Andrew Girle's Blog

Crime and Speculative Fiction Blooking

Posts Tagged ‘coal fired noir’

NaNoWriMo approacheth

Posted by Andrew Girle on October 31, 2012

I’m not signed up for NaNoWriMo, but I’m going to do my best to churn 50K words out.

Starting in eight hours.

Bedtime, here I come!


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Magic systems, built from scratch

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 6, 2012

I have hit a stumbling block: I don’t want to have a magic with wands instead of guns (there goes most peoples ideas of magic!); nor do I want to have an Earthsea magic so incomprehensible that readers need to be stoned to follow it.

I want magic that is possible enough to our understanding of the world; that stretches the imagination without dulling it.

One of my background notes for ‘Grimnoires and Gumshoes’ refers to natural magic – the patterns in a stripes of a tiger (or zebra!) create confusion in the beholder, so that bright yellow animals are effectively invisible in a dull green jungle. Where belief in the power of an object can be sufficient to imbue it with that effect – so a horse shoe over a door can ward evil, by virtue of hundreds if not thousands of years of belief.

But DAMN, fireballs are sexy.

Even just writing that has given me an idea for working ‘explosive magic’ into my world of natural magic; in the same way that rapid exothermic reactions are part of nature (explosions, for the unscientific reader). Maybe the magician merely needs enough sex appeal.

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Private Eyes, Leggy Dames, Fireballs and Jazz

Posted by Andrew Girle on September 20, 2011

In between scribbling notes on my current ‘main project’ I have been doing some world building based in the Fantasy Noir genre – think “The Maltese Falcon meets Gandalf”. Or the magnificent works of Jim Butcher.

And the tagline “Private eyes, leggy dames, fireballs and Jazz” seems to sum it up. Oh, and con men, crooked politicians and tommy guns.


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Some writers get blocked. I chase the pretty butterfly of indecision!

Posted by Andrew Girle on July 13, 2010

The third false start has occurred. ARGH!

After finishing my first manuscript, I sat straight down and begain a sequel. Then this great idea came along for a spy/crime genre novel in a fantasy setting. Oooohh better get some notes on that one, says clever-me, so off I wander down that forked path.

Then (of course) the world got in the way, the ideas seem to dry up so I went back to hammering out the crime-sequel – the ‘what happens next’ for the writer in No Working Title.

Then… you guessed it… along comes steampunk detective noir and I chased THAT elusive butterfly until I got it tohe 20K word count with chapter outlines written but now it just won’t come OUT!

So one bright sunny day while having a coffee with my long suffering wife at a bookshop (Riverbend Books, I blame them) I had another idea. A series of linked short stories.

Damn, that butterfly is back. Pass me the insecticide, somebody!

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Great Wall of China and adding it to a SteamPunk scene

Posted by Andrew Girle on February 22, 2010

I recently watched a doco on the Great Wall of China, and being an erratic student of military history I had a blinding glimpse of the obvious.

It is not a wall at all.

It is a ROAD.

By putting a road through the most amazingly inaccessible terrain, any attackers are disrupted in their movement while the defenders of the wall can have reinforcements and supplies arrive rapidly and with little vulnerability to counterattack or ambush.

Now, how does this fit into steampunk I hear you ask?

My 1920’s Europa is a balkanised agglomeration of statelets that never were or should never have been. I am thinking that China could easily have avoided their own breakup (for any given value of the term ‘easy’) and civil war by means of a savage rebellion and re-orientation inwards in the late 19th century – say, somehow, that the Boxer Rebellion had been a success. And with the re-orientation came a refurbishment of the Wall, as a more up to date supply line and frontier.


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Setting the scene for some coal fired noir…

Posted by Andrew Girle on December 2, 2009

After a week or so of scribbling (yWRITER5 is quite useful for helping to organise my thoughts, it is easy to get diverted into world-building with it!) here is the opening scene.

The first rays of the morning sun speared through the dawn msits, barely clipping the rocky peaks of the band of foothills and casting their shadows to the western horizon.

Grasping the narrow wooden rail of the fighting deck, Fletcher stared at the nearest gap in the range, still a dark pool of shadow despite the gathering light. He spared no attention to the glory of the new day, and only the twitch of the corner of his eye betrayed the fact that he had heard the gentle cough from the man who had walked quietly up behind him.

“If it pleases, all banks are fully charged and the superstructure is fully grounded.” The speaker wore the braid of a First Officer on his imperial blue jacket. A ray of sunshine struck the gold of the braid complementing his fiery red beard. A betting man might consider an origin from north of the border.

Fletcher twisted his face a little towards him, yet still kept his eyes fixed on the pass.

“Very well Macdonell. Cast off, and make way as planned. We have just over an hour before they are due to reach the plains.”

“Aye sir.” A hint of a burr on the r’s would add to the suspicion of Scottish heritage. He leaned over the rail and called “Cast off the heater tube! Unfix the cables, and stow the tethers!”

Thirty feet below on the ground, the engineers and firemen together grasped the heavy mouth of the heater tube that funnelled superheated air from the firebox up to the hot air cavity of the dirigible, and lifted it off the flu. A well practised heave lifted the cast iron base of the the oiled canvas tube up and free, followed by a hearty “Heater tube safe!” as it was shoved onto the sward. There was a sharp scramble as the ‘black crew’ of grease monkeys, stokers and engineers hastened to get away from where the upper end of the broad canvas tube might fall. It was not unheard of for mischievous midshipmen to try and drop it on one of them, and serious scalds would be the likely result.

Simultaneously, heavy electrical cables were unhooked and thrown to the ground, as was the main tether. The lighter guiding tether, permanently attached to the gondola, had been brought in the instant the dawn breezes had subsided. The ground crew began the hard labour of coiling all the cables by hand into carts, while the engineers damped the fires under the boilers and let the steam turbines begin their slow winding down. It would be a slow journey back to town and good ale.

Freed of its earthly concerns, the privateer Rogues Redemption began the slow climb towards the hills.

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