On June 1, 2013, Once Upon a Clockwork Tale will be available in eBook and paperback. Along with three other tales, this collection of steampunk reimaginings of classic fairy tales includes my novella, Bitter Cold, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.”
Here is part 1 of a short excerpt from Bitter Cold. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
The two had been friends since the age of five. Their houses rested against each other in a quiet St. Louis neighborhood and shared a garden plot. Their relationship started with an argument about whether to plant vegetables or flowers. Greta wanted roses: a rare moment of girlish behavior on her part.
Kit had conceded, fascinated by the little girl with green eyes and honey-colored braids. Greta admitted there was no reason they couldn’t plant both, and so they did. The two soon became as inseparable as their homes.
They worked together in the garden, and played make-believe in nearby Riverside Park. Kit, always the knight, and Greta alternating between being the princess and the dragon. She’d gotten quite good at capturing herself. When they were older, Kit had built a mechanical dragon, and she’d armed it with an alchemical flamethrower. They only got to use it once. In hindsight, they probably should have warned the local constable before taking it to the park.
Kit was always interested in machines. He’d rummaged in dustbins for cogs, springs, and bits of metal, building small labor-saving devices which he sold to buy tools and more parts. He’d taken over the carriage house behind his home as a workshop. Greta had a similar gift for alchemy. Starting with plants from the garden and common ingredients, she had progressed by selling apothecary compounds and tinctures to buy more exotic elements and supplies.
Now, at nearly twenty, little had changed. While Greta seemed perfectly content, Kit had grown restless and worried. His thoughts turned often to grown up problems and desires, most of which revolved around Greta.
The answer to both his problems and desires was a ring, nestled in the pocket of his Sunday suit. Fashioned with exquisite care after countless hours staring through rows of magnifying glasses, he had poured his heart into a ring like no other. Interlocking copper, silver, gold, and steel made an intricate pattern resembling roses and vines. Within its narrow works, the ring held the tiniest music box imaginable. Twisted just so, it would play Greta’s favorite tune. A work of master tinkering so sublime, it seemed like magic. The ring displayed his finest work. Determined, he intended to offer it, and a proposal of marriage, to his best friend.
Be sure to check back for part 2 of this excerpt tomorrow!