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Raven Dane interview by Cox Cohen.

Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

At age twenty three, young orphaned and rather dashing Cyrus Darian flees his homeland of Persia heading for the delights of London where supernatural is second nature. Darian is an exotic blend of Irish from his Mom and Persian from his Dad.

Described as “alchemist, amateur dabbler in the occult, collector of antiquities, necromancer and murderer”, Darian is a fully fledged living breathing reason to read this book. We don’t know much about him to begin with, other than his supernatural skills and handsome looks, but we do know he is seeking out the Sumerian lifestone, an artefact which will help him in his unspecified quest.

Two years later, things go a little awry when a false trail finds him in the claws of a succubus, who gives him a ‘love bite’ to remember, almost killing him and bestowing him with everlasting long life and strange good looks complete with swirling silver, violet eyes into the bargain.

Ten years later and Darian, an inhabitant of London, still looks twenty-five and is still seeking hidden artefacts in the realms of a London drowning in a stinking, poisonous fog. There are riots over the poisoned air, overhead steam trams, dirigibles and demons. Reading somewhat like a Steampunk ‘urban’ fantasy, Cyrus Darian blends high adventure, visual feasts and sensuality to create a fun and fast paced romp.

Cyrus finds himself talked into the inevitable search for the Technomincron, a device of infinite power and danger. With his trusty sidekicks and a kick arse female lead, Darian tackles the denizens of Hell.

His demon friend Belial in particular, is one of the really enjoyable characters in the novel. He is great fun as he taunts and teases his human counterparts, also teasing himself with his flirtations with Darian, which can never be consummated.

This book has no pretensions. It is an adventure and a fun experience, though Dane does make reference to the poisonous air of London which is reminiscent of the historical ‘Great Stink’. You will surely be missing a Steampunk gem if you ignore this book . . . at your peril.

Sneak preview of the cover of the latest Cyrus novel…

Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde.

Due to be launched at the Asylum Steampunk Convivial, September 2012. 

Cover model is Darren Demondaz

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I am delighted and most honoured to announce the lovely organisers have agreed to let me launch the second of my steampunk novel series at this year’s Asylum. And my publishers have confirmed Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde will be there in time. Huzzah!

Like its predecessor Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, the new book is a labour of love…..my small but heartfelt contribution to the creative outpourings inspired by the steampunk aesthetic.

Like many love affairs, mine began with a distant fascination and curiosity. I was attending the fabulous Elf Fantasy Festival in Holland as a guest author in 2008. Three days of extravaganza with over 30,000 people from all over Europe, held in the beautiful grounds of a fairy tale castle. Among the magnificent orcs and angels, the whole families including the babies and dogs dressed as demons, were some smartly dressed folk in Victorian garb with amazing flashing, whirring and steam-driven gadgets and weapons. I had no idea why they were dressed that way but I thought they looked wonderful. When I returned to the UK, it was straight onto Google to learn all I could about the steampunk aesthetic but the affair did not grow then, I was too busy with life, family, work and writing the next novels in my dark fantasy series, Legacy of the Dark Kind

In 2010, I was at Eastercon, another large four day SF and Fantasy gathering. One night there was a Steampunk Ball….I swooned with desire for the splendid, elegant and inventive costumes but like Cinderella, I had no clothes to go to the ball. Smitten totally by steampunk by now, I retired to my lonely hotel bedroom with my room service supper and began work on what would become Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron.

Steampunk has now taken over my life…and my work desk. Not just a place for my laptop, with steampunk wallpaper or course. It now has piles of fabric and lace and sewing paraphernalia for outfits, jewellery making tools, cogs and gears. Even my 1960’s Trolls are resplendent in the tiny steampunk garb I made for them.

Some love affairs fade with time….this one if for keeps.

Details of The Asylum

http://steampunk.synthasite.com/

I have come to the conclusion that the splendid steampunk aesthetic is very good for Britain. Ever since falling head over heels in love/obsession with what some deem the retro Victorian/Edwardian SF movement, I have been astonished by the outburst of creativity it engenders. Up and down the country and internationally, steampunks are expressing themselves and with that comes a renaissance of exquisite craft. Steampunk means small companies and individual milliners, artists, jewellers, corset makers, gadget inventors, dress makers, tailors and crafters of all sorts of lovely . quirky things are flat out making beautiful objects of desire to sell. Charity shops also are benefiting from eager steampunks looking for things and clothes to adapt. I spend time now, hand making bustles from fabric sourced from charity shops!

Nothing brought this thought home to me more than a day spent at the first London Steampunk Market held in Islington, East London, on the 21st April. The venue was packed with stalls selling everything from cogalicious jewellery, exquisite hand crated brass goggles and steampunk fabric rabbits…these alone sold out within minutes! It was crowded yet relaxed, enormous fun and my cogling (son) and I cannot wait for the next one.

The old fashioned ethos of steampunk society is good for Britain too. Not just does it celebrate hand crafted things and individuality. Steampunk mottos include,  ‘Be Splendid’ and ‘Be Nice.’  An ideal, treating everyone with decency and good manners. To not taking yourself too seriously, to accepting people for who they are, regardless of creed, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation. Not particulary Victorian maybe, but this is a movement based on fantasy after all, an age that never existed beyond the minds of Jules Verne, HG Wells and other pioneers of SF.

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Beautiful hat made for me by April Oakley-Bartram

Steampunk is a vibrant movement, also inspiring novels, music and art. I love it with all my heart, my Cyrus Darian books are my humble contribution, as those who craft wonderful works of jewellery , fabulous hats etc are making theirs for the good of the community….and the economy. Britain used to make stuff. It still can!

I’m in full withdrawal mode, still captivated and bewitched by the magic of a weekend in the company of steampunks at the Weekend at the Asylum, Lincoln, UK.  The event was named as a Convivial…a perfect description and organised by two extraordinary people. ..Lady Elsie and Thadeus Tinker and their hardworking team of stalwart volunteers.

As you enter the doors to the main hall, a big sign says ‘Steampunks , Be Splendid!’ And they are truly splendid in every meaning of the word. Never have I enjoyed the company of such a generous-spirited, warm, friendly group of people…utterly bonkers in the best possible way.  Their all inclusive ethos meant a hospitable welcome to people of all ages, ethnicity and gender choices. It was a full-on celebration of the individuality, creativity  and basic decency of human beings.  The underlying theme was fun…warm-hearted, jolly good fun with the echoes of fair play and chivalry of an earlier age. Where else would you get hard fought, though gentlemanly duels of biscuit dunking!

A packed but not ungainly program of diverse events was spread across the attractive Lincoln Castle site, the Lawns main building, the castle dungeons and grounds.  The Bazaar Eclectica in the dungeons held a glittering, seductive treasure trove of must have steampunk and gothic items such as beautiful jewellery,  fascinating devices and  glamorous clothes…I avoided it like the plague, being  so broke!

But it didn’t matter if you didn’t wear Victorian garb or come festooned with wondrous mechanisms that flashed and whirred in their clockwork and steampowered magnificence.  Everyone was treated with such friendliness. But I bet those  in civvies left planning their look for the next event.

As a guest author, I actually had an entourage …the hard working and lovely team of Michele and Andrew Brenton from my publishers Endaxi Press. We also  invited two of my friends Darren Demondaz and Hayley Exhayle  to play my characters Cyrus Darian and his exquisite Lady during the book’s official launch.   As beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside, professional goth models, Hayley and Darren were wonderful, helping us all through the weekend. A pair of gothically black diamonds!

Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron was duly launched in a happy celebration of bubbly, sausage rolls and an invasion of wonderfully attired sky pirates! Led by Emilia Etherheart aka Eve Weaver of Addiction Designs, their wicked kidnap of the Lady was foiled by a ransom of a bottle of champagne.

It felt daunting when I saw our Endaxi table placed inbetween established steampunk stalwarts, the marvelous Robert Rankin and Pax Britannia author Jonathan Green.  Also nearby was another  well known steampunk author , Toby Frost.Though best known as a dark fantasy author, I am a newbie to the world of steampunk fiction…I hope Cyrus Darian will be as warmly welcomed by this wonderful community as I was at this stupendous event.

Also enjoying the celebration were my good friends , talented author and ever glam Sam Stone , another enthusiastic convert to all things steampunk along with  her daughter Linzi.  Sam’s partner, David J Howe of Telos Publishing , was in good spirits , presenting his first works of fiction for many years, a collection of his  own short stories and scripts called ‘Talespinning.’

Those of us of a certain age were awestruck at the presence of one of their childhood heroes as guest of honour….no less than Wilf Lunn himself, the man who entertained us on telly with his wierd , wonderful and working contraptions long  before the term ‘steampunk’ was dreamt up.  He was delightful, I am cherishing his signed prints of  eccentric mechanisms.

Other guests of honour were  the excellent Robert Rankin and Frazier Hines, actor, author and thoroughly entertaining speaker.

On Saturday night, we danced the night away at the Empire Ball, though more energetic Convivial members went to pogo away to live bands at the other evening event.  Among the performers at the Ball was Robert Rankin’s delightful and talented wife, Rachel who is a world champion steel drums player. Who knew Lady Gaga’s music could sound so good played on a steel drum?

One enduring memory of the evening was of four fine gentlemen dancing, the floor to themselves, resplendant in their Victorian finery, top hats and canes, lost in the energy of Teenage Kicks. It summed up the whole eccentric, joyous , creative ethos behind steampunk. Well done, sirs, you were indeed splendid!

Sunday passed by in a happy blur, with more wine and sausage rolls at the launch of Hateful Heart, the latest in Sam Stone’s superb Vampire Gene series. Sam enthralled us with a reading from her new book. David proved he was no slouch in the writing department  by reading  extracts from his rivetting new collection.

Then with  a bitter-sweet atmosphere of  celebration of the fun we all had and mourning it was all over, the event reluctantly finished with prize givings and a speech by Thadeus Tinker. He said there were many symptoms of Asylum-itis..including an aching of the face muscles from so much smiling and laughter.  An overwhelming need to plan the next Asylum even before this was one was over.

I have definitely caught a bad case of Asylum-itis… I am already counting the days until the next one! And my face did ache from an overdose of smiling.

Steampunks…..you are all truly splendid and in the crass modern vernacular…you rock !!!

Cyrus Darian and The Technomicron has had a great start with a stonkingly good review from a reader, Mr Garalt Canton posting on Amazon.

‘I hate demons, faeries, mages, necromancers, the works! Hate ’em. It’s lazy fiction as far as I’m concerned. Fantasy is an emotional desert to me, irrespective of whether your fantasy happens in the ruins of Minas Tyrith or along a Steampunk Embankment circa 1862. I-just-can’t-be-bothered.

Until, of course, I decided to read this book by Raven Dane.

The one paragraph pitch: Cyrus Darian desires to find the ultimate source of occult and actual power: the Technomicron. He enlists a rag tag group accomplices including the most brilliant inventor of his age, a half human shape shifter and his on/off squeeze, Belial the Prince of Hell! Their quest is constantly threatened and thwarted by an unholy legion of varied, imaginative and well-realised foes.

Raven’s character Cyrus is about as far from a sympathetic character as is possible to get. This philandering, nonchalant, kleptomaniac, ghost-conjurer lives possessed by L’esprit de l’escalier – in short, he will always have the last word and usually at everyone else’s expense. You’ll love him.

The writing is taut and efficient something of an unexpected bonus (I really did have a low opinion of fantasy writers!). The plotting is both in the great tradition of thrillers and affords us a generous number of witty asides that keeps the entire business of reading a treat.

Remember that? A book that is actual fun to read?

Raven displays her vast knowledge of thing occult, spiritual, ancient religion and demonic as well as technological, physical and biochemical without creating a confusing mish-mash that puts the reader off. Her feel for the pretentions of the mid-industrial age is spot on whenever she names a mechanism devised by Hardwicke, the inventor and it sounds just like the advertised inventions of the day.

Steam punk has a new fan and it’s all Raven Dane’s fault, blame her.

I thoroughly recommend this wonderful novel to you. It took me a total of 46 hours to read. ‘

New Cover for Blood Tears

Blood Tears on Kindle has a beautiful new cover. It is still only 70p…great value for a big, bold slice of classic gothic fiction. And no sparkly, angst-ridden teenage vamps, coffins or heaving virginal bosoms.

The Ego had landed !

Steampunk anti-hero Cyrus Darian now has his own blog where he will relate some of his misadventures and give greater insight into his world.

Awaiting publication date for the first book  in the series, Cyrus  Darian and the Technomicron …but  not long now!

http://cyrus-darian.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-intriguing-steampunk-world.html

Blood Lament on Kindle now !

Yes, the conquest of Kindle by my Dark Kind continues….. now the second of the Legacy of the Dark Kind is available to download.

Blood Lament charts the misadventures of my most beautiful but infuriating bad boy…Jazriel.

Blood Tears is now also available on Smashwords.