Zoë Archer’s steampunk romance SKIES OF STEEL releases today (October 9) and so what better time to pick the author’s brain about the making of the book? No other, I tell you!
SKIES OF STEEL is Zoë Archer’s second book in The Ether Chronicles, a series of loosely connected steampunk romances taking place in an alternate, war-torn Earth. Nico Rosso is the other half of this writing duo, and if you missed my interview with him you can check it out here.
I invited Ms. Archer aboard to tell us about the evolution of this series as well as what readers can expect from SKIES OF STEEL. But first, here’s the story blurb for the latest installment:
In the world of The Ether Chronicles, the Mechanical War rages on, and appearances are almost always deceiving . . .The prim professor
Daphne Carlisle may be a scholar, but she’s far more comfortable out in the field than lost in a stack of books. Still, when her parents are kidnapped by a notorious warlord, she knows she’ll need more than quick thinking if she is to reach them in time. Daphne’s only hope for getting across enemy territory is an airship powered and navigated by Mikhail Denisov, a rogue Man O’ War who is as seductive as he is untrustworthy.
The jaded mercenary
Mikhail will do anything for the right price, and he’s certain he has this mission—and Daphne—figured out: a simple job and a beautiful but sheltered Englishwoman. But as they traverse the skies above the Mediterranean and Arabia, Mikhail learns the fight ahead is anything but simple, and his lovely passenger is not entirely what she seems. The only thing Mikhail is certain of is their shared desire—both unexpected and dangerous.
And now for my interview with Zoë Archer. Enjoy!
The Galaxy Express: You’re writing a steampunk romance series, The Ether Chronicles, in conjunction with the one by co-creator author NicoRosso. How did the original idea come about?
Zoë Archer: For a long time, Nico had this idea of a group of soldiers whose martial energy created actual magical power, but we didn’t have a good place to put them. Then we started thinking about writing steampunk romance, and with some tweaking, the world came together.
TGE: If a reader is new to the series, what are at least three things she needs to know?
ZA: First, that there are men known as Man O’ Wars. They’re technologically enhanced to be stronger and faster than normal men. Plus, only a Man O’ War can power and captain an airship.
All the stories are set against the backdrop of The Mechanized Wars. Different countries are fighting for critical resources that make Man O’ Wars—and high-tech developments—possible. In Europe and the Eastern Hemisphere, that means that nations are at war with each other for access to telumium, the rare metal that makes Man O’ Wars possible. The United States doesn’t have telumium, but they do have huge fields of soya, which makes the valuable tetrol fuel, so the US has to fend off attacks from enemies, as well.
There are other tech and world-building aspects that readers will encounter, but one thing everyone needs to know is that all Ether Chronicle stories are action-packed and full of hot, hot romance.
TGE: Congratulations on the release of SKIES OF STEEL! We’ve read the blurb, but what would you say is the fantasy is at the root of this story?
ZA: Thank you! I love quests, and I’ve wanted to set a story in a fantastical version of Arabia for a long time, so we get a kind of steampunk Arabian Nights feel from SKIES OF STEEL.
TGE: Without going into spoilers, which characters/elements excited you the most when writing SKIES OF STEEL?
ZA: Like I said before, I wanted to think about how Arabic culture might interpret steampunk technology, so that was a ton of fun to conceptualize with Nico. But I absolutely adore the hero of SKIES OF STEEL, Captain Mikhail Mikhailovich Denisov, rogue Man O’ War. Having gone rogue from the Russian Navy, Mikhail’s become a mercenary and is the ultimate bad boy. He’s even got a Mohawk!
TGE: Describe the kinds of heroines readers can expect from this series.
ZA: All the heroines in the Ether Chronicles are total badasses. Even if they might seem like mild-mannered academics, they’re courageous and don’t back down from a challenge.
TGE: How would you describe the heat level?
ZA: Pretty damned hot. This is not for kids. There are some very steamy scenes.
TGE: If you could captain your own airship, what would you name it?
ZA: Good question! In the world of the Ether Chronicles, all the British airships are named for women from Greek mythology. And the Russian airships are named for birds. Mikhail’s ship, Bielyi Voron, means White Raven. For my own ship…maybe the Adventuress.
TGE: Please describe a few of your favorite steampunk romance books.
ZA: You can’t mention steampunk without talking about Meljean Brook’s amazing Iron Seas series. Her worldbuilding is phenomenal, and I love her dialogue. Moira Rogers, too, is a team that writes super hot paranormal steampunk Westerns. Karina Cooper’s St. Croix Chronicles aren’t exactly romances, but I definitely recommend them.
TGE: What’s coming next in The Ether Chronicles?
ZA: Nico’s next book, NIGHTS OF STEEL, comes out next month, and it features two bounty hunters on the trail of the same bounty. You’re going to see some really fun steampunk worldbuilding there. My next Ether Chronicles book will be out August 2013, and will have a very Gothic, windswept moors feel. Nico and I are enjoying writing the series so much, we definitely see more stories in the future.
Ms. Archer, thanks for your time, and for your art.
Want to know more about SKIES OF STEEL? Read the excerpt!
About the author
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there's nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master's degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together. Her steampunk romance, SKIES OF STEEL, is now available from Avon Impulse, and Nico’s steampunk Western, NIGHT OF FIRE, is also available now. Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles.