Married Authors Zoe Archer And Nico Rosso Talk Co-Writing — With Giveaway!

Married authors Zoë Archer and Nico Rosso both write tales of adventure and romance — but until now, they’ve never written together. However, their latest stories take place in a new Steampunk series of their joint creation, the Ether Chronicles. The first book, Archer's Skies of Fire, hits stores this week and today the authors stop by to interview each other about co-habitating, co-writing and of course, co-creating their newest fictional world. Plus don't miss your chance to win a copy of the series starter at the end of this exclusive interview!

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If someone was sitting at the table next to us at breakfast while we were working on the Ether Chronicles, what are some of the things they might overhear?

Zoë: Usually, it’s me asking Nico how certain kind of tech works. He’s the mad scientist behind all the steampunk technology, just as he was the creative genius behind all of Catullus Graves’s gadgets in the Blades of the Rose series. Sometimes, I actually need him to draw me diagrams so I know how to describe something accurately.

Nico: If we’re not talking tech, we’re probably figuring out the intricacies of one of our plots. Because we’re both writing adventure based stories, there are always a lot of moving parts to consider. Clues, puzzles, character deceptions all come into play when we’re building our plots. Our breakfast neighbors might hear something like, “He’s holding the knife she’ll recognize as the one that killed the necropolis guard and think he was the one who did it.” Or, “As soon as they are being whisked away by the headwind above the trees, they can go below decks and get busy.”

How do our takes on the world differ?

Zoë: For one thing, Nico writes the Westerns, and I write everywhere else! Also, the heroes of my Ether Chronicles stories are Man O’ Wars — an amalgam of man and machine that’s unique to Europe. The Man O’ Wars are not only the captains of airships, they’re also the ships’ power source. Though all Man O’ Wars were created for different nations’ aerial navies, some of the Man O’ Wars go rogue, which we’ll see in my next Ether Chronicles story.

Nico: The Western side of the Ether Chronicles is a little wilder. Because the United States doesn’t have Man O’ Wars, their technology is mostly about adapting what’s around in order to defend themselves in the war. And away from the front lines, this new technology supercharges the territorial expansion and economic development that was already happening at the time. Instead of a mining town trying to buy up land, now they can just roll in their thirty-foot mining machine and chew through anything in their way.

What is it about steampunk that drew you to it?

Zoë: Steampunk often has a lot of adventure, which is one of my favorite things to write, plus the trappings of history surrounding it. And I like how men and women can have more equality within a historical setting. Gimme my kick-ass heroines!

Nico: I’ve never written historicals before, so steampunk is a great way for me to take what I love from old Western legends and stories and infuse it with this exciting technology to really up the stakes for the hero and heroine.

What is your inspiration for the tech of the Ether Chronicles?

Zoë: I really like how the Man O’ Wars enable me to create heroes who are in many ways larger than life — actually, they’re not just metaphorically larger, but literally, as well. Ahem. In order to qualify for being made into a Man O’ War, a man has to be strong, mentally and physically, with a powerful drive to succeed. Alpha heroes, in essence. Their implants then heighten all of these traits. So it gave me a really interesting character dynamic to use when telling these stories. I also wanted to explore what kind of man would allow himself to undergo such a radical transformation, and what in his history led him to that point. In Skies of Fire, Captain Christopher Redmond was not only dedicated to Her Majesty’s Aerial Navy, but he also had his heart broken — both of these things contributed to his decision to become a Man O’ War. Imagine his surprise when the British spy he rescues from behind enemy lines turns out to be Louisa Shaw, the same woman who’d walked out on him years earlier. And imagine Louisa’s surprise when she sees how much Christopher has changed. But one thing hasn’t changed — the attraction between them is just as strong as ever.

Nico: I like to think about how the scientists and inventors of the time would adapt what they had on hand. This is most evident in the use of ether. Here is this new element that creates buoyancy in air, so my approach is to figure out what technology was on hand during the Victorian era that could be augmented by flight. Once I devise the general piece of technology, I try to make it as feasible as possible, so there’s strong internal logic that grounds the reader and really sets off the “What if this were real?” in the stories. You’ll definitely see this in play in Skies of Fire as the hero and heroine have to adapt on the fly while deep in enemy territory.

How does steampunk fit with romance?

Zoë: I like contrasting these technological innovations with the most primal, basic need for love. That never goes away, whether we’re on terra firma or the deck of an airship. And because I like the equality that steampunk can offer a hero and heroine, it makes the bond between them that much stronger.

Nico: Because the physical stakes are pushed so high by the technology, steampunk is a great venue for the hero and heroine to really show their love and dedication to each other. They have to overcome a lot of obstacles to save the day and each other, and it just proves that these two people are meant to be together.

If you were alive during the time of the Ether Chronicles, what job would you have?

Zoë: I might be a journalist, investigating the mysterious and powerful Man O’ Wars. Or I’d be writing plays for the theatrical automata. Or I’d be a pastry chef in a steampunk kitchen — imagine a stand mixer that’s three-feet tall and covered in brass and clockwork gears.

Nico: I’d like to think I’d be an inventor, creating things and testing them in the field. Who wouldn’t want to devise a one-person airship and try it out for the first time? Either that or a paperback novelist, spending time in the wild steampunk west and spinning yarns for the penny dreadfuls.

GIVEAWAY ALERT: One lucky reader will win a copy of Zoë Archer’s Skies of Fire, the first book in the new Ether Chronicles series. To enter, leave a comment below telling us what you like about steampunk, if you’re a steampunk reader. If you’re new to steampunk, what might draw you to it? You can also email your comment here with the subject line "Ether Chronicles Giveaway." U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only please. The winner will be announced on April 17.