Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Viola Carr's author blog tour for The Devious Dr. Jekyll, hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours. Viola has stopped by to discuss steampunk, anachronism and Victorian-era CSIs as well as give away a $25 gift card to one lucky reader of the tour. The Devious Dr. Jekyll is a fun take on the classic Jekyll and Hyde tail starring a female protagonist in a steampunk version of Victorian England. Take it away, Viola!
Steampunk, Anachronism and Victorian-era CSIs
A cool aspect of steampunk (and its many derivatives) is anachronism. It’s alternate history – you can mess with the timeline. Move historical figures and events around, kill someone off or pretend that an important event from 'real history' never happened. Take what you want, and discard the rest.
I love steampunk, and the Victorian era, but I'm only an amateur historian. For me, so long as the writer gets the sense of the period authentic, they can add in whatever they like – zombies, clockwork people, steam-powered airships – and I'll buy into it.
My Electric Empire series centers on Dr. Eliza Jekyll – yes, the daughter of that Jekyll – whom I've invented and transported to the mid-Victorian-era, as a physician and crime scene investigator. Cool, eh? She's a combination of detective, forensic specialist and mad scientist. CSI: Jekyll & Hyde.
Never mind that, in the real 1850s, there was no such thing as a CSI. I've had to alter history quite a bit, in subtle ways.
Firstly, the physicians of the day were notoriously standoffish about getting their hands dirty – as opposed to surgeons, whom physicians sneered at as mere artisans, little better than butchers. Physicians would be more likely to confine themselves to laboratory testing for poisons or illnesses, which more often than not, they got wrong. So the idea of my physician attending a dirty crime scene in person is ahead of its time.
Oh, and qualified female physicians? No such thing in England until 1865, when a formidable lady named Elizabeth Garrett Anderson bullied her way in through the back door, fighting a hostile College of Physicians every step of the way. But never mind. This is steampunk!
I also had to deal with the fact that in the 'real' 1850s, crime scene investigation as we know it today – searching for trace evidence at the scene – hadn't been invented yet. By modern standards, it was appallingly easy to get away with murder.
Locard's Exchange Principle – the now-common concept that 'every contact leaves a trace' – hadn't yet been formulated. And even if it had been, contemporary science was woefully inadequate to the task. There was as yet no test to prove that a stain was blood, or that it was human and not animal. Poisons such as strychnine were undetectable. Of course, no one had ever heard of DNA, or even blood typing.
Autopsies were done on the spot, in poor light and filth, by inexpert people. And much of the common medico-legal wisdom – such as the idea that a murder victim's retina preserved an image of the killer's face, or that if a dead infant's lungs floated in water, it indicated breathing and therefore infanticide rather than stillbirth – were just plain wrong.
On top of that, police procedure was dodgy, too. Crime scenes were routinely contaminated by curious passers-by, who were encouraged to view the gruesome scenes for entertainment. Crucial evidence was lost, misidentified or ignored because no one knew any better. And identifying suspects properly was impossible, without fingerprinting or a proper filing system for photographic records.
With all these limitations, a real Victorian CSI wasn't left with much to do! Luckily, steampunk and weird science have come to my rescue. Eliza Jekyll has all manner of improbable gadgets: portable electric lights, bottles of special solution, an array of fantastic lenses and sensors that perform feats of detection that are scientifically impossible without a little magic. She reaches conclusions about crime scene evidence that her real-world contemporaries could not.
But hey, it's steampunk! We can suspend a little disbelief here. And in a world where Dr. Jekyll's potion is real and actually works, sinister brass automatons stalk the streets, and the electric underground train has been invented forty years before its time… well, it'd be stranger if forensics didn't happen.
Enter to Win a $25 Gift Card!
Terms & Conditions:
- By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
- One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
- This giveaway begins October 26 and ends on November 13.
- Winners will be contacted via email on November 1.
- Winner has 48 hours to reply.
- Good luck everyone!
The Devious Dr. Jekyll
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Dr. Eliza Jekyll, heroine of the electrifying The Diabolical Miss Hyde—an edgy steampunk retelling of the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—investigates a bizarre murder case in an alternate Victorian London while battling her treacherous secret half: Lizzie Hyde.
Solving the infamous Chopper case has helped crime scene physician Dr. Eliza Jekyll establish her fledgling career in the chauvinistic world of Victorian law enforcement. But the scrutiny that comes with her newfound fame is unwelcome for a woman with a diabolical secret. And there is the mercurial Royal Society agent and wolf man Remy Lafayette. Does he want to marry her, eat her, or burn her at the stake? Though Eliza is uncertain about Remy, her dark and jealous shadow self, Lizzie, wants to steal the magnetic and persistent agent, and usurp Eliza’s life.
It’s impossible to push Remy away when he tempts her with the one thing she can’t resist: a bizarre crime. The search for a bloodthirsty ritual torturer dubbed the Pentacle Killer draws them into a terrifying world of spies, art thieves, and evil alchemy, where the price of immortality is madness—or damnation—and only Lizzie’s dark ingenuity can help Eliza survive.
As Eliza and Remy race to thwart a foul conspiracy involving the sorcerous French, they must also overcome a sinister enemy who is all too close: the vengeful Lizzie, determined to dispose of Eliza for good.
About the Author:
Viola Carr was born in Australia, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat. She loves history, and pops down to London’s many historical sites whenever she gets the chance. She likes steampunk, and thought it would be cool to investigate wacky crimes with crazy gadgets…just so long as her heroine was the creator of said wacky gadgets: a tinkerer, edgy, with a dash of mad scientist. Readers can follow her on twitter at @viola_carr and online at http://www.violacarr.com.
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