Zoe Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there's nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master's degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, trade off writing the books in the steampunk romance series THE ETHER CHRONICLES. June 2013 will see the launch of her new gritty Victorian romance series, NEMESIS, UNLIMITED for St. Martin's Press. Zoe and Nico live in Los Angeles.
Nico Rosso was a writer in search of a genre until his wife, Zoe Archer, brought romance into his life in more ways than one. Through her he learned that the romance genre was filled with vast opportunities for storytelling. He created the sci-fi romance Limit War series, sweeping readers off Earth and into an interstellar conflict. Closer to home, he set off the apocalypse with The Last Night. And, starting with The Ether Chronicles, he gets to write more closely than ever with his wife. They created the steampunk world together and trade off, telling romance tales that span the globe.
Captain Christopher Redmond has just one weakness: the alluring spy who loved and left him years before…when he was still just a man. Now he's superhuman—a Man O' War, made as part of the British Navy's weapons program—and his responsibility is to protect the skies of Europe. If only he could forget Louisa Shaw.
A most inconvenient desire
Louisa, a British Naval Intelligence agent, has never left a job undone. But when her assignment is compromised, the one man who can help her complete her mission is also the only man ever to tempt her body and heart. As burning skies loom and passion ignites, Louisa and Christopher must slip behind enemy lines if they are to deliver a devastating strike against their foe . . . and still get out alive.
Night of fire, night of passion
US Army Upland Ranger Tom Knox always knew going home wouldn’t be easy. Three years ago, he skipped town, leaving behind the only woman who ever mattered; now that he’s seen the front lines of war, he’s ready to do what he must to win her back.
Rosa Campos is long past wasting tears on Tom Knox, and now that she’s sheriff of Thornville, she has more than enough to do. Especially when a five-story rock-eating mining machine barrels toward the town she’s sworn to protect.
Tom’s the last person Rosa expects to see riding to her aid on his ether-borne mechanical horse. She may not be ready to forgive, but Rosa can’t deny that having him at her side brings back blissful memories . . . even as it reignites a flame more dangerous than the enemy threatening to destroy them both.
Return to The Ether Chronicles, where the skies above the American West are about to get wilder than ever
Bounty hunter Anna Blue always finds her fugitive. But her latest mission is filled with mystery: a high price for an eccentric inventor. And her biggest rival, Jack Hawkins—a startlingly handsome, entirely unsettling man whose abilities match her own—is hunting the same bounty. Neither will back down.
When a rogue Man O' War flies his airship into the California skies, guns blazing, Anna and Jack are forced to team up or die. But it isn't the danger that has them ready to flare like gunpowder. They've circled each other for years as competitors only. Fighters and outsiders, they never thought they'd find a kindred soul. As hot passion and raw need draw them together, can they survive this mission long enough to track the most elusive fugitives their hearts?
Zoe: The short version is Victorian science fiction, or, how the Victorians would have envisioned the future, which would be influenced by their own technology and what they think science is capable of. Also, you can take technology that we have now—like the internet, or, say, video chatting—and interpret it through the lens of Victorian science and aesthetics.
Nico: What makes steampunk so cool is that the definition of the genre is open to interpretation. There is no one source that all others draw from, allowing different authors to forge their own take on a widely unique world.
Lisarenee: Nico, I haven't heard of too many male romance authors so I have to wonder, did you find it hard to get your stories published? Did you experience any difficulties being taken seriously?
Nico: I don’t think my road to publication would look different than a lot of other romance authors, regardless of gender. So far, the people I’ve met in and around the genre have been very supportive. No one has ever told me to my face that they have a problem with a man writing romance. If there is any kind of barrier, it would be behind the scenes where I haven’t seen it.
Lisarenee: Many steampunk novels tend to deal with altered versions of our own world. You can see glimpses of the real past intertwined within the new version, but I always wonder exactly what alternate time period a steampunk novel takes place in. After reading the first book, Skies of Fire, I thought perhaps the 1400's because of a reference about the Battle of Rouen, but after reading the westerns I'm thinking perhaps 1800's? Although when dealing with steampunk you could potentially have a historical battle happen in a different time frame, what time period does this series take place in?
Zoe: In one Ether Chronicles book I referenced a battle at Rouen, but a different one, since I figured that there could be multiple battles set in the same location separated by a few hundred years. We figured that the Ether Chronicles is set in an alternate 1880s, but didn’t want to get into specifics about the year to keep the reader’s imagination as open as possible.
Lisarenee: Nico, on your website ( http://nicorosso.com/Home.html ) you stated, "I'm also working on two steampunk Westerns for Avon Impulse. These are part of the Ether Chronicles, a world created by me and my wife, Zoe Archer. She'll be writing the European side of the steampunk tales while I'm handling the West. It's very exciting working on these projects with Zoe, just imagine us leaping about the apartment, enacting scenes on battling airships." The last part made me smile. How much fun do the two of you have writing this series? If the opportunity presents itself in the future would you do it again? Also, how did the joint project come about? Who had the initial idea that you'd alternate stories between you?
Nico: We have a lot of fun creating the stories for the Ether Chronicles. Because the world is so vast and the technology can really move the characters around, there are a lot of possibilities to play with. Often our coffee shop conversations are about airships and ether pistols. Then, when we’re home and writing, the plastic weapons come out so we can choreograph the fight scenes.
Initially Zoë was working in the Ether Chronicles alone, but we saw the world we created was large enough to sustain stories across the globe. I’ve always been a fan of Westerns and thought the steampunk tech would be a great fit with that iconography. Luckily, Avon Impulse agreed. The idea of alternating stories came naturally, considering how they were only loosely tied together. Also, it opened the schedule a little bit, so we wouldn’t be buried by constant deadlines and could take time rounding out the individual worlds of the tales.
Zoe: Plus we both know how the world functions in the Ether Chronicles, so neither of us is ever lost if the other proposes a particular storyline or piece of technology.
Lisarenee: Do you know how many books total will in the series there will be (and please don't tell me that Nights of Steel is the last book)?
Zoe: Currently, we have plans for five books, so there will be one more after Nights of Steel, which I’m in the process of writing...right now!
Lisarenee: Some of the names you pick cleverly sound like names of things that exist in our world. For example, tetrol sounds a little like petrol and telumium sounds a bit like tellurium. Did you do this on purpose because it make it easier for readers to remember what they were?
Nico: As fantastic as the technology we come up with is, we try to keep it grounded in some reality. By using familiar sounding names or building off of machines and equipment that were actually available in the late 19th Century, we hope to keep the reader attached to the world as if it really could’ve been. And it definitely helps minimize confusion for the reader, considering all the inventions we’re filling the stories with.
Zoe: Also, the Latin word “telum” means “spear,” or “missile,” so I used that as the basis for the metal’s name.
Lisarenee: Whose idea was the Man O' War? I love the concept. If I had to make a guess, I'd say Zoe had a bigger hand in its creation because her novels seem to center more around them.
Zoe: The original idea was actually Nico’s. He conceived of a group of men whose fighting skill and martial strength generated magical power, and then as we discussed the idea, it seemed like a perfect idea to put within the steampunk world.
Nico: Once we decided to put the Man O’ Wars into the steampunk world, it was a collaboration in the laboratory - I’d present tech ideas and Zoë would figure out how to implement it, then we’d engineer everything to work together. Because the Man O’ Wars fit more into the European model of (aerial) navy warfare, they didn’t seem quite right for the Wild West world I was creating for my stories, so it made sense for Zoë to write most of their tales.
Lisarenee: Can you expand a little on the transition process of becoming a Man O' War? I believe you said there is an operation involved with grafting, so I'm guessing telumium isn't like a liquid sort of metal that can permeate its way into someone or fuse itself to a person's skin? Additionally, it sounds like the telumium needs a pathway to a person's heart to create the symbiotic relationship between the person and their ship? If a ship is destroyed, would it be safe to assume the captain could potentially take over someone else's with no ill affects? Well, at least not to him?
Zoe: The process was perfected by Dr. Allegra Rossini, and she’s keeping the actual procedure close to her vest, so we can’t say too much about the specifics of how an ordinary man becomes a Man O’ War. But, yes, it involves grafting telumium onto the skin of the potential Man O’ War, and using filaments to connect to the subject’s heart, which is the source of their aurora vires—the energy every person generates, except some have stronger aurora vires than others. You have to have a aurora vires rating of Gimmel or higher to be considered a candidate for becoming a Man O’ War. The process is extremely traumatic to the body and mind. Plus you need that strength to feed the batteries of an airship. As long as a Man O’ War has access to the batteries that feed off his power, he’s fine, but he can’t be away from any battery for too long, or else his energy builds up too much and it triggers a berserker rage.
Lisarenee: What current projects are the two of you working on? Can you tell us a little bit about them?
Zoe: Currently, I’m working on the next Ether Chronicles book. After that, I’ll be writing the third book in my Nemesis, Unlimited series, which debuts next Spring. It’s gritty Victorian historical romance, kind of like Leverage or Burn Notice in Victorian England.
Nico: I have a couple of projects on the desk, but they’re both in the secret stages. I can say that they’re both dark and sexy fun. Already completed and coming out soon will be a short superhero romance titled Ironheart.
Lisarenee: Thanks so much for answering my questions. It was fun chatting with you. I look forward to reading more of your books.
Zoe: Thanks for having us!
Nico: Great questions! Thanks so much!