Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#8- Nefertiti's Heart (Steampunk thriller)

England, 1860. After the strange death of her father, twenty one year old Cara Devon has a simple mission in the steam and mechanically powered New London: liquidate her inheritance, Lord Devon’s damned collection of priceless artifacts that cost her innocence. She enlists Viscount Nathaniel Lyons, a notorious criminal figure, to sell off the illegally obtained objects d’art. In return he brokers a strange deal with Cara – he wants seven per cent of the sale proceeds. And to touch her.

Worse trouble than off loading stolen property erupts for Cara when beautiful debutantes start dying of broken hearts. Literally. An eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests and turned, rupturing muscle, tearing connecting veins and severing arteries.

Normally Cara wouldn’t care. Polite society long ago declared her damaged goods and rejected her. But Her Majesty’s Enforcers are circling, led by Inspector Fraser. He sees a link between Lord Devon’s mysterious death and those of the young women. And the link is Cara.

Cara sees a different connection: a relic from ancient Egypt acquired by her father, called Nefertiti’s Heart. Now everyone wants the legendary artifact. Cara must figure out who to trust, as those gathering around her hide their true intent, and any one of them could be the killer.

NEFERTITI’S HEART, a steampunk thriller, is complete at 85,000 words.

I am a writer living in rural New Zealand, where I dream of clockwork sheep.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

A W Exley


First 500 words:

There was something cathartic about wielding a crowbar. Cara used one end to loosen the tacks, before ripping up the expensive Persian carpets. She tossed the strip in a growing pile by the wall. Taking a moment’s break from her work, she flung open the second story window and took a deep breath of London air. And coughed. Coal smoke and steam spiralled past her window, forced skywards by the combination of the narrow street and tall buildings. Blinking her eyes clear of the sting she looked up. An airship glided by like a giant floating dodo, its tiny props spinning frantically to keep its bulk airborne.

Turning, Cara leaned on the casement, surveying her work. She had taken up most of the library carpet, the wooden floorboards dull in the morning light. Hidden for years under the carpet they were coated in dust and hidden grime. Pacing the floor she knew she was close; a spot to one side called to her. The hairs on the backs of her arms rose as she walked the bare boards. Ah. There. The wooden planks of the floor stained a slightly darker colour. A maid had spent hours on her knees there. Using scrubbing brush and bleach, she had tried to wash away the blood before the new carpets were laid.

There was an old saying blood will out. Cara wondered if this was what her grandmother meant. You can scrub as hard as you want, but you can never remove the taint, not once it had leached into the porous fibres of the wood. A permanent reminder of the violence committed.

Cara remembered lying on the floor, unaware of her blood soaking the carpet and seeping into the floor beneath. Darkness crept over the floor and surrounded her numb body. As it gathered its tendrils around her, sight was the last sense she relinquished. Her vision turned black as her fourteen year old self watched her father. He took a book from the shelf and pressed the hidden lever, before the waiting darkness swept her into blessed unconsciousness.

Twenty one year old Cara fixed her line of sight and walked to the bookcase. The book in question was Justine by the Marquis de Sade. She snorted at the irony. She and Justine shared a similar experience at a young age, but Cara was grateful she had never followed the unfortunate literary heroine’s sad path. She removed the book and balanced it in her hand. The leather on the first edition was a dark red, soft and supple from years of hands caressing its surface. It was a valuable first edition, like all the other volumes in the library. Her father had expensive tastes and a love for the finer things in life. He valued his material possessions above all else. Even his only child.

1 comment:

  1. I am a sucker for Steampunk! Please send the full ms along with query letter to vickie(at)andreahurst(dot)com with Xmas in July and title in the subject line.


    Vickie Motter
    Andrea Hurst Literary Management