Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Guest Post & Excerpt: The Seventh of London by Beau Schemery

Hello there. My name is Beau Schemery and I’m the author of The Seventh of London out now from Harmony Ink Press. This is my first young adult book. I’ve written other stuff but it was under a pseudonym. (If you’re interested in my alter-ego, he publishes through Harmony’s parent company.) The Seventh of London is an action-adventure story that takes place in a slightly alternate Victorian London. It’s a steampunk book. A lot of people don’t know what steampunk is still. It’s basically an aesthetic, more advanced technology re-imagined with a Victorian sensibility.

But it’s also an attitude. That’s where the punk comes in. It’s about fighting back. The Victorians had some pretty rigid ideas of what was right and proper. Steampunk is about flying in the face of that and I thought it be a perfect fit for a young adult novel. Because what kid doesn’t want to rebel against the authority pressing in on them? I know I did.

For the record, I’m a writer but I’m also a reader. And I like to read young adult novels. It seems to me that people are more willing to be creative when they’re writing for a younger audience. I think that’s great. But I try and inject that creativity into everything I do, but that’s not what I’m getting at here. I was reading a lot of steampunk-themed young adult novels in the months preceding me writing The Seventh of London. And let me tell you, I was disappointed. Many of them were trite and cliché with one-dimensional characters and no real personality. And the punk was nowhere to be found.

That’s when I decided to write Seventh. I wanted to write a story that put the punk back in steampunk with characters that were young but respectable, characters that didn’t just float along helpless as things happened around them. Seven is a young man with a troubled past but he’s taken his destiny by the horns. He’s shaping his own future. And he’s decided to fight against the horrible conditions that the poor children of London are forced to endure.

It doesn’t stop with Seven either. Even my secondary characters in this book turned out to have a strength that I found surprising. Rat was only supposed to appear in one scene and he ended up becoming an integral part of my plot. Waverly and Annie, Seven’s oldest friends were created to give Seven a richer backstory and both of them stepped up and lent a hand in the accomplishing of Seven’s goals. I’ve put a lot of work into making strong characters that I think not only kids but adults can respect as well. I hope I managed it. You’ll have to judge for yourself.

Below you’ll find the blurb and an excerpt from the book. If you want to buy the book you can get it herehttp://www.rainbowebooks.com/store/product_info.phpproducts_id=9601. You can follow my blog: beauschemery.wordpress.com, follow me on Twitter or Tumblr: @hedbonstudios or hit me up on Facebook and let me know what you think of the book. Thanks to Pants Off Reviews for having me today. I’ll be guesting on The Armchair Reader blog on the 5th and this weekend I’ll be appearing at the Scranton Comic Convention. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hello. Enjoy! –Beau.

Blurb: After his parents and family die, Seven escapes his factory job. By wits and will alone, he survives in a London divided into the affluent Fairside and the squalor of London's industrial Blackside, where many struggle to eke their existence out of despair. But Seven has to fight for more than just food and shelter.

All over Blackside, a secret cabal of prominent citizens and the mysterious Mr. Kettlebent are snatching children. Rumor has it a wizard is controlling the queen, and the country's most notorious villain is the only one who wants to stop him. Seven is determined to find out why.

Hired by the criminal Jack Midnight to steal the evil wizard's spellbook, Seven soon discovers the mystery runs deeper than he suspected. But events spiral out of control, and it isn't long before the intrigue sweeps Seven into its deadly current.


SEV pulled the collar of his secondhand military coat up and wrapped his scarf tighter to block the cold November wind whipping through the streets of London’s Blackside. Sev hated the cold almost as much as he hated the smoke-heavy air this side of the city. Victoria had the slums cut off in 1861. Just before the death of Albert. In whispers they called that period the great spiral. Sev didn’t get the reference, but he understood the intent. The queen’s mum died, and things started to go wrong. Now it was 1865, and Sev slipped in and out of the throng on King Street. He’d been following the man in the stovepipe hat for a few blocks, blending into the shadows to observe his prey. The once-crimson military jacket he wore was almost black with wear from years on the street, but that suited Sev just fine. He knew what it felt like to get noticed. It hurt more often than not, and Sev’d had enough hurt for two lifetimes.

The man Sev trailed was tall and oddly built. His arms seemed too long for his body; his legs towered, but he moved with mechanical purpose. He wore goggles beneath his stovepipe hat and had a beard as black as night to match his clothes. Sev had been watching the man for more than a week now and was completely intrigued by the dark man’s strange errands. Something about the man’s movement seemed wrong. Sev couldn’t explain it, but he knew to trust his instincts, and there might be money in it for him if he told the right person. Sev needed money if he ever wanted to escape Blackside, and he desperately wanted freedom. He’d heard stories of the colonies and how someone with strength and determination could make a living despite the circumstances of his birth. If there were even a chance that was true, it was a chance he was willing to take. The man looked toward the shadows that hid Sev, and Sev pulled his newsboy hat down to shield his eyes. He looked in the window of the bake shop, feigning interest in the window’s contents. Glancing at the emerald-green eyes of his reflection, he pushed his too-long burgundy locks behind his ear before he allowed his gaze to dart back to the dark stranger. He waited for the gangly man to turn the corner before leaving his perch to follow.

Sev had grown up on these streets. His parents emigrated in 1845 like many others during the potato famine in their homeland, and Sev was born a few years after. He could barely remember how happy he’d been as a small child with his family. Although he remembered being branded like it was only yesterday. Funny how the pain could remain so vivid while the contentment faded so easily. Sev escaped after four years of hellish labor and horrific circumstances. Freedom should inspire pleasant feelings, but when he thought back to that day in 1861 when he’d escaped and took Lord Fervis’s eye, his chest tightened with guilt and regret. Sev barely remembered his mother. She’d died in Fervis’s factory when Sev was scarcely nine.

The city was more of a mother to him now, and he knew her streets, could dash along them without thought and know exactly where he was at any given time. Sev prided himself on not being seen. The skill was born of necessity: trying to avoid detection by the Coal-Eaters, Scotland Yard, and Fervis’s Footmen, Blackside’s own police force. Sev spent more time in shadow than in light and excelled at remaining unnoticed. It kept him alive. He stole some things he needed, sold information to get things he couldn’t, all the while trying to set something aside for his escape. Not to mention trying to stand up for the factory orphans, making sure those who tried to take advantage of them met with unfortunate accidents. If only someone had been there for him and his siblings. It wasn’t an ideal existence, dashing from shadow to shadow and avoiding observation, but it beat living in the workhouses and factories like Fervis’s Auto-Matic Cobblery, which sprang up in Blackside, and which Victoria was rumored to have encouraged. Sev would rather die than return to a place like that, and he had no intention of dying. The young Irishman knew, without a doubt, after what he’d done, showing his face anywhere near a factory would be a death sentence.

Sev wasn’t sure if the queen’s intentions were good when she established London’s factory district, and he didn’t care. It was what it was, but as soon as the filth the industries spewed into the air started to encroach on the affluent portion of the city, she’d commissioned giant fans to be placed along
the division, keeping the filth in the air over the filth in the streets and away from the nobles and high society. Sev paused on the edge of a roof, hitching up his oversized trousers, reminding himself to tighten the bracers on his shoulders. He regarded the stranger beyond the toes of his boots, which he’d mended more times than he could remember while desperately keeping a lookout for a new pair. The thought brought memories of his father, and Sev swallowed against the swell of feelings still strong after so many years.

The dark man dashed down another alleyway, and Sev skipped along the rooftop following the man’s every move. He loosed the first few buttons of the double row that led down his jacket despite the chill night. The garment beneath was filthy, and he longed to switch it out for his other shirt awaiting him in the small hideout he maintained above the Royal Museum.

Sev’s ability to avoid detection allowed him to pass easily above or below the guarded lines between Blackside and Fairside. He didn’t have much, but he aspired to something more. He managed to slip from his attic hideout into the museum from time to time and had forced himself to learn to read, sort of; he still had a bit of trouble. His thoughts drifted to Henry, the owlet he’d nursed back to health a few months ago. They shared his attic room. Some other streeters, kids who lived as he did, had killed Henry’s mother for food, leaving the tiny owl orphaned and alone. Sev couldn’t allow the tiny creature to starve to death and had saved the little owl chick. Henry hadn’t left Sev’s nest since.

The dark man ducked into Curtis’s Mercantile, and Sev paused, watching from above. He observed the tall man purchase an odd variety of items: cloth, metal, coal, gears, food, water, and oil. The man didn’t leave with the items, and Sev assumed they’d be delivered later. To where? he wondered.

He’d watched the man speak with an eclectic group of people throughout the week as well: the nobleman Sutherland; the criminal, Midnight; a prominent madam; three floor foremen from various industries; and a duchess. Sev tried to piece the connections together but could spot no obvious correlation. The stranger dashed ahead once more, and Sev lost sight of the man. Sev cursed and forced himself to run faster, turning the corner only to find an empty wall. The dark stranger was nowhere to be found. Sev scanned the alley for any means of egress but detected none. He dropped to the ground. Nothing, he thought. He’s just gone. Sev removed his hat and scratched his head. Someone shouted from the alley’s entrance, and Sev scrambled up a drainpipe onto the opposite wall.

~Thank You! Beau for stopping by and sharing an awesome excerpt and artwork~

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