My name’s Susan Laine, and the story I’m here to talk about is Lofty Dreams of Earthbound Men, by Dreamspinner Press. I’m prone to write deeply character-driven stories, fraught with emotional turmoil and moments in time. I like the interaction between two or more heroes, the dialogue between them, the chemistry, the underlying sexual tension, all that. But… sometimes I like to mix things up.
When it comes to literary genres, one of my all time favorites is steampunk. But when the guys started whispering in my ear about the story, I learned it didn’t fit into one genre. Fantasy merged with it, and where there were steam airships, there was also now elemental magick. And thus the Isleshire Chronicles were born.
What is magick like in this fantasy world of Nebulosia? Well, it’s natural, above all else. Four elements, four types of magick. People who are Earth mages possess the seed, Air mages the breath, Water mages the drop, and Fire mages the spark. Fancy words for magickal powers, born from nature, deeply engrained in these individuals. These mages use a combination of willpower, spiritual focus, and magick words to control the elemental force springing from within.
Now a religious power, the Divine Theocracy, has decreed Earth and Water magicks an anathema, while Fire and Air magicks correspond to their holy doctrine, so their practitioners are safe from persecution—and ripper assassins. But what is the ultimate reason behind the Theocracy’s fear of some of these mages?
What is our hero, Obadai Bashim, like? He’s an Earth mage and a druid-in-training, and something of a world-weary cynic and a social rebel, with a sarcastic take on life. But all that changes when he meets our second hero, Jules Sterling, an engineering sage with a penchant for getting into trouble. This story is the first in a series called the Isleshire Chronicles, and our mage and sage are the stars of the first couple of them.
Check out the article I wrote about Isleshire’s world-building, if you want to learn more about the setting, at Andrew Q. Gordon’s blog:
Thanks a bunch for having me as a guest here on this magickal day :)
“On the night of the summer solstice, Obadai Bashim encounters Jules Sterling, a young engineering sage. Jules is on the run from a ripper, an assassin of the Theocracy who has already killed his master. Open atrocities by rippers are unusual in County Isleshire, where freedom and acceptance reign over prejudice.
However, political instability between the Five Kingdoms and the Divine Theocracy has set the theocrats on a mission to crown religious doctrine over science, and the Sage’s Guild is number one on their eradication list. If Obadai helps, he’ll have a price on his head too, but he can’t abandon Jules.
Escaping the ripper’s clutches is not enough. Jules has a mission of his own: to repair a faulty airship inn about to crash into the fortified township of Dunbruth. Luckily, Obadai has a few magickal secrets up his sleeve.”
All Obadai had left were his instincts for survival—and his druidic seed.
And it being the summer solstice, the height of earth’s natural power. Obadai’s power.
And the fact that this airship was partially made of wood.
Though his touch with the earth was far removed by airy distance, Obadai summoned the earth around him, strengthened by the solstice, whispering words of magick—even with the certain knowledge that once the smokeforged heard him, this would only add to his list of crimes. The being would incinerate him for good measure. Like dazzling green stars dancing, the seed grew from within him, passing his skin, guided by his hands and will, and spread out, like dust in the wind.
The wooden planks of the keel of the airship creaked loudly, the barrels shifted, and some tipped over. The few sacks onboard that contained seedlings, fruit, and grain began to tear at the seams of the burlap cloth as they grew, enticed by the touch of magick. Any seeds wedged and trapped in the tiny cracks and splits of the airship’s planks joined them.
The smokeforged didn’t seem to notice—until it tried to lift its leg. It was snagged by a crushing vine that was slowly wrapping itself around the machine-man. “Illegal, unholy magicks,” it said, and aimed its weapon-hand at the vine.
Lofty Dreams of Earthbound Men is readily available in e-book formats from:
Susan Laine, a Finn through and through, was raised by the best mother in the world. She told her daughter time and again that she could be whatever she wanted to be. It still took Susan until her thirties to find the spark for serious writing when she discovered the gay erotic romance genre.
Her formal education revolves around anthropology, but she wishes to be a full-time writer sooner rather than later. Susan enjoys hanging out with her sister and friends in movie theaters and bookstores. Her other pastimes include walking, swimming, and fantasizing about sizzling hot manlove. Some of her likes are pop music, chocolate, and doing the dishes, and a few dislikes are sweating hot summer days, tobacco smoke, and purposeful prejudice.