Monday, October 26, 2009

Of Steampunks and Hanukkah

When famed archeologist Howard Carter first peered through a small hole into King Tut’s tomb, Lord Carnarvon asked him if he saw anything. He replied, “Yes, wonderful things!” This is how I felt this past weekend when Nick Valentino introduced me to his brand new novel, Thomas Riley, and a genre of fiction called “Steampunk."

Nick and I were staffing the Echelon Press booth at the South Carolina Writers Conference. He’s an extremely nice guy, very approachable, and passionate about his book. He should be. I began reading it and didn’t want to stop. Now bear in mind, one’s job at a book festival or writers conference is to greet your patrons warmly, answer questions, and try to sell them books from the table. If I seemed a bit grumpy to any of the folks who stopped by the booth, my apologies. I was simply irritated because I had to put Thomas Riley aside in order to serve you. That’s how good this book is.

For those of you who, like me, haven’t a clue about what steampunk fiction is, Nick describes it as alternative history, Victorian era characters who invent and use some very forward technologies—think James West and Artemus Gordon in the old Wild West television series. It is appprently the new rage among teen readers. Nick’s book has air pirates, dirigibles, fancy inventions that his characters use deftly, action, and lots of adventure. As I read it, I kept hearing the Indiana Jones music playing in my head!

Though he didn’t write it specifically for teens, Nick is marketing the book as a young adult title. It would make a nice stocking stuffer for Christmas for anyone in your family who loves high adventure. You can buy it at or directly from the publisher at

After getting home from the conference, I took my kids to Halloween Express to buy some accessories for their costumes. On the way, Alexey said Halloween was his second favorite holiday, coming in behind Christmas.. Nikki said she really didn’t like Halloween and it didn’t even make her top three. I asked her what her favorite holidays were.

She considered it a moment, index finger over her lips, before she said, “I celebrate Christmas, Easter, and Hanukkah.”

Shalom, y’all.


  1. Those are three good ones and all bring the prospect of gifts and chocolate. Good for her.

  2. I love it! She's such a smart little pickle.