Thursday, October 9, 2014

Giveaway: The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason

The Spiritglass Charade
Stoker & Holmes #2
By Colleen Gleason

After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa appear lunatic using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her.

The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, there are no coincidences. It will take all of Mina's wit and Evaline's muscle to keep London's sinister underground at bay.

Praise for Book 1: The Clockwork Scarab:

“The geek meets the goth. The fun comes from two main characters’ quick-witted sparring, slowly developing friendship, and grudging admiration.
—The Horn Book Magazine

“The author’s writing exudes energy, romance, and humor, and she gives her heroines strong, vibrant personalities as they puzzle out the expansive mystery unfolding before them.”
 —Publishers Weekly

“Popular tropes (steampunk! vampires! Sherlock Holmes!) will bring readers in, but it’s the friendship between the two girls that will keep them.”
 —Kirkus Reviews

“A captivating, amusing crossover tale.”
 —Library Media Connection

Thanks to Chronicle Books I have a copy of The Spiritglass Charade to giveaway. To enter leave a comment along with your email address. The winner will be announced on October 21st.

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Author Links: Website | Tumblr
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Chronicle Books

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Fun Links:
The Clockwork Scarab Excerpt
The Spiritglass Charade Excerpt
7 Tips for Making a Steampunk Costume
Steampunk Party Kit
Teacher's Guide

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Research and the Steampunk Novel: How Does That Work?

By Colleen Gleason

I’ve been writing historical paranormal novels for a long time (my first series was the Gardella Vampire Hunters, about a female slayer who lived during the time of Jane Austen). Researching that world was fairly straightforward. I just had to learn everything I could about the Regency era: the culture, technology, mores, fashion and so on, and then I wove in the idea of vampires living among the ton. Not too far distant from the concept of Dracula—both the novel and the short-lived BBC show. I kept my world as historically accurate as possible, and added a layer of vampires.

Like I said: fairly straightforward.

But when I decided to write a Victorian-inspired steampunk novel for teens (The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Book), things got a little more complicated and became a lot of fun!

I found myself creating a world, but since it was steampunk, I was no longer bound by utter historical accuracy. I could tweak and twist and stretch historical fact and create a world that was interesting, multi-layered, and surprising.

In this case, I modeled my world very closely on Victorian London of 1889—and that was where all the research came in. I started there, learned everything about the world and then started playing. One of the fun twists I gave to my alternate, steampunk world was that electricity has been banned from England. And I also made my city with multiple layers of streets and streetwalks—the higher up you are, the more expensive and exclusive (and clean) the shops are. You have to pay a coin to take a street-lift up to the higher levels.

I also did a significant amount of research on the British Museum itself. I found old maps that laid out the exhibits in the late 1880s, as well as a brochure for the tourist that was written during that time. I wanted to have a good sense of place for the Museum, even though most of the scenes I originally wrote that were set therein were altered or deleted in the final version of the book.

Fun stuff! But then I went even further…

One of the tenets of steampunk is the melding of literary and fictional characters with historical characters in an alternate world, and I started by thinking about who my main characters would be. I’d always felt we were missing a female equivalent of Sherlock Holmes, especially in the YA world, and almost instantly decided to write about his niece--Mina. And who would be a better foil than a brash, headstrong superhero type of young woman than a descendant of my vampire-hunting Victoria Gardella?

Now the second book in my steampunk world has just been released (The Spiritglass Charade), and for that story I spent a lot of time researching a very popular Victorian pasttime: séances. And to my surprise, even though I was writing in a steampunk world—with a whole lot of made-up devices and technology, I found myself not even needing to create off-the-wall mechanisms to fake (or not…) visitations by spirits. Those Victorian mediums were already quite accomplished at pulling off such chicanery on their own!

I did have a lot of fun, however, when Evaline Stoker (sister of Bram, great-granddaughter of Victoria Gardella) visits a pub called The Pickled Nurse. There are rows of pickle jars, each with a different flavor, and a little mechanical car runs along the row to the selected flavor. Then a metal hand reaches up daintily and plucks out the appropriate pickle!

This is the kind of fun I’ve had with my Victorian-steampunk world: complete with Holmesian detective, vampire-hunters, and devices and gadgets like crazy!


  1. love that cover!! Thanks for sharing! I just got book 1 and I'm excited to get caught up :)

  2. Read the first book not to long ago and adored it. Been eager to read this one, Thanks for the giveaway.


  3. Great guest post....definitely learned some stuff about steampunk novels that I never knew!


  4. I still need to read the first book, but I'm really looking forward to diving in to this series. It sounds fantastic.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  5. I really enjoy her books. Would love to win this. Thanks for the chance.

  6. It sounds like a very exciting read. I love the cover. Thanks for having this giveaway.




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