Firebrand is go! I was hoping to hold off the official launch until it had made it to Amazon in paperback, but the wheels of Amazon are grinding slowly, so for the time being if you want a paperback you can buy direct from Lulu. Here’s the link to buy it in various formats:
It’s a steampunk fantasy romance inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s Angria novelettes, and featuring airships, plaid, a mechanical birdcage, de jure princesses, evil stepdaughters, and war by means of teapot. If you want to know more, you can read the first chapter for free here.
I started writing Firebrand when I was getting no further with Heavy Ice, the third Requite novel, and compared to the Requite books, it’s kind of a romp. It was certainly a lot easier to write: usually I count it as a good writing day when I manage 1000 words, but I was writing 3000 or 5000 day after day with no trouble at all. It comes from a lot of influences, but three of the major ones come from way, way back in the 1980s when I was growing up.
The first, of course, is Charlotte Bronte’s Angria novelettes. If you haven’t read them and you like her novels, get the Penguin Classics edition and give them a go. They’re a lot more approachable when they’re edited for readability, but I first ran across them in a lumbering great hardback full of intimidating angle-brackets in, of all places, the library of the College of Art where my mother was doing a degree, and I was hooked from the first page. You can see the beginning of Lucy Snowe’s slithery, protean unwillingness to be defined by her own narrative there, as well as the knockabout humour of the curates in Shirley and a sharp political awareness that contrasts with the swooning romance.
The second influence is Georgette Heyer’s novels, and in particular every single one where the heroine gets abducted in a carriage. I fell in love with the Duke of Avon in The Black Moth at around the same time I fell for the coincidentally named Avon in Blakes Seven, and while I think they would both make absolutely terrible husbands and I couldn’t bring myself to subject a heroine to settling down with anyone like them, I still like going and immersing myself in their adventures from time to time.
And thirdly, when I was doing A-levels I took social and economic history, and ended up coming away with an appreciation of how economies work that has stood me in good stead ever since. To Mr Cooke, who introduced me to drain reform, seed-drills, and the Improved Turnip: I don’t suppose you expected any of that to end up in a self-published romance novel twenty-five years down the line, but either way, I salute you.
I don’t know how to explain the airships. I think that one can probably be blamed on me being a big old Final Fantasy geek.
So, out you go into the world, Firebrand. I love you, you damn fool book.