I have a sizeable number of Westerns in my DVD & Blu-ray collection. Once I finish a film I delve right into the extras. Because I’m a fiend for behind-the-scenes action, that's why! So when I learned about Nico Rosso’s Western steampunk romance NIGHT OF FIRE, it goes without saying that after reading it I wanted to learn more about what went into the creation of the story.
I invited the author to come aboard and chat about his high-octane action-adventure romance. Giddyap!
Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Heather!
The Galaxy Express: Please tag NIGHT OF FIRE in six words.
Nico Rosso: Steampunk Western action adventure romance (sex).
TGE: In NIGHT OF FIRE, hero Tom Knox rides a mechanized horse. What should horse lovers know about the care and nurturing of such creatures?
NR: Like a real horse, Tom’s Sky Charger needs to be watered regularly. The water interacts with a catalyst to create the ether that makes the craft buoyant in the air. Instead of food, though, the Charger needs tetrol fuel to power the engine and drive the propeller fan. But there’s no way to give the Charger a treat. Tom even remarks that he wishes he could give his trusty ride an apple.
TGE: One reason I love steampunk romance is that it allows for a unique flexibility regarding heroines and their occupations (compared to traditional historical romances). In NIGHT OF FIRE, you subvert the Old West sheriff archetype by placing the heroine—Rosa Campos—in that role. What influenced that decision?
NR: I’m not a fan of the damsel in distress, so I knew I wanted Rosa to be just as capable as Tom. Because there was a war on in the US (and most of the rest of the world), it was a great opportunity to change up gender roles. In the real frontier, women had to be just as strong and resourceful as men. I wanted to take that one step further, and the sheriff’s badge is a great shorthand for instant authority.
TGE: There’s a lot of action in the story, and I would categorize the amount as above-average compared to other sci-fi romances I’ve read. Is that kind of element something readers can generally expect from your stories?
NR: I do like having a large dose of action to show the capabilities and strengths of the characters. And facing these great obstacles helps reveal how dedicated they are to each other. Because of the relentless clock of the approaching mining machine, I think this story has a little more action than my other stories, or at least fewer breathers between the shooting.
TGE: You created a number of steampunk devices for this story. Which one is your favorite?
NR: That’s a tough one. Believe me, I wish I could throw open the doors to a barn and find all the inventions in there, waiting to be tried out. I’d love to give the Gatling rifle a go on a row of watermelons, but if I had to pick just one, it would be the Sky Charger. It captured the best of both worlds that I was going for. The technology is there, but still maintains the sense of a single rider moving quietly through the territory.
TGE: Given your choice to set the story in a version of America’s Old West, I’m assuming you’re a fan of Westerns. What are some of your favorite films and/or books?
NR: I’m a huge fan of the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. They way they combined the iconography of the Western with the modern music and dynamic photography is really ground breaking. You’ll see these influences in my second Western Ether Chronicle, NIGHTS OF STEEL (November 6, 2012).
I also enjoy the older takes on the Western, like Shane and Hondo (books and films). Even the old serials, where the hero always wears a white hat. NIGHT OF FIRE owes more to those influences – the classic story of the evil mine trying to take over the town, with only the sheriff and the lone rider standing in its way.
TGE: I gotta ask: Is the deadly mining machine in NIGHT OF FIRE an homage to Hayao Miyazaki’s HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE? Because it sure reads like one!
NR: I honestly hadn’t thought of that. I see the mining machine as very sinister, creaking wood, sharp angles, and crushing treads – nothing quite as lyrical as Howl’s Moving Castle.
TGE: You wrote NIGHT OF FIRE in conjunction with Zoe Archer’s steampunk romance, SKIES OF FIRE. Both comprise The Ether Chronicles. According to Ms. Archer’s Web site, she’s “…busy writing the next Ether Chronicles story.” Therefore, inquiring minds want to know: What can readers expect from future installments? I’m assuming each story will stand alone to an extent, but will there be an overarching plot? Will the stories lead to a final battle of some kind?
NR: As it stands, we’re not planning on having the stories culminate in a final battle. We wanted to leave the world open as possible, so if the readers kept wanting more, there would be plenty of territory to cover. Right now, the overarching plot is the Mechanical War that ravages the globe. Each story stands alone, but references events in the other tales. And one or two characters just might appear between books (teaser).
TGE: Where can readers find you?
NR: I can be found here:
TGE: Can you share a teaser of any kind for NIGHTS OF STEEL?
NR: "The only good place for a man is on the other end of my gun."
Mr. Rosso, thanks so much for your time, and for your art.
See you next time, partners!