Today I’m delighted to welcome Beth Cato, steampunk fantasy author of The Clockwork Dagger duology and Blood of Earth trilogy, to my blog. 15th August, marks the release of the second book in the Blood of Earth trilogy: Call of Fire. Congratulations Beth! Cannot wait to read your latest book!
Breath of Earth, the first book, opens in an alternate 1906 where the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.
When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by Ingrid’s incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, San Francisco is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose the earth’s energy to masterminds determined to control it for their own dark ends…
Call of Fire starts where Breath of Earth ends. Ingrid has barely survived an earthquake that devastated San Francisco and almost crippled her with an influx of geomantic energy. She flees north, pursued by Ambassador Blum, a cunning and dangerous woman who wants to use Ingrid’s abilities as the magical means to a devastating end.
Ingrid’s goals are simple: avoid capture that would cause her to be used as a weapon by the combined forces of the United States and Japan in their war against China, and find out more about the god-like powers she inherited from her estranged father. Most of all, she must avoid seismically active places. She doesn’t know what an intake of power will do to her body–or what damage she may unwillingly create.
The story sounds fascinating. And look at that gorgeous cover:
You can find out all about Beth and her books on her website, but I also had a couple of questions for her:
What was your inspiration for the Blood of Earth series?
Beth: I’m a Central California girl, born and raised, and I have always known earthquakes. The 1906 San Francisco held particular fascination for me because of the extent of the destruction. When I was mulling over ideas for a new book to write, I hit on the concept of a steampunk take on the 1906 quake and fire, and everything developed from there! In my books, the cause of the earthquake is quite different than in our history.
It sure is! But does a reader need to read the first book to enjoy the second?
Beth: This is a series with a complex alternate history, so yes, it would be helpful to have read Breath of Earth before starting Call of Fire. The first chapter does have a short recap of what happened in the previous book to help people get into the flow of the series again.
That makes absolute sense! Thanks Beth, for joining me today. And here, for your reading pleasure, is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Call of Fire. Ingrid encounters something strange in downtown Portland, Oregon…
Rain thrummed on the sidewalk canopies. Above the increased noise and bustle of street traffic, she heard a beautiful bell-like sound that made her think of the wind chimes that Mama made from scrap and hung in their yard years ago. Ingrid smiled and looked around to find the source of the noise. As she did, she was startled by a flash of gold a block away and across the street. Along with it, she felt a tingle of magic—strange magic. In Mr. Sakaguchi’s backyard, pixies in close proximity had caused a vaguely similar sensation; but this one carried with it a profound sense of coziness, the relief that came with being in sight of home after a long day of work at the auxiliary.
Ingrid shook herself from the reverie and grabbed Lee’s arm. “Did you see that?”
“See what? Ing?”
She dodged pedestrians and paused at the corner. The policeman-operated traffic light almost instantly let them cross.
“What did you see?” Lee kept pace alongside her.
“I don’t know.” She stopped where she had seen the flash. Through the window, a Japanese shopkeeper bowed and spoke with customers. Ingrid whirled around to get her bearings.
The tintinnabulation rang in her ears again, haunting and sweet at the same time. This time, the ensuing rush of magic smelled ever so faintly like the French cologne that Mr. Sakaguchi wore for special occasions. Grief froze her for a moment, and then she took off in pursuit of the sound. She heard Lee’s surprised cry behind her, but she didn’t slow. As she rounded the corner, she saw the glimmer again some distance up the street.
Then the presence of magic was gone, again. Panting for breath, she leaned on a wooden post. A white couple cast her an odd look as they pushed by her and into a shop.
“Do you mind telling me what’s going on?” Lee caught up to her, a scowl on his face. “I thought we weren’t going to come to the burned part of town.”
Ingrid turned on her heel. Sure enough, the full square block beyond them had been reduced to bricks and rubble,while other nearby buildings looked well scorched. Lee moved closer. The rain had quenched the smoke. Chinese men and women wandered through the destruction with long boards or rakes in hand. Curious folks, mostly whites, hovered at the edges of the street. A few policemen in distinct caps stood back as overseers. No Unified Pacific soldiers were present.
“We shouldn’t be here,” Ingrid murmured.
“I know that! You led us straight here. What were you chasing?”
She opened and closed her mouth without any sound escaping. A flash of light? The sound of bells? “I don’t know,” she said finally. “We need to be especially cautious.”
Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is CALL OF FIRE. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.