Do you remember those ‘Next Big Thing’ posts around last year when we writers answer a selection of questions about our manuscripts? In this post I will do pretty much the same, introducing and chatting about my work last month. (I did a similar thing last year for DMWT.)
How did I do? I completed NaNoWriMo, definitely! My total wordcount is now at 68-thousand words and 28 chapters, which, excluding the first chapter of 3.5-thousand I wrote down the day after I dreamt it and the plan at the bottom of the document, is about 65-thousand, wayyy over the 50K target. 😀 So, it’s definitely big enough to call a novel, a manuscript, and I am jumping up and down to tell you a bit more about the cast of this intriguing tale. I mean – it’s intriguing to me, and I love waking up and thinking “let’s crack this story!”
My little blurb as I write is:
After witnessing The Passing of ghosts in New York she’s been trying to avoid for 22 years, English linguist Cathleen loses her betrothed, Alexander Sterling – what’s more, rumours abound that it’s the ghosts who have stolen him. But Alexander’s a smart man. Best friends with New Yorkist Charles Bell, he knows well enough to stay away from The Passing. So, who has taken Alexander? And, worse – the question Cathleen doesn’t dare think about – why?
So, yeah, you’ve got a dash of alternate history with the main fantasy element of Steampunk, and a little spoonful of paranormal, though I’ve tried not to make that the main element to the travel adventure/mystery, despite how the above might make it seem. In a way, the story is more about the lengths the main character is prepared to go to understand her world in one last mode of freedom before she settles down. Just like any protagonist, her growth is an important part of the story.
Cathleen ‘Cathy’ Chattoway is the main character, full of raw elegance. In terms of weirdly pairing characters with other fictional images, I’d say Elizabeth Swann – but without the pirate element. So, Curse of The Black Pearl Elizabeth, with the grace and stuffiness, but room for manoeuvre. Despite her entomologist parents’ absence during her childhood, she is somewhat against the highest class for their mindless lack of care for others at times. She grew up within the edge of riding from the Sterling family’s estate, and, with both sets of parents’ interest in travel, it’s not surprising that the younger Sterling brother and Cathy grew close.
As a pair, of course, she goes well with Will Turner, but, again, not the pirate aspect. Just the personality of Will.
Or maybe not. That’s in the air.
Anyway, Alexander, Squire of the Sterling estate as opposed to his brother The Honourable Jules, has always felt in his brother’s shadow, though that has not stopped him from following his passion of theoretical maths. Yes, Maths is his passion. He met Charles when the Sterling family ventured to New York, and, as expected, took an interest in The Passing of phantasms. From that moment forward, Alexander kept contact with Charles and often takes the English dirigibles to the Americas. In the back of his mind, too, the nubile face of Cathleen glowed, but Alexander kept his aloof distance lest she think him out of place.
His best friend and guardian to Cathy when she’s in New York is Charles Bell, unlicensed physician and general man of curios. Think Ted Mosby, but steampunk. Whilst Charles seems open and friendly at first – what with his income being from the people who visit his abode on an almost daily basis to watch the sun set and The Passing arrive – but he is slow to trust, especially if a first impression has been less than favourable.
In particular, Jonathon Hartley makes Charles’ and Cathy’s eyebrows rise when they encounter him. I’m not really sure of his appearance, but he carries a suave, not-be-budged personality that has irked Cathy and Charles. Nevertheless, and in spite of his secrets, Jonathon has a moral compass worthy of the expedition to find Alexander. He takes a shine to the cartographer of the small aerostat, but Cathy deduces that Jonathon is a ladies’ man in his moments.
Of course, as this is a travel story in part, we’d be nowhere without the crew. One, in particular, strikes up a friendship with Cathy, but, in this age of flighty women and foreign ways, who knows how long it will last? There are actually very few women, apart from Cathy, in the story. Her governess/guardian, her erstwhile best friend Delia, and the female crewman.
Amelia West, cartographer, reminds me of Helga from Atlantis, in appearance, mostly. Elegant, sassy. And she’d be a furry if she lived in modern day. She adores travel, the wind and her pet carrier-owl, Albert; she despises betrayal, death and people who fail to take her seriously. After all, she learnt her cartography at the Royal College of Science, London. Not many can say that. Although never revealed in the story, I’d love to understand her background and what first influenced her love of the sky.
Of course, the setting is the sparkle on the character cake. The story is set in three different locations. It starts in New York, zooms to London, then to the Amalfi coast of Italy, and back to New York. It almost goes full circle, one might say. Your arbitrary steampunk skyline to finish off:
Is that Amelia and Jonathon there? They’d make a cute couple, though I’m not sure she reciprocates.
Oh, and I can officially announce the title:
Yay! If you’re interested, check out my Pinterest board of all things Steampunk: http://www.pinterest.com/AlexBrantWriter/steampunk/