Voyaging to Byzantium
One of the things I get asked often is do you do research for your steampunk stories? Yes, I do, but I often throw out most of what I discover and turn the facts inside out. To me, steampunk is, say, thirty percent based on real earth facts, like the Victorian age, and the rest is from the realm of the imagination. Since the contraptions and machinery in steampunk is unlikely to ever really be buildable, I think magic is a fair explanation of why everything works. Only instead of calling it magic we’re sneaky and throw in some clockwork and steam then, abracadabra, you have clockwork hearts and vehicles, and so on.
In Steel Dominance, I fiddled with names, I use the ancient name of Byzantium for Constantinople, instead of the name that we now recognize, Istanbul, and I created ‘gondolier’ airships.
This is the beginning of Steel Dominance:
To Dankyo, from six hundred feet up, the fleet of spotlighted ironclads in Salonika’s harbor seemed as imposing as rubber ducks in a bathtub. He turned from his sightseeing and wrapped his fingers about the thick gold rope that ran up to the balloon, bracing himself against the push of the wind. The partygoers on this opulent gondolier airship were getting into the mood of these early New Year celebrations. Eleven o’clock by his pocket watch. The overhead blue and yellow voltaic lights swayed and sent shadows tilting.
The ambassador from Byzantium had brought his own entertainment. Two slave girls rose gracefully from their kneeling position at the clap of his hands. Both were veiled beneath their eyes by fine silver mesh. The other guests, in their suits and flamboyant gowns, moved to the edges of the gondolier.
One of the side effects of being an expert advisor for the Hellene government was receiving invitations to soirees like this. So long as he didn’t have to talk, this was pleasant.
Blurb for Steel Dominance:
A brilliant researcher, Sofia must unravel the ancient puzzle of the Clockwork Warrior or her career will be in tatters. Yet the tomb of the warrior is in the dangerous city of Byzantium, inside the harem of the Emperor. She knew she’d have to pose as a slave – but not that her “owner” would be the incredibly bossy, gorgeous bodyguard she’s been assigned.
A life of military duty has left Dankyo unprepared for Sofia. He’s never met a woman quite like this. She’s smart and beautiful, and she’s something that he’s finding almost irresistible – despite the way she fights against masquerading as his slave, she’s submissive right down to the bottom of her soul. And that’s bringing out every dominant instinct in his body.
But even as he realizes she’s captured his heart, the city explodes into madness. Surviving seems impossible. Can love and a Dom who will never give up overcome sheer bloody-minded evil?
I also made up a new name for the ruler, the Emperor-bey, and I made up a bunch of fun things like propaganda-writing clockwork spiders. To me, writing should fascinate me. So whether that’s writing hot BDSM sex scenes or the setting, I make it fun. Sometimes I combine those two. Like here:
Something small and cold skittered across her backside, leaving lines and dots of pain.
Sofia flinched and swung her head. “What was that?”
From the feel of it, Dankyo had scooped something up. He moved in so his thighs jammed hers into the desk. Then the rhythmic quaking of his body on hers puzzled her a moment. “Are you laughing? What was it?”
“This.” He held a golden metal creature the size of her palm before her eyes.
“Oh!” She jerked her head back. It wriggled…had many legs. And damn, it reminded her of a cross between a spider and a crab.
“It’s a clockie,” Dankyo said. He put a squarish glass jar on the desk, dropped the creature in, and screwed on the lid. “The Ottomans bombard Byzantium with them every Tuesday or so.”
“Ugh.” She peered at it, her thoughts strung between the feel of Dankyo’s body pressing on her and watching the thing scrabbling about in the jar. “What are they for?”
“They write religious graffiti. Don’t worry. It only got as far as G.”
“On your ass. G is for God.”
Oh hell. And now he really was laughing. “Damn you! Stop that!” She squirmed about to shout at him, but he only leaned in and squashed her flat with his whole body.
“Shh. Stay there. I’m not finished with you yet.”
And that statement made her freeze. Clockie a foot from her nose, some writing on her throbbing sore ass, but with him on top of her, the world drifted far, far away.
Nothing much happened after that. He lay on her, breathing softly, holding her down, at times playing with her hair. The weight of him was enough to keep her still but not hurt her, enough to keep her from escaping or wriggling, and slowly, like a tide washing in and filling a rock pool, his presence filled her up. A word came to her that seemed to sum up how she felt. Possession.
So don’t be scared of reading or writing steampunk stories, throw yourself in headfirst like I do, and swim hard. You’ll get yourself somewhere and it’s guaranteed to be fascinating, hot, and chock full of shiny ticking gadgets and goggles, and we mustn’t forget the corsets either.
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Link to my books page on my website where I will put buylinks such as one to Amazon, and a link to a longer excerpt: