We are very honoured and excited to welcome Rhys Ford to Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews today… Woohoo! …a new visitor, we got the best China out and even cleaned up the place, so we are hoping it will be the first of many! Rhys is with us to chat about the release today of her new book Clockwork Tangerine and her fascination with Steampunk, so less of me, and more of what you are really here for…
A Word from Rhys Ford
By the time this blog piece is posted, I’ll have a steampunk novella called Clockwork Tangerine published by Dreamspinner Press.
A scary fucking thing.
Not so much the publishing. This is… however many numbered piece I’ve had published. No, what is daunting about this is the genre: steampunk. A genre only slightly less terrifying to write than a historical.
Why terrifying? Because steampunk—for me—is all about one thing.
The science of magic and the magic of science.
See, for me, steampunk should have a bit of magic in it. Now not always. Well, not for someone else’s writing or even visual media. Some of the most epic “steampunk” pieces were created before the word came into existence. Shows like Wild Wild West with Robert Conrad (and his glorious ass) were successful way before the word was even whispered in loud mockery of the term cyberpunk. Other authors—better authors than me—not only dabbled in the genre but defined it. Verne, Wells, Lovecraft and others took ideas that were maybe plausible in their day and turned them into fantastical tales.
But in all of it, there was a thread of unimaginable fantasy mingled in with the hard heat of reality.
Much like owning a cat (or being owned by a cat), the author’s dreams and reality are quite divergent. The cat owner hopes to cuddle with its feline but the reality of it is, one is often left with a gassy feline who takes up a good portion of the bed—much more than a 21 inch long cat can take. For an author writing steampunk there is a fantasy of being able to manipulate these strings of mechanicals and characters to a cohesive thing of beauty.
The reality of it is? How the hell do you balance world building with vivid characters? And in my case, within a novella.
The novella part made it much harder. Its length definitely cuts short any long themes I might have wanted to explore but there was enough room to do some jabs at Robin’s and Marcus’ personality. Robin was to be a beaten crow of a man; intelligent and wing-torn. Marcus would be come the one to rescue the bird and try to rehabilitate it to fly again.
You see, Clockwork Tangerine is really about flying again.
I’ve never had a character I’ve had to destroy and then build up in so little time. But it was a challenge and one I wanted to take on. See, I love historicals. I love steampunk. I wanted a character-driven story with a world as dark and gritty as any Victorian penny dreadful. It had to possess the language of the time and the flavour of peat in the air. A reader of steampunk should find a sooty taste in their mind and catch a whiff of burning coal when they pick up that story.
But there should also be oolong tea and lemon drops but no story should be all dark and storms. Okay, unless you’re Dickens because dude, that man could pen some angst.
With steampunk, the author actually has a kind of an out for historical inaccuracies. This includes a BUNCH of things like words. I can’t tell you how many times my brain’s used a word then I had to go back to see when it entered use. Some are definitely current but others you’d think were actually date back much further than you imagine. And some I thought were old are quite young.
I thought gobsmacked would be old. Apparently, according to the Oxford dictionary, it only dates back to the 1980s. How very Adam Ant of it. I still call shenanigans.
Marcus and Robin were a lot of fun to write. The key to a novella is trying to pack as much of the flavour of the world into the characters as you can.
So, my suggestion to anyone wanting to write a steampunk novel, do a little research but most of all, just dream. Don’t be held back by the tech available but rather find a way to work around it. Concentrate mostly on your character because really, that’s why we all show up in the genre. Developing the background world is very important, but it is a background. No matter how vivid the picture is painted, if the figures in the foreground are only sticks and circles, it won’t be very interesting.
And for a novella, it’s even harder because really, not a lot of space there. But oh, the possibilities.
I’m Rhys Ford. I am an author and also a reader. You can find me at the following places:
And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.
Clockwork Tangerine by Rhys Ford
Title ~ Clockwork Tangerine
Author ~ Rhys Ford
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ Steampunk M/M Romance
Release Date ~ 19th February 2014
Rating ~ 4.5 Stars
The British Empire reigns supreme, and its young Queen Victoria has expanded her realm to St. Francisco, a bustling city of English lords and Chinese ghettos. St. Francisco is a jewel in the Empire’s crown and as deeply embroiled in the conflict between the Arcane and Science as its sister city, London—a very dark and dangerous battle.
Marcus Stenhill, Viscount of Westwood, stumbles upon that darkness when he encounters a pack of young bloods beating a man senseless. Westwood’s duty and honor demand he save the man, but he’s taken aback to discover the man is Robin Harris, a handsome young inventor indirectly responsible for the death of Marcus’s father.
Living in the shadows following a failed coup, Robin devotes his life to easing others’ pain, even though his creations are considered mechanical abominations of magicks and science. Branded a deviant and a murderer, Robin expects the viscount to run as far as he can—and is amazed when Marcus reaches for him instead.
How would you feel and how would you react if you came across a man being beaten senseless by four young bucks only to find after you'd rescued him that you'd actually saved the person who almost brought your Queens Empire to its knees with his mad inventions. The very man also responsible for the death of your father?
That's the dilemma for Marcus Stenhill or given his true title, Viscount Westwood... third son of a Duke but a man more comfortable in the boxing ring than in fine society. When that exact scenario happens to him whilst he's in St Francisco's Little Orient, searching for a particular Jasmine tea for his favourite grandmother, he's suddenly thrust into a position in which he has to make choices that could reflect on his family honour and his esteem amongst his peers.
What makes things worse is the instant attraction he feels for the badly beaten man when he first sees him, because secretly Marcus has feelings for members of his own sex, a practice which in this Steampunk reality is against the law and punishable by first being physically branded a sodomite then imprisonment in New Bedlam, an isolated Island prison. He's shocked to discover that the man whose neck he's just saved is Robin Harris, 'The Toyman,' a notorious scientist who's talents for mingling science and the arcane had created mechanical killing machines for the enemies of the empire... The Society. The inventor of a leftover dangerous, mechanical contraption called a Skitter, that had lay dormant, hidden, until its sudden reactivation killed his father in the House Of Lords.
Things aren't as they seem though and as Marcus nurses Robin back to health with the help of a feisty lady doctor he comes to realise that Robin is far from an evil scientist. He sees how Robin is now using his knowledge of arcane science to create amazing contraptions that help the sick and disabled, he also learns the truth about how he was indoctrinated by The Society as a fourteen year old boy and his genius devices twisted to suit the purpose of the industrialists intent on bringing down the Queens Empire, and he slowly falls in love with this fascinating man who feels nothing but guilt for his part in the revolution and who tries to push him away for fear of tarnishing his reputation.
" ...I refuse to let you go, my mad scientist. I would rather live as a Bedlamite with you than as an aristocrat with an empty soul. I told you, I know what I'm risking. And that is you. If I don't do this—if I don't spend my life listening to you, breathing you in...waking up next to you, then I've lost everything. That is what I am risking—a life without the man who makes me feel alive."
I REALLY enjoyed this Steampunk love story because I have a soft spot for alternate history's, which In this story is an alternative Victorian era, mixed with flashes of science fiction, a dash of arcane magic and fantastical steam powered industrial machines, vehicles and automatons.
Then for a die hard, m/m fan like myself to also get a deliciously steamy, sensual romance between two captivating men who should be enemies but who's sexually tense attraction overrides any bad histories between them, just makes it all the more delicious.
The only thing that stopped this from being a full five star read, was the length. I'll admit it, I was greedy! I'd love to have seen more of the two of them getting to know each other as Robin healed, and behind the romance, which was obviously the main focus of the novella, there were also some really tantalising, thought provoking images of a world and a history that sometimes were only mentioned in passing, leaving me wanting more, so I'm hoping one day Rhys will expand on it and perhaps flesh it all out in a full length novel.
In the words of William Blake... " In the universe there are things that are known and there are things that are unknown and in between there are doors! "
I'd definitely go through one of Rhys Fords ' between universe doors' again. I Loved it!
Click the link below to order NOW from Dreamspinner Press
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE
(Buy Links will be attached as soon as it goes live)
About Rhys Ford
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats, a black Pomeranian puffball, a bonsai wolfhound, and a ginger cairn terrorist.
Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.
But mostly to the coffee maker.
email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Rhys Ford is very generously gifting to one lucky reader a $20 Gift Card for Amazon, all you need to do is enter your details in the Rafflecopter below.