Although the re-imagined city of London has been rather well-developed in my award-winning St. Croix Chronicles, I am super tickled to finally take the action out of the fog-ridden streets and into the little-known rural landscapes.
The latest installment of Cherry St. Croix’s misadventures is Tempered (look! an excerpt!), and like the title suggests, it’s set to put our drug-addled heroine through her paces. The premise is difficult enough—told by her guardian to sober up, or else!—but for kicks, I’ve thrown in a creepy dilapidated mansion in the middle of that heath so adored by Charlotte Bronte fans the world over.
Frankly, the moors in winter aren’t much to jump and scream about—not when one is already used to a landscape of black, gray and decaying brown. That said, country living isn’t for the faint of heart. Or for those who miss their simple pleasantries, like aether-fueled gondolas, lack of mud, and pristine bridges spanning fog-saturated canals. Certainly the common peasantry in their little villages don’t mind it, but civilized folk—like Society, obviously—are used to a better class of luxury.
Which makes Siristine, that crumbling manor in the middle of dead heath, the ideal place to hide an extremely reluctant collector with a bad habit she needs to kick. And the ideal place for a ghost story, don’t you think?
It also means that what tech exists within the manor walls is definitely several decades out of date. No fancy elements here, but heavy mechanisms that might seem to more enlightened minds to be almost more difficult to use than to go without. I’m not sure that any other Society miss would have managed to exist in this house, and especially not when I introduce the cobwebs…
Oh, yes. There are cobwebs. Ugh. By the multitude. Everywhere. Graspy, clingy cobwebs, and there’s this one time when Cherry puts her hand through some, and I just about vibrated out of my chair, it was so awful. I’ve put my hand through a lot of cobwebs as a kid—black widow webs, usually—and that feeling has never, ever gone away.
I do have one regret about the environment, and it’s this: Cherry is in no shape to appreciate the heath when she arrives, and only gets to see the true marvel that is (still mostly) pristine and beautiful much later.
Still, all that said, I admit that Cherry isn’t cut out for the slow pace of the isolated countryside. When only the occasional airship wanders overhead, and travel is limited to creaky carriage to avoid attention, it can be quite a lonesome place for one to be trapped with one’s own demons.
What about you? Are you a city type or much more at home in the open country?
About the Author
After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romances, steampunk adventures, crossover urban fantasy, and continues to write across multiple genres with mad glee. Her award winning steampunk series, The St. Croix Chronicles, has been nominated for multiple RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards.
One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an avid reader, a borderline hermit and an activist. She co-exists with a husband, a menagerie and a severe coffee habit. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.
Get your copy of Tempered: Book Four of The St. Croix Chronicles which was released yesterday!
At long last, my guardian, the enigmatic Mr. Oliver Ashmore, has revealed himself—and his order is clear: I am to be dried out at once, regardless of my wishes.
I loathe the country estate I am imprisoned within. Footsteps follow me, voices call for me, and my sanity wavers. In my fevered dreams, I am haunted by those I failed, while waking proves no protection from the ghosts of my reckless past. The craving for laudanum plagues me. I require a distraction.
To unravel the alchemical mysteries of my mother’s family, I must rely on Ashmore’s tutelage. I am lured to the art and drawn by the secrets my guardian possesses. Yet the deeper I delve, the more I believe that something dreadful disturbs these haunted corridors. In my madness, I fear that what it wants most…is me.