Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. ExleyI am very excited to be blogging today. I don’t know about you, but I am loving the steampunk corner here. I have found so many new books to read, I might have to go on a writing strike, put my feet up and read for the next couple of months 😉

1. What does Steampunk mean to you?

Alternate history, and asking “what if?” questions, plus airships and hunky pirates!

2. What is your favorite thing about steampunk or writing about steampunk?

I love the Victorian era, but it was kind of stuffy, so I enjoy the freedom to knock the wind out of the aristocrats and create a kick-arse (but damaged) heroine and then set her loose 🙂

3. What is your favorite steampunk accessory?

Corsets! I am a corset freak, my favourites are either from Dracula Clothing or Damsel in this Dress.

4. What turned you on to steampunk?

I’ve always been out of my time, with a fascination for history, bustles, corsets and mad scientists. So when I discovered the word steampunk some years ago, it was a lightbulb and I went “so that’s what it’s called.”

5. Do you have any upcoming Steampunk stories you can tell us about?

Nefertiti’s Heart has just been released by Curiosity Quills. It’s about a young woman who travels to London after the death of her father, and ends up tangling with a serial killer and a sexy viscount. Or are they the same person?

6. Who is your favorite character of all from one of your Steampunk stories?

Loki my pirate. He is such a rogue and fun to have in my head. You just have to watch his octopus hands.

7. What’s the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?

Making it believable. You can’t just throw in a gadget, you have to think about what it does, why it’s there and how it has evolved.

8. What’s the easiest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?

Corsets! Have I mentioned my love of corsets? My heroine is dressed by Damsel in this Dress 🙂 I had to explain to my editor what a front lacing corset looks like.

9. What does steampunk allow you to do as a writer that no other genres can?

For me, it’s taking a well known historical time period (the Victorian era) and giving it a twist. You still have a framework to use, but then you shift things around within that. It’s not strictly historical, and its not fantasy. It straddles that line between the two.

10. What are the challenges and advantages to writing a steampunk story?

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop yourself! I like to give a gentle twist to history, rather than turning it on its head. So it’s walking that line, and still trying to make my version of history believable, and hopefully readers will come along for the ride with me 🙂

11. How much research does it take and how much imagination.

A lot, of both! I spent a like of time on tiny details, that only appeared in one sentence. Like a reference to the Gatling Gun (which I had to remove, it came out in 1862, the year after my book is set) or calling Cara a bantam weight – so I had to research when boxing divisons came into existence. Plus I spent hours poured over Victorian London street maps deciding where key addresses would be located.

You need to create gadgets! So I think you need the imagination of a mad scientist to come up with things. My latest invention is a mechanical kitty litter grinder & disposal unit, it will feature in my sequel 🙂

Also, I love to connect with my readers, please feel free to contact me via Goodreads, or you can find me lurking on Facebook.

Here’s an extract for you, when Cara meets Nathaniel Trent for the first time:

Picking up the corner of her skirts, she stepped into the carriage and took the bench seat facing backward. The Villainous Viscount, known in society as Nathaniel Trent, Viscount Lyons, occupied the opposite side.

Cara guessed him to be approaching thirty, young for his position in the underworld, but he had spent ten years ruthlessly climbing to the top. He was reputed to be the head underworld figure in London and beyond. His family had no fortune to match their titles, so he set about acquiring one. With a formidable head for business, he established an airship cargo company. It generated a healthy income stream on its own, plus had the added benefit of providing an excellent front for his illegal activities, and extended his reach far beyond London. He simultaneously repulsed and attracted society. He was titled, rich, bad to know, and deadly to cross.

And he’s handsome.

He was tall, his legs taking up an inordinate amount of room in the plush carriage. Her eyes ran up over highly polished, black boots and muscular thighs. Heading farther north, she took in his powerful torso in a formfitting, grey frock coat. He wore his black hair short and his sideburns narrow and long, emphasizing his strong face and square jaw. A shiver ran down her spine as she met his steel-blue gaze.

“You shot my men.”

At least he got straight to the point, no inane social niceties. She would never have to worry about inviting him over for tea, crumpets, and chitchat.

“They were trespassing in my house and tried to rob me.” She undid the buttons on her jacket. The interior of the carriage constricted around her; the heat from his dominating presence caused the temperature to rise.

“I’ve killed men for doing less.” His tone was well modulated, with no change in inflection nor any hint of anger; they could have been discussing the weather.

“So have I.” She held his gaze. She could play his pissing contest all day if he wanted. He wasn’t getting his hands on her father’s notebook. Lord Devon sold her into slavery and nearly beat her to death when she escaped. Her father owed her a large debt, and with his notebook secure, she intended to collect a small portion of her due. She was going to enjoy breaking up his valuable collection of antiquities as much as she enjoyed smashing his stupid, precious clock.

“Keep your men out of my house, unless you want to lose them permanently.” She shifted on the seat. Her jacket fell open to reveal the shoulder holster with the gun nestled close to her chest. A custom Smith and Wesson with a carved ivory handle, the delicacy of the bone co-ordinated with the cream silk lining of her jacket. She made her threat without blinking. Let him discover she was no blushing English rose. She had thorns.

Exciting news! My publisher is having a St Patrick’s Day sale, until March 23 you can pick up the Kindle edition of Nefertiti’s Heart for just $0.99.

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and for your Kobo.