I just sent out the latest Harrison & Bianca story, “Heart of Steel,” to hopefully be part of the newest Dreams of Steam anthology. The fine people at Kerlak Publishing were nice enough to include “Dreams of Freedom” in Dreams of Steam II: Brass and Bolts. So I thought I might take a minute and discuss where this new story comes from.
When I first started writing these characters, I saw that there was a wealth of interaction to be had, just between Harrison and Bianca. I had other characters in mind at the time: Lord Smythe, and his wheelchair mounted with machines that serve as his organs; Alexandrine, the French Royal Assassin; even an echo that became Arthur, the shotgun-wielding ancient butler.
As I wrote, I came up with a handful of ideas. The array, Harrison’s long range game rifle, the switch in Bianca’s head. I didn’t know exactly how to fit these pieces together and I certainly didn’t know just how my leads should interact with each other.
So, I shifted gears and started writing the story of how Harrison came to meet Bianca. The result was “Dreams of Freedom,” my first published work.
When it came time to write a follow-up story, I didn’t think the characters were in such a place where they could jump into the first story I started writing, so I again chose to write an all-new story. This is “Heart of Steel.” I chose to use this as an opportunity to develop some of the things I missed out on before–the switch in Bianca’s head, automatons, and Alexandrine. I intentionally stayed away from Emerson and his employer, Worthington.
I left London behind, along with the notion of a mystery story. “Heart of Steel” is more character driven and thrives on the notions of horror thanks to the automatons.
Once it all got together and revised a few times, I think I came up with something well worth all my trouble and effort, even if it gets rejected. I have faith in it. It’s my story and I think it’ll be quite satisfying once people get a chance to take a look at it.
Note: The picture above is a lovely piece of Lady Mechanika art I found on deviantart. Check it out here.