Today I welcome guest author Kate M. Colby to the blog. Kate recently published her first book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, a steampunk dystopian story set in the fictional world of Desertera. Today she takes us on a tour of the world she’s created…
The world of my novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, is Desertera. I call it a post-apocalyptic, steampunk dystopian wasteland—which is a mouthful…and not exactly that helpful to those who aren’t familiar with these genres. So, today, I want to give you all a little tour of Desertera and teach you more about this world that I’ve cooked up. But first, we have to start with a brief history lesson.
Roughly two hundred years prior to the start of my novel, the world of my characters looked very similar to our world from two centuries ago. They had an organized government (monarchy), cities with electricity, vehicles, and advanced technology (though steam-powered), and oceans and rivers and all the other standard geological features we have. Essentially, it was a world much like ours, just with steam as the primary power source. Fans of the steampunk genre can probably envision it rather
easily—I picture “the world before” much like a traditional steampunk universe.
However, the world before ended. A flood of apocalyptic proportions (think Noah’s Ark) wiped out the world and most of its inhabitants. The ancestors of my characters survived by building a steamship (the Queen Hildegard) to carry them through the flood. After years of rain, the waters eventually dried up, and they were left in a desert wasteland. Without an excess of water, they are unable to power their steam technology, and thus, we have a world of “steampunk without steam.” What remains is the steamship and four villages that have emerged around it. This is the Desertera we
see in The Cogsmith’s Daughter.
The Queen Hildegard, or the palace:
This is the steamship that carried the ancestors through the flood. It is named for the mortal queen who ruled during the flood, and it is the center of noble life in Desertera. The royal family and the higher nobles live within the palace, but it also holds libraries, specialty shops, a greenhouse, the courtroom, and the ballroom. Most of the “steerage” section of the palace has been gutted—the materials used for building houses and other objects—but one area, the Rudder, remains occupied.
The Rudder is the brothel of Desertera. It is located in the back of the ship, with an entrance near the propellers (hence the name). While the citizens of Desertera know the Rudder’s location and what occurs there, most turn a blind eye to the activities unless forced to admit them. The Rudder is run by Madam Huxley, the longest-standing female business owner in Desertera, and is where the novel’s protagonist, Aya, currently works.
Starboardshire is a village to the east of the palace and is home to the lesser nobles and their servants. The most beautiful of the villages, it contains artisan-crafted homes, desert wildflowers, and even a bit of grass for horses (a major status symbol for noble families).
Bowtown lies to the north of the palace and holds the agricultural district. It’s inhabited by farmers, who manage to grow basic crops like wheat and corn. The farmers also have livestock—the descendants of the animals taken aboard the steamship—mainly pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep.
Portside is the economic hub of Desertera, situated to the west of the palace. It is home to merchants and local businesses—everything from bakers to cobblers to blacksmiths. Aya, grew up in Portside, as her father used to have a shop in the village. However, when he was executed, she could no longer pay the rent and had to turn to other means to support herself.
Sternville, to the south of the palace, is the most impoverished village and is where Aya currently lives. The homes are little more than tents or dirt-floored hovels, and its residents either work at the Rudder or as wellmen. The wellmen are responsible for going to the wells each morning and pumping water for the villagers to use. An important job, it is also dirty, dangerous, and viewed as “unskilled” labor, hence
its low status in the society.
The palace and its four villages make for a complex and starkly divided society. There is tension between the five locales, the four villages especially, and most people tend to stick to their “own kind.” In The Cogsmith’s Daughter, Aya spends most of her time in Sternville, the Rudder, and the palace. Despite her connections to each place, she doesn’t feel like she belongs in any of them. This helps her to see the good and bad aspects of each, as well as allows her to challenge the status quo and make others
question what they have always accepted about their homes. I think world travelers, or even just sociology/culture geeks like me, will really enjoy watching Aya dissect her surroundings.
If you think you’d like to take a trip to Desertera, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies HERE.
Don’t like leaving things to chance? Me either. You can purchase your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at any of these online retailers:
WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…
Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned
goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.
When Aya Cogsmith was a young girl, King Archon had her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.
Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.
Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: www.KateMColby.com.