Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Release Date (Print & Ebook): October 3, 2017
Length (Print & Ebook): 273 pages
Subgenre: Alt-history, steampunk, weird west
Book blurb: 1858 –Warring mages open up a vast inland sea that splits the United States in two. With the floodwaters come creatures from a long distant past. What seems like the End Times forges a new era of heroes and heroines who challenge tradition, law, and even death as they transform the old west into a new world.
In the heart of dinosaur country a laconic trapper and a veteran mage risk treason to undertake a secret mission.
A brilliant magician and her beautiful assistant light up stages with the latest automaton, but the secrets both of them are hiding test their trust in each other and pit them against one of the most powerful men in the world.
At the wild edge of the Inland Sea, amidst crocodiles and triceratops, an impoverished young man and a Pinkerton Detective must join forces to outmaneuver a corrupt judge and his gunmen.
I wrote the Long Past and Other Stories out of a desire to see myself and the real diversity of the people around me reflected in the fantastic heroes and heroines that populate the steampunk genre that I love. ~ Ginn Hale
excerpt: A strange sensation came over Grover, as if he were floating over his own relaxed body and curling around Lawrence in a plume of smoke. He caught the exhalation of Lawrence’s breath and rose with it into the cool evening air. All around him he felt tiny pulses flicker like starlight as moths winged past him and bats pursued them. As Grover took it in, he realized that each of them shone with a warm glow that lit their flesh like light streaming through stained glass.
Farther out, the lush forest radiated luminous green while countless creatures gleamed like a million scattered candle flames. He felt almost as if he could reach out and catch even the largest ones—that sleeping bigtooth only a few miles west, or the two sated longnecks that lay curled around each other—with just a flick of his hand. The warmth of them pulled at him, though the longer he focused on any one of them, the more it seemed to stretch towards him. Briefly he wondered if he couldn’t draw a light all the way from the flesh it inhabited into the palm of his hand, but he resisted. That seemed, somehow, wrong to him.
Instead he turned his attention to the weird blue haze that bobbed far off on the horizon. A grating, mechanical beat reverberated from it, and Grover could see the golden lights of night birds, bats and insects whirling away from its slow path across the sky.
Could that be the Tuckers’ airship, he wondered?
Without thinking, he curled himself around the swift soft body of a bat and winged after the airship. It floated a great distance away, and when the little bat’s strength flagged, Grover pushed some of his own warmth and light into the bat’s weary body. A feeling of shared exhilaration flooded him. As one he and the bat snapped up several fat mosquitoes and tore through the night to swoop alongside the sleek airship’s long gondola.
Dozens of shining human forms crowded the deck as he passed. Though three of them struck him as very strange. Up at the bow on the bridge stood two forms, both faint compared to the others surrounding them. But stranger still was the fact that when one moved away from the other, a stream of light stretched out between them like an umbilical cord. As Grover watched he saw the light flare up in one of the figures—growing almost as bright as it blazed in the surrounding people—but then it seemed to drain into the second body.
Back near the quarterdeck, the third figure sat near five others. But unlike the others this body seemed swathed in an immense ribbon of sparkling blue letters, while a tiny, intense gold light shone between and beneath them. Grover suspected that he knew who these people were but he wished he could be certain. If only he could actually see them instead of sensing the brilliance their lives threw off.
If he could somehow use other eyes…then he cursed himself for choosing to ride along on a bat. The moment the thought occurred to him, he was surprised to find he really could see the figures of the uniformed men on the deck of the gondola.
On the quarterdeck, a group sat near and on artillery cases, placing bets as they studied their hands of cards. Recognizing Lawrence’s countenance in their midst gave him a little jolt. He’d suspected as much but hadn’t realized how perfect Lady Astor’s impersonation would appear. She grinned, Lawrence’s crooked grin, and laid out a royal flush. The guards and crewmen groaned and coins changed hands. One of the men complained that the naked women drawn on the cards had distracted him.
“At least you claimed a lovely view from a losing hand,” Honora replied. “My girl on the king of diamonds nearly made my eyes water.” That won her guffaws and a slap on the back.
Grover swept over them and circled one of the hanging lamps, snapping up a moth.
Suddenly one of the Tucker twins came pelting towards the gathered men. The second twin followed right behind—and now Grover suspected he knew why they stayed so very close to each other.
“There’s a spy on board!” the first Tucker shouted.
“There.” The second lifted a pistol towards Grover. Terror raced through the tiny body he inhabited.
Honora instantly stood, blocking the shot.
“Are you mad?” Honora’s words boomed out in Lawrence’s voice. Even the Tuckers froze in response to the authoritative tone. “We’re surrounded by cases of explosives, alchemic dust and black powder. And you’re aiming at a lamp!”
Grover took advantage of the Tuckers’ hesitation to flit back into the darkening sky.
Author Bio: Award-winning author Ginn Hale lives in the Pacific Northwest with her lovely wife and their ancient, evil cat. She spends the rainy days admiring local fungi. The stormy nights, she spends writing science-fiction and fantasy stories featuring LGBT protagonists. (Attempts to convince the cat to be less evil have been largely abandoned.)