as flat as possible is a principle he followed for his own railway projects. His careful engineering became somewhat too expensive during his lifetime and he went into semi-retirement, letting his son manage the locomotive works and developing some of the coal seams discovered during the construction of the North Midland Railway as supervisor and investor of the subsequent mines. My stories end before George Stephenson’s retirement, but the end of “Spies and Subterfuge” shows Roberta, and the right man she has finally chosen to marry, are planning to work together in an industry where her Father’s position is that of advisor.

 

I have resumed writing my blog called Rustic Realizations at http://kester2.wordpress.com/ and am following the anniversaries of the first abdication of Napoleon in 1814 and the start of WWI in 1914—from our viewpoint in 2014. The first post, “to end all wars” is up now. This post is later than I promised, but I had both computers down before Christmas.

 

Roberta’s Journey through London.

December 17, 2013

 

In chapter ten of “Steam and Strategem” Roberta rides through London in a Hansom Cab with Lord Bond. The trip takes them from the Bricklayers’ Arms railway terminus on the Old Kent Road to the Admiralty in Whitehall. I doubt many residents of today’s London are familiar with the Bricklayers’ Arms Station because it has been a goods terminus for about a hundred years—ever since the passenger termini were shifted to Cannon Street and Charing Cross on the North side of the Thames where they had better connection to all the other railway termini.

 Image

Here is a Canaletto painting of the Thames with St Pauls dominating the skyline Roberta would see.

 Image

Once in Eastcheap Roberta sees some of the typical street scenes of the seamy side of Regency London.

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They travel via Cannon Street, St Paul’s Churchyard, to Ludgate Hill—I didn’t include a pic of St Pauls because there are so many modern ones. I decided to show Temple Bar because it was demolished in its original site going into Fleet Street, but has been rebuilt in a new site this century. This is the original site.

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Their destination is the Admiralty, and here is the front view with Robert Adam’s screen showing off its formal entry.

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The trip through London would be incomplete without showing St James Square where Roberta stayed in the rooms her father reserves for business trips to London. I picked Number Six St James as the actual house, purely because I found some pictures of the inside that let me use an actual setting. I will show those some other time.

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Well and truly Launched

November 23, 2013

This last weekend, 16th and 17th of November, was the book launch for “Steam and Strategem” at the Pure Speculation Festival in Edmonton. I made it up for the weekend and so did Margaret, the submissions (and everything else) editor for Tyche Books.

The driving was not good, but both of us had chosen to go up a day early and return a day later. So that way we both avoided the horrible weekend weather that had Highway 2 closed when all the ditches filled up with abandoned vehicles and there was no room for more. (I’m joking, but on Monday morning there were still over a dozen abandoned vehicles south of Leduc with police tape draped around them.)

The festival had a Steampunk theme, which was why Margaret had chosen to emphasize the steampunk features of my ‘Regency romance and steampunk’ novel and have us dress the steampunk part for the weekend. Well; I got out of them as much as possible once I learned that ‘civvies’ were okay for parts of the program. I had cobbled together some steampunk things (and it showed).

I selected most of my panels to teach me something about the Steampunk ethos, since I knew I was too clueless to pretend to be a steampunk author. The steam in my novel encompassed both ships and trains and as much ship building and pioneering issues as I could slip into the plot without readers expecting to have to write an engineering exam at the end of the novel. I believe I do have the same feelings for the ‘steam age’ as do longtime Steampunk enthusiasts and can claim that five of my seven published novels have important rolés for steam as well.

I also like airships. I have never been in one, but I was in the old airship hangar at Farnborough several times before B-Shed, as it was called, was taken down in the sixties. The frames have since been re-erected at Farnborough to commemorate the establishment’s beginning as the Royal Balloon Factory. If I may attempt another weak connection, my Mother told me she had seen the zeppelins caught in the searchlight beams in London during WWI.

The launch went quite well although my author reading could have been better if I’d remember to slow down. We sold some books and I autographed some—but somewhere shy of a million. Until the official release day, November 30th, information where to find pre-release copies can be found at http://tychebooks.com/book/steam-strategem/ afterwards they will be at all the usual outlets as e-books or POD paper.

Steampunk Ball

Steampunk Ball

I cannot end without a word or two about all those wonderful Steampunk people who made the weekend a fascinating success. The costumes were terrific, with the older men dressed and mannered like Queen Victoria’s parliament or armed forces, and the ladies either swaddled in elaborate finery or much less weighed down with unnecessary covering of their qualifications. I, as usual, gravitated to the ladies if I wanted to ask something and must not fail to thank Melissa and Sarah for their patient answering of my elementary questions. I think I feel a kinship to them all who share some of my contrarian instincts and while coping well with the twenty-first century prefer to celebrate the nostalgia they feel for the nineteenth. I have done my best to produce some fiction that compliments both their feelings and their love of stories of that bygone age.


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