Gaslamp Fortnight: A Steampunk Book Tour – October 27th – November 7th
Authors L.A. Witt, Alexis Hall, and Cornelia Grey come together on a Steampunk book tour to celebrate the releases of Precious Metals, Prosperity, and Circus of the Damned. Join us on adventures through the lawless, untamed, kraken-infested skies! Trek the snowy wilds of the Klondike in the company of a Mountie! Visit a soul-stealing circus where entertainment is at your own risk! Riptide's Gaslamp Fortnight will tempt you with the steampunk and gaslamp worlds of Cornelia Grey, Alexis Hall, and L.A. Witt.
And Gaslamp Fortnight is featuring a fabulous giveaway! Comment on the tour stops for a chance to
win a $250 gift certificate to Harlots and Angels Steampunk Corsetry and get your own custom corset or personalized steampunk gear.
Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.
But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.
Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.
Grab your copy of The Circus Of The Damned now from Riptide Publishing!
***** 5 Stars!
Gilbert Blake is a man on the run from Count Reuben, a vicious crime lord, who finds solace in the Circus of the Damned. He makes a deal with the evil Farfarello, selling his soul with no hope for escape. Now trapped within the Circus, surrounded by others he deems as freaks, Gilbert will have to learn to accept himself as one of them and embrace his magic if he hopes to survive and keep his soul.
Jesse is the alluring Ringmaster of the Circus who can wield fire that is as bright and radiant as his long, flowing red hair. Jesse is the protector of what Gilbert calls the freaks, the ragtag group of misfits that encompass the Circus. The octopus man, the bearded dwarf, a super muscled gal, conjoined twins, elephants, bears and so many more. It takes some time, but not only does Gilbert start to accept these people as his family, he learns how to accept his gift as well and falls in love with the sexy Ringmaster Jesse.
When the time comes, what choice will Gilbert make? Will he try to win back his soul from Farfarello, or will he stay with Circus, with the man who sets his heart on fire.
While I loved the passion and the way Gilbert used his magic so seductively on Jesse, I think the heart of this story was Gilbert finding his way as an individual. He always thought of himself as only a magician, thought he didn’t belong in the Circus with the other freaks. Somewhere along the way he figures out he is just as much a freak as the rest of them, and more so, it’s where he belongs. And while Jesse is alluring and tempting with his appearance and in absolute control of his fire, his reason for staying, for being the Ringmaster, is to protect his family within the Circus.
This story is wildly imaginative and very creative. The world that Grey has built is so intricate and detailed, I’m seriously shocked this is her first full length novel, the writing and depth of the story and characters was so precise. There is a little bit of American Horror Story Freak Show, mixed with The Night Circus but written for the MM genre of fans in mind. If you are a fan of magic, steampunk, paranormal, unlikely romance or just a very well written story, then you are going to love this one.
The pub was a crammed underground hole without a single window, the atmosphere rank and suffocating. A narrow wooden door opened on steep iron stairs, encrusted with years’ worth of mud and grease. Drunken patrons yelled and drank and lay passed out in corners, after wasting entire paychecks on dice and cards. In the sawdust-covered pit, bloodstained by a hundred fistfights, a fellow was turning the handle of a potbellied instrument that sounded like a choir of skinned cats.
“So, ready to pick a card, mate? My balls are shriveling up over here,” Gilbert scoffed.
His blond hair and beard were a wild mess, and a tumbler of savage homemade vodka sat by his elbow. He was beyond drunk and about to land the hit that would keep him and Emilia fed for a month. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept or eaten, or even gotten up to take a piss, but he was sprawled like a king on his chair, cards in hand and a smirk firmly planted on his lips. A small crowd surrounded him, watching his every move. His opponent was sweating in a ripped shirt and vest, combing his fingers over and over through his long, brown beard.
Gilbert couldn’t remember exactly when they had started that particular game. Could have been a couple of glasses ago, could have been five bottles. Emilia was asleep, nestled in his scarf, dead to the world, her little body curled in a warm, furry ball against his neck, and there was a considerable pile of cash stacked in the middle of the table. Bills and coins, a golden ring, some brightly colored currency from some country he didn’t know, a lone ruby earring, and what looked suspiciously like a gold tooth that had been ripped out of somebody’s jaw.
Gilbert waved a deck of fanned-out cards under the man’s nose. He’d forgotten the fellow’s name, or maybe hadn’t even bothered to ask it. He chugged back the last of his vodka and decided to call him Bristlesprout.
With a suspicious glance and a grunt, Bristlesprout carefully selected a card and yanked it out, slapped it against the table, and covered it with a ham-sized hand while shooting threatening looks all around, as if daring the others to steal it from him.
“Anyone tries to help this wanker, I’m gonna break your fingers,” he warned, looking at the ragtag crowd through bloodshot eyes. The faint of heart took a step back. Everyone else pushed even closer. “I know somebody’s working with him.”
Gilbert smiled and waved his hand over his glass, which swiftly filled back up. Everyone’s eyes were on the glittering pile of coins, though, so only a skinny drunkard rubbed his eyes in disbelief, then went in search of a stiffer drink. He knew better than to call out the tall, muscular man with the seemingly magic powers.
Now that you've read the synopsis, my review and the excerpt... Check out Grey's Pinterest page on Circus of the Damned to see what inspired characters and places within the story.
Cornelia Grey is Riptide's Author of the Month for October!In celebration we are offering Devil at the Crossroads at $0.99!
Cornelia's upcoming novel Circus of the Damned received a starred review in Publishers Weekly:
"[M]agnificent.... The romance between Gilbert and Jesse is erotic, touching, and believable, and the rest of the circus is drawn with a deft touch that elevates it above the clichés of its subgenre. There are no easy answers for these characters, and their journey is gripping from beginning to end."
Tell us about your recent Riptide release[s]. What was the inspiration behind it/them?
When I wrote “Devil at the Crossroads,” the first story in the “Deal with a Devil” series, I wasn’t planning on turning it into a series. In fact, it was about a year before that came about! Inspiration for the upcoming novel, “The Circus of the Damned,” came slowly. I had been wanting to write a long story about a circus and its ensemble cast for a while, and Farfarello – the devil from the first book – was still on my mind. I had that niggling feeling that there was more to his story, that he still had a few things to do and reveal... and so I started toying with the idea of combining the two.
The plot came to me very suddenly, as they usually do, and as always I am not quite sure where it came from. I was struggling with some changes in my personal life, some decisions I had to make for my future, and almost naturally those struggles influenced the journey of Gilbert Blake, the protagonist. He was an outsider, a wanderer, and I enjoyed exploring how he would learn to become part of a community – how he would learn to appreciate and love being part of a family.
Farfarello is an odd devil, a trickster of sorts, who looks for arrogant men and enjoys pushing them to grow and challenge themselves, hopefully learning a lesson or two in the process. He tends to become too involved for his own good, and in this book we begin to learn a bit more about his story and what pushes him to act the way he does. He’s conflicted, though, not nearly as detached and in control as a supernatural being should – and we will get to discover something more in the following book in the series, too. He’s the thread that connects all the stories together, and I hope readers will find him as intriguing as I do!
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while writing your latest release?
I was always aware that I use my fantasy stories to deal with thoughts and issues going on in my life, but as I re-read “Circus of the Damned” over and over during revisions, it really jumped out at me how many parallels I could find between Gilbert’s journey and my own through some big changes in life. Funnily enough, I seem to be quite adept at predicting the outcomes, too – I was really struck at how a few sentences here and there seemed to be prophetic, reflecting perfectly what I am discovering in my own journey. In hindsight, the previous installment in the “Deal with a Devil” series – “Devil at the Crossroads” – also is eerily prophetic... I might have to be careful what I write in the next book, since the stories seem to reflect in what happens in my life ;)
Gilbert’s journey discovering what is really important in his life and what his priorities really are made me understand a lot about myself and what is important for me. I wonder if readers will relate as well to some of the things he’s working through.
How long does it take you to write a book?
That really varies, especially since I’ve been mostly writing short stories and novellas up until now – “The Circus of the Damned” is my first novel, at some 91.500 words. The fastest I ever wrote was three or four days to whip up a short story for an anthology call I had discovered close to the deadline. As for Circus... it’s been a fairly long process, mostly because I was ruminating on the story, plotting and researching for a few months before the actual writing began. (I’m a plotter, so I’ve got to have a full plot outline before I can get started... my brain just won’t comply otherwise!)
Writing the first draft was a flurry of productivity and frantic typing since the story was ripe, bursting at the seams and just waiting to be spilled on paper... and like each of my first drafts it was just this side of unreadable, part in English and part in Italian. So the other lengthy part was taking it from the top and hammering it into shape!
There were further delays during revisions due to family issues – fate really seemed to conspire in trying to make me miss the deadline with this one! – so overall, from the first inspiration for the story to completion of the editing process, I would say “The Circus of the Damned” took about 10 months to a year.
Describe your workspace.
I don’t really have a single workspace, since I move and travel around so often. Living in cramped student flatshares means that desks and quiet rooms are somewhat of a commodity! Most of my books have been written while cross-legged on a bed, or sitting in various mostly uncomfortable positions on a couch with the laptop precariously balanced on my knees or a convenient chair. My back and neck aren’t too happy about it, but I’m so used to it that, the few months I had an actual desk available, it felt so weird I returned to the couch!
The last book was written in my living room at night, on a plump peach couch, resting the laptop on an old red stool. The next one will be written in the room I will be sharing with three other language teachers in Tokyo in the upcoming months. I suspect it will be on a bunk bed, so that’s a new one for me... ;)
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to cure it?
I seem to go in cycles – looking back over the spreadsheets of the past couple of years, I can clearly see that a three month productive period will be invariably followed by a three month slump. The higher the productivity, the lower the slump. I seemed to be doing fairly well this year, but life got in the way and I am currently emerging from a slightly longer slump. Here’s hoping the productivity soars accordingly now ;)
One of the best remedies I have found is to just gorge myself on reading while in the slump zone. I barely have time to read when chasing after a deadline, so I suppose my creative brain gets a little starved after a while. I look at it as having a big satisfying mean between one marathon and the next to rest and replenish my energy, making sure I have plenty of calories to burn for the next run!
What can readers expect from you in the future?
The upcoming book will be the third installment of the “Deal with a Devil” series. “Devil at the Crossroads” was a contemporary paranormal, “The Circus of the Damned” was a steampunk-ish Victorian alternate history, and the next story – whose title I’m still debating on! – will be full-on steampunk. The unfortunate soul caught in the deal this time belongs to Jethro, an inventor seeking to create functioning prosthetics, possibly gaining fame and glory in the meantime... but if the previous stories have taught us anything, it’s that things will not go quite according to plan!
Once that is completed, I will consider whether to carry on with the series or to take a break from handomse devils and their machinations in favour of something different. I will spend the next two months teaching in Japan and I’m sure it will provide a lot of inspiration – I’d like to draw on that for the next book.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” George Bernard Shaw
I learned early in life that bad things and situations happen sometimes, and there is nothing you can do to make them go away. In my quest to figure out how to cope with them, I came to the simple solution that I have to grab them by the horns and turn them into something good... more specifically, I like to ‘make them dance’ turning them into material for my stories, hoping they will bring entertainment to my readers while at the same time I understand them better and work through them somehow by writing them down. I really like the image of the scary, hidden skeleton being brought out into the light and made to dance, possibly in a silly way! It sounds like an exorcism of sorts.
To enter this giveaway for a chance at a $250 giftcard, leave a comment below. Winner to be chosen at random by the Author at the time the tour ends. Good luck everyone! Also, follow this link to see all the stops on the tour, comment at multiple stops for multiple entries.