Join us on adventures through the lawless, untamed, kraken-infested skies! Trek the snowy wilds of the Klondike in the company of a Mountie! Visit a soul-stealing circus where entertainment is at your own risk! Riptide’s Gaslamp Fortnight will tempt you with the steampunk and gaslamp worlds of Cornelia Grey, Alexis Hall, and L.A. Witt.
And Gaslamp Fortnight is featuring a fabulous giveaway! Comment on the tour stops for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate to Harlots and Angels Steampunk Corsetry and get your own custom corset or personalized steampunk gear.
The Circus of the Damned – Character Inspiration Pics Pt. I
Hello, everyone, and thank you so much for having me here today to talk a little about my new novel, The Circus of the Damned!
For as long as I can remember, I have found inspiration for my writing in artwork. I studied fine arts for several years so, even though writing remains my medium of choice, I still have a soft spot for more visual forms of art. In fact, when I daydream about my stories, I tend to ‘see’ them, as if I was watching a movie, and the interesting challenge is to try to describe those scenes accurately.
So, whenever I am hunting for inspiration, I like to browse art websites, or the hundreds of pictures I have saved over the years on my laptop (miserably failing to organise them properly, I should admit!). Sometimes, a specific setting will spark the idea for a whole new scene taking place there; sometimes an intriguing face will catch my attention and, just like that, a character will be born. Once, a whole story idea was born from the picture of a ‘lightning flower’, the marks that sometimes remain on the skin after someone’s been hit by lightning…
As for Circus… when I was done with Devil at the Crossroads, the first book in the Deal with a Devil series, I had no idea that it would, in fact, become a series: I thought there was nothing else to tell about our tricky devil Farfarello and his deals. Then, one day, I came across this charming fellow…
…And I just knew: it was Farfarello, in yet another human shape, and he still had something to say.
I had been toying with the idea of writing a longer circus story for a while – those familiar with my work probably noticed I have a soft spot for ensemble casts and underdogs 😉 – and it just felt natural to combine a creepy, Victorian-esque setting with the theme of deals with the devil.
I immediately knew that Farfarello wouldn’t be one of the main characters, this time. The Victorian-esque urban environment called for a magician – I was imagining him wrapped in a tattered coat and with messy long hair, conjuring up sparks of bright magic in the dark, damp alleys…
I wanted him blond and scruffy, a street guy, used to looking strong and confident and dangerous, but with a soft spot a mile wide inside. His tough guy act would be mostly an act and, despite a bit of immaturity and awkwardness at times, Gilbert’s heart would be in the right place…
A few years ago, browsing a friend’s collection of fashion magazines, I had come across the photo of a blond model, wearing Victorian-esque scruffy clothing – a button shirt, a waistcoat, woollen fingerless gloves, boots… – with a mouse perched on his shoulder. I was never again able to find that picture, but it remained tucked in a corner of my head. It just looked like the perfect Victorian London street thief, whose mouse would help out sneaking into places, retrieving keys or coins for him, following along dutifully perched on his shoulder or nestled in his scarf, the way a girl from my high school used to bring her pet rat to school.
Also, I wanted Gilbert to have a companion – for all his lone wolf act, I knew he had a lot of love and care to give, if only he could work through an avalanche of trust issues. Thus, little Emilia was born!
As for Jesse, our handsome ringmaster – I had a little more trouble pinpointing what I wanted him to look like. Nobody seemed to look quite right: plus, I had my heart set on him having long hair (some readers probably already know I have a soft spot for that, too…!), and I wasn’t finding too many suitable candidates. When I decided he would be a master of fire, I also gave him red hair to match, and I remembered that there was one red-haired model I had spotted some time ago. And lo and behold, Google kindly provided pictures of him wearing suitably scruffy, nomad-style clothing – I recognised him instantly. Couldn’t have asked for a better Jesse!
So, the main cast of The Circus of the Damned was born. But I knew I wanted more characters to be involved – I knew the Circus would have a ragtag crew of performers, kind-hearted and yet shunned by society. I had a few thoughts and ideas, but I was hoping to find some visual references, too. So I set about looking through vintage photos and cabinet cards… I will share some of my findings in my next stop on the Gaslamp Fortnight tour!
Thank you for stopping by!
Blurb: Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.
But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.
Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.
Comment on the tour stops for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate to Harlots and Angels Steampunk Corsetry and get your own custom corset or personalized steampunk gear. Each new post you comment on earns you an entry into the drawing, so be sure to check out the rest of the tour schedule, too!
Harlots and Angels Bio:
Hello I’m Sharon Ince and I own Harlots and Angels. We are a UK based company that creates unusual sewing and crafting patterns, clothing, corsetry, props and accessories with a wide range of themes from Steampunk, Sci-Fi, Victorian, Gothic and Burlesque.
We have produced work for a large diversity of clients, including The Disney Corporation, the BBC costuming department, Sky TV, Working Title films as well as several Hollywood production companies and local theatre and film productions.
I have always loved to design and I’m self-taught. In fact I started at the early age of about 5 years old and have never stopped. I love to work with leather, sew natural fabrics, sculpt, and build my house with stone and wood; though my real passion is to design.
When I am starting out on a new design the hours fly by and I’m lost in the perfect bliss of experimenting, mathematical calculation, followed by the thrill of seeing the idea become reality.
My love of Gothic literature, mad inventors and scientists and all things Victorian has always filtered through my thoughts and designs, so when I first discovered the emerging Steampunk community some years ago many of my creations found their family niche.