New Steampunk Books!

Riftmaker: A Steampunk Portal Fantasy

Do you love steampunk books? I wanted to let you know that fellow author Phoebe Darqueling's steampunk portal fantasy Riftmaker is now available!

Phoebe and I have worked together on the Army of Brass novel, and so I'm very excited for her!

Save his boy, uncover a conspiracy, and master opposable thumbs—a dog’s work is never done.

Buddy’s favorite thing is curling up at the foot of Ethan's bed.

Then he stumbles through a portal to a clockwork city plagued by chimeras, and everything changes.

Well, not everything. Sure, his new human body comes with magic powers, but he’d still rather nap than face the people of Excelsior, who harbor both desire and fear for "the other side."

He discovers Ethan followed him through the portal and underwent his own transformation, and it becomes Buddy’s doggone duty to save him. Buddy finds unlikely allies in an aristocrat with everything on the line, a mechanic with something to hide, and a musician willing to do anything to protect her.

Using a ramshackle flying machine, the group follows the chimeras deep into the forest and uncovers a plot that could reshape the worlds on both sides of the rift.

Riftmaker is available for $3.99 from Amazon and a variety of other e-book retailers. Print price is $18.99 from Amazon and the Our Write Side store.

Let's learn more about author Phoebe Darqueling!

How did you begin writing?

When I was 9, I had a poem about Halloween published in a volume of short works done by kids. It was mostly in order to sell said book to those kids’ parents, but it was still pretty awesome for a 3rd grader! Looking back at my high school poetry, it’s possible I peaked back then…

In terms of fiction, I got my first publishing credits by working with the Collaborative Writing Challenge.

They had this really interesting system where authors get the first chapter of a book, the chapter that precedes the one they are going to write, and reference notes. Then, 3-5 people would take their best shot at writing what came next. A story coordinator would choose their favorite chapter, sometimes two but also sometimes none, and then the story would move on from there.

I contributed to one of their novels and had two out of three of my attempts chosen for the book, including writing the big climax. I thought it was such a cool concept that when they were trying to decide what genre to do next, I suggested Steampunk and offered to be the coordinator. Over a year later, Army of Brass was born. (Of course, you know all about Army of Brass, haha)

Well, seeing that I wrote chapter 16 ... yeah! ;) So what's happened since then?

There were a few short stories thrown in here and there, and now I’m the proud “mama” of my first officially published solo novel, Riftmaker.

I actually finished Riftmaker back in 2015 and had a publishing date for 2016 set with a small press, but things there went south. The whole experience was traumatizing enough that I tucked Riftmaker away and moved on to my next novel without any real plan to try to publish it.

Happily for me, I became involved with a totally legit small press called Our Write Side as a columnist, and they encouraged me to submit Riftmaker. I was already querying my second novel, No Rest for the Wicked, and soon found myself in the crazy but exciting position of two steampunk books, two publishers, six weeks apart. So now you know why I’ve got those deep circles under my eyes!

What do you feel is unusual or unique about Riftmaker as compared to other steampunk books?

I was just getting to know the genre as a whole when I wrote Riftmaker, and kind of threw all of the individual elements about Steampunk that I loved into a blender and made a delightful smoothie. But it does also have some aspects to it that are less common to Steampunk books. For instance, it takes place now.

Of course the “now” of a fantasy world can be really fluid, but Riftmaker has one foot in the fantasy world and one foot in our world. There are two characters from Berkeley, CA in the here and now who travel through a rift in time and space to a city called Excelsior in a world called Erde (which is just German for Earth, btw). That’s one of the aspects where I think it’s clear that I drew inspiration from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.

In addition to the attire, which is often Vic-wardian in appearance (though there’s a couple outfits Adelaide wears that are definitely more punk0, there’s a lot of Steampunk-inspired technology. And by that I mean things that wouldn’t necessarily work in real life. Or in the case of Riftmaker, they wouldn’t work unless people had continued to refine things like steam engines and clockwork over another 150 years rather than moving on to gasoline. There’s an alternative to a wheelchair that walks around on bird legs. The carriages are pulled by life-size clockwork animals. And then there’s the riftmaker itself, a machine that uses resonance to punch through the fabric of space-time.

Wow! I really like the idea of resonance as a wormhole generator (you can tell I'm a SF geek LOL).


What do you feel your book is "about"?

Ultimately, this is a book about tolerance. In Riftmaker, there’s a deep-seated prejudice against “Travelers,” or people who travel from our world to theirs. The rifts make you change as you travel through it, so animals manifest as people and people come out as animals. On the surface, you can’t easily discern if someone’s a Traveler because people just look like people, but the citizens of Excelsior harbor great fear and hatred nonetheless.

I liked the idea of taking the concepts of prejudice and tolerance even one step farther than what people looked like to demonstrate both how extremely stupid it is to carry those prejudices, as well as what can happen when you mistreat a whole population of people for something they can’t control. This exploration feels just as important now, if not more important, than years back when I first had the idea for the story.

Thank you so much for sharing your steampunk books with us, Phoebe! We wish you the best of success.

See all of Phoebe Darqueling's steampunk books on Amazon.

Do you like free steampunk books? Sure you do! Sign up for Phoebe’s monthly emails and get a FREE COPY of The Steampunk Handbook right now.

You can find more of Phoebe’s antics - as well as her upcoming steampunk books - on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find more character spotlights, book reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Phoebe Darqueling during the Riftmaker blog tour, Jan 24 - Mar 6.

This blog post is partially underwritten by my Patrons.

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A portion of sales from the Red Dog Conspiracy series go to non-profit organizations which help domestic violence and child abuse survivors.

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