Clarissa Johal: Guest Author & Giveaway: A #Steampunk Journey with Daniel Ausema

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guest Author & Giveaway: A #Steampunk Journey with Daniel Ausema

It's Author Week in my blog. All week long, I'll be featuring my fellow authors.

Spire City is a serial fiction project published by Musa Publishing, with a new episode released every three weeks. Season One: Infected ran from November 2013-August 2014 and is now collected in two bundles, Contagion and Epidemic. Season Two: Pursued is now active. The most recent episode is number three, "A Crisis in Leadership." Season Three: Unwoven will follow.

Spire City, Season 1: Contagion

(Spire City Season One, Book 1)

Targeted by a mad scientist's deadly serum, these outcasts join together to uncover the truth, and to fight back.

Spire City is home to mighty machines of steam power and clockwork, and giant beetles pull picturesque carriages over cobbled streets, but there is a darker secret behind these wonders. A deadly infection, created by a mad scientist, is spreading through the city, targeting the poor and powerless, turning them slowly into animals. A group of those infected by the serum join together to survive, to trick the wealthy out of their money, and to fight back.


With a nudge from her, Tinnesz and Semesz pulled her down the hallway toward the storeroom where they slept with their mom. Before they pushed aside the hanging blanket over the doorway, Semesz tugged on Chels’s sleeve, and she bent down. He rarely spoke above a whisper. “Did you hear about Rani?”

“He’s that neighborhood boy you’ve played with, right? Sleeps down in the Colvern place?”

Semesz nodded, his eyes wide and fastened on hers. Tinnesz filled in the story breathlessly, as if he didn’t fully understand but knew it was something important to older people. “He completed today. A mouse. Right, Semesz, a mouse?”

Complete. What an awful word for an infected people, that final, animal stage that was the future of all of them. Chels swallowed, unsure what to say. “That’s…sad. I didn’t even know he was infected.”

Semesz whispered, “He was just infected yesterday. We saw him last night, and he already had mouse whiskers and a tail.”

The serum was supposed to work that way, the police infecting the urchins and criminals who, from their perspective, overran the city. Turn them into literal pests, the thinking went, that no one could object to having exterminated. Who would notice when the rat-catchers suddenly had increased business? But it so rarely brought such a quick change. Usually the transformation progressed for a time and then halted, as it had with Marrel years earlier. For others, the changes were gradual but constant. Either way, though, there was never any knowing when some latent bit of serum might suddenly trigger the final changes. Then the infected would complete.

“I’m…I'm sorry to hear it. He was a nice boy, and you had fun together.”

Neither said anything, and Chels was sure they were thinking of their mother. The boys weren’t infected, but Pemisza had been infected for years, and in her, the infection was already well advanced. When would they have to say goodbye to her? When would they wake to find her either gone or completed in her sleep?

Without answering, Semesz pulled Chels through the doorway. Pemisza rested on a pile of scavenged blankets. Chels hesitated, but Pemisza waved a half-feline arm for her to enter.


Spire City, Season Two: Pursued

A Crisis in Leadership (Spire City Season 2, Book 3) 

Targeted by a mad scientist's deadly serum, these outcasts join together to uncover the truth, and to fight back.

When Zoken meets an old friend from his home city, he's thrilled to catch up and saddened to see that his friend is also infected. It doesn't even occur to him to do anything besides bring Mendat straight to the Weave. Marrel is not pleased to have a stranger come in without her permission, and the words they each speak could tear the band of outcasts apart.


A still life of the Weave:

The sitting room in the first basement, lit by four kerosene lanterns. The lanterns give each object in the room four uneven shadows.

Zoken stands in the middle of the room, feet planted as if trying to push their way deeper into the stone floor. The scales on his neck are a painful red, bright and pulsing with his heartbeat. They are a warning. It isn’t necessary to be an animal to recognize that fact, to know one should step away. His hair is red, too, but a calmer shade. His face is drained of color, as if to feed the chameleon scales, leaving his skin an ashen grayish-brown. His jaw is clenched. His clothes are smudged with ash, but he has no smell of charred wood, as if the ash is as old as the building itself. The light from an uneven wick in one lantern flickers, stutters across his face, makes the shadow opposite jerk in convulsions.

A brimless smoking cap lies on the floor behind his feet, as if cast down in anger.

In his hand, a gear gun, cocked and aimed.


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Author Bio:

In addition to writing the Spire City series, Daniel Ausema is the author of The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame, the second title in Musa's shared world series The Darkside Codex. His short stories and poems have appeared and are forthcoming in Penumbra, Daily Science Fiction, The Journal of Unlikely Stories, Strange Horizons, and many other places. He has worked as a journalist and educator and is currently a stay-at-home dad. He lives in Colorado, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
Twitter: @ausema

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