It is my great pleasure to welcome Laura Strickland to Novel Magic this week. With at least 26 books under her belt (according to Goodreads) Laura writes historical romance and magical tales. Her latest, Steel Kisses, is the third in her Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series–and it has everything Sorchia’s Universe requires! But Laura can tell you about it more eloquently than I can.
A Walk Down a Dark Street. . .Steampunk Style
by Laura Strickland
Imagine you’re walking down a dark, narrow street in a shadowed city. It might be Victorian London, it might be Toronto or Boston, San Francisco or—dare I suggest—even nineteenth-century Buffalo on the Niagara Frontier. The buildings lean toward you overhead like tipsy old ladies and up ahead through the ground mist you see…
What is that? An automaton, with a glimmer of light from the street lamps winking off its silvery surface? A Jack-the-Ripper type figure, his weapon concealed behind his back? A part-mechanical, part-human hybrid with a telescoping arm? A monster? Or perhaps your heart’s desire?
Why do readers love to read (and writers to write) Steampunk? Speaking as an author, I love the intricacy of the world building, part reality and part fantastical imagining all blended together seamlessly. I love letting my mind off its leash and weaving the unlikely and improbable into a believable whole. I love the black humor, and indulging my dark side.
And why, you may ask, set such mad, dark and dangerous stories in Buffalo, New York of all places? As a native of that oft-beleaguered city, I can testify it’s the perfect setting. Natives of Buffalo, mostly immigrants and the descendants of them, definitely have their dark sides. The humor is black and self-deprecating. And they’re tough. Used to losing, they’re also used to fighting back against most anything. Like blizzards, crazed scientists, evil undertakers and the builders of mechanical prostitutes.
Unleash your dark side; take a walk in my Steampunk Buffalo, and see for yourself. All are welcome here and the weirder you are, the better you’ll fit in. Come take a look at what lies at the end of that street, and find your heart’s desire.
Newest release in the Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series:
Steel Kisses: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
Other titles in series (in order):
Dead Handsome: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
Off Kilter: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
Sheer Madness: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
Steel Kisses: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
Reynold Michaels might not be the smartest man in the city, but he knows a beautiful woman when he sees one. The lovely creature he
watches disembark from the steam tram every morning simply cannot be a prostitute…or an automaton. Yet at the high-priced bordello where she works he discovers she’s not only a hybrid mechanical, she’s funny, vulnerable, and quite possibly the missing piece of his heart.
Lily Landry understands that as an automaton she isn’t entitled to make her own choices. She must do as instructed or face the ultimate horror of being shut down. But when she forms a bond with Reynold, she quickly learns what it means to desire a life of her own. In a city conflicted over automaton rights, can they hope for a future together?
Interested? Here’s a little more steam!
“What happens to humans when they die? Do you know?”
Lily posed the question to Chastity, who sat beside her on the bed. The two of them awaited the arrival of a client, a very wealthy man who had booked the two of
them together. Not for the first time—this man as well as several others sometimes requested the service. This particular client invariably requested Lily and Chastity
Lily did not mind that part. She did not suppose herself capable of friendship as such, but she felt comfortable with Chastity, as much as possible in the
The client—who liked to be called MonsieurGrand—liked them to be naked when he entered the chamber, so they were, their bodies nearly identical except for hair and skin color.
Chastity gave Lily a look out of deep, black eyes. “It was not installed in my intelligence.”
“Nor mine. But we hear things. And learn—acquire—information.”
“Yes. We have been instructed not to kill.”
One of the first edicts, an absolute: You will not harm humans no matter what they ask you to do. You will never kill a human.
Chastity offered, “I sometimes think about killing humans…clients.”
Lily had to admit, “As do I.” She had thought about killing the human who bit her. Forbidden.
“Humans are weak—fragile—and easy to kill. There are many ways. The strength of my hands on a human’s throat. A kick to the jaw, a pillow held over the face. I believe if I wished I could break the rib cage and extract the heart.”
Lily said nothing, but the thought came to her that Reynold did not feel weak. When she touched him, she felt stronger.
Chastity said, “We could kill our client when he is shown in. Then we would not have to do the things he asks.”
A daring proposition. Lily narrowed her eyes and thought about it. “What would happen after?” Shut off.
“Shut off,” Chastity confirmed. “At least we would not have to do these things anymore.”
Lily would never see Reynold again.
“Unless,” Chastity proposed, “we escape.”
That made Lily turn and examine her sister. Chastity looked so emotionless, so calm sitting there in her naked perfection. But when Lily engaged her eyes she saw…what? Some of the thoughts that occupied her own intelligence.
“Is that possible?” To leave this building other than to walk to the tram and thence to their dormitory? Lily had never been anywhere else. “Guards at every door.”
“Mechanicals like us. I have been examining the possibilities of disabling them.”
“Yes?” Lily could manage no more.
“Yes. It would need to be done very early, when we first arrive, before Dr. Landry comes. If we disable the mechanicals…”
“Miss Crump is human. It is forbidden.”
“We might be able to overwhelm Miss Crump without harming her. Tie her up.”
“Nadia is rarely here in the morning.”
Lily could feel her artificial intelligence clicking over, examining the possibilities.“Now that there are more of us, it should be easier.”
“The new girls will not participate.”
“You are right. They are still stupid. They have not learned. But they may provide cover for the rest of us.”
Lily looked into Chastity’s eyes again. She repeated in a whisper, “What do you think happens to humans when they die?”
A knock sounded on the door, the steamie ushering up the client.
Both automatons got to their feet.
Chastity whispered back, “I don’t suppose it would be wise to find out just yet.”
If you don’t already know her, learn more about Laura Strickland.
Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. She believes the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher, and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of evil automatons? Well, just maybe.
Catch up with Laura here:
Grab a copy of Steel Kisses at any of these purveyors of fine literature.