Jen: In the last several months we have reviewed several of Beth Ciotta’s books. So, when it was time to ask folks to guest with us for our anniversary celebration, Beth was a natural fit. So, please help me welcome Beth to the blog. Beth, will you share a short bio with us?
Beth: Storytelling comes naturally to award-winning author Beth Ciotta. Dubbed “fun and sexy” by Publisher’s Weekly, Beth specializes in writing romantic adventures with a dash of humor and suspense and is published in contemporary, historical, steampunk, and paranormal romantic fiction. She lives in NJ with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing. To learn more about her colorful life, visit her online at:
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Beth: My latest release is HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY, the second full-length novel in my steampunk series—The Glorious Victorious Darcys. The series was inspired by my love of Victorian adventures and campy futuristic treasure hunts. I incorporated a time travel element and my world ended up being a cross-culture of the late 1880s and 1960s. The Victorian Age meets the Age of Aquarius. Such fun! The blurb that my publisher wrote for His Clockwork Canary sums up that particular story really well.
For ambitious engineer Simon Darcy, winning Queen Victoria’s competition to recover lost inventions of historical significance is a matter of pride—and redemption. After all, it was Simon’s failed monorail project that left his family destitute, and winning the tournament would surely restore the Darcys’ reputation. He sets his sights high, targeting no less than the infamous time-travel device that forever changed the world by transporting scientists, engineers, and artists from the twentieth century. The Mod technology was banned and supposedly destroyed, but Simon is sure he can re-create it.
His daring plan draws the attention of Willie G., the Clockwork Canary, London’s sensationalist reporter. Simon soon discovers that Willie is a male guise for Wilhelmina Goodenough, the love of his youth, who left him jilted and bitter. He questions her motives even as he falls prey to her unique charm. As the attraction between the two reignites, Simon realizes that this vixen from his past has secrets that could be the key to his future…as long as he can put their history behind him.
Here’s a short excerpt:
He’d waited for her. Here. At this railway station. Their agreed-upon meeting place. They were to elope to Gretna Green. Only Mina never showed.
Simon navigated the crush of morning travelers whilst shoving aside the smarting memories of the redheaded sprite’s betrayal. His heart had long since healed, but there was a lingering sting to his pride. He’d been so sure of their love, so sure of her. True, she’d been young— sixteen to his nineteen— but her keen mind, adventurous nature, and worldly views had rendered the two of them kindred souls.
Or so he’d thought.
Leaving Paddington, Simon signaled an automocab, and a scant few minutes later abandoned the foul-smelling, gear-grinding vehicle, choosing to walk the remaining distance rather than waste time in congested traffic. Glancing up, he briefly envisioned the tracks of a monorail system and mentally calculated the advantages the alternate mode of transportation would have upon this thriving area. There were times, by God, when Simon felt as though fate had deemed him undeserving and schemed to rob him of notable success. Resentful, he shut down his dream and focused on his immediate goal. Unfortunately, navigating the cobbled streets of Notting Hill threw him back in time, intensifying his prickly mood. He envisioned Mina’s playful smile, her long vibrant red tresses, and brilliant green eyes.
Taking her innocence before marriage had been reckless and irresponsible, but blimey, she’d stirred his blood, seducing him with her striking beauty and kinetic spirit. This moment his senses sparked as though she were hot on his heels. Absurd, as she had moved to Scotland years ago with her parents. Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling of being followed.
Simon pulled his derby low over his brow, then glanced at the shop’s display window to his right. Indeed, he spied a familiar reflection. Familiar because he’d noticed the ill-tailored bohemian when he’d stopped to purchase the morning newspaper and then again on the train, slouched in a seat close to his own. Dipper? Newshound? Or perhaps the disgruntled brother of a woman Simon had dallied with.
Indeed he had no shortage of lovers.
Even though Thimblethumper’s was just ahead on the corner, Simon crossed to the other side of the street. Sure enough, the peculiar chap followed.
Simon stopped and whirled, attacking the puzzle head-on. “What’s your game, boy?”
“I . . .” The bloke met Simon’s gaze and dithered, stumbling back two paces and into the path of a steam-powered automocoach.
Cursing, Simon yanked the flustered chap from harm’s way and into a sheltered alcove. “Get a grip, man,” he said, although it was his turn to falter. His body responded to their close proximity in a curious and bothersome manner.
In a heartbeat, Simon assessed the smooth skin and slight bone structure of the face all but hidden beneath a floppy newsboy cap and obscured by shaggy, ink black hair. “I say, are you a man?”
The kid shoved at Simon’s shoulders, pushing him back whilst tugging his cap even lower. “I’m no Miss Nancy, if that’s what you’re suggesting.”
Indeed it was not, but that would explain the effeminate aura. It did not, however, explain Simon’s keen sexual awareness. Although adventurous in the bedroom, he had never been attracted to another man. “Why are you following me?”
The kid fussed with his colorful scarves, stealing a glance at his bronze time cuff. “I have a proposition.”
Simon raised a brow.
“Not that kind of proposition.”
“Do I know you?” Simon couldn’t shake the sense of familiarity even though he was most certain he’d never met this dark-eyed bohemian. A pretty boy with an intense, caged energy. A source of increasing fascination.
“Undoubtedly, you know of me.” He offered a worn gloved hand in greeting. “The name is Willie G.,” he said in a clipped, gruff tone. “Known professionally as the Clockwork Canary.”
Simon ignored the proffered hand and grabbed the Canary by his ridiculous lapels.
“Cheese and crackers!” the kid exclaimed.
Simon froze. He hadn’t heard that particular curse in a long time, Another reminder of Mina. Damnation. Shaking off a bout of déjà vu, Simon whisked the Canary into the alley. Blood boiling, he pinned the focal point of his fury against a brick wall and glared. “You made a laughingstock of my father.”
“Not accepted.” Simon stared into the Canary’s wide eyes. The damnable pressman trembled beneath his touch. Was he a coward as well as a nance? Meanwhile, Simon’s own heart pounded with something more troublesome than rage. He couldn’t get that curse, Mina’s curse, out of his mind. Unsettled, he released the lad and distanced himself posthaste. “What do you want?”
Beth: Quirky. Fun. Emotional.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Beth: Old fashioned “Post It” notes are my best friends. I have pads in a couple different places and I’m always jotting ideas. I also have a digital “post it” feature on my laptop’s desk top and a “note” app on both my phone and Kindle Fire. The latter two get used most when I’m out and about. My memory is awful so these “notes” are vital. The best ideas and epiphanies occur at the oddest times!
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Beth: At some point I’d like to try my hand at more mainstream fiction, something in the mystery/thriller territory but with humor. I also have my heart set on two romantic fantasy projects. I’d like to dabble in YA and Women’s Fiction as well. The only thing I don’t see myself writing is horror or erotica.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Beth: Dreaming big here!
Simon Darcy –Chris Hemsworth
Wilhelmina Goodenough –Natalie Portman
Phineas Bourdain –Bradley Cooper
Jules Darcy – Ryan Gosling
Bella Caro – Rachel McAdams
Bingham/Strangelove – Josh Brolin
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Beth: Such a perfect question for me given the time travel element in the Darcys and I’ll be darned if I have a quick answer! So many places/eras I’d like to experience. Because of my research, I’m intensely fascinated with Victorian England, so I think I’d start there. I’d take my husband, as many ‘jewels’ as we could get our hands on and carry (in order to barter for money), and the schematic for the time machine in case something malfunctioned and we had to repair or rebuild! Next stop: America 1920s!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Beth: I have two new releases coming in October. The third novel in my small town contemporary “Cupcake Lovers” series—ANYTHING BUT LOVE—releases October 1. A holiday novella in the same series—SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL—will be available October 22. Meanwhile more adventures with The Glorious Victorious Darcys are in the works.