STEAMPUNK CARNIVAL By Cassandra Leuthold
Genre: Science Fiction/ Steampunk
Katya Romanova gave up everything to work at the one-of-a-kind Steampunk Carnival – her family, her home, her reputation. She wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.As a guide to the guests, Katya enjoys more freedom than most. She makes time to gossip with her best friend, Magdalene.
She basks in the elaborate costumes that bring her awed attention, hoping they might also win her a husband. And no man pays her more attention than her boss and carnival owner, William Warden.
But in the summer of 1887, death threats against Mr. Warden break the spell. Katya knows he might be as underhanded as he is charming, but who would
actually want him dead?
When Katya finds unexpected evidence about the carnival’s true origins, the stakes jump even higher.
Not sure whom they can trust, Katya and Magdalene work to unravel the carnival’s mysteries. Who really invented the innovative rides?
Is Mr. Warden protecting his employees or only himself from the looming violence? And will Katya cling to the better side of his nature or eventually turn her affections for him into a powerful rivalry?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Cassandra Leuthold
Cassandra grew up in the small town of La Porte, Indiana, exploring wooded parks and sparkling lakes. Making South Bend her home, the scenery hasn’t changed much – inspiring trees and a long, winding river. From the time she started writing in second grade up to the projects she works on now, the nature, history, and people around her inspire the stories she tells. You can find her work listed under many different genres, but the heart of each story remains the same. What keeps us together, and what pulls us apart? She lives with her writer husband and their moody cat, Gaia, in a house three sizes too big. She holds a Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in English. When she’s not writing, you can find her sewing, enjoying nature, listening to music, researching family history, and watching TV.
“What I Wouldn’t Do,” She Swings, She Sways
The first chapter of Steampunk Carnival is different than the rest of the book. It’s narrated by someone whose name isn’t revealed for several chapters. The reason he’s obsessed with filling a journal with his ideas isn’t clear until we find out who he is, but the song gives insight into his situation. He’s a man driven by longing, loneliness, and desperation. It adds extra layers and emotions to what’s shared at that point in the book.
“Kill The Lights,” The Birthday Massacre
I’m a big fan of the movie “Moulin Rouge.” In the director’s commentary, Baz Luhrmann talks about the interesting difference between points of view in the climactic scene when Satine dies after the big, pulse-pounding performance. The audience applauds. They loved what they saw. But what they missed was a murder attempt, and what they can’t see after the curtain closes is Satine’s heartbreaking death. This song represents that for Steampunk Carnival. All the guests see are beautiful costumes, spectacular rides, fun games, and delicious treats. They don’t know about the death threats, the violence, and the arguments. They never find out the games are rigged.
“Common Reaction,” Uh Huh Her
As the story unwinds, Katya finds herself in deeper and deeper trouble. She acquires more to lose – friends, her safety, a boyfriend – and realizes there are fewer things she can be sure of. A lot she took for granted isn’t true. This song expresses Katya’s confusion and caution. She doesn’t know how much to trust her boss, William Warden. She hopes everything will work out all right, but she knows any ending is possible.
“Hold My Hand,” Mister Heavenly
This song reminds me of Maddox’s approach to Katya in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. If Maddox has one thing going for him, it’s persistence. He tries several different tricks to get Katya to go out with him, and she turns him down several times. She’s not easily persuaded to trade her love of money for appreciation of simple fun.
“Shake It Out,” Florence & the Machine
This song provides the perfect backdrop to the night Katya finally gives in to spending time with Maddox. She leaves her fear, her distrust, and her rigid ideas about dating behind. Katya and Maddox ride three attractions at the carnival, which thrills Katya more than she anticipated. But more importantly, they’re finally able to share more about themselves and build a solid foundation for their relationship.
“Baptized by Fire,” Spinnerette
The lyrics and driving guitar in this song mirror what Katya and her friends are feeling by the time they confront the forces conspiring against them. Katya has seen William Warden’s inner nature, and she doesn’t like it. His security guards, allegedly hired to keep the employees safe, have been watching Magdalene like a hawk for weeks. Katya’s tired of meeting in secret, worrying about how the carnival’s reputation will survive the truth about its origins. But true to the song, with going to battle against powerful rivals comes a new beginning for all of them.
1. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Doing hours and hours of research. Even though I wanted to create an alternate history for the book and the Steam World series, I wanted almost everything else to be historically accurate. This meant researching numerous layers of clothing, whether women wore makeup, which turns of phrase they used, what occupations women typically had, and the old street names of 1880’s Indianapolis. But all of this reading and map checking was an enormous labor of love. Delving deeper into my family history in the last few years gave me a solid sense of respect for immigrants and their children, who make up many of the characters. It made the story much more personal for me.
2. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The most surprising thing I learned while researching the 1880’s was how similar the Victorians were to us living in the 21st century. A lot of the same social questions were being asked then as now. Some people condemned birth control, and others found ways to get it anyway. People scrutinized the personal lives of politicians and organized smear campaigns. People debated labor laws and the rights of children. The more I saw Victorians as relatable and personable, the more I wanted my book to come across that way to readers. Some people might not think life was very interesting 130 years ago, but I disagree. And I hope my book proves that.
3. Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice is to do the simplest, hardest thing a writer can do, which is write. An aspiring writer on Goodreads asked an author for advice on what he should do, and the author said Write. Don’t aspire – write. And I think the same holds true for authors at any stage, from aspiring to veteran. Editing’s hard work, and it means making a lot of choices, some of which will be seen by readers. I compare editing to using sandpaper, smoothing the edges of my rough drafts. But writing means creating something from the ideas in your head, and most authors know how intimidating a blank page can be. My advice in full would be write, read, observe life, and learn to edit well, but sometimes beautiful things spring out of just the one verb that describes what we’re known for: writing.