There is nothing quite like looking at a stack of page proofs and waiting for the courier to take it back to New York. They represent, well and truly, the final finishing touches on a book. I either want to boot them out the door ASAP or clutch them like a nervous parent—my mood changes from moment to moment.
I’m happy to wave bye-bye to the hours of nitpicking typos, but it’s hard to let go of the characters. Every one of them is flawed, but that’s what makes me so fond of them. They try, they fail, but they keep going because they all have heart. Each of the major characters has his or her arc over the course of the three books—and in a world of steampunk, rebellion, and magic, those are some pretty interesting journeys.
To capture the series in a nutshell, the Baskerville Affair begins with Evelina Cooper on the cusp of launching into Victorian High Society. She’s torn between her circus-born father’s world of magic and adventure and her mother’s legacy of wealth, gentility, and—as personified by Evelina’s uncle, Sherlock Holmes—scientific inquiry. Evelina wants the best of both worlds, but most of all she wants the ability to make her own choices. Her struggle to earn that right is the core of her story, whether she’s trying to get a seat in a boys-only chemistry class or duking it out with a dragon.
She has two suitors: Nick, her childhood sweetheart from the circus, and Tobias, her best friend’s brother. Both have huge hearts, but they have their own roads to travel, and Tobias in particular has much to learn. He’s bright, creative, and good looking, but he’s never had to shoulder responsibility. How he finally comes to grips with the consequences of his actions is one of my favorite things in the series.
Which is why I say, if someone asks what the books are about, the Baskerville Affair trilogy is about people. It’s an ensemble cast far more than a solo act because each person’s quest weaves through the others, helping or hindering as they go. Sure, they have to cope with Queen Victoria and giant caterpillars, thieves, monsters, pirates, mechanical squids, steampunk armies and ballroom courtships—but personalities always make the difference. One character’s choices—their friendship or their deceit—can make or break the world.
And now I have to let my imaginary friends go find their way onto bookshelves, real and virtual. I hope you find them as interesting as I have!
(Originally published on Literary Escapism)