This month co-authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris begin their Steampunk series with Phoenix Rising. The story surrounds the events at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. With a name like that, we knew we had to ask the authors what this department is all about.

peculiar
adjective
strange or odd; unusual : his accent was a peculiar mixture of Cockney and Irish.
• [ predic. ] informal slightly and indefinably unwell; faint or dizzy : I felt a little peculiar for a while, but I'm absolutely fine now.

occurrence
noun
an incident or event : vandalism used to be a rare occurrence.
• the fact or frequency of something happening : the occurrence of cancer increases with age.
• the fact of something existing or being found in a place or under a particular set of conditions : the occurrence of natural gas fields.

We all have reliable resources to call on when emergencies crop up. When a pipe bursts or a faucet no longer delivers water, we call a plumber. If our Internet connection suddenly stops working, we call our provider to find out what is going on. If the cat is unable to keep food down and is acting grumpier than usual, we give the vet a ring. It’s good to know there are people we can call on when the routine of a day is disrupted.

But these disruptions are normal, and in their own way expected. It’s when you look outside your backyard and discover a giant crater where your new patio one was, and at the heart of that crater is a fist-sized rock, and that rock is glowing, that you are stumped in who you should call for help. Same can be said when you come home from work only to discover your computer has turned into a giant mechanized monster, aiming to rally other home computers to rise up against their humans overlords. And who do you call when you wake up, bound and gagged, on an airship destined for Antarctica where a secret society awaits to find out exactly what you know?

These occurrences can only be described as peculiar, and this is when the world needs an organization like The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.

From mysteries that defy reason to the supernatural, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences investigates the fantastic and the phenomenal, all for the betterment and tranquility of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Empire. (God save the Queen!) In our first novel, Phoenix Rising, Pip and I pit our heroes Eliza D. Braun and Wellington Thornhill Books against the odd and the unusual. Down in the Archives, they are surrounded by artifacts, evidence, and case journals of Ministry agents’ past exploits; but even here, there is a small room that hold the unanswered questions o the unexplained. This is where their adventure begins. A case of madness that leads to a playing card that leads to an unexplained death by gas explosion; and like dominoes on display, each revelation leads to another, eventually placing Agents Books and Braun in the path of a conspiracy against the crown.

Peculiar occurrences, indeed.

Another peculiar occurrence can also be seen between our plucky secret agent from the Colonies, and our reserved but quick-witted Archivist of the upper-class. These are two individuals who make an unlikely duo, and yet somehow they find a balance between one another. For Eliza, it is Wellington’s temperance and logic that make her slow down, examine the fact, and become a better agent. It is her impulsiveness and sense of adventure that brings out Wellington’s own talents for derring-do and grace under pressure that makes him realize his is not the victim of circumstance he believes himself to be. As individuals, Eliza is a formidable opponent and Wellington is a reliable resource. Together, they rise to challenges as an unstoppable force; and reluctantly they begin to discover a few things about themselves in the process.

Yeah, these two are peculiar in their own right. Outcasts within a clandestine organization. That is, in part, what brings them together, and makes them an incredible couple with a lot of potential.

Maybe we could all use a touch of peculiar in our lives.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an experiment in my kitchen needing attention. It involves my coffee maker, a tennis shoe, and a realignment of the space-time continuum.

Nothing to fret about. Have a nice day.

- Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

You can pick up your own copy of their series starter, Phoenix Rising, in stores now!

Tags: RT Daily Blog, Science Fiction
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