A big welcome to Lynn Viehl who is here to telling us about how she rewrote history for her new Disenchanted & Co. series and celebrating the release of the first book, HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE (published on August 12, 2013 by Pocket Star). Want to win a Victorian prize pack? Enter via the widget below.
The Corsets Have to Go
One of the benefits of writing an urban fantasy series set in a parallel universe is that the world belongs to you. You get to name it, build it from the dirt up, and populate it with whoever and whatever you want. You write the history and decide the outcome of all important events; you also make all the rules. Some writers refer to it as playing God, but when you world-build like this you almost have to take on God’s job (at least on paper.)
Creating the universe for my Disenchanted & Co. series provided me with the chance to go back in time and reimagine America as a country that didn’t win the War of Independence but remained a part of the British empire. Goodbye, coffee, hello tea. My protagonist, a private investigator who specializes in crimes of magic and exposing the charlatans behind them, isn’t what you’d consider the usual Victorian-era lady, either.
There were plenty of things about our world I would change, but in constructing the Toriana universe I had to resist the usual selfish temptations. Making all my ancestors six-foot-tall Scandinavians with unimaginable wealth and perfect skin would have been lovely, but then I probably would never have become a writer, and then there would be no books. To avoid the authorial paradox I focused on eliminating the little things that nearly everyone finds especially annoying, painful or just plain revolting. For example:
Algebra: Instead of bedeviling hundreds of generations of students by writing his ground-breaking, problem-solving Arithmetica and inventing Algebra, in my world the ancient Greek mathematician Diophantus decided to devote himself to something much more pleasant: gardening. In Toriana he’s known as the Founding Father of Flowerbeds.
Castor Oil: This repulsive substance is used only to lubricate machinery in my universe. Moms who want their kids to be regular resort to nicer methods, like dosing them with batches of oatmeal-date cookies.
Corsets: I reworked this instrument of torture disguised as lingerie to be worn on the outside of garments, more like a belt, and to be much more comfortable and easier to remove. P.S., females in my Toriana universe with unnatural, hour-glass figures are considered bizarre-looking and unattractive.
Head Lice: Really, do I even have to explain this one?
Lay and Lie: These two are now completely interchangeable words that have no specific rule of usage in the English language. That goes for farther and further and sit and set, too.
Poison Ivy: Have you ever been a six-year-old sent to Girl Scout camp with counselors who didn’t know what it looked like, so when they took you on a hike they led you directly through a patch of it? I have. If not, do you know how painful the resulting rash was and how long it took before said miserable first grader recovered? That’s why.
Pantyhose: This ranks #2 on my Absolutely Must Go list, just after corsets. Of course it won’t be invented until 1959 in our universe, but when that year rolls around in mine the gentleman who actually came up with this stupid idea will instead say to his very pregnant wife, “Leave off your stockings, dear. I think you’re beautiful bare-legged.”
Roaches: You know how they say they’ll survive anything? Yeah, well, not in my universe.
Spaghetti Squash: Of all the vegetables my mother insisted I eat when I was a kid it was the only kind I flatly refused to try. This was because my cousin Arnold told me the fibers were actually worms. So you’ll understand why I created the dreaded Arnold slug, which only ate spaghetti squash and thus wiped out the world’s supply of it before promptly going extinct.
Telephones: They have not yet been invented in my universe, probably because my people are too busy writing long, lovely letters, leaving elegant calling cards and flowers, and talking to each other face-to-face. I figure if they keep it up I can eventually free mankind from technological slavery by eliminating Facebook, Twitter and texting, too.
On August 12th you can have a look at my much-improved Toriana universe when Her Ladyship’s Curse, the first e-book in the series, is released — or if you’re impatient to see how I changed the world, enter my giveaway here at All Things Urban Fantasy and have a chance to win signed and bound print galley copies of the first two e-books, Her Ladyship’s Curse and His Lordship Possessed, along with some other goodies, all packed up in a handmade silk and beaded quilted tote. My giveaway is open to everyone in this universe, so please join in.
Victorian Prize Pack which includes:
A handmade beaded and quilted silk tote
Signed printed bound galleys of Her Ladyship’s Curse and His Lordship Possessed
A Victorian crafted fabric picture frame
A gold-foiled journal
A set of floral cards and pansy pen and notepad
Available on August 12, 2013 by Pocket Star
In a steampunk version of America that lost the Revolutionary War, Charmian (Kit) Kittredge makes her living investigating crimes of magic. While Kit tries to avoid the nobs of high society, she follows mysteries wherever they lead.
Unlike most Torians Kit doesn’t believe in magic, but she can’t refuse to help Lady Diana Walsh, who believes a curse is viciously wounding her while she sleeps. As Kit investigates the Walsh family, she becomes convinced that the attacks are part of a more ominous plot—one that may involve the lady’s obnoxious husband.
Sleuthing in the city of Rumsen is difficult enough, but soon Kit must also skirt the unwanted attentions of a nefarious deathmage and the unwelcome scrutiny of the police Chief Inspector. Unwilling to surrender to either man’s passion for her, Kit struggles to remain independent as she draws closer to the heart of the mystery. The truth promises to ruin her life—and turn Rumsen into a supernatural battleground from which no one will escape alive.
Enter the giveaway via the widget below – Open Internationally
Interested in being a guest on All Things Urban Fantasy? Fill out our Guest Request Form
About the author
- Interview with Max GladstoneJuly 29, 2014
- Deadly Destinations: Gina Rosati & win AURACLEAugust 8, 2012