Blame it on Nick Valentino and Thomas Riley

It was at the SC Literary Convention in 2009, where I first met Nick Valentino. I was in attendance with authors from my small press, Shadow Archer Press and Fissure Magazine and co-writers from our Greenville writers' critique group, The Reedy River Rats.

I knew just a little about steampunk and  I recognized Nick's connection with the genre by his goggles and became enthralled by the genre after our animated conversation. He took so much time to describe the genre, give us concrete examples and let me tell you, his excitement was contagious.  He was the standout author at this very stodgy literary con and attendees hung on his words.

I've never read a YA novel and was surprised at how involved Valentino's steampunk novel,  Thomas Riley,was in both plot and steampunk technology. The novel is a fast paced wild ride through varied landscapes and near scrapes for Thomas and Cynthia, who are a complimentary pair, with their odd little quirks and dedication to their mission. I was constantly surprised by the well thought out weaponry and alchemy touches, all the little details that make a story rich and memorable. The interplay between the two characters proved fun and lively and in addition, a third imprisoned character of the princess (I won't say how and ruin the plot) makes for a complexity which challenges the hero and heroine both from within and without.

Nick makes a rather confusing and off beat world fun and creative and I learned a lot about the odd technical aspects of steampunk weapons, visual devices, and airships from Thomas Riley.

Quite an interesting twist in the steampunk genre.

Nick and his story are actually two of the most pivotal aspects which inspired me to become involved in the steampunk community over the past few years. I produced a special steampunk issue of Fissure magazine,  led a panel of authors at the Upstate Steampunk Convention in Greenville, SC, had my article on the psychology of steampunk published in their hardcover academic journal of the presenations. I've also created, sold and taught steampunk art and attend monthly dining outs at steampunk meetings and cons. And best of all, Nick inspired me to write in the steampunk genre, with two short stories in circulation and my steampunk novel, Orchiderlium, almost completed.

It would be remiss if I didn't reprint this brief review I wrote shortly after I read Thomas Riley, my first steampunk book, ever, as well as my first YA. .In the intervening years, Nick has been relentlessly traveling to market his book and we have not as of yet crossed paths, but one day we will and I shall have to offer him my profuse thanks for his exuberant, excited and educated conversation with us which led, the Fissure folk, to investigate this intriguing world where I have met many many good friends, enjoyed immensely exciting discussions and wore some of the most deliciously fun gear and costumes I could ever imagine.

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Comment by Nick Valentino on August 8, 2011 at 10:14am
Wow... It's things like this that seriously make my year. I really appreciate the kind words! It means so much to read things like this. I'm so happy I might have inspired you. The world is a better place now that you are in the steampunk universe.
Comment by Don Beyer on August 14, 2011 at 3:25pm

I met Nick at Gen Gon Indy 2010 and had almost the same experience.  I knew very little of steampunk but his enthusiasm and energy for the genre was contagious.  Thomas Riley was not my first steampunk novel, but it was the first one that I did indeed recognized the genre.  A week before Gen Con Indy 2011 I finished the first draft of my own steampunk novel "The West Wind" and feel I owe Nick a heartfelt thank you for putting me on this path.

Comment by Gail Gray on August 15, 2011 at 12:11pm


Wow!  You too?  That's great - especially about you writing a novel.  I'm almost finished with mine but have been working on it much longer, but then I was working on two others at the same time and finished one in January of this year(not streampunk tho'). You might want to let Nick know.  He was so grateful about this blog post that he commented on his own blog.  A writer always feels even more fulfilled to know that they have inspired someone else to try it.  I now I'm thrilled that five or six people who worked or contributed to my small press went on the start their own small presses and/or wrote novels or comic books.  Writers get so little feedback on their work and often feel isolated and working in a vacuum.  Such emails and letters, especially when specifics like you finishing your novel in less than a year) mean a great deal.

Comment by Nick Valentino on August 15, 2011 at 2:39pm
Wow! You all are too kind. I'm so happy that I may have inspired you all a little. Best wishes with your books, I'd love to read them when they are available.
Comment by Don Beyer on August 15, 2011 at 4:26pm

I "friended" Nick and sent him a message - does that qualify me for stalker status yet?


Seriously though - Nick, your enthusiasm is contagious.  Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.  Now onto the re-writes!


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