Character studies in a steampunk world

December 2, 2014 Author Feature, Discussion, Giveaway 13

by David Barnett

In 2013 one of my absolute favorite books that year was GIDEON SMITH AND THE MECHANICAL GIRL by David Barnett. It was fun, outrageous and full of action, adventure and a smidge of romance. It quite literally was like reading an Indiana Jones movie but better. So I’m extremely excited to have the Author, David Barnett as a guest today as his latest book GIDEON SMITH AND THE BRASS DRAGON recently hit shelves.

Gideon Smith 2


Tabitha’s review coming soon of Bk #2: GIDEON SMITH AND THE BRASS DRAGON

David’s guest post on – Steampunk! What’s that, then?


Now lets hear it from the author himself!


When I start to write a book, the question of what comes first, the characters or the story, is somewhat the same as the old chicken and egg question.

Without strong, believable characters (even in unbelievable situations), a story is just a chain of events. My characters drive my plot, which is why I always start out with the very briefest of outlines to a novel… if your characters are strong enough, they’ll object to being shoe-horned too tightly into a sequence of events and will want to take it in directions the writer never dreamed of. Which is pretty much the best thing ever about writing a novel.

With Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon, it was the first time I’d revisited characters for a direct sequel. So I had my core cast, but was also intrigued to see how they would grow and develop in this new adventure. And, of course, there are lots of new characters for the ones introduced in Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl to spark off.

So who are these people, anyway? Allow me to present some brief character studies of Gideon Smith and the cast of his first two novels…

GIDEON SMITH: Your actual boy from nowhere. The last in a line of fishermen working off the Yorkshire coast, Gideon is now – following the events of the first book – the duly appointed Hero of the Empire. He started off as a bit naive, had stars in his eyes at the thought of working for the Government. As events progress, though, he wonders if he’s made the right choice. He’s brave and has a strong moral compass. Very handsome, too, though he often misses the signals he gets from others…

ALOYSIUS BENT: When I introduced Bent in the first book he was meant as comic relief: a cussing, hard-drinking journalist with questionable personal hygiene. The funny thing was, the more I wrote him the more I liked him. He’s got a few dodgy attitudes but his heart’s in the right place and he’s surprisingly liberal, beneath all those layers (mainly of muck).

ROWENA FANSHAWE: I love Rowena, she ties with Bent as my favourite character. On the face of it, a brave, no-nonsense airship pilot. She’s got hidden depths, though, as well as being a kick-ass female in a man’s world. Book three, out next year, sees Rowena take centre stage. And not in a good way.

MR WALSINGHAM: The shadowy head of the British secret service, responsible for recruiting Gideon and sending him on his various missions. He does some pretty nasty stuff, but in his view it’s all got to be balanced against what he sees as the greater good – protecting the British Empire.

INEZ BATISTE PALOMO: A new character in book 2. She’s the daughter of a distant father who governs Uvalde, a border-town between New Spain (Mexico to us) and the lawless Texan badlands. She’s strong-willed and has to take matters into her own hands when her hometown is threatened.

HARUKI SERIZAWA: He’s a scientist working in Nyu Edo – what we know as San Francisco, now the capital of the Californian Meiji, a breakaway Japanese state established on the West Coast of America. Haruki is beneath the shadow of his father, a successful engineer back in Japan, and acutely aware that for a new territory, the Californian Meiji is still shackled to the ways of the old country.

LOUIS COCKAYNE: Introduced in book one, Louis is a chancer who looks out for number one. He got himself into a bit of bother with a Texan warlord and as a result has tried to pay off his debts… which has got him into more trouble. He’s often a hero against his better judgement.

THADDEUS PINCH: This is a truly horrible guy. Half man, half steam-powered cyborg. He runs San Antonio – AKA Steamtown – with an iron fist, literally. He runs the viper’s nest that Gideon and Bent have to go into if they hope to get Maria back.

MARIA, THE MECHANICAL GIRL: She’s a clockwork automaton with the brain of a girl murdered to protect the British Empire. Maria was very much off-stage in the first book, but she comes into her own in this book. And she packs a mean punch!

Some of these guys will make it into book three… and some won’t. But I’ve said too much already…

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David Barnett is an author and award-winning journalist. He was born in Wigan in 1970 and has worked in regional newspapers since he was 19 years old. He is currently Assistant Editor (Content) at the Telegraph & Argus in Bradford, West Yorkshire, following a 23 year career in newspapers, predominantly as a writer/editorial manager for regional newspapers.



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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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13 Responses to “Character studies in a steampunk world”

  1. Richelle Nicole

    Ah yes, sounds interesting! I’m all about some steampunk action in what sounds like a very intersting new world. Of course, now I’ll have to read the first book, fingers crossed that I win it!
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  2. Lily

    I’ve found that I don’t need to particularly like my characters but I need to be able to understand them and their motives behind their actions. If I don’t and they feel alien than that dampers my enjoyment of the book.
    This sounds super interesting!I hadn’t heard of this series but now I’m kind of interested. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.
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