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.
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.