The Courtesan’s Avenger by Kate M. Colby: Themes in a Series

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I would like to welcome author Kate M. Colby to my blog.  In this post, she discusses the issue of themes in a series of novels. Kate is an excellent writer, one I am proud to know. I respect her abilities and writing, and I have used her previous novel The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) in two of my college English literature classes.  So, welcome Kate please as she discusses Themes in a Series:

Kate C photo Oct15

 What makes a good book series? Most readers would say a captivating world, strong characters, and an overarching mission or journey. I absolutely agree … but I think there’s something missing there. Theme.

While books can (and should) offer escape and entertainment, they have the ability to do so much more than that. Fiction allows authors the opportunity to explore topics that matter to them on neutral ground, to expose and evaluate unsavory aspects of society, to celebrate all that makes up this wonderful and crazy human experience. As someone who blended sociology and English in university, this is exactly what I try to do in my fiction.

The world of my Desertera series is a steampunk wasteland. It’s about as far from reality as I could run. But the themes within the world really hit home with me, and have with several of my readers, too. My first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, is a revenge tale. When Aya, my protagonist, was a young girl, the king had her father executed for treason. Therefore, at first opportunity, Aya joins a plot to avenge her father’s death and trap the king into a crime, thus bringing about his execution.

If I’ve done my job as a writer, the readers should be on Aya’s side. They should seethe with anger and root for her to succeed in orchestrating the king’s execution. They should identify with Aya’s quest for self-redemption, love, and the reclaiming of her sexuality. They should be appalled at the social injustices in the world, the stratification of class and wealth, and the hypocritical palace politics – all things that can be found in reality.

When I set out to write the sequel, The Courtesan’s Avenger, I wanted to tackle a lot of these same themes. Class struggle remains a central issue, along with love and sexuality, friendship, and self-discovery. However, I knew I had a responsibility to address the other side of revenge: justice.

I had to face the ugly truth of the morality I had exalted. As much as I respect Aya and her mission, revenge isn’t healthy. Even if it is “justified,” it can turn a good person evil, blind them to their own wrongdoings, and pose troubling moral questions for a society. After all, if Aya can (essentially) murder and (definitely) commit crimes to avenge her father, what’s to stop the other citizens from doing the same to address their own grievances?

Enter Dellwyn and The Courtesan’s Avenger. When one of Dellwyn’s fellow courtesans is murdered, she doesn’t desire revenge or any sort of payback. She wants justice. Her whole goal in finding the killer is to submit them to the authorities and the judgment of law. She doesn’t take justice into her own hands, doesn’t commit any crimes, and even condemns Aya’s actions from the first novel. Dellwyn has seen how Aya’s quest for revenge created rifts in their world, and she refuses to do the same.

This is all a longwinded way of saying that theme, just as much as characters and setting and plot, is a central part of writing a book series. As an author, you have the opportunity to highlight the wrongs and praise the good you see in society. You can help readers gain empathy for the corrupt, question their sense of right and wrong, or just consider an issue they’d never thought about before.

Readers, you have the greatest blessing of all. You get to pick and choose what to take with you. Every book, no matter how thematically driven, leaves a piece of itself with us. Pride and Prejudice encourages us not to judge others too harshly and be open to love, The Girl on the Train reminds us to take responsibility for our actions, and The Picture of Dorian Gray condemns vanity, self-indulgence, and moral duplicity. At least, that’s what I get from those three – your interpretations could be entirely different! You can take the author’s message at face value, mine for deeper meaning, discover something the author didn’t know was there, or ignore it all completely. That’s the beauty of theme.

So, fellow writers, have the courage to experiment and make theme a central part of your series. It’s not just for stand-alone literary fiction novels. And, fellow readers, examine everything the author presents and take whatever it is you need. Every possible meaning lurks between those pages, and you can have whichever one you like.

Happy reading!

Author bio:

Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk fantasy novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

 

Book links:

The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) – http://books2read.com/the-cogsmiths-daughter

The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) – http://books2read.com/the-courtesans-avenger

Social links:

Website – http://www.katemcolby.com

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/katemcolby

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/authorkatemcolby

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/katemcolby    

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The Cogsmith’s Daughter by Kate M. Colby Blog Tour

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TCD Blog Tour Banner
WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…
Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.
When Aya Cogsmith is thirteen, King Archon has her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.
Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.
The Cogsmith's Daughter - 3D
Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Kate M. Colby, a talented and skilled author whose first book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter,  is available today. I’m very excited to be part of her book launch blog tour, and I extend a round of applause for this emerging and talented writer.  Kate is here to speak with us about becoming a writer and how she came upon the idea for her novel.

How I Became a Writer (and Stumbled Upon the Idea for My Novel)

I never quite know what to say when I’m asked how I became a writer. The most honest answer is, “I didn’t. I just always have been.” As long as I can remember, I’ve defined myself as a writer. My mom claims it began when I was a toddler. Apparently, I would recite my bedtime storybooks from memory, often adding my own embellishments to the tales. My first writing memory comes from second grade, when I wrote and illustrated a book for a class assignment. My teacher recognized my talent and encouraged me to keep writing. I did.

As for my “professional” writing background, that is more substantial. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, creative writing, and sociology. During university, I belonged to Sigma Tau Delta (the international English honor society), and presented twice at their annual convention. The first year, I presented a poetry collection, and the second, I presented a creative nonfiction essay (which placed third at the convention). Even though my heart has always been with fiction, I didn’t write much fiction in university.

When I graduated college, I worked as an administrative assistant. I enjoyed my job and loved my working atmosphere, but I still felt unfulfilled. I decided that I was ready to finally write my novel. I just had to know, once and for all, if I could do it. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (an event where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days), and I wrote the entire first draft of The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) in November 2014.

So, in its simplest form, that’s how I “became” a writer.
But that doesn’t answer the second question. How in the heck did I come up with my novel idea?

The germ of the idea came during my senior year of college. I was working in the English office, and one of the professors asked me to help format some of her students’ articles that were being posted online. The articles were on The 1,001 Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a tale about a king who believes women can never be faithful. He marries them, beds them, and then executes them the next morning. One wife is smart enough to keep his interest by telling elaborate bedtime stories, always ending on a cliffhanger so the king wants to know more the next night. As I read the class’ plot synopses and analyses, I thought to myself…what if the king took a different approach? What if adultery (which this king thinks all women will commit) was punishable by death?

And that’s how the plot of The Cogsmith’s Daughter was born.
Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. I scribbled the thought down in my idea journal and continued with my shift. It wasn’t until September 2014, when I was searching back through my journal for an idea for NaNoWriMo, that I revisited the thought again.

As I pondered my original idea, more questions emerged and answered themselves. What if the king abuses the adultery law, using it to get rid of his wives whenever he is bored with them? Wouldn’t someone notice the king’s pattern? Wouldn’t someone try to stop him? What if these opponents brought in a seductress to help frame the king in adultery, the same way he frames his wives?

And on and on it went. Eventually, I fleshed out the details of the setting and wrote a plot outline. A lot changed as I did my planning, and even more changed while I wrote, but in the end, I came away with a novel.

That novel released to the world today—less than one year after NaNoWriMo 2014. If anything, it just goes to show you—the smallest, seemingly insignificant thought can turn into a novel; you never know when you’ll find inspiration, so be open to everything and for the love of literature (and the joy of your future readers), write it down.

If you want to see how that germ of an idea evolved into a novel for yourself, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter HERE.

Don’t like leaving things up to chance? Me either. You can grab your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at these fine retailers:
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords

AP Fiction Book Covers

Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: http://www.KateMColby.com.

The Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Small(1)

Thank you to Kate Colby for spending time here today and talking about her new novel!  I recommend this book highly–I have read it and loved it! I posted a review of it the other day in this blog.

Remember, today is the release day for The Cogsmith’s Daughter!

Again, thank you Kate!

The Cogsmith’s Daughter Blog Tour

Standard
TCD Blog Tour Banner
WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…
Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.
When Aya Cogsmith is thirteen, King Archon has her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.
Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.
The Cogsmith's Daughter - 3D
Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Kate M. Colby, a talented and skilled author whose first book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter,  is available today. I’m very excited to be part of her book launch blog tour, and I extend a round of applause for this emerging and talented writer.  Kate is here to speak with us about becoming a writer and how she came upon the idea for her novel.

How I Became a Writer (and Stumbled Upon the Idea for My Novel)

I never quite know what to say when I’m asked how I became a writer. The most honest answer is, “I didn’t. I just always have been.” As long as I can remember, I’ve defined myself as a writer. My mom claims it began when I was a toddler. Apparently, I would recite my bedtime storybooks from memory, often adding my own embellishments to the tales. My first writing memory comes from second grade, when I wrote and illustrated a book for a class assignment. My teacher recognized my talent and encouraged me to keep writing. I did.

As for my “professional” writing background, that is more substantial. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, creative writing, and sociology. During university, I belonged to Sigma Tau Delta (the international English honor society), and presented twice at their annual convention. The first year, I presented a poetry collection, and the second, I presented a creative nonfiction essay (which placed third at the convention). Even though my heart has always been with fiction, I didn’t write much fiction in university.

When I graduated college, I worked as an administrative assistant. I enjoyed my job and loved my working atmosphere, but I still felt unfulfilled. I decided that I was ready to finally write my novel. I just had to know, once and for all, if I could do it. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (an event where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days), and I wrote the entire first draft of The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) in November 2014.

So, in its simplest form, that’s how I “became” a writer.
But that doesn’t answer the second question. How in the heck did I come up with my novel idea?

The germ of the idea came during my senior year of college. I was working in the English office, and one of the professors asked me to help format some of her students’ articles that were being posted online. The articles were on The 1,001 Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a tale about a king who believes women can never be faithful. He marries them, beds them, and then executes them the next morning. One wife is smart enough to keep his interest by telling elaborate bedtime stories, always ending on a cliffhanger so the king wants to know more the next night. As I read the class’ plot synopses and analyses, I thought to myself…what if the king took a different approach? What if adultery (which this king thinks all women will commit) was punishable by death?

And that’s how the plot of The Cogsmith’s Daughter was born.
Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. I scribbled the thought down in my idea journal and continued with my shift. It wasn’t until September 2014, when I was searching back through my journal for an idea for NaNoWriMo, that I revisited the thought again.

As I pondered my original idea, more questions emerged and answered themselves. What if the king abuses the adultery law, using it to get rid of his wives whenever he is bored with them? Wouldn’t someone notice the king’s pattern? Wouldn’t someone try to stop him? What if these opponents brought in a seductress to help frame the king in adultery, the same way he frames his wives?

And on and on it went. Eventually, I fleshed out the details of the setting and wrote a plot outline. A lot changed as I did my planning, and even more changed while I wrote, but in the end, I came away with a novel.

That novel released to the world today—less than one year after NaNoWriMo 2014. If anything, it just goes to show you—the smallest, seemingly insignificant thought can turn into a novel; you never know when you’ll find inspiration, so be open to everything and for the love of literature (and the joy of your future readers), write it down.

If you want to see how that germ of an idea evolved into a novel for yourself, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter HERE.

Don’t like leaving things up to chance? Me either. You can grab your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at these fine retailers:
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords

AP Fiction Book Covers

Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: http://www.KateMColby.com.

The Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Small(1)

Thank you to Kate Colby for spending time here today and talking about her new novel!  I recommend this book highly–I have read it and loved it! I posted a review of it the other day in this blog.

Remember, today is the release day for The Cogsmith’s Daughter!

Again, thank you Kate!