To continue my series of posts about NaNoWriMo, this week I’m telling you about my 2018 project.
I had an idea for a Steampunk novel, in the style of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It would be set in Norlandia, the same country as my other Steampunk adventures but at a different time, some years after the events in those books, when their heroes were historical figures. It meant that I had less world-building to do, just a little updating of the scientific advances made since the days of those stories.
It began as a tale about Jackson, an orphan who discovered a secret. By the end of the story, he’s fallen in love and helped save the world from a megalomaniac! The story has all sorts of strange but ever-so-slightly logical Steampunk science, a sprinkling of fantastic machines, action and adventure. Mostly they are things that you might be familiar with, just different enough to show that you’re not in Kansas anymore.
I finished the story early in 2019, had it edited and sent it out to my beta readers. This is what one thought,
The Sensaurum and the Lexis, it starts off slow with a lot of building both of world and character, but once it lets loose it takes off like a shot! I loved how it branched off from A New Life In Ventis, but was still completely its own being. It’s a fantastical world filled with gears, pneumatics, airships, and intrigue aplenty that kept everyone on their toes. It has that rare ability to pull you deep into the story even when things are building and moving slowly, you sit down to read for a few minutes and all of a sudden; its hours later! In the beginning, the characters portray as pretty flat, one-dimensional beings but as you read they come alive and by the end, it’s as if they are living and breathing people. All in all; it’s another spectacular read that very clearly shows the hard work and love that has been poured into it! I always try to balance a positive with a criticism, but honestly, I wouldn’t change a single thing about it! I loved it and thank you for the opportunity to review this jewel!
Here’s the Blurb
In a world of steam and clockwork, evil forces are at work.
Jackson Thwaite is unaware of the constant battles fought to keep Norlandia safe. After the accident that took his parents, he’s just another poor soul in Makewright Orphanage, surviving is the only thing on his mind.
He’s about to learn that the orphanage hides a secret. Jackson has been selected to join the ranks of the Orphan Detectives; a secret group dedicated to maintaining the peace and stability of the realm. Jessamine Batterlee, a seasoned detective, is to be his teacher. But could she ever become more than that?
Their foe, in Jackson’s first case with the detectives, is armed with the latest devices that perverted science has devised. Control of Norlandia and everyone in it is his ultimate aim.
All that stands between civilisation and anarchy are Jackson, Jessamine, and the rest of The Orphan Detectives. Jackson, although he doesn’t know it, holds the key to success or failure.
Lives will be lost and saved; dangers will be faced. Hard decisions must be taken. Can Jackson and Jessamine survive when all seems lost?
Here’s a little sample from the story. Jackson had discovered that he is to be trained to spy for his new master, the enigmatic Mortimer Langdon. He is given an example of the technology of the times, a slightly different take on what we do here, yet within the realm of possibility.
“We’re all prepared outside. Sir Mortimer, ma’am,” Fairview spoke in the accent of a man from the wild, forbidding northern parts of the country.
“Good. Come on then Jackson, you’re about to find out what your new boots can do. Did you feel the lump in the sole? It has a purpose.”
Intrigued and excited, Jackson fell in with the rest as they moved outside. He prodded at the lump with his toe, but nothing happened.
They went through the door in the panelling of the basement room and arrived in a small courtyard, between the back of the house and the tall wall that encircled the orphanage. It was hidden by the shape of the building and Jackson had never guessed at its existence before now. The wall was at least fifteen feet high, of red brick with a small door set in it. Gas lamps threw dark shadows.
Jackson gazed about. He thought that he saw movement; a figure came from the shadows and moved towards them. He saw that it was a girl; in fact, it was one that he recognised. Appearing to be about his age, she was tall and pleasantly rounded, with long dark hair piled on her head. It was secured with an ornate metal pin, shaped like two entwined swans. Jackson had often wondered how she had retained it from the light-fingered among the females, now he was starting to understand a lot more of the hierarchy of the orphanage, he was seeing all things differently.
“Jessamine Batterlee,” he said, “What are you doing here?”
She smiled, “I’m to be your accomplice Jackson, I see you have the boots, like mine.”
Jackson looked down at her feet. Peeping out from beneath her skirts were the toes of boots, highly polished like his. He had never noticed her wearing them before, and he had stolen more than a glance at her when he thought he was unnoticed.
Now, she tugged at her waist and the skirts fell away. Underneath, she was clad in trousers not unlike his, except they were tighter. Jack felt embarrassment, he had never seen a woman dressed so, never guessed at the shape that was revealed. The narrowness of her waist was emphasised by the wide black belt she wore, the hips full, the legs long and shapely.
Jessamine was obviously unconcerned with her new appearance. “Follow me, Jackson,” she called, running toward the wall. Jackson was about to shout at her to be careful, it seemed that she could not stop before she dashed herself against the brick. She jumped at the vertical face, swinging her feet up to kick at the wall. Jackson fancied that he heard a click as she stuck fast, her feet three feet from the ground. Then she started to climb, moving up the wall as a babe crawls over the floor. It was as if the wall were horizontal. She swiftly reached the top and sat astride the bricks, her leg swinging. She waved down at him.
“Well Jackson?” said Mrs Grimble, “your turn. What are you waiting for?”
Jackson looked at her, aghast. “How can I do that?” he asked.
“You climb with the boots on the brick, and you wear these on your hands.” Mrs Grimble passed Jackson a pair of fingerless gloves, “press the fingers and palms onto the brick,” she said, “and kick the toe of your boots against the wall, you will stick.”
Jackson reached up and placed the palm of the right glove against the wall. He tried to pull it away, it was firm. He lifted his left boot and kicked at the wall with the toe. There was a click and when he tried to pull it away, he found that it too, was stuck fast.
“How?” he asked.
“Does it matter?” came the swift reply from the new Mrs Grimble. “Just climb.”
“No,” Jackson shook his head, he was becoming uncomfortable, attached to the wall as he was, by one hand and one foot, but he wanted answers.
“Tell me how to move,” he demanded, “my hand and foot are stuck.”
“This one will be trouble,” Mrs Grimble said to no one in particular. “It will all be explained, Jackson, but now is not the time. You merely have to adjust your position so that you remove the weight, do that and your hands and feet will release.”
Jackson tried it and found it to be true. He put his left hand on the wall, slightly higher and transferred all his weight on it. He lifted his right. It came away easily and he moved it higher and placed it against the wall again. Swinging, his hand held him tight. He tried the same with his feet. Now he had the method, he began to climb easily.
He reached the top, feeling unfit and out of breath. Muscles unused to such exercise ached as he straddled the bricks, sitting facing Jessamine. She was grinning, her teeth white and even.
I’ve fallen in love with the world I’ve created and had so much fun exploring some of its possibilities.
The Sensaurum and the Lexis was published in March 2020.
I already have an idea for a sequel, featuring another threat to the peace of Norlandia. This time it will be an adventure on the high seas, a threat from outside the country.
At the moment, it’s called The Safety of the Realm. Here’s the first concept of the cover. It needs reworking to fit with the new style I’ve adopted.
I hope that you’re enjoying this journey through my NaNo history. Please leave a comment below. Next week, I’ll tell you about my 2019 project. If you’ve been writing and you’ve managed to keep up with the word count so far, well done. If you haven’t got to your target, don’t be disheartened. Credit is due for trying; it’s not the end of the world, nothing you write is ever wasted. I hope you’re enjoying yourself and that you have the basis for something amazing.
Here are links to the whole series of NaNoWriMo posts,
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