The Old Shelter

Dieselpunk Roaring Twenties. Sarah Zama's Author Blog

Archive for the month “July, 2014”

Thursday Quotable – Gods of Chicago

Brand stepped up to the car and noticed a shifting movement in the corner of his eye. He turned to see the gypsy woman and her husband descending the stairs towards him.

Halfway down, they drew up short and the air around them fluttered and shook. A second later, the fabric of the night whipped aside and a shivering tramp stood astride a rickety rusty bicycle, an old boneshaker with metal wheels. The tramp flickered in and out of Brand’s vision, like a candle flame in a draft. He seemed hollow beneath his skin, but  gradually filled in as he stood on the steps, like he was the bottom bell of an hourglass. Brand’s feet carried him up to the scene before he knew what was happening. He stood a few steps below the trio. The tramp pulled a satchel up from inside his loose overcoat and reached into it. He drew out a scroll tube and held it out for the gypsy woman.

“For you, um, I guess. Ma’am. Is that—“

“Yes, is correct. For me. Ma’am,” the gypsy said, letting a bright tinkling laugh follow her words into the night air.

“Is okay. Ma’am or mother. I am called both.” Madame Tibor took the tube from the tramp’s outstretched hand and replaced it with two coins.

“What’re… I get paid for this job?”

“Is for passage. You are messenger now; immortal. Still may need passage in future,” she said. Brand caught a gleam in her eyes as she spoke. “Coins are for that.”

AJ Sikes – Gods of Chicago

quotation-marks4Gods of Chicago is a dieselpunk novel with strong fantasy elements alongside sf elements. I’m a fantasy lover, so of course I liked the fantasy elements better that the sf, although both help create a very dark environment in this novel.

The idea of the ghosts is by far the one I liked the most, because it’s unusual. I mean, it’s visually and intimately unusual and it really added to the personality of this novel, in my opinion.

You can read my review of Gods of Chicago here and the author’s guest post about the future of the series here. Enjoy.

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Did you like this quote? Here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. Head over to Bookshelf Fantasies, who sponsors the Thursday Quotables, and join in the fun.
  2. Post a quote on your blog and make sure to leave a link in the comment box below. I’ll be sure to visit and comment.
  3. Maybe you’ve read this author too and would love to share your opinion. By all means do it in the comment box below. I’ll never object.
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8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #8

dieselpunkssquarelogoI love dreams in fiction. I love dream sequences, there are quite a few in my novel. And I love the atmosphere a dreams can create in a story. Dreams are powerful tools for a storyteller, they can reveal the character’s innermost thoughts and fears or desires. They can let a memory surface. They can create a riddle to solve.
I love dreams both when a write and when I read.

One of my main characters, Sinéad, has a long relationship with dreams… though at this time in her life, that relation isn’t too good.

What? What should I do? Nothing she wanted to.

Her body became heavier, her eyes demanded to close, still she fought that urge, because she feared what sleep would bring. She let her hands fall. There had been a time, when she was a kid, that she had fought the same fight.

But dreams are your friends, child.

Then why do they scare me?

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Did you enjoy my snippet?

If you didn’t, I’m sorry (shed one tear), I’ll try better next time, so don’t give up on me.

If you did, here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, you might want to join the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks‘challenge’.  Head over to Dieselpunks, sigh up and look for the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks And join the fun!
  2. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer and you have a blog, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  3. If you are a historical writer and you have a story or more sent in the Twenties too, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  4. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, or if you are a historical writer writing in a Twenties setting or if you are just a reader, by all means leave a comment below. I’ll never oppose to that.

AJ Sikes – Guest Post

After my review of his dieselpunk novel Gods of Chicago, Aaron Sikes was so kind as to write a follow up article about how this sotry was born and what his plans for hte future of the series are.

Enjoy.

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71xH8bKBFdL._SL1500_Thank you, Sarah, for offering me a spot in The Old Shelter today. Gotta admit, I love the name of your blog.

You’d asked for my thoughts on the story world in Gods of Chicago, and I’m more than happy you did. The setting was the first and most compelling piece of the novel for me, until I got inside a few of my characters’ heads anyway.

A while back, I blogged on The Undercover Soundtrack about how the story world occurred to me. Like a lot of my crazy ideas, it started with an instrumental number by Joe Satriani. The story world that evolved from listening to his song, Time Machine, felt necessarily mechanical, and gritty, oily, smokey, full of grime and rust but also sleek machines and airborne vehicles. There’s a loftiness to Satriani’s melodies, something that suggests flight and speed and freedom.

With all those details, it might be tempting to say I should have written Gods of Chicago into a Steampunk ‘verse, but my sensibilities and tastes run more to the tune of 20s-40s era jazz, swing, and especially crime noir. I love a good horn section blowing loud and clear with a piano behind it. I prefer the clean, spare, and flashy style of Zoot suits and wingtips over the ornamented leather and lace that shows up in a lot of Steampunk. And what’s better than a murder in a dark alley and coppers and mobsters who have their own agendas?

The moods and manners of the interbellum years also hold more fascination for me than do those of the Victorian age. I get to write and explore characters with an eye for hard life and easy money, and everyone gets a chance to play their hand at subtlety. More than anything, it’s what goes unsaid in a noir story that I find truly fascinating, and I tried my best to have my characters employ subtlety at every opportunity.

Gods of Chicago is the first in a planned trilogy, though I’m writing shorts in the story world as well. These shorts go out to my newsletter subscribers, and a few of them are slated for publication in the coming months, the first of which is the backstory for a youth in Gods of Chicago, a guy named Peter “Digs” Gordon.

For the trilogy, I have a rough aim for the series. Whereas Gods of Chicago was all about conspiracies and what goes on behind the scenes, the next book, Gods of New Orleans, is about what it means to belong: to a group, a community, a family, or a society. I’m working on the book now with a planned release date of Memorial Day Weekend 2015.

 

Author Bio: Aaron Sikes has been writing and editing full-time since 2011. Gods of Chicago is his first full-length novel and he has previously had three stories published in anthologies by independent presses. Find him on Twitter @SikesAaron or visit his website http://www.ajsikes.com.

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Thanks so much for this insight into your world, Aaron. It sounds very interesting. I can’t wait to read the new instalment in the trilogy.

Hey, dear reader, if you liked this article as well there’s a few things you might want to do

  1. leave a message to Aaron in the comment box below, just to say hello and how much you liked the story
  2. pay a visit to Aaron’s site, you’ll find the link above
  3. tweet an appreciation to Aaron, again link is above
  4. have a look at his book

 

 

Thursday Quotable – Artemis Fowl and the Seventh Dwarf

Artemis, Butler and Mulch had ringside seats for the Circus Maximus. This was one of a new breed of circus where the act lived up to the advertising, and there was no animal involved. The clowns were genuinely funny, the acrobats were little short of miraculous and the dwarfs were little and short.

Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl and the Seventh Dwarf

quotation-marks4I like reading kids’ fiction when it’s written cleverly, and for me this is certainly the case with Eoin Colfer’s stories. On the surface, Artemis Fowl’s adventures look very light and simple, grotesque nearly, but if you look deeper you’ll find an interesting, clever and so often humorous take of our own world and society.

Writing humorously isn’t easy. I actually think it’s quite hard, but Colfer succeeds at it because of his keen eye for human traits and because of his gift with words.

This was an issue of the World Book Day publication. A short story from a renown kids author used to be published every year and offered at a very low price. I say ‘used to’ because I’m not at all sure this is still done.

I own a few these stories and Colfer’s is the best by far … though I have to admit I haven’t read Neil Gaiman’s contribution to this yet.

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Did you like this quote? Here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. Head over to Bookshelf Fantasies, who sponsors the Thursday Quotables, and join in the fun.
  2. Post a quote on your blog and make sure to leave a link in the comment box below. I’ll be sure to visit and comment.
  3. Maybe you’ve read this author too and would love to share your opinion. By all means do it in the comment box below. I’ll never object.

8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #7

dieselpunkssquarelogoThis passage from chapter 5 is the first in Blood’s POV and it gave me endless headache.
Blood is a different kind of character and I actually poured much efforts in trying to depict his ‘otherness’, especially when in his POV.

See if I had any success.

Cindy swayed. Blood saw her eyes glaze over the moment the voices became loud enough for him to hear. He peered into the apartment over Cindy’s shoulder. Into the box of candle smoke and thick presences. He saw them. Dark clouds bellowing in the darkened room, mingling with the wispy smoke from the candles. Red and yellow eyes piercing in from across a flimsy veil. They all turned to him when they smelled him.

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Did you enjoy my snippet?

If you didn’t, I’m sorry (shed one tear), I’ll try better next time, so don’t give up on me.

If you did, here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, you might want to join the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks ‘challenge’.  Head over to Dieselpunks, sigh up and look for the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks thread. And join the fun!
  2. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer and you have a blog, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  3. If you are a historical writer and you have a story or more sent in the Twenties too, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  4. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, or if you are a historical writer writing in a Twenties setting or if you are just a reader, by all means leave a comment below. I’ll never oppose to that.

If You Want the Story, Come and Get It

if-you-want-the-story-come-and-get-it

And what about you? Do you know the story?

 

Thursday Quotable – Medicine River

“That’s strange, Will. Can’t imagine Harlen missing this.”
Neither could I. Harlen went to everything. He went to all the powwow. He went to all the funerals. He went to all the weddings, the births and most of the court cases. Any time there was a gathering  of two or more Indians in a hundred-miles radius of Medicine River, chances were one of them was Harlen.

Thomas KingMedicine River

quotation-marks4Medicine River is an incredible book. It merges the short story and novel media to create a story that is complete even in its episodic nature.

Harlen Bigbear is the story’s strongest character, in my opinion. One of those characters you learn to know slowly while you read, because he’s so complex you can’t take him all in at once. Although I believe his relationship with the main character Will really makes the character shine.

The story number “seven”, which tells about how Harlen and Will first met, is my absolute favourite in the book. It makes me laugh and cry and it’s just very moving. Harlen is a friend of Will’s brother. When his mother dies, Will goes back to Medicine River for the funeral and that’s when he meets Harlen the first time. This is one of the first dialogue they exchange.

“My job’s in Toronto.”
Harlen turned the radio down a bit. “Can’t see Ninastiko from Toronto,” he said. “So, when you think you’ll be moving back home?”
“Here?”
“Sure. Most of us figured that, with your mother and all, you’d be coming home soon.”
There was no logic in it, but my stomach tightened when Harlen said home.
“James says you take picture. People pay you for doing that?”
“Well… yeah.”
“You take the pictures of all those disasters that you see in the newspapers?”
“No, I take pictures of people mostly. Weddings, portraits, things like that.”
“That’s good. We got a lot of people out here but not many disasters. You could start your own business, you know?”
I told Harlem I liked Toronto. There were good restaurants, places to go. Things to do. Medicine River was small.
“American Hotel is a great place for a beer. Baggy’s just opened a sit-down restaurant. You got the Rockies, too. You see over there,” Harlen said, gesturing with his chin. “Ninastiko… Chief Mountain. That’s how we know where we are. When we can see the mountains, we know we’re home. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that?”

Thomas King – Medicine River

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Did you like this quote? Here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. Head over to Bookshelf Fantasies, who sponsors the Thursday Quotables, and join in the fun.
  2. Post a quote on your blog and make sure to leave a link in the comment box below. I’ll be sure to visit and comment.
  3. Maybe you’ve read this author too and would love to share your opinion. By all means do it in the comment box below. I’ll never object.

 

Gods of Chicago

One morsel review: A fast-paced, dark adventure in a city ruled by a dark, faceless power. Claustrophobic setting, lot of action, characters with a lot of potential.

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Gods of Chicago
Noir Urban Fantasy

AJ Sikes

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Genre: Dieselpunk
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A dark force is pulling strings in Chciago City, unleashing hungry demons, making the gansgter war harsher. Discrimination laws are put into place, automatons patrol the streets. It’s like a war at home… and reporter Mitchell Brand knows war and its insanity very well.
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A diner like many others in Clark Street, a lazy morning… and then the peppering of machineguns. It will become known as the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, a levelling of counts between Capone’s Outfit and Moran’s Northside Gang. As police converge on the warehose with their airships, little camera-robots (the crabs) hurry to the scene to snap photo evidence.
This is not Prohibition Era Chicago as you know it.

I’ll tell the truth, the setting was what I enjoyed the most. Sure, this is recognizably Prohibition Chicago, with its gang wars and its jazz and its ethnic neighbourhoods, but this is also Chicago City, a place where airships sail the sky advertising news and goods and where automatons do the hard dock work. This is also a place where ghosts may appear to you out of a rip in the air and they will look like trumps on rickety bikes.
The ghosts is actually the element I liked the most, maybe because it’s more fantasy than SF and so it’s nearer to my heart. But the city as a whole is a fantastic place, with amazing settings, like the site of the World Fair – the White City -, with her skeletons of buildings and machinery looming in the night, which appears in the last segment of the story.

The story is told from a few POV, but the main ones are Mitchell Brand’s, reporter and WWI veteran with his own ghosts to cope with, and Emma Farnsworth’s, rich socialite with a rebel heart and a love affair with a black jazzman.
When the city is taken over by a dark power seemingly come from nowhere and that maybe doesn’t even belong to that world, these two characters will try – each their own way – to save a little part of world for themselves… and in doing so they end up helping lots of people.

It is an overall enjoyable story, although I liked the mystery part centred on Brand more than I liked the adventure part centred on Emma. Brand trying to solve the mystery of the power manifesting in Chicago City and the fantasy elements connected to it kept my interest throughout, where Emma and Eddie’s unrelenting race to reach New Orleans, especially in the central part of the novel, felt a bit repetitive and at time almost meandering. I admit I would have liked the two plots to intertwine in a stronger way, because I think one could have strengthened the other.
This might have possibly made the characters’ goals clearer too, because – again especially in the central part –thing happen so fast and one on tail of the other that sometimes I lost track of the line of characters’ action. But for the rest, the sheer adventure, the curiosity to see the mystery unfold, and not least a captivating style of writing, kept me happily reading.

This is the first in a planned trilogy. The author is now working on the second instalment, set this time in New Orleans. We’ve not heard the last of Emma and Brand.

8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #6

dieselpunkssquarelogoThe characters’ past is very important for this story. It haunts most of my characters and most of them need to cope with it, in a way or another.
In the first novel of the trilogy, Sinéad’s storyline takes up half of the plot and her past and her need to cope with it is in the forefront.

When she came to the U.S., Sinéad thought starting a new life would be easy, with her old life far away in Ireland. But she soon discovers that one cannot simply shed the past. And maybe, one really shouldn’t.

Sinéad closed her eyes. She didn’t wish to remember, but memories slammed down at her.

Save the baby, Sinéad, the baby. Clodagh’s cried racked her ears as if she was hearing it now. A cold shiver ran the entire length of her spine and left her legs trembling.

She had been a midwife for most of her life, at that point, but that had been the first time Granny had not been there to help her decide how to save two lives. Sinéad still swore on anything she tried everything she knew to save the little child: she cradled him in her arms, she massaged his little, fragile chest, and he did cough once.

He lived – just five minutes.

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Did you enjoy my snippet?

If you didn’t, I’m sorry (shed one tear), I’ll try better next time, so don’t give up on me.

If you did, here’s a few things you might want to do.

  1. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, you might want to join the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks ‘challenge’.  Head over to Dieselpunks, sigh up and look for the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks thread. And join the fun!
  2. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer and you have a blog, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  3. If you are a historical writer and you have a story or more sent in the Twenties too, you might want to post eight sentence from your work on Sunday and share it. Make sure to leave a link in the comment box below and I’ll be sure to visit.
  4. If you are a dieselpunk or steampunk writer, or if you are a historical writer writing in a Twenties setting or if you are just a reader, by all means leave a comment below. I’ll never oppose to that.

 

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