Oct 23, 2013

THE NINE: Adult Steampunk Fantasy

Genre: Adult Steampunk Fantasy
Word Count: 125,000

My Main Character’s Greatest Fear: 

Rowena Downshire can only count on herself. Mama's stuck raving in debtor’s prison, five hundred sovereigns from her freedom. Rowena's years of running black market deliveries have trimmed down the debt, but deep in her empty belly, she's terrified she’ll be collared for smuggling before earning Mama back. And that’s assuming she can survive her employer’s brutal hand and salacious gaze. Rowena fears admitting to the dread that hounds her every day. If she does, she’s already lost.


Dear Agent:

After seven years as an “apprentice courier,” thirteen-year-old Rowena Downshire has carried danger under her tattered coat dozens of times. But when her next burden is a book that writes itself, Rowena’s filthy hands hazard far more than a constable’s cuffs.

They carry the fate of humanity.

Corma is a city of iron and steam, its sooty streets a maze Rowena runs for a smuggler who pays her in beatings as often as sovereigns. For years, she’s struggled to settle the debt that condemned her mother to Oldtemple prison, praying against Reason for a bit clink, and a lot of luck.

A different fortune finds Rowena when a harried scholar thrusts his research text into her hands, desperate to evade the killers pursuing its secrets. This book records the lives of the Nine: the ultimate subjects of the Creator’s Grand Experiment, the unsuspecting souls whose actions will determine humanity’s deliverance or doom. Access to unspeakable knowledge entangles Rowena in a ruthless nobleman’s scheme to derail divine judgment. Now a witness to a dangerous conspiracy, her final wage may be the steel slipped in her back.

To survive, Rowena must find allies. Cracking the courage to put herself in another’s hands proves harder than jimmying the locks of Oldtemple – yet suspicion is a luxury she can no longer afford.

Not when the noose readied for Rowena will do more than tie up a loose end.

Not when the book reveals her name among the Nine.

THE NINE is a 125,000 word fantasy novel with a clockwork heart, steam soul, and series potential. I hold a Master’s in Writing and teach creative writing and science fiction/fantasy literature at an elite public boarding school. 

Thank you for your consideration.

First 250:

Rowena Downshire fixed the lanyani with her best glare, not even regarding the stack of coin it had placed in her palm. She knew by its weight it was shy three sovereigns, and that was difference enough in clink to earn a solid whack of Ivor’s hawthorn. The lanyani, its wooden face as rutted as old oak, blinked at her with white, irisless eyes.

“You’re short,” Rowena said, loudly and slowly, translating to half-wit. “The deal was sixteen. I en’t come two miles getting chewed to bits to leave with less than what’s due.”

She hadn’t let go of the vervet’s cage yet, either, though she wished the little beast would stop worrying at her hand under the shearling cover. The lanyani leaned for the cage, willow-whip hands sweeping wide.

Rowena danced backward, out from under the gypsy’s fringed tent and out of its reach. She ignored the curse of a costermonger whose foot she trod, though she did look up at him just to be sure he wasn’t a Constable. He spat by her boot and lifted his barrow of soft, waxy apples, wheeling off to some other corner of the Shipman’s Bazaar.

Rowena turned back to the lanyani.

“Three more clink, or no little rat,” she said. Slowly, she edged closer, the little rectangular cage clutched against her chest.

The lanyani did not speak its reply; the long drought of the summer and the cold air of autumn had left it brittle and slow, the curled remnants of a once-leafy pate drifting to the ground with every movement.


  1. Such an intriguing concept! SHIVER!! (Please send pages/synopsis/pitch to pooja@kimberleycameron.com)

  2. SHRIEK!

    Please send 50 pages to query@dunhamlit.com with REQUESTED MATERIAL: NIGHTMARE QUERY in the subject line, your query in the body of the email, and the material and a one-page synopsis attached.

    Can’t wait to read it!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Shriek, please! (Pages, query and synopsis can be sent to emily (at) bookhaven.com with Nightmare Query in the subject line.)

  5. SHIVER! Would love to read more. Please send query and pages to jordy@thebookeralbertagency.com. Thanks!!

  6. Scream! Please send to queryroseanne at gmail with Nightmare Query in the subject line. Looking forward to reading!