Thursday Quotables – The Moscow Affair

THE MOSCOW AFFAIR (CW Hawes) - Lady Dru finds herself in the middle of international intrigue when she is swept off her feet by the dashing Captain Mikhail Turbanev, a key leader in the Czarist cause. The Moscow Affair is a dieselpunk alternative history packed with romance and adventure, where friendships and love are tested heart and soul.A bustle of activity and the ground began falling away. The Deutschland was ascending into the evening sky. Our trip to Berlin had began. We looked out the windows and waved to the people below. Up we floated and then the distant thrumming of the engines began.

Von Neuradt leaned over and said in a subdued voice, “Lady Hurley-Drummond, we are honored to have on the Deutschland the famous swing band “The Templins’ and the very famous singer, Mimi Thoma. They will provide our entertainment tonight. Perhaps you will do me the honor of dancing with me.”

“My dear Herr von Neuradt, I didn’t know the German government endorsed swing.”

“The music of the German people is of course the most edifying of musical idioms, however Der Führer also recognizes the other people of the world may not share the same sentiments. At least not yet.”

Thursday Quotables Meme

You may remember CW Hawes from his excellent post on this blog about airship. He’s a great connoisseur of the subject and definitely airship are often featured in his stories. The first part of The Moscow Affair enfolds during an airship travel and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I even wished that section was longer. It was definitely my favourite part.

This is an alternate world where WWII never happened and in the 1950s the Reich is still firmly in command of large parts of Europe. In Russia, the revolution happened decades earlier, but the descendents of the Tzar are plotting to regain power… and they are doing this with a fierce partisan war. Most of the story concerns this clash of powers, and I found the ‘historical’ setting very interesting and plausible.
In many ways, the story starts out as a spy story, so I was a bit surprised that it ended up revolving mostly around a romance. Bit disappointing for me (because I’m not very big on romances), but still entertaining.

The Moscow Affair is the first novel in the From the Files of Lady Dru Drummond series .


In post is part of the Thursday Quotables meme. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies


THE MOSCOW AFFAIR (CW Hawes) - Lady Dru finds herself in the middle of international intrigue when she is swept off her feet by the dashing Captain Mikhail Turbanev, a key leader in the Czarist cause. The Moscow Affair is a dieselpunk alternative history packed with romance and adventure, where friendships and love are tested heart and soul.

Gang Roundup – March 2017

Welcome to another gang roundup! Because of my two weeks without the laptop, I feard this roundup was going to be quite thin. Instead it turned out quite nice, don’t you think?

Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 10: Decopunk

Like Retrofuturism, Decopunk is a prolific subjenre of Dieselpunk, one that rests more firmly on the Art Deco aesthetics. Because it generally leans more on the earlier half of the Diesel Era (particularly the 1920s), it tends to be a little bit less dark than most Dieselpunk, which normally offers very strong noir elements.
This said, many people use Dieselpunk and Decopunk interchangeably.



Noir City 2017 Highlights Heists and Favors Risk Over Genre Purity

And speaking about noir, the Noir City Film Festival has just taken place in Seattle, showcasing noir (and not so noir) film, this year with a particular focus on heist movies.

“You could say that the heist film is the original antihero team endeavor, the supervillain squad combining their unique skills to a common cause—in this case, the impossible robbery. This is one of those times when we root for the bad guys.
Most of the time, anyway.”

Here’s a nice lineup of classics. Have a look!



I was nearly done with the roundup today, when I stumbled upon this trailer. Oh my!!!

Base on the book SS-GB by Len Deighton, this is a five-part BBC tv series that looks great. It is set in an alternative Great Britan where the Battle of London had been lost and now the country is dominated by the Nazis. This is certainly not the only story with this premise, but by this trailer seems like the story concentrates on moral choices and taking sides, and I always like this kind of dilemmas. And the setting is just gorgeous. I’ll try to get my hands on this one, and maybe on the book too.

I wonder about the popularity of this theme (The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. dick has also been make into a series recently). I smell the anxiety of our times here…


Mournful Fate of Mata Hari, and 14 Stunning Photos of This Dutch Exotic Dancer, Courtesan and Notorious WWI Spy from 1905-1917

Let’s face it, Mata Hari is probably one of the best known, more mysterious and controversial people of the XX century. She was the first to use truth and lie about her life, to the point that today discerning one from the other is very difficult. It was a dangerous game, whcih ultimately destoyed her. But she remains a romantic figure who still fascinates us after 100 years.

The trial took place before a military tribunal, in secret. It lasted only two days. According to some accounts, the defense was not allowed to question any of the witnesses. The official French intelligence file on Mata Hari was sealed for 100 years, and won’t be released until 2017. According to some who have claimed to have seen it, there is no hard evidence cited in the dossier to establish that the dancer actually passed any military secrets to the Germans.

Mata Hari was executed by a French firing squad on the morning of October 15, 1917.”



Tan by David Lawlor

It’s 1914 and Liam Mannion is forced into exile for a crime he didn’t commit. He flees Balbriggan, the only home he has ever known and travels to England, where he enlists and endures the torment of trench warfare in France. Five years later he’s back in England, a changed man, living in the shadow of his battlefield memories. Liam finds work in a Manchester cotton mill but prejudice and illness soon see him destitute. Starving and desperate, he enlists in a new military force heading to Ireland – the Black and Tans – and is posted to the very town he fled as a youth.

I’ve just started reading this and am really enjoying it, so expect to hear of it soon.




Das historische Berlin

My sister sent me this clip from 1920s Berlin. I love vintage futage and this is no exception. I get the impression of a very modern, very busy city, which certainly Berlin was in the 1920s.


Berlin 1920s

This is a presentation od Weimar Berlins 1920s, a section of the univers of Second Life.

Second Life is an online RPG, or I should say, a virtual reality where players can interact and create. Unlike most RPG, Second Life doesn’t have a set goal to reach, there’s no pre-made adventure to be unfold, but rather residents (as the players are called) freely goe around the reality they choose to be in (there are many different once) and create their second life by meeting other residents and creating their own plans.

Weimar Berlin looks pretty fascinating, don’t you think?


Gang Roundup March 2017 - What I've found of interest on the net this month in terms of dieselpunk (a few cook clips here) and 1920s life. And some literary tips

Give in to the Feeling First Bookversary

Hi everyone! Sorry I’ve been absent for so long. Truth be told, my laptop had a problem and I was without it for nearly twenty days. Yeah, I had my mobile and I tried to stay in touch through that… but let me tell you I just can’t do that. It drove me crazy.

But I’m back and just in time for – guess what! – Give in to the Feeling first bookversary!!!!!!

Can you imagine it’s already a year since my baby went into the world? It’s been a rollercoaster of a year (and not just because of the book…), it was exciting at times and – I won’t hide it – very disappointing at others, but I still want to celebrate this little milestone with you. So, just for today, grab Give in to the Feeling for FREE. And when you read it, just spare two minutes for me and let me know what you thought about it. Really anything, good and bad, I’d love to hear it. And if you feel like writing a review, you’ll make me one happy author.

You know? I think I’d should do something to celebrate by bookversary, something that will refresh my darling book. So, since I truly hate my current blurb, why not write a new one? Maybe because I suck at writing blurb? Well… you have a point. But maybe you fell like giving me an hand at this? I’d appreciate your opinion, really I would.
Here’s my new blurb (well, my working new blurb). What do you think?

Give in to the Feeling (Sarah Zama) - Like that first night, he took her hand across the space between them. Unlike that first night, he didn't let go


Chicago 1924

When Susie arrived from China two years ago, her life unexpectedly changed radically. Simon gave her everything she once barely dared to dream of: a lush carefree life, the New Woman’s freedom to dance, dress daringly and behave as she pleases.
Susie never imagined she would one day want even more, until one night she meets Blood in Simon’s speakeasy and he offers her a dance and his value for her feelings and thoughts.

But she’s still Simon’s woman and he won’t allow her to forget it.

As she fights off her love for Blood, Susie realises the life Simon has given her is just an illusion, but it’s still everything she has and she owns it to him. In the clash between the two men’s personalities, the veil of reality falls and Susie can see right into the spirit world, where not just her heart, but her very soul is at stack. Then she has to choose whether what she really wants is Simon’s safe comfortable golden cage or Blood’s unknown intangible freedom.

I’m undecided about the second half most of all. I can’t decide whether I want to include a reference to the speculative nature of the story or not. On the one hand, I think it’s fair that the reader knows there is a speculative twist, because many readers would gladly read a historical novel, but not a fantasy one. But on the other hand, hard as I try, I can’t seem to be able to include that aspect of the story and not make a mess of the blurb.
Tell, me, tell me everything you think!



If you fancy to get the book, here’s where you’ll find it. Once again, Give in to the Feeling isn’t on Amazon, but Kindle reader can still get a .mobi file via Smashwords

Give in to the Feeling (Sarah Zama) Banner

SmashwordsBarnes&Nobles | KoboiBookStore
And many other stores


And here is my Pinterest board, where in addition to the blog tour pins, you’ll find pins to a few book reviews too

Hope you’ll have a go at my story

Gang Roundup – February 2017

Had a lot of fun with the Gang Roundup in January, guys! Lot’s a good posts to share. I have to warn you that this roundup leans dangerously on the dieselpunk sid, but I do have a few historical posts that I really love.

Hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.


Bizarre Paintings Of Mecha Robots And Werewolves Attacking East European Peasants Of The Early 20th Century

The World of Scythe is a beautiful 105-page art book showcasing the work of Jakub Rozalski for the board game Scythe, one of the most successful games ever funded on Kickstarter. The book was only made available to backers during the Kickstarter campaign, and is now only available on ArtStation Shop.

I find retrofuturistic illustrations absolutely fascinating. I love the mix of history and fantasy, that sense of displacement that isn’t scary, but reveals something new. I find it exciting.
I discovered the work of Polish artist Jakub Rozalski completely by chance and fell in love right away. Don’t you think it’s absolutely amazing?

The World of Scythe is a beautiful 105-page art book showcasing the work of Jakub Rozalski for the board game Scythe, one of the most successful games ever funded on Kickstarter. The book was only made available to backers during the Kickstarter campaign, and is now only available on ArtStation Shop.

Iron Harvest

Jakub Rozalski also created the setting for for the RPG game Iron Harvest, set in a dieselpunk 1920s East Europe-like world.

1920+ is an alternate version of our own world created by Polish artist Jakub Różalski. In the early 20th century, tradition clashes with progress, and the world is still full of mysteries and secrets.


Dieselpunk Lexicon

I’m really enjoying Larry Amyett‘s series about the keywords of Dieselpunk. This month, both his posts were concerned with the ‘era’ of Dieselpunk

Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 8: Diesel Era

The most accepted definition of the Diesel Era is that it lasted roughly from the 1920s to the 1950s, although some dieselpunks (like myself) include both World Wars and see the second half of the 1950s as already out of it.
As with most genres, there isn’t a very definite border, besides creatives of all inclinations will always try to blur those borders. As it should be.

Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 8: Interbellum Period

“The Interbellum Period had clear starting and ending dates. It began on November 11, 1918, which the day the Armistice went in effect and hostilities stopped in World War One, and ended on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland.”

While both World Wars are very popular with dieselpunk authors, the Interbellum Period, particularly the last stretch nearest to WWII, is also very popular because it echoes of a defining characteristic of dieselpunk: the noir mood.
Many dieselpunk stories are drenched in noir mood and they envision a world that is very easily seen in the Golden Age of Hollywood film noir, the 1940s.


Surviving the 1930s

For a lucky coincidence, Tome Wilson also spoke about the Diesel Era on The Gatehouse website. This is a fascinating excursus on the historical period, with a particular enphasis on everything that Dieselpunk has gladly adopted as its own.
If the 1920s were a time of excitment, in good and bad, and the 1940s were a dark age inesorably falling into global war, the 1930s were a time in between where the preceeding and following era merged and collided.



With Copper, Foil, and Paint, a Little-Known American Sculptor Saved Scores of World War I Soldiers from a Faceless Future

I’m always surprised about how little we actually know about WWI. Because of how terrible WWII was, we generally tend to forget about the Great War which preceded it of just one generation, but WWI was truly a devastating experience for the generation of young men and women who were involved (and not just them).

It was a war that made millions of dead and that damaged permanelty (both in body and mind) millions of other.

One of the worst wounds that plagued those veterans of WWI were facial disfigurements. We never think about it because then surgery advanced so much that this was less of an issue in later years. But many young men came back from the war with their faces completely destroyed. I’ve seen photos that truely made me wonder how those poor men could even be still alive, with entire pieces of their face gone.
I can only imagine what it may have mean to live the rest of their life with such a face.

An American artist, Anna Coleman Ladd, took it upon herself to do something for these people. She created delicate masks that recreated the whole face of the injured and that could be disguised on the person’s face with makeup.
It’s an incredible story, one of the many that we don’t know about WWI.


Good Night, Angela and Flappers & Jelly Beans

Although in this post author Delynn Royer technically launches her book Good Night, Angela, she also tells of a fascinating place I didn’t even know excisted: the 20th Century Limited. This was an American luxury train, not very different from the European Oriental Express, that travelled from New York City to Chicago. You can see it in the ebove photo… which I have to tell you, is among the most popular photos I’ve ever spotted in the dieselpunk community.
It was nice to learn its history.


John Barleycorn Must Die: Today in History, Mock Funerals Took Place Across America as Prohibition Began in Earnest

“On January 17th, 1920, hundreds of fake funerals were held in churches and bars across the country for a man that didn’t exist. John Barleycorn, the anthropomorphic personification of beer and whiskey, was symbolically laid to rest amid cheers and tears at 12:01 AM, January 16th, 1920. These mock funerals saw the actual burial of a bottle effigy, complete with pomp and circumstance. The tone of the ceremony varied widely, however, depending on who was conducting the funeral rites.”

I’ve always found this part of Prohibition funny. Although I’ve read about it in many book and articles, this is the first time that I read about it in details.



A Proposal to Die For

The opening scene of A Proposal to Die For came to me in a flash: a lady in evening dress reaching for a golden lighter on a mantelpiece to relight her cigarette and then overhearing a few whispered words coming from behind an opulent Chinese silk screen. A marriage proposal, but in the same breath a reference to someone who would be better dead if the marriage is to work out.

I don’t know about you, but that’s an image that really really intrigues me. So this book goes straight in my TBR list, which is growing allarmingly long (and very much 1920s!) lately.

I met Vivian Conroy on Twitter Where she’s a lively animator of the #WritersWise chats. Do come along next time. It’s fun.




And finally, something that is really only just fun.

Steve Otten is a Düsseldorf native dancer who has become very popular on the net with his reinvention of dancing moves that – in my opinion – have a lot of the jazz/swing era.
He’s featured in an Italian commercial, that’s how I discovered him. Then I learned of his first commercial for a German company.
Have a look, he’s fantastic!



Gang Roundup - February 2017 - A collection of posts about dieselpunk and history, plus some books and videos

Gang Roundup – January 2017

Here we are, the first post of the year and it’s going to be a collection.

You know, I’m still going to figure out what I’ll write for this blog this year. I do have a few posts already in mind, and I’ve kind of decided the theme for the April AtoZ Challenge will be ‘noir’. All the rest is still pretty much black.
So, I may just as well ask you what you’d like to see. Do tell me!


1920s Cocktails

Since we’re still in a festive mood (it’s the Epiphany today, it’s bank holiday here in Italy) I figured the way to stort off is by sharing some good, Prohibition-inspired cocktail recipes.
Now I have to confess I may not be a teetotal, but I’m very closed to it, still I find the culture of cocktails so fashinating. In the early stages of my reserach for Ghost Trilogy I spen quite some energy and time researching liquors and cocktails. I don’t know, it’s fun.

So her eit is a nice collection of Prohibition cocktail to try. Well, if you have a taste for it, go aheand and make some. And dont forget to tell me how it turned out.



Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 7: Dark Cabaret

“Dark cabaret may be a simple description of the theme and mood of a cabaret performance, but more recently has come to define a particular musical genre which draws on the aesthetics of the decadent, risqué German Weimar-era cabarets, burlesque and vaudeville shows with the stylings of post-1970s goth and punk music.”

Post WW Europe (both the first and the second) is very popular in Dieselpunk literature. I’ve read quite a few short story set in Europe after WWI. There is indeed a particular feel to it which goes well with the dark, disinlusioned element of Dieselpunk and of course there’s the attitude toward totalitarism, which I suppose Europe at that time is particularly apt at portraying.

Weimar Republic Kabaret is a good synthesis of it: cutting edge, expressionist, eccessive, decadent, but also intimately vibrat. It’s a place where stories are born.



What’s On Your Radio?

Radio was just starting to become popular in the 1920s and by the end of the decad it had turned into a powerful media. Some historians theorise that the success of jazz on a national level was partly possible because of the radio (and because of the pioneering recording industry, of course). Like cinema, radio offering was often national and this helped to create a national feeling for the new world.

This article gathers a bunch of early mystery radio serials (yes, there are links where you can actually listen to those serials), with a commentary on each one of them.
Really really intersting.




100 Iconic Photos of New Orleans Through the Ages

You may know by now that I love vintage photos, so it shouldn’t be a surprise this awesome collection of photoes spanning many decades of New Orleans history caught my interest. Really, go have a look at it.


A duty to the Dead

Dedicated to helping the many wounded during the Great War, Bess Crawford receives a desperate request from a dying lieutenant while serving as a nurse aboard a hospital ship. “Tell my brother Jonathan that I lied,” the young man says. “I did it for Mother’s sake. But it has to be set right.”

Back home in England, Bess receives an unexpected response from the dead soldier’s family, for neither Jonathan Graham‚ his mother‚ nor his younger brother admit to understanding what the message means.

But the Grahams are harboring a grim secret, and Bess must, somehow, get to the bottom of it. It is her sacred duty to the dead, no matter how painful, or dangerous, that obligation might be.

I’ll be honest, I was first drawn to this book by the cover (yes, I’m that kind of reader), but the blurb is also pretty awesom. And lately, I find that I’m easily hooked by stories set during WWI


Somewhere in France – October 15, 1915

Author M.K. Todd has written a trilogy of novels set during and around WWI based on her huband’s uncle’s letter from the war. On her blog, she’s sharing some of those letters and you can read one at this link.
I find it particularly intersting, and also touching, that we have the possibility to read these fist-hand account of the war. These men and women might have gone, but their words remain to us and remind us of what shoudl never happen again.


Gang Roundup - January 2017 - What's happening around the net involving dieselpunk, 1920s and noir