Author’s name: Leigh Statham
Title of book and/or series: The Perilous Journey of the Much-Too-Spontaneous Girl
Brief summary of the story: Lady Marguerite Vadnay and her trusty automaton, Outil, have settled into life in New France rather well. Marguerite is the top of her class at flight school and her future as an aerpilot is nearly secure. She has everything she wants-except a commission on the pirate hunting dirigible The Renegade. Using every card in her aristocratic arsenal, Marguerite wiggles her way onto the finest warship France has to offer. But as usual, Marguerite’s plans endanger the lives of those she holds dear-only this time no one else is going to save them. As she and Outil set off on a rescue mission they may not return from, Marguerite finally realizes it’s time to reorder her cogs.
This steampunk adventure is littered with facts from The Golden Age of Piracy and follows (not too closely) some of the lives and adventures of the brave men and women who sailed the seas as privateers, pirates, and soldiers.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story: 1600’s French Canada, Quebec — New France—filled with steampunk technology, automatons, and pirates. Arrrg!
If we were to visit New France as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there? You should definitely take a tour of the St. Lawrence River and ride a dirigible over the Hudson Bay. It’s breathtaking in the spring— literally.
What dangers should we avoid in New France? Don’t get on the wrong side of a pirate, or a nun. Some of the girls at His Royal Majesty’s Flight Academy for Resilient Young Women wouldn’t be fun to run into in a dark alley if you’ve recently stolen their boyfriend. But for the most part it’s a wonderful place to visit.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in New France?
The fishing industry is alive and well, and given the fact that the French know how to cook better than any other nation, I’d say you’re in for a treat no matter what you order. Just make sure to get a side of gear oil for your automaton. They will take better care of you if they aren’t squeaking about their work.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in New France? Aer cannons are all the rage these days. Claude Vadnay is the most sought after engineer in all of the New World and rumor has it that he has a new hand held pistol that doesn’t use black powder.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to New France? Aerships are the most common means of travel. However, Sir Vadnay of La Rochelle recently moved to the area and had the latest autocart shipped with him from Paris. The steam powered road rollers can be seen bouncing down the dirt and cobble stone streets causing horses to balk, and ladies to faint if not prepared for the sudden appearance and swift departure of a sparkling new autocart.
What is the political or government structure in New France? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she? His Royal Majesty, King Louis the XIV, is the supreme ruler of New France and its provinces. However, the pirates rule the water, and the struggle on land for power is constantly in flux between New England, New France, and the Iroquois Nation. At this point, it’s anyone’s game.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit New France? Yes! In New France women are welcome to chose a career or marry. If a man is lucky enough to be chose as a husband by one of these ladies, they will be given land and a promotion of title. The king may be in charge, but the ladies are calling the shots.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book? My books are based on the true story of the life of Marguerite Vadnay, one of my great-great-great grandmothers. Plus, I’m a huge Francophile. I love the food, the fashion, the history, and especially my family stories.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book? I cover women’s rights and independence quite a bit. The idea of a woman needing man to “Get by” in life or support her in an ancient one that has been challenged for as long as it has been around. I’m merely continuing that challenge with Marguerite. She will choose to settle down when she wants to, not because she has to— that is, if she ever settles down.