R.S. Hunter

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author

Tag: steampunk (page 1 of 2)

Who is Jacquie Renairre?

No, the title of this post isn’t some weird Atlas Shrugged reference. Instead it’s a jumping off point to looking at the main character of my Tethys Chronicles steampunk series. You’ve seen the covers of The Exile’s Violin and the upcoming Terraviathan, right? I’ll post ’em here. Take a gander; don’t worry, I’ll wait.

The Exile's Violin (Tethys Chronicles #1) by R.S. Hunter

And now for Terraviathan!Terraviathan (Rara Avis cover)

(A big thank you to Enggar Adirasa for the art and the fine folks at Rara Avis for the cover design. If these two books don’t scream steampunk to you, then just take my word for it. There’s steam and punk in them, even if they don’t take place in Victorian England or even our world)

So Jacquie Renairre is the woman on the front of both books (shocking, right? Having the main character on the cover?) But who is she?

Simply put: Jacquie Renairre is a survivor. Jacquie Renairre is somebody who doesn’t give up. Jacquie Renairre is a woman.

I’m not going to lie when I first started writing The Exile’s Violin, I didn’t have any particular reason as to why I wanted the main character to be a young woman in her 20s. I just thought it would be cool. And to be quite honest, that’s what drove a lot of the initial planning for the book.

But then things went deeper than that.

As I wrote and outlined, I knew I needed more to my main character than “it’d be cool to have a steampunk book with a woman private eye main character.” So what did I do next? I made character sheets. (Maybe someday I’ll share them with the world, but not on this day!)

I examined situations and beliefs that a character in this fantasy world might encounter and thought, how would Jacquie react to this? What would she do? What would she believe in? What would she fight for? I looked to other people I know, most importantly my wife. I asked, how would her sarcasm and–not going to lie–her vengeful streak come out, sometimes even at inopportune times? And the answers to those questions became the basis for Jacquie.

By the end of the book, after numerous drafts (and that’s a blog post for another time–how many drafts it took to get the book into the shape it’s in now) Jacquie Renairre emerged as a character who it’s really easy for me as a writer to get into.

Jacquie Renairre is more than just a “cool action hero.” She’s a character who’s been wronged in the past and carries those scars with her wherever she goes, who won’t let those scars hold her back, and she’s someone who will stop at nothing to fight for what she believes is right. She’s a character who has a multitude of stories within her.

But don’t just take my word for it. Read Jacquie’s story and draw your own conclusions. The Exile’s Violin out now from Rara Avis, and then come back when the sequel is released. I want to know what you all think!

Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key?

That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.

Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport at her side, she continues her quest for answers abroad.

With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late.

Available Now:

Direct from the Publisher

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Let’s Talk About: Ganymede by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest is a talented writer. I love her Clockwork Century setting with its alt-history + steampunk + zombies mashup. However, Ganymede was just ok and kinda boring. The characters are great. You have Josephine Early, madam of a high class establishment and spy for the Union, trying to get an experimental submarine out of the New Orleans bayous and into Union hands. And then series regular(?), guest star(?) Andan Cly, a tall dude and airship pilot, also a former pirate.ganymede cover

Great stuff. Great supporting cast. Great central premise. There should be tons of tension to this plot. But none of the “expected spy story” plot beats ever happen. Josephine is afraid that the Confederates and their Texian allies are onto her, but never once does it *actually* happen. Nobody questions her, suspects her, searches her place, nothing like that. Every time she goes out and is doing the “watching her back for tails” type thing, it never manifests into anything.

And then when it comes time to move the Ganymede sub: the book tells the reader that it’s tense, full of danger, that the Texians (that spelling/term bothered me; no idea why) or the Confederates could spot them at any time. But it never happens. They move the sub without a hitch.

Okay I can buy that. That part of the story *was* tense. So to have nothing terrible happen lets the reader breathe a sigh of relief. It also makes them think “Okay, they made it through that. But what about what’s next?” Cool. I’m all on board with that.

Once the Ganymede is put into the Mississippi River, it comes time to sail her to the gulf. The crew decides to make a stop at Barataria Bay to help out some pirates who are putting up one massive fight against the occupying Texians. Cool! This part of the book is going to be the climactic “Final Battle” so to speak. I was fully expecting for something to go wrong as the Ganymede sneaked into the battle and started picking off Texian boats.

Nope. They never once take any hits or anything. There’s no scene with the sub taking on water. Nothing. The entire climax had no tension. The good team blows up some bad guy boats and then moves on. And then the scene Josephine’s been waiting for the entire book–reaching the airship carrier Valiant and turning over the Ganymede to the Union–is *told* to us in a quick little paragraph. So the supposed payoff isn’t even shown to the reader.

Overall, Ganymede (the book, not the underwater craft) felt like a first draft. It took forever for the two main characters to meet up, and then when they finally do, everything goes their way. Lots of things are told to the reader rather than shown. And even a surprising revelation about one of the supporting characters near the end is never explored. It would’ve been so awesome and unexpected to have that be a bigger focus. As it was I just went “Ohhh. Ohhh. Cool. I see what she did there.” and then didn’t really give it another thought because the book ended a few pages later.

It’s clear that there are bigger things happening in the world while the story of Ganymede is taking place, and like I said before, Priest is talented and inventive. I’m going to finish this series–not out of some sense of duty and finishing what I started–but because I genuinely want to. And it’s the fact that the series and previous books, Boneshaker and Dreadnought especially, have been so fun that makes Ganymede such a letdown.

The Exile’s Violin Review Copy Requests

The Exile's Violin (Tethys Chronicles #1) by R.S. HunterOh, hello there. I didn’t see you come in. Stay awhile and listen. Oh, don’t worry. I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.

My first novel, The Exile’s Violin, was just re-released by Rara Avis, an imprint of PDMI, with a new cover layout, editing, and formatting! I want to make sure if you’re interested in reviewing it that you can get a copy in your hands as quickly as possible. To do that, I direct your attention here! *tada* This is PDMI’s review copy request form. Fill it out and get yourself a copy!

I appreciate any and all reviews, so make sure to request a copy from my publisher if you like any of the following**: me, steampunk, sci-fi, airships, gunfights, airship fights, adventure, reading, books, kittens, puppies, go-karts, slip-n-slides with the little pools at the end, extension ladders, extension cords, grading extensions, hair extensions, Land Before Time (1 & 2; none of the others), physics, metaphysics, metafiction, Metatron, and just plain Tron.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy the novel!

**Some of the above may not be featured in The Exile’s Violin

Some Minor Reorganizing

Hey everyone. This is a quick blog to highlight some of the changes I’ve made to my website. Nothing major really, just some minor reorganizing.

Fiction & Non-Fiction

I’ve split up my writing into Fiction and Non-Fiction categories. The Fiction section has links and info to all my novels, collections, and published short stories. If you’re interested in steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, or even a little bit of horror, go on and check them out.

The Non-Fiction section has a list of all my videogame reviews, feature articles, and editorials. Many of them are on Gamer Limit or the community section of Destructoid. I also have a couple of features that were published at places like Gameranx and other places.

Projects

A simple list of my current WIPs. Check back here frequently for word count updates. More substantial progress reports will be posted to the blog.

The World of Tethys

I think I’ve written about this before, but this section of my site has concept art, maps, and sketches associated with the Tethys Chronicles and the first novel in the series, The Exile’s Violin. Some of the sketches even predate the book’s first rough draft!


That’s all the updates for now! Hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll have more info to share with you all about Terraviathan, the second book in the Tethys Chronicles.

Mr. Flip’s Carnival – Help Out a Good Cause!

Fantastical Mr. Flip’s Carnival of Wonders and Curiosities

A couple days ago, I saw Karina Cooper tweet about calling on all members of the steampunk community for help with a cause near and dear to her. While I’ve never been to any conventions or made my own costume, The Exile’s Violin is steampunk, so I checked out her post.

That’s where I was made aware of the Fantastical Mr. Flip’s Carnival of Wonders and CuriositiesIt’s a “festival to celebrate all the ‘local’—which is to say, from Vancouver, BC to Portland, OR—steampunk-flavored vendors, creators, authors, and musicians that are here in our own backyard” in honor of Flip, a ten-year-old member of the steampunk community who tragically passed away last year.

So where do you (and I) come in? In order to put on Mr. Flip’s Carnival again this year, the organizers need donations. They’re going to start an Indiegogo campaign and that’s why they’re calling on all steampunk authors, producers, jewelry makers, gadgeteers, crafters, costume-makers, etc. to donate whatever they can (“personalized haikus, and move upward to art pieces, commissioned art requests, books, CDs of steampunk and steampunk-flavored musicians, and so on”) to be perks for the fundraising campaign.

It’s a great cause, so I encourage you to donate whatever you can! And if you’re not an author or cool thing-maker, then look for the upcoming Indiegogo campaign and send even just a couple of dollars its way. Every little bit helps!

Some of My Favorite Writing Music

I love listening to music while I write. That’s just how I work best. If it’s too quiet my mind tends to wander. Some writers I know say they don’t like music with words when they’re putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys, I suppose is more likely). I vary back and forth. Some scenes come easier when I’m listening to music with lyrics, while other times I just want some nice instrumental stuff.

As I Lay Dying's Tim Lambesis

So what do I listen to? I’ll give you a small sampling of some of my favorite writing music. I’ll also share what projects each song goes with–for the ones I can remember that is!

Fight Scenes in The Exile’s Violin and Terraviathan

Heavy metal is my favorite type of music to listen to while writing action-heavy scenes. At the moment some of my favorite bands include As I Lay Dying, Parkway Drive, Mastodon, In Flames, and All That Remains. In case you’re not familiar with them…they’re of the–how do you say–screaming variety. Metalcore, death metal, all those subgenre labels. I love it most of it, especially the bands that use some melody in their choruses.

According to iTunes, some of the songs I’ve listened to the most while working on fight scenes and the like in my steampunk novels include:

Pretty much anything by Strung Out. They’re my favorite band and the inspiration behind my only (so far) tattoo. These guys write some amazing music that flirts back and forth between metal-tinged punk and straight up SoCal skate punk. They’ve been around since 1989, and if you’ve got that kind of longevity, you know you gotta be doing something right.

Dark Days music video

“Sleepwalker”, “Dark Days”, and “Boneyards” by Parkway Drive. I like the environmental message in “Dark Days” especially. That’s part of the music video up there in gif form. I also “sing” along to those three songs a lot during my commute. I’d like to think that I can keep up with Winston McCall pretty well.

“A Greater Foundation”, “Forsaken”, and “Parallels” by As I Lay Dying. Even though their a Christian band–a religion I don’t subscribe to–most of their songs aren’t overtly religious. Plus they rock. Really damn hard. Those three songs are from three different albums spanning from 2007 to last year. As I Lay Dying has always been in my musical writing rotation since about 2003.

A few other songs and bands: “Oblivion” by Mastodon, anything by Coheed & Cambria, any of Thrice’s hard rock/post-hardcore songs.

Mood Music & Non-Screaming Bands

But what about the times when I don’t want lyrics? When I’m either editing and revising or world-building it’s really hard for me to focus while listening to the kind of relentless aural assault my favorite metal bands bring to the table. What then? Break out your Flock of Seagulls haircut, your Gameboy, and your dial-up modem from 1994! We’re going to listen 80s pop, chiptunes, and dubstep!

The Cars, A-ha, Simple Minds, New Order, OMD, Eddie Money, Genesis, Eurythmics, Tears for Fears, and more. The synth-ier, the poppier, the cheesier the better. Wham, Kenny Loggins, pretty much every one hit wonder you can think of. I listen to it all. I love it. There’s something about catchy 80s pop that really keeps me going when I don’t feel like writing.

Illusive Man Mass Effect 2

And then I have a set of songs that I listen to whenever I want to set a mood. If I’m writing science fiction–especially anything cyberpunk or space opera related–I’ll flip on the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack, the soundtracks from the Mass Effect series, or something from the From Alpha to Omega album by Destructoid community member Alphadeus. All that music really gets me into a sci-fi state of mind.

Occasionally, I’ll log into Pandora and turn on my “Dubstep Station”. I think the music is kinda hilarious-bad, but at the same time I like it. I can’t name any of the artists to save my life, and half the time it sounds like a Transformer and a dial-up modem are getting it on in a blender, but for some reason, I find it really easy to write to dubstep.

The same goes for chiptunes and videogame soundtracks. I have a playlist set up in iTunes that has almost 2000 tracks of just electronica, chiptunes (music made with the sounds and musical effects from 8-bit and 16-bit videogames), and videogame soundtracks. Some of my favorite songs include: anything from any of the Zeldas, a metal cover of the Skyrim theme song, an album of big band renditions of F-Zero, and the Double Dragon Neon soundtrack.

Seriously. That song right there is ridiculously catchy. It’s videogame music and faux-80s pop all in one! How can I resist?

There you have it dear readers! Probably more than you ever wanted to know about what music I listen to while writing. What about you? How many of you authors listen to music while you’re writing or editing? Or do you need to have it silent while you’re working. Let me know! I find hearing about peoples’ creative processes fascinating!

The Exile’s Violin Giveaway on Goodreads

Since I have some extra copies of The Exile’s Violin at home taking up space on my kitchen table, I decided to autograph them and give them away on Goodreads! The contest will run from now until May 20th, which happens to be my birthday. If you win it’ll be like I’m giving you a birthday present!

All you have to do is head over to the The Exile’s Violin‘s page on Goodreads and click the enter to win button under the “Win a Copy of This Book” section. You fill out your address and you’re done! It’s that simple. If you win, you’ll be notified when the contest ends, and I’ll mail your new book to you.

My Next Big Thing pt. 2

After deciding to one of these on my own, I was tagged in a different Next Big Thing blog post by author Sunny Moraine. I figure I got enough projects going on that I can muster up another post. So here goes.

Here’s my Next Big Thing pt. 2.

Continue reading

Official Cover Art for Steampunk Novel “The Exile’s Violin”

I teased it and hinted at it over the past couple of days, but now it’s finally here. Here is the official final cover art for my debut steampunk fantasy novel, The Exile’s Violin. I’m incredibly happy with the cover. What do you guys think? Does it capture that steampunk feel?

I love how the cover art features a very steampunk airship/battleship. It’s actually based on one of my very, very rough sketches. I also love how Enggar was able to capture the “look” of main character, Jacquie Renairre. And now for a quick blurb about the novel itself:

Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key? That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.

Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport, she continues her quest for answers abroad.

With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late.

Look for The Exile’s Violin on Amazon in ebook and trade paperback later next month. For now, check back here for more details and be sure to stop by Hydra Publications and check out all their great titles.

The Exile's Violin

The Exile’s Violin Cover Art

As part of Steampunk Sundays (a thing I just invented), I’m sharing the cover art for my debut novel, The Exile’s Violin. The font for the title and stuff hasn’t been decided, but the artwork is done. I think it looks great! It really captures the steampunk nature of the book, and I think Enggar did a great job with the two main characters.

What do you guys think? Is it steamy and punky enough? Expect more info about The Exile’s Violin soon. The book will be released in September from Hydra Publications.

The Exile's Violin

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