When one can’t travel, traveling by novel is the next best thing. Sometimes it’s even better since the feet stay warm by the fire and there are no missed flights.
Yesterday, (I’m a little late on posting) I had the great pleasure of dropping back into the adventures contained in one of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time, Dawn of Steam, First Light, by Jeffrey Cook with Sarah Symonds. It’s set in 1815 and is loosely based on some historical events along with invented travels across America via dirigible in a steam-based society. It has adventure in the Jules Verne tradition and relationships and humor that make me think of Jane Austen. The colorful characters and lively narrative captured my imagination so well that I asked Jeffrey Cook if I could set my new character, the witty Miss Livingstone, on the Dame Fortuna, to travel with them during one of her time traveling adventures. He graciously gave permission and was pleased that I would wish to build on his alternate history with some of my own.
I’ve been madly editing Miss Livingstone’s first novel, and honestly, I was feeling frazzled. But when I came to the chapter when she arrived on the dirigible I was all in again. I went back and read a scene in Jeffrey Cook’s book to make sure I stay to the ‘facts’ and was once again delighted and swept off on adventure.
Here’s a snippet of the first edit of The Unwitting Journeys of the Witty Miss Livingstone:
“Oh!” I can’t stifle my cries. It’s one shock after another. I’ve realized the detail of the ground below and comprehended how high I must be… “Flying! I’m flying!”
“Yes, indeed, or rather we are riding and the Dame Fortuna is flying, to be exact.” A young boy addressed me with a self-important air.
He seems quite pleased with his grasp of the workings of the situation. “But pardon my asking, who are you?” His brows sit up high and mighty awaiting my answer.
“The Dame Fortuna? But…”
“Aw Miss, don’t tease me. I know that’s the ship’s name, I just said so. And…”
“But that must make you the young Master Matthew Fisher-Swift.”
“You’ve heard of me?” He beamed as bright as his white-blonde hair.
“Well only in stories—accounts, I should say. Remarkable!” I’ve taken another peek over the side and looked upward at the open sky. Without a doubt, I stand upon the deck of the renowned dirigible of the past. I’ve achieved my dream of flight, although not with the fine young Mr. Chesterton of Chesterton Air, but rather on the very vessel that first birthed my hopes of air travel. For I have read the letters and journal entries collected by Dr. Cordelia Bentham-Watts that chronicle the amazing journeys of the Dame Fortuna and those that were part of its enviable grand quest to repeat and prove plausible the journeys of the wild adventurer, Mr. Bowe.
The first collection was released in 1887 just before I was born. When I was a girl of seven and a precocious reader, I conquered the challenges of more difficult reading along with this dirigible’s crew’s conquering of the American west. How thrilling. Can it be true? Can Miss Harriett Wright and the famous Coltranes and the infamous… “Sam Bowe! Pardon me, is Miss Samantha Bowe on this craft?”
“Oh yes, ma’am, I reckon Miss Bowe is about. Do you know her?”
“In a manner of speaking yes, but we haven’t…Oh, do you think I could meet her?”
“Now how did you get aboard this craft without meeting the…You still haven’t told me who you are.” The boy crooked his brow and pulled his shoulders back fiercely.
“Livingstone. I’m Miss Livingstone from Boston, and the far west. And the ornithopter? Is it here too?”
“Yes, though it’s still not quite itself after the storm and all. Not to fault Miss Wright’s handwork on repairs. I’m still on the mend as well, they say. But as you can see, I’m perfectly capable of keeping watch. I found you, after all.”
“You certainly did, sir. And I think it’s about time you reported it so.”
“Should I report it to Aunt Ruth or take you straight to Eddy?”
“Oh my, I’m feeling a bit faint.” I dropped the purple stone down my bodice just in time to use both hands to keep myself from pitching over the edge as things went black of a sudden. I’ve recovered my sight quickly, but have the shakes.
“Now that you mention it, Miss, you do look like you’re dressed for resting. I don’t normally see woman in dressing gowns or clothes without all of those contraptions and all, except for Miss Bowe, of course, but she’s got her own reasons. Can’t hardly knife-fight in a corset. Don’t tell Aunt Ruth I’m talking of such things.”
“Knives or lady’s undergarments”
“Either… or I mean, neither would be best.”
-by Sheri J. Kennedy aka Kennedy J. Quinn
All Rights Reserved.
I’m giving each day a unique name this year hoping to remember that each has it’s own beauty. Today is: Adventures