Today’s guest, Charlotte Henley Babb, deserves special recognition as the founder of this blog tour. She’s an experienced organizer as evidenced by her day jobs as web designer, social networks manager, and online writing instructor in addition to her roles as a blogger and novelist. Charlotte has been writing since she was four, and now makes up fractured fairy tales for people who have survived beyond the love’s last kiss. Where are the stories for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, post-graduate education, bankruptcy, empty nest, and widowhood?
Charlotte Henley Babb writes them.
Welcome, Charlotte, I’m going to feature an excerpt from your latest novel which is in the works, but first a few questions to find out what has made you an author.
First, what authors or books have influenced you?
Charlotte: My mom bought a set of books for us when I was in first grade. Alice in Wonderland and Black Beauty were my early favorites, but I also read Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and The Knight of the Round Table. My first love was Robert Heinlein, the grand master of science fiction in the 1950s and 60s. At the same time, I was reading the Little Women series and the Anne of Green Gables series. I liked the humanist flavor of each of them, and the realistic optimism they expressed. I also read Isaac Asimov’s robot mysteries and everything I could find by Andre Norton. Now I am a fan of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, which are both satiric and hilarious. I also like Sherry Tepper’s work, and some of Ursula Le Guin. Neil Gaiman is another favorite.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Tim Musgrave’s historical/detective Patrick O’Malley series set in 1860s New York, mostly detective, but with steampunk elements. For those who aren’t familiar, steampunk is the amalgamation of Victorian adventure fiction, golden age science fiction, and paranormal/fantasy—H Rider Haggard, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells on acid and steroids.
Ah, steampunk, one of the most exciting new developments in the science fiction/fantasy realm. What are you working on now?
My current WIP (work in progress) is a steampunk novel set on a brothel airship in British America, set around 1860 in an alternate history line where the American Revolution failed. I have a couple of sequels planned, based on outtakes from the first book, one of the dangers/benefits of pantsering (writing by the “seat of your pants” without a plan or outline).
Do you listen to or talk to your characters?
All the time, sometimes as actual words, but more often as automatic writing. I have found that to be fascinating and sometimes the character has a lot to tell me.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t let other people talk you out of it. If you want to write, write passionately, intensely, and compulsively. If it doesn’t make you happy, quit. Writing is too hard if you don’t need to do it.
Thanks, Charlotte, in a few minutes, we’re going to let you get up on the “stage” and share an excerpt from your current project, a steampunk novel.
But, first, here’s Charlotte essential info in the rest of her bio and her current links to novels and blog:
Brief bio of Charlotte Henley Babb, Author
Her first novel, Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, was published in 2012 and was awarded the Sharp Writ First Place in Fantasy and Science Fiction. It also received an honorable mention in the 2014 National Federation of Press Women communications contest for adult novels. She has self-published short stories in eBook and print format, doing the technical work, cover design, and layout herself.
Charlotte has taught English in high school and junior college, written procedure manuals, and edited association newsletters. She has presented at education and writing conferences on using the Internet, blogging, and writing science fiction. She brings to any project a number of experiences: technical writer, gasket inspector, wait staff, fabric and craft retail associate, craft artificer, secret weapon, and telephone psychic. Currently she manages the website, social media presence, and monthly newsletter for Sherman College of Chiropractic.
An excerpt from Charlotte Henley Babb’s WIP, 20 Hours to Charles Town, a steampunk novel.
The workstation had six periscope viewers with magnified screens, each one about six inches across, giving a view of the client’s room or of a table in the gallery. Each was apparently wired with sound, and a toggle switch for each panel so that the watcher could listen in.
“Everyone on the payroll starts out here,” Zulie told him. “Everyone knows everyone’s secrets, so there is no hiding and no subterfuge.”
He doubted that, but he saw the security aspects of making sure the women were not mistreated. “If there is a problem, how do you deal with it?”
“Quickly and decisively.”
He saw a glimpse of white teeth in what could have been a smile or a growl.
“Reba,” Zulie said, “Put Mr. Jonas on the floor.”
A smallish woman got up from her seat, walked toward Jonas, who watched, wondering what she would do. He did not fight women, unless it were unavoidable. He’d restrained a few hysterical ones, staggering drunk on whiskey or laudanum, or wailing in the madness of grief.
“Stand up,” Reba said. She hardly came up to his shoulder, where Zulie was taller than he was.
He did so, crouching a little and balancing solidly on his feet. She paused, turned slightly and then spun to kick his solar plexus with her steel-enhanced boot, knocking the breath out of him and putting him on the floor, as Zulie requested.
He’d know what to watch for next time, but the average rich boy would probably have a broken rib. His lower ones had been broken often enough that he had more scar tissue than not, and he could forecast the weather by taking a deep breath, once he was able to breathe. He suspected it would be a long night.
“Now, you, Jonas. Reba is going to offer you a hand, and you are going to pull her down beside you.” Zulie did smile that time, as he hesitated. “Do it.”
He had reach on her, and gravity on his side. When she offered a hand up, he took it, and leaning up, jerked her toward him, swinging his left leg to knock her off her feet. She saw that coming, and so used her forward motion to do a flip and land with the boot on his collarbone, so that the more he pulled against her, the more her weight threatened to crush his windpipe.
He let go and hit the floor twice, tapping out, giving up. Reba looked at Zulie, who nodded, and then she stepped back. Two attacks in a day were three too many, but he had his answer, along with a side of insight into Zulie’s character.
Reba made a short bow. “I have no animosity toward you, Mr. Jonas.” She also bowed toward Zulie, and returned to her station.
“May I get up now?”
He got up, bowed to Zulie and then to Reba, repeating her phrase, but not knowing her last name, called her “Miss Reba.”
“Do you have any more questions?” Zulie stood at his side, peering down at him/
“Not at this time.” Clearly he had crossed over the line of what he needed to know. He was not tired, even though he was sore and bruised. The tonic must have some cocaine in it for energy, or some kind of strong coffee for him to be awake after such a long and brutal day.
He peered into the array of lenses that magnified the peephole of each room. One was dark and quiet, apparently empty. The next showed a woman dressing her client. A third couple were having sex, and the fourth, the client seemed to be arguing with the hostess. He held the ear cup to hear them.
The man’s accent was one Jonas didn’t recognize, but from the Deep South or the West. He protested the removal of his weapons and other gear, but the woman explained that they were safe. The man was upset, but the hostess was calm and pleasant. She was also dressed more modestly than the others, whose daringly split skirts fell from under the corsets worn on the outside, for quick access, he guessed.
The arguing couple had gone out of the room, so he used the pencil and paper lying at the workstation to record a few notes of what they had said. By that time, the tryst was over, the man lying asleep while the woman cleaned herself and fixed her hair. Did they know they were being watched, these clients? The women did, of course, and he wondered how that affected their work, or if they liked it.
He was in a world that had different rules than his own, and he was likely to break one at any moment merely by leaning the wrong way. What had he set himself up for?
He hears the women whisper and giggle among themselves, and he convinced himself that it had nothing to do with him personally, as they were not looking at him or pointing. Soon he was bored, as watching other people have sex was not nearly as entertaining as doing it himself, especially when there was no seduction, only whamming and bamming. The tonic he’d been given was keeping him awake but restless, until one of the clients came into a room and faced the periscope.
Jonas did a double take and then switched the ear piece to that room. He’d known the man, Caleb Coontz, fifteen years ago or more, when they were both working construction on the New York airship port. From a skinny, beardless boy, Coontz had cleaned up very nicely, with elegant manner, wide sideburns, and a much better conditioned body. Jonas checked the listings under the rooms, #15, Quaid Golden. Should he let someone know that he knew the man under a different name? Maybe that was part of the service, but he could not imagine how Coontz had been able to amass the kind of fortune he needed to ride this bird.
Maybe he had reconciled with his rich father the banker, though that didn’t seem likely, given the stories Coontz had told about how his father educated him, not to be a banker, but just a clerk, cheap labor. Coontz was always angry, but maybe he had taken on a new life…or maybe he was a scoundrel. Jonas made a note on his pad: “Golden, real name Coontz, Caleb, bastard son of Virginia banker, can be violent. Warn the woman.”
No one seemed to be in charge, and other than the notes, no one seemed to do more than make quick whisper now and then. They were intent on listening to several conversations at once, as soon as the clients were dressed and served in the gallery below. He kept an eye on Coontz and his hostess, not named, but then the women all knew each other. The couple was out of sight for a few moments as they strolled down to the gallery where tea was served, along with other beverages, to hold them until dinner later on. Each table had a teapot, cups and a plate of sandwiches and biscuits, and a carafe of the same green stuff Elvira had given him. Apparently they wanted their guests to enjoy the ride and be awake as long as possible.
He scanned the other rooms, which were mostly quiet now, and only dimly illuminated by the electrical fixtures. Much like an oil lamp, the lights could be bright or dim. Finally people gathered around the two tables he watched, Coontz among them, and another man he recognized, a low-level grifter, very far out of his territory. He wondered if they worked for Madame, and if so, why she needed their types?
A third surprise awaited him when he saw the grifter’s hostess, a Mauverton operative he knew by sight, if not by name, and certainly not her working name. Now he was completely stymied. Madame knew he was working with the Mauves, and he was not the only operative here. There was a deeper mystery here that needed to be cleared up, but he could do nothing at this point.
The chatter was banal, social grease, much wit signifying nothing. He reminded himself that he had worked surveillance before, and while he hated it, it was in his best interest to find out more about what these two characters were up to before he got Zulie’s attention again. He didn’t need any more bruises, and if these hostesses were as adept as Reba, they were in no physical danger.
20 hours to Charles Town is scheduled for release in late Spring, 2015.
Charlotte Henley Babb’s Books:
Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil
A dead cellphone calls with a job offer and a promise of dragons. Giving up what’s her self-esteem for coffee, her last chance to redeem her life comes as a job offer to be a fairy godmother. But Faery is shrinking, the other fairy godmothers have disappeared, and nothing she does turns out right. How can she put together the happily ever after each of her clients wants with her boss standing in her way?
$5.95 Kindle $15.99 Paper
Fairy Godmother Maven Morrigan has her own way of making the happily ever after come true for The Frog Prince, Rumpelstiltskin and Beauty and the Beast. Three fractured fairy tales to bring you a smile
$2.99 Kindle $5.99 Paper
Separate stories also available $0.99
Bubba and the beast: http://bit.ly/BubbaBeast
Fairy Frogmother: http://bit.ly/FrogMom
Just a Smidgen of Magic: Enchantment at the Edge of Mundane, Five flash fiction stories of magical encounters in the modern world. http://bit.ly/Smidgen
$2.99 Kindle, $5.49, Paper
Walking Off Heaven’s Shore
A ten-piece bucket of Southern fried flash fiction.
$2.99 Kindle $5.99 Paper
A short-short about a cup of coffee on a sunny morning and a decision about changing one’s life.
Connect with Charlotte Henley Babb
- Blog: http://charlottehenleybabb.com
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/charlotte.henley.babb
- LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/charlottebabb/
- Goodreads: http://bit.ly/CHBabb-g
- Amazon: http://amzn.to/CHBabb
- Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CharlotteHenleyBabb/posts/p/pub