Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nick Valentino and THOMAS RILEY

It's Monday, and that means it's Guest Blogger Day here at Cicero's Children. My guest today is Nick Valentino, author of the just-released novel, THOMAS RILEY. Nick hails from Nashville, TN. He's an ex-band member and music lover, a hockey and roller derby fan, and a confirmed beer nerd who regularly writes reviews of favorite brews. (Sam Adams Boston Lager received a 4.8 mugs rating from Nick.) He's here today to tell us about his book and explain the term "Steampunk" as it relates to his writing. And so.... Take it away, Nick!


Many many thanks to Mary for hosting me today. This is my ninth stop on the old blog tour and it couldn’t be going any better. My novel, Thomas Riley, was just published by Echelon Press and came out Friday October 23rd. When writing blogs I usually follow up with ‘It’s a Steampunk novel’. The following question is ALWAYS, well, what is Steampunk? Another way to look at the genre is through the eyes of alternative history. Take the Victorian era, but make science evolve about one hundred years. What’s the trick? Well, you can’t use a lot of electricity or fossil fuels. Take those pretty much out of the equation and replace them with steam power. The cars, planes, blimps, and even guns are powered with steam. Anything you can imagine just power it by steam and that in effect is Steampunk.

So now that we have that weird little word defined, let’s move on to what are some basic elements of a Steampunk story. I will digress for a moment. If you’ve been to a writers conference you will learn 1) that there are very strict rules to everything in writing. Grammar, punctuation, dialog, well everything is rigidly monitored, scrutinized and critiqued. 2) You will then learn that as long as you break those rules with style, attitude, a powerful voice and a darn good story, then the sky’s the limit. (See Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning “The Road” for a perfect example.) My point is Steampunk really has no limits. It’s what makes it fun to read and write. Steampunk spans from high flying adventure to Victorian romance, from space exploration to deep sea treasure hunts. Really the limits of the genre are pretty nonexistent.

An important rule that Steampunk breaks is the strength of women in a Victorian era setting. In Thomas Riley, the women often have jobs, responsibilities and strengths that were not necessarily available to them in true Victorian times. Cynthia Basset, Thomas’ assistant breaks many of the social standards of the day by commanding an equal and sometimes more important voice. All the women in the book are strong figures, all but one of the airship captains are women. I see the women of the book as often more calculating and dangerous than some of their male counterparts.

So just like that last writers conference you attended, there are plenty of rules, but they all can be broken if you break them correctly.

Back Cover Blurb
For more than twenty years West Canvia and Lemuria have been at war. From the safety of his laboratory, weapons designer Thomas Riley has cleverly and proudly empowered the West Canvian forces. But when a risky alchemy experiment goes horribly wrong, Thomas and his wily assistant Cynthia Bassett are thrust onto the front lines of battle and forced into shaky alliances with murderous sky pirates in a deadly race to kidnap the only man who can undo the damage: the mad genius behind Lemuria's cunning armaments.

If strong women airship pilots interest you, then take a look at the links below.

Learn more about the book:

Thomas Riley is available here:



  1. Posted by: "Mary Fairchild"
    Date: Mon Nov 2, 2009 8:28 am ((PST))

    I can't comment on the blog, but it was wonderful. If you would be kind enough to let Nick know that I'm looking for his book so that I can share it with the kids at school, and that I said thank you for the definition of Steampunked.

  2. Nick, the above comment came to me from Mary Fairchild and I posted it here for you as she had trouble posting it herself (darned comment section!)

  3. If you would be kind enough to let Nick know that I'm looking for his book

    Work from home India