Eric Klein Author

Interview Raquel Byrnes

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This week we have Raquel Byrnes here to tell us about the first book in her series The Blackburn Chronicles called The Tremblers (Book 1)

What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?

I discovered so many fantastic devices that were used by both sides of the Civil War and I ended up augmenting and using them in the books. For example, the Union Army used hot air balloons for aerial reconnaissance and used telegraphs and sketches from the balloon pilots to monitor troop movements. As a countermeasure, the south used black smoke fires to obscure their positions. So these were essentially the first air surveillance and countermeasures. The first combat submersibles were also used during this time. The H.L. Hunley was a ‘porpoise boat’ or submarine used by the south to sink a Union boat on blockade duty. In fact all of the tech and devices in The Tremblers is based off of real science available at the time that I extrapolated out to devise my own weapons.

Why did you choose this setting?

Although steampunk tends to take place in London or Europe, I wanted to set the story in a place that had a lot of movement and change. We were right at the cusp of industrial marvels at that time in history. Amazing feats of building, manufacturing, transportations, all of it was in dynamic flux and I wanted to capture that frenetic feel for the book.

What’s unique about your world?

Well, everything. Its alternative history steampunk which allowed me great leeway in designing the world. The Tremblers is set in 1885 America ten years after a devastating chain of earthquakes fractured the entirety of the country. So, I used known cities, but caged them with electric domes and rebuilt landmarks with metal facades. The weapons are based off of steam tech with a lot of influence from Tesla and other scientific luminaries of the day.

How real do you think the science is in your book?

The science in my book is an extrapolation of what was available at the time both in reality and what was presented as possible at Worlds Fairs and other symposiums. The weapons I designed for the main character, Charlotte, needed finesse however. So, they are beautiful, but deadly. Like her. From metal spheres clustered together to make an explosive flower-shaped grenade known as the ‘Shrieking Violet; to the devastating ‘Tracer Guns’ that run off the dome’s energy, they are all based off existing science. I just added a little oomph.

What was the most mundane item that you used that really has cool tech behind it? What is the tech?

The chainmail bodices and boot hooks everyone must wear to keep from getting shocked or shocking others. Living under the electric pulse of the Tesla domes that cage the cities, citizens must ground themselves against sparks. I had studied the dust bowl storms and learned that people had to guard against building up static electricity in similar conditions. So, throughout the books there are sparks that constantly flit along metal railings, the edges of carriages, along people’s vests, etc. Its not touched on in a big way, but it is the details of that kind of existence that I wanted to get right.

What did you include that you wish was real today?

In the second book of the series, there are men that soar from the giant walking cities which roam the Wasteland. I wish these membrane wing contraptions were something we used today. They allowed sentinels to draft thermals and bank along the burning lava seams in what must have been an ultimate rush. I based them off the wingsuits used today, with some liberties taken, of course.

What technology or science do you think will most affect the world of tomorrow?

It is my hope that the use of coal alternatives is something that makes a significant mark on our own future. And that we might take caution with invasive surveillance technology that promises security at the cost of privacy.