Synopsis: Ever since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, they proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.
Now, one century later, a plantation in the flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby. A tomboy who shares her father’s deft hand with complex automatons. Being raised on the Martian frontier by her Martian nanny, Arabella is more a wild child than a proper young lady. Something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.
Arabella soon finds herself trying to navigate an alien world until a dramatic change in her family’s circumstances forces her to defy all conventions in order to return to Mars in order to save both her brother and the plantation. To do this, Arabella must pass as a boy on the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company with a mysterious Indian captain who is intrigued by her knack with automatons. Arabella must weather the naval war between Britain and France, learning how to sail, and a mutinous crew if she hopes to save her brother from certain death.
What draws you to writing science fiction? Do you think you’ll explore other genres in the future?
I’ve been an SF and Fantasy reader since I was a kid. I caught the SF bug from my dad, who read the pulps in the 30s and 40s and brought me up on tales of Barlennan and Gully Foyle. I started writing my own SF in middle school, and never stopped except for a 20-year break during which I was a technical writer in my day job and writing fiction was too much like work. As far as writing other fiction genres… though many of my SF and Fantasy stories incorporate horrific, humorous, mysterious, or romantic elements, I don’t ever see myself writing stories in those genres per se.
The cover of Arabella of Mars possesses a steampunk light. Can you find any of that in the book?
Heck yeah! The cover design was suggested by me and it expresses the “feel” of the book tremendously well. I describe Arabella of Mars as “steampunkish” rather than “steampunk,” because there is no steam power in it as such. However, steam power was in use during the equivalent period of real history, and Arabella does include coal-burning furnaces, the manufacture of charcoal, and plenty of clockwork automata. Finally, if you define steampunk as “science fiction based on obsolete technology,” Arabella has that in spades. So although I myself wouldn’t call the book steampunk, I don’t object if other people do. (Kim Stanley Robinson used the word “sailpunk” to describe it.)
Do you have a particular writing process or ritual that helped you write this book?
When starting a project, I open a new “notes” file and just begin typing as though I were talking out loud, working out the worldbuilding, character, and plot details. I will natter on for thousands and thousands of words before I begin drafting, always just adding to the end of the file in a continuous scroll. I outline the plot, sketch out characters, paste in bits of research, and write a lot of “what would happen if…” and “maybe he does this because…” statements. Eventually I begin drafting and the notes file becomes a diary of wordcount progress as well as a place for working out problems that arise during the writing and editing process. By the time the book is done, the notes file might be three or four times the size of the book itself.
Blog Tour Schedule:
July 8 – The Qwillery
July 11 – Dark Faerie Tales
July 12 – Sci-Fi Chick
July 13 – Powder and Page
July 14 – Ageless Pages Reviews
July 15 – Fantasy Literature
July 18 – Fantasy Book Critic
July 19 – Bookwraiths
July 20 – Between Dreams and Reality
July 21 – On Starships and Dragonwings
July 22 – The Arched Doorway