Thursday, August 02, 2012

A masquerade and operetta as steampunk fantasy

When I found myself without a job in April 2011, I decided to self-publish my crime novel Justified. To test the waters, I first published a compilation of recipes and essays from my online food column, and began Kali, The Food Goddess series.

Soon, I followed that with mini-memoirs and a couple of short stories.

It was almost an unconscious decision: I was going to publish as many possible genres as possible. As long as I was going to embark on an experiment, I might as well make it an interesting challenge, because that's the way I roll...

I am grateful that I have managed to sell books and have received royalties every quarter I’ve been published. But the point was never the money, it was the accomplishment itself. Could I do it? The success, for me, is in creating.

With Chronicles of Ash, I can check off yet another genre in my quest to write in as many different genres as possible. The challenge with this series is to write something fun, dynamic and vibrant but also absolutely fantastical without being too derivative that combines sci-fi and alternative historical fiction. Mostly, it was very important for me to have a female lead.

Planned as a nine-book steampunk-inspired fantasy series, Chronicles of Ash introduces us to Ashleigh Peters, a sassy young Brooklynite who is mysteriously sucked into another world that is both bizarre and familiar.

In Vol. 0 – Ash to Ashes, the action begins well into our story as Ash, her attendant and an old lunatic simply known as the Maestro test a human flying machine from a cliff in Eleusis. The chronicles then flashes back to Ashleigh’s last days on Earth and we meet her family, learn of her life in Brooklyn, and what she leaves behind as she is transported to this new world.

As the story begins, we get the hint that Ashleigh’s travels may not have been a fluke of nature, that there is a reason, a force guiding it. This fact is what propels the series forward, and as her chronicler points out, puts into question whether Ashleigh is some sort of savior or an agent of nefarious forces.

I tried to incorporate humor, adventure, a twisty alternative history, some quirky steampunk-inspired elements and even a little bit of romance (not the gushy type, trust me).

The series is both a travelogue and diary of Ashleigh’s life as she unravels the mysteries of Eleusis and how she came to it. We meet some familiar characters, but none are what we assume them to be. Will she ever learn how or why she was brought to this New World? Will Ash be accepted or condemned? More importantly, will she ever find her way back home? The books also explore the action back on Earth, as her family and friends try to make sense of her disappearance.

A free excerpt is available here:

The e-book version, in several popular formats, can be found at Smashwords and will roll out to other online retailers in August 2012. A Kindle and paperback version will also be available at Amazon.

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