Worlds Within Worlds, a novel on my list of Books That Demand to be Read, is getting a sequel! The Locksmith’s Secret releases April 8th, and since I had the honor of beta reading it, I can tell you that it’s a worthy sequel to an exceptional book.
* * *
Ella’s locksmith boyfriend Jamie seems to be her perfect match—at least until a death in the family calls him back to England. While he’s gone, Ella discovers he’s hiding something so astounding that it completely changes her perception of him and his place in her world.
While Jamie struggles with family responsibilities, Ella’s steampunk murder mystery is developing a life of its own, raising disturbing memories of her time as a striptease artist and a past life as an abused Italian nun. She also dreams of an ephemeral city, where she seeks to unravel the locksmith’s secret and find the key that opens a door to other realities.
All these, together with a lost brother, a desperate mother, a demanding cat, and a struggle to live up to Buddhist ideals, weave together in a rich tapestry that creates an extraordinary work of magical realism.
* * *
Author Tahlia Newland has kindly answered some interview questions here to give some insights into her writing process and the complex, intellectual storytelling she uses in these novels.
Thanks for joining us, Tahlia. How do the multiple storylines of your book enhance the themes you’re trying to bring out?
The different storylines look at the themes from different angles and so give a wider viewpoint than would be possible from one narrative thread. For example, there is an abused girl in the 17th Century, a prostitute being abused in a steampunk world, a stripper suffering a similar fate in the late 20th century and a modern woman being abused by her boyfriend. The women’s situations are different, but I think that just makes the similarities even more obvious and makes it clear that the attitudes that caused the problem at the earliest dates are still here today.
What drew you to the steampunk subgenre?
I first read steampunk a few years ago when The Girl With the Steel Corset came out, and the combination of Victorian aesthetics with modern sensibilities really appealed to me. I also loved the fashion and art that has sprung up in the wake of the literary movement. I have a lot of steampunk clothing and wear them most of the time.
How does the sci-fi steampunk storyline interact with the book’s other storylines?
It picks up on the theme of prejudice in the following ways: prejudice between the English upper classes and people from the colonies, (something that Prunella meets head on when she visits an English Manor house), social prejudice within a society which is reflected in the preconception of modern people’s view of those engaged in ‘less than savory’ occupations like stripping, and prejudice towards women in general, especially those engaged in such occupations in particular.
Why are science fiction and fantasy important? What do they do that other genres can’t?
Apart from the sheer joy and entertainment value of giving the right side of our brains free rein, I think that envisaging humans as they would exist in and respond to challenges in an imagined universe help us to see ourselves from a greater perspective. Is shows the universality of the challenges that people face, because no matter what universe a story takes place in, the issues are always the same-staying safe and happy. It’s reassuring to know that those who face extreme situations, for example, murderous mechmen or terrifying alien monsters, can manage to beat the odds and survive. If they can do it, then dealing with an argumentative boss is easy in comparison.
If you could own one item from a sci-fi/fantasy universe, what would it be and why?
A magical paintbrush that I can use to create a portal that I can open anywhere and go anywhere. Why? Wow. Cheap travel. I could go everywhere I want, see everything I’d love to see, and it would cost me nothing, and when I’d had enough, I could pop back home to a comfy bed.
What sort of reader will most enjoy The Locksmith’s Secret?
Someone who likes a mix of genres in their books and particularly someone who likes to be mentally stimulated in imaginative, intellectual and contemplative ways.
If you could take up any new hobby with a guarantee that you’d become really good at it, what would it be?
Marketing books. I’d love to be able to help the authors of all those fabulous books on the Awesome Indies Books website to sell huge numbers of books, because those books deserve to be read. Other than that, any hobby that would make me so rich that I could be an art philanthropist.
How have you improved as a writer over your career? What do you still need to work on?
My writing is much more sophisticated these days, so it was good that I started with YA and then moved to adult books, because the simpler prose works well for younger readers. My prose has become more elegant and multifaceted, and I hope it will continue to deepen in those ways.
* * *
Buy The Locksmith’s Secret:
(If you pre-order before the book releases, you’ll get $1 off!)
* * *
Tahlia Newland has written and published nine books, three of which have won a BRAG Medallion and an Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence. She writes inspirational magical realism and fantasy, and also makes masquerade masks and steampunk hats and accessories. Her wardrobe is full of steampunk clothing which she wears every day because beautiful clothes deserve to be worn.
She works as an editor for AIA Editing and AIA Publishing, a selective, author-funded publishing company. She also co-ordinates Awesome Indies Books’ accreditation service for independently published books. She lives in an Australian rainforest with a lovely husband and two cheeky Burmese kittens.