Sophronia Belle Lyon has a few obsessions — for tea, mechanicals, and for Steampunk. What’s Steampunk? Why, it’s your obsession, too — you just don’t know you have it yet. Sophronia travels widely, reads 1800s classics voraciously, shoots handguns when she can, and grew up sketching and exploring in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. She dressed up and acted out scenes with friends much like Louisa May Alcott’s beloved “Little Women,” and got to be a cauldron spirit in Macbeth in fourth grade. She traveled to Italy by way of Iceland and Luxembourg. She has taken apart her share of clocks and vented more than one steam valve. Hundreds of cat friends informed her about Bagheera’s attitudes and manners. Oliver Twist’s oblivious, eccentric habits came from the Science-absorbed men in her life, and her love for weapons translated into the well-armed members of the Alexander Legacy Company. She collects swords and knives. She enjoys tea, hot or iced, but cannot get the knack of the cream or sweetening obsession, being, after all, thoroughly American.
She has written 2 books in the Alexander Legacy Steampunk Literary Tribute series: A Dodge, A Twist, and a Tobacconist and The Pinocchio Factor. Eventually each of the eight members of the Legacy Company will host an adventure.
Characters from Alcott, Dickens, Stevenson, Kipling, Doyle and more combine “What-if?” steam and gear technology with families, friendship, faith, and fortitude as Oliver Twist and others join forces to fight human trafficking and prove that no one is beyond redemption. Why does a Bohemian prince accepts a kiss from a poison maiden? How can a celebrity singer probe a web of deceit, debauchery, and domination? Multicultural, multinational heroes bring along families and four-footed allies from around the world. No one’s too old to preach a challenge or too young to fix a flying machine. No one’s too innocent to be safe from kidnapping ,slavery, and violence.
Book One: A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist (also available in illustrated ebook format, featuring Victorian-era sculptures, jewelry and paintings)
The Alexander Legacy Company is on the track of a ruthless enslaver of souls. Prowl the foggy London streets. Encounter a nightmare from the Indian jungles.
Travel the Thames in Sluefoot Sue’s Giant Catfish. Soar on a stealth glider with a Bohemian prince. When Oliver Twist unwraps the Algerian mummy at Charley Bates’ funeral, will he discover his real enemy? Or is it all just another “dodge”?
“He’s going to ram Twist’s ship,” Kera breathed. “They’ll both crash into the house and Mrs. Rose just might have her bomb going off.”
I ran along the edge of the roof as if I were looking for a shot. But I already knew my pistol was empty, useless, and the guard was trying to get around another gable to get a clear shot while staying behind cover. I had come to a conclusion a moment earlier that I dared not say out loud lest I be grabbed and thrown down on the roof by both women, but I knew what I had to do.
Just as the spy craft hove around the corner of the house, only a few feet away from the airship, I launched myself off the roof. The smaller ship disappeared and my heart leaped in panic at the thought of being sliced into quarters by the tail rotor. But my fingertips caught hold of a solid object. I found the fuselage of the spy ship and wrapped my legs around it. The thing slewed and spun and began to fall tail-first toward the green lawn.
Book Two: The Pinocchio Factor
Can Oliver Twist trust Spring-heeled Jack when he offers to “bodyguard the little’un”? Do costume balls conceal more than the faces of the wealthy and powerful? Trevor Newsome disappears just days before the election but the Legacy Company can’t search for him from the London Lockup. When the trip to Switzerland finally becomes a reality, it’s for a funeral, not for a wedding.
Quests for immortality meld with the worship of powerful men, with terrifying and tragic consequences. When Long John Silver arrives, Oliver has to think fast to protect more than just his own life from the pirate who says he only cares about rescuing his daughter.
“Twist! Look out!” I spun and swung wildly as the crack of a Colt revolver split the air. Sluefoot Sue had both her firearms out and was shooting at something below me. To my astonishment tentacles rose out of the Thames and wrapped themselves around the Catfish. Each time one of Sue’s bullets struck them they disappeared under the water again, but when she paused to reload they re-emerged and began to reach for me, climbing the Catfish sub. I hastily winched myself over toward the dock but a tentacle grabbed hold of my leg just as I started to set myself down. It flung me down on the dock and started dragging me to the edge.
“Hey, boss lady!” Dobbs, Sue’s assistant, hollered out from inside the workshop. I was just able to see a pump-action shotgun cartwheel through the air and land in Sue’s gloved hands. Just before it began to blast me deaf, I realized that it was in fact no ordinary shotgun, rather had some sort of gattling action, and a bit more. I hoped I would get a better look at it rather than end up 20,000 leagues under in some sea monster’s maw.
Praise for A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist (The Alexander Legacy Book One) [Reviews have been edited for length]
“… Intrigued. … never read much Steampunk … could not stop reading this little jewel. I cannot wait to see what Ms. Belle has in store for her readers next.”
“Adored the old books …like a reunion of them all. Authors would be proud to see their characters treated with such tactful respect, in a novel that also deals with the same social evils … ”
“Fun story … strong Christian references I didn’t expect. I don’t usually read Christian fiction, so I was a bit surprised. The Steampunk/Victorian lit. connection is super fun!”
“Not my usual genre, but I really enjoyed … Unique characters and excellent writing kept me turning the pages. I think this may be a classic unto itself …”
“Favorite characters, young and old, from all around the world, … together with their families … mysterious hotel … I am visually overwhelmed … exciting and there is always something happening on every page.”
“…Wondering what will happen in the next installment … Delightful addition to the body of Christian fiction, and will be a very… fun read for anyone who enjoys that genre.”
“…The inventions are fun, the characters memorable, the mystery engaging and the writing enjoyable. … Illustrated edition full of vintage images and neat little Victorian touches.”
“I even read it … walking to and from work. I kept smiling in disbelief when a new character … someone who I could never see in the company of the others … fall into place and join the company with perfect ease.”
“Cleverly written in Victorian era where characters’ lives cross paths … There the fun begins! … Had me chuckling throughout. The illustrations were great too … added extra flare.”
“Fun mix of characters. Heavy Christian references, … not mentioned in any of the reviews I read. Not sure if I liked that aspect or not, but is a big part of the story.”
Praise for The Pinocchio Factor [Reviews have been edited for length]
From Brad Francis, Author of The Magi Chronicles and The soon-to-be-released Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living. Check out his blog, where this wonderful endorsement can be read in full: http://christfictionandvideogames.blogspot.com/
“I love great stories. In The Pinocchio Factor, Sophronia Belle Lyon gives us a great story. I heartily recommend it. I realize I may be setting the bar of expectations unreasonably high, but if you … sit back and let it entertain and tell its tale, I can’t imagine you being disappointed.”
From LeAnna Shields, author of The Alestrion Chronicles: Slaves Redeemed and the upcoming steampunk book The Clockwork Golem. Her website is www.griffinpilot.com and her blog is christianpen.tumblr.com
“Sophronia you’ve done it again. … Keeps you guessing with a wonderful message of hope woven throughout. Loved getting to know the awkward Oliver a little bit better. Keep it up.”
From Cynthia P. Willow, author of Hell’s Christmas and The Karini and Lamek Chronicles. http://www.cynthiapwillow.com/under-the-willow-tree.html
“I love that most … have a past that some religious folks would shun. … Orphans, misfits, thieves, and other criminals are accepted, forgiven, and shown mercy and grace … Sophronia’s writing … shows the world what kind of God He truly is.”
A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist
Amazon links for The Pinocchio Factor
How do you feel being the main character of a book?
It is rather embarrassing. I worked hard at not drawing attention to myself so I could secretly carry on my work of fighting villains who take advantage of those robbed of hope. But Phoebe Moore Campbell discovered me in the most remarkable way and asked me to join the Alexander Legacy Company.
Who is the most interesting side character you’ve met and why?
Oliver Twist is both a delight and a puzzle to me. His absent-minded manner must be partly due to his absorption in his scientific projects. His ability to do without sleep is enviable. And his rebounding from the brutal attack he suffered, which may have been helped my humble words of comfort and counsel, but was in truth God’s doing, staggers me.
Do you think anyone in your world is crazy? How do you deal with this?
People have said I am mad for leaping off the roof of the country house after the stealth glider and for flying it to London in the dark. You must be the judge of that. Zambo declared Twist mad when he tried to climb out the window of the hotel penthouse to collect pieces of the ruined glider after my crash-landing, but he has always thought him so.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I have been up before dawn to see Doctor Mackenzie Campbell off at the docks. I have visited Uncle Vanya’s coffee shop well after midnight. The criminals we seek do not keep schedules.
Why did you choose your current profession?
I became a tobacconist with a small private club because I sought to provide an enjoyable place for fellowship and relaxation. It also assists me in my other career as a seeker of justice by giving me insight into London life on many levels. My second career is simply unavoidable because I cannot see the helpless or even fools taken advantage of.
How long did it take you to explain your predicament to the author?
Sophronia Belle Lyon is the most obdurate meddler in existence. She had no respect for my privacy — Look at her brazen communication of my difficult history in Bohemia! She may have permanently destroyed Ambassador Newsome’s career. My desire was to remain obscure. My only consolation is that her bringing me into this odd association with this strange group of people has allowed me to expand my ability to seek out evildoers and bring them down. Acting alone is not always the best plan, as I have learned through Madame Phoebe’s wise guidance. These people have taught me to value friendship and camaraderie again.
If you could work in any profession outside of what you’re doing now, what would it be and why?
It would be pleasant to spend more time repairing pipes and choosing fine tobaccos for my patrons. I would even wish to indulge the interest I have developed in these devices Doctor Twist and Sluefoot Sue create, but duty calls.
If you could change one thing that the author wrote (or told) about your life, what would it be?
Perhaps she should not have been so quick to have me propose to my little vessel, Kera Mion. As much regard as I have for her, there is so much danger, so much wrong to right, it may have been a hasty decision to engage her promise. She is so much younger than I and has had so little chance to be free.
What is your favorite pastime?
Repairing pipes, hunting, and eating Uncle Vanya’s breadballs. I beg your pardon. That was three past-times, but I cannot establish a hierarchy.
What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but just didn’t have the guts, courage or strength to follow through with?
Perhaps one day I shall take Tod’s place in the pilot seat and fly the airship myself.
What’s your greatest strength?
Since you have been courteous I will try to answer. I am loathe to speak of my own abilities, but the strength I believe I bring to the Alexander Legacy Company is the ability to think quickly and put together pieces of information. I specialize in making a whole picture out of bits and ends. It permits me offer a solution while others remain puzzled.
What’s your greatest failing?
I tend to act hastily, and to act alone. Those who tried to aid me in the past were harmed by our association. I thought it best for a time not to have associations. I still struggle to be one with the members of the Legacy Company.
Who is your favorite relative and why?
Oh, that I could see my little sister Sophia again, with her violet ribbons tinting the family gray eyes. We were all to each other once. She must be fully a woman now, and perhaps my mother’s poisoning her against me has not fully taken root.
How do you overcome life’s obstacles?
Prayer and the study of the Word of God emboldens me to push on, whether I overcome or not. His is the victory and His the glory for any success.
Do you have any pets? If not, which pet would you choose to own if you could?
I once had a fine pair of hunting dogs. I miss them. Would that I could hope to some time again possess a dog.
If you could change one thing about another character in the book, who and what would it be?
Spring-heeled Jack must one day discipline himself to learn to speak clearly and plainly, instead of making street-cant riddles of everything.
What makes you happiest?
My little vessel being filled up with the joy of the Lord.
What annoys you most?
That leopard of Mowgli’s will sniff me as if I were a dead animal each time we must work together. One cannot teach an animal manners, even when it lives in a five-star hotel.
Can we look forward to reading about you again anytime soon?
Madame Lyon is determined to make a series of the Alexander Legacy Company’s exploits. I am told I am to be included but that the future books shall have different characters relate the tales. That is most agreeable, since I never sought the limelight.
Is there a secret you’d like to let readers know about you? One that isn’t in the book perhaps?
You have presumed upon my good nature too far, sir/madame, but, with great reluctance, I shall state clearly what the book implies but does not spell out. I admit I had more than just admiration for Madame Phoebe early in our association. When we thought her husband would die … well … for a moment … just a moment, mind you, my baser nature rose at the prospect of this magnificent, angel-voiced, brilliant woman being … alone.
Where can readers find your book(s)? (links)
Sophronia Belle Lyon grew up in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, reading HG Welles, Jules Verne and other classics. She dressed up and acted out scenes with friends much like Louisa May Alcott’s beloved “Little Women,” and got to be a cauldron spirit in Macbeth in fourth grade. She traveled to Italy by way of Iceland and Luxembourg. She’s taken apart her share of clocks to study the gearworks and feels well-prepared to enter the Steampunk genre. Hundreds of cat friends informed her about Bagheera’s attitudes and manners. Oliver Twist’s oblivious, eccentric habits came from the Science-absorbed men in her life, and her love for weapons translated into the well-armed members of the Alexander Legacy Company. She travels widely, shoots when she can, collects swords and knives, but is so far too shy to be photographed.
This series melds some better and lesser-known characters of classic literary fiction: A literary dream team of crime fighters including nods to Dickens, Stevenson, Alcott, Austen, Kipling, Doyle, and other writers across the pond, with plenty of homages to great books sprinkled throughout. Prowl the foggy London streets on the track of a ruthless enslaver of souls. Travel the Thames in a Giant Catfish. Soar over London in a stealth glider, and witness true redemptions and restorations no one ever imagined.
PRIZE UPDATE: Congratulations to Linda!