We are traveling for a few days here. (A book tour? Sure, we'll call it that, if there were any sense in doing a book tour during the week before our release date.) While I'm away I'm hoping to post a couple of things about the people and places of Spire City.
The city itself is the place to begin. As far as most people believe, Spire City takes its name from its architecture, with a spire towering over every few blocks. True as far as it goes, but the spires themselves were inspired by a natural formation that predates the first people to settle here. On the north side of the river, five towers of stone and metal ore rise even over the human-built spires, like the fingers of some vast subterranean being.
Spire City is a city of steam-powered wonders. Steamships fill the harbor, and clockwork factories construct the city's goods. In the streets, steam cars vie with the traditional carriages, pulled by teams of giant beetles. In the skies, winged beetles pull taxis in and out among the spires.
These wonders are built on darker secrets. Factory work destroys many lives, not least the children forced to work among the pipes and presses. Immigrants from the countryside and other lands find that the industrial promise of the city doesn't hold true for them. Trained singers are chained to the peaks of the spires, forced to live above the city and sing all day long. Their voices guide the beetle teams. And the newest threat is the one of infection, a deadly serum invented by a scientist in the city that turns those infected with it into animals.
This is the nature of the city in which Chels and he rest of our cast of characters struggle to survive. Next time I will introduce Chels herself.