Steampunk Summer: The Cat, the Bartender, and Gone with the Wind

My birthday has the stand-out distinction of falling on the Fourth of July.  (It's more common than you think, but it's still pretty awesome.)  Josh and I headed to a local park for a spectacular fireworks display that was pretty well attended.

Somewhere between the opening bursts and the gorgeous purple weeping willow tipped in gold, I started thinking about my upcoming book, Steampunk Carnival.  The park that night had every element of the carnival in my book - the chattering crowd that leaves a heavy silence of anticipation when it quiets, the unrivaled spectacle, the freedom of fun, and so many different people uniting for that one purpose.  The beauty I saw and the awe I felt are exactly how my heroine, Katya Romanova, connects with the carnival where she works.

But how Katya and her best friend, Magdalene, came to be characters in that book is probably the weirdest back story I have.  I didn't create them for Steampunk Carnival.  They were both characters I cut from Demonslayer, which I've mentioned a little about.  In addition to moving them from the 2010's into the 1880's, they needed a few extra changes.

Katya used to be a bartender with blue hair and witty wisdom.  She was in a single scene, and when I cut it, I wrote her name down to reuse her in another story.

Magdalene underwent a bigger change.  She started her story life as a cat - tortoise shell, to be exact.  After I erased her as the main character's pet, her name ended up on the same piece of paper as Katya's.

I didn't doubt they belonged in the same story, but I had to figure out how to link them together.  Enter my lifelong obsession with the movie version of Margaret Mitchell's novel, Gone with the Wind.  I've always been intrigued by the way feisty Scarlett and humble Melanie found a way to work together despite different backgrounds, personalities, and strengths.  That was the kind of different-but-alike relationship I wanted between Katya and Magdalene but on much friendlier terms.

I dreamed up the idea for a steam-run carnival about the same time, so I merged it with my new versions of Katya and Magdalene.  You can still see the original influences in the book.  (Katya's a brunette now, but she's still heavily identified with blue.  Magdalene's cat past is harder to find, showing up subtly in her watchfulness, proactiveness, and quiet independence.  As for their Gone with the Wind inspirations, Katya and Magdalene make great echoes of self-absorbed, lovestruck Scarlett and modest, quick-thinking Melanie.)

I was ecstatic to bring them to life on the cover, where they're proving you can solve mysteries and look good at the same time:

You can learn more about Steampunk Carnival on the Steam World page.  You can also join me next week for more steam-powered fun.

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