The cool night air kissed Noli’s face. The sight of the moored airships greeted them as they walked out onto the wooden pier, the ground far below. Noli’s eyes widened as she took everything in under the light from the dim gas lamps. It had been some time since she’d seen so many airships up close. Most of them were fairly small, raven or falcon-class and a few little sparrows, often looking like a cross between birds and pirate ships. Balloons filled with helium or hydrogen bobbed alongside the wood-and-metal bodies of the vessels. One or two of the airships looked like repurposed military ships, gunmetal gray rather than dark wood and gleaming brass, and containing only a tiny cabin and one large balloon.
Chapter Four features airships! It was really fun to create all the different types of airships we see in this book, especially the Vixen's Revenge. Both Vix and her ship did start out as a joke on twitter...(I told you.)
Chapter Four doesn't just introduce us to Vix and her crew, it introduces us to a little bit of Alternate History. One of the things I really enjoy about writing steampunk is the ability to play with history and explore the what ifs and never wases. Here, I introduce the MoBatts and the state of Deseret. Deseret was actually a state that never was, and in my alternate world I make it a legitimate territory, though much smaller than proposed.
In my world, the MoBatts are a private air-patrol over Deseret. They're really good and the bane of air pirates everywhere. Deseret is very conservative, and most everything air pirates seem to enjoy is illegal there. For more information on MoBatts, Deseret, and how my versions differentiate from reality, check out this blog post. The idea of steampunking the Mormon Battalion didn't originate on twitter, but in a steampunk writing class I taught.
Vix quickly became one of my favorite characters to write (and you'll see more of her in Book Three.) She's tough and strong and in interesting foil to Noli. While Noli tends to do what she wants, she does it while wearing a dress and a corset and had never really thought of doing otherwise. Vix, on the other hand, wears men's clothes, has short hair, and doesn't quite understand why Noli would want to wear a dress. Though they both have more in common than they want to admit, and it goes far beyond Jeff.
While Jeff, too, is fun to write, I really like Winky. If you have trouble picturing Winky, I always thought he looked a bit like Mr. Smee in the animated version of Peter Pan.
Who's your favorite member of the Vixen's Revenge? How do you think Jeff and Vix met? What other questions or comments do you have about this chapter? Share it here or on twitter at #cvreadalong
See you tomorrow!