Behind the Scenes: ADDLETON HEIGHTS

Re-Viewer Goggles

"I broke eye contact with her to examine the goggles. They were heavy. Instead of a strap in the back to hold them in place on the wearer, a flexible rubber cord twisted around like a pigtail corkscrew. Attached to that was a curved metal piece that resembled a tiny shoehorn.
“I don’t understand. Why did this get him banished? What does it do?”
“In Jimmy’s apartment you asked me about memories.”

I shrugged as I looked at the brass concentric circles of the eyepieces. They were etched with the first three letter designations for the months of the year, and the ring inside that had numerals one through thirty-one. The companion lens on the other side had two sets of numbers zero through nine, and the same etched on the smaller ring inside.

“These help you remember."

Montague's Library

"I entered the room last behind Hennemann and rubbed my eyes awake. Instantly the fragrant aroma of books filled my nostrils. It was intoxicating. Thousands of books of every size and color lined Maplewood shelves from floor to ceiling. Only once had I ever been in such a massive open room; that had been as a boy visiting the garment factory where my mother had worked in Dolan.

“And I thought that I like to read,” I said scanning the shelves from side to side. It was like a book warehouse, probably everything in print.

Montague seemed pleased that I was impressed. “Yes, I’ve always had a love of the printed word. Though, to be truthful, some of what you see in here is business writings, financials, steel manufacturing schematics, reports and the like."

The Cicada

"I stepped around the scattered books on the floor, and grabbed the bottle and two snifters. With my back to him, I decanted the brandy on a small silver tray on the ledge. An odd container on the shelf directly above caught my eye, a brown bug encased in a small glass dome with a polished wooden base."

Traveling through

the Tink Sector

"As the carrier drew closer to my destination, I weaved through the other passengers to the front window of the transport.
Beneath us were just the soot-stained, grimy tops of tink structures.

If one squinted, the metal mishmash of various-sized buildings and shanties looked like a steel quilt assembled by a blind grandmother."

Marcus Hennemann

"“Happy New Year’s, gents. Happy 1901,” boomed a deep cheerful voice. “Now, I’d very much appreciate it if you’d let Mr. Kipsey there go."

"The stranger’s deep baritone filled the room, carrying with a trace of bravado. “The name’s Hennemann, and the good Mr. Kipsey is in Mr. Montague’s employ; therefore he is under my protection."

Cover Progression

"Many of the Steampunk images I’d come across to that point were often dark and grimy. I love those murky atmospheres but wanted to go a completely different direction in an effort to make the book stand out.

The end result is an image of a bright sunshiny day in January with the snow gently falling to the ground. It’s a wonderful contrast to many scenes contained within.

I found a fantastic Italian artist on the internet by the name of Michele Giorgi (
I have a commercial graphic art degree and have done my covers in the past, but Addleton Heights was different.

This novel is solidly situated in the steampunk genre, so I wanted a classic romantic image with all the flourishes. While I do plenty of layout and design, I’m no illustrator; it’s an entirely different discipline, so I sought out someone with those skills."

Bassel Transports

"As the bassel emerged from the shaft of the compound, I drew both pistols. Part of me expected to see every available Charon patrol skiff lined up to greet us, but the courtyard was just as empty as before."

Sawyer's Device

"As I moved away from the hiding place, I tried to remove the brass cylinder from my pocket and fumbled it, dropping to the floor. There was a tiny click.

I watched, awestruck as the small cylinder unscrewed along the center corkscrew and parted into two halves. A second or so later, a tiny spring shot one of the halves across the wood floor with the force of a miniscule trebuchet."

Robbie Coltrane

The physicality of the character of Marcus Hennemann was based on Britain's popular comedian and Scottish-born actor, Robbie Coltrane.

Story Concept

The origin of the idea

"I first came up with the idea of the 'Jason O' murder/missing persons mystery back when I was seventeen.

The story stuck with me and went through several false starts and revisions until I found the perfect fit in the steampunk world setting of Addleton Heights."

Fierce but Feminine

Writing a strong female adversary/ally

The Character of Janae N.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of strong women whom I admire in my life. I wanted to pay homage to these ladies by avoiding writing some messed up ‘damsel in distress’ trope.

Enter: Janae Nelson - She's a force of nature, and one of the favorite characters that I’ve ever written. I spent a lot of time to achieve a balance within her of being strong without forfeiting her femininity.

I was careful to make sure that no man ever rescues her in the story; that she would save herself. I attempted to turn the stereotype on its head by having the damsel do some saving of her own when the male lead gets tied to the metaphorical train tracks."

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