Monday, September 25, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCXII: Visit Sekastra with Janeen Ippolito

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 


Author’s name:

Janeen Ippolito

Title of book and/or series:

Lawless: The Ironfire Legacy (Book 1)

Brief summary of the story:

The salvation of humans and dragons lies within a convicted murderer.

Dragonshifter Kesia Ironfire has one goal—to redeem her past by serving the cruel dragon Pinnacle as a soldier in the dragon-human war.

Then a rogue mission to spy on a new airship explodes into sickening green smoke. The same mysterious green smoke that was present the night of Kesia’s crime. When her dragon overlords deny any involvement, she and her tactical partner Zephryn Nightstalker try to investigate--and are sentenced to death.

Still searching for answers, Kesia and Zephryn flee to the human military capital, where Captain Shance Windkeeper has been furloughed after the destruction of his airship. Eager to discover what--and who--blew up his vessel, he agrees to help Kesia and Zephryn infiltrate High Command. In exchange, Kesia must pretend to be his betrothed so Shance can escape an arranged marriage. If only she knew what ‘betrothed’ and ‘arranged marriage’ meant.

But human social customs are the least of her worries. Dark secrets surface as Kesia delves deeper--secrets that challenge the facts of her crime and undermine the war itself.

A steampunk fantasy adventure with a side of quirky romance and snark.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

Sekastra is a large continental landmass on a fantasy planet. The overall setting is fantasy steampunk.

Sekastra is divided into four Scepters, which each function as semi-independent city-states that together form the Congruency. In the northwest is the Scepter of Knowledge, in the northeast is the Scepter of Industry, in the southwest is the Scepter of Pleasure, and in the Southeast is the Scepter of Commerce. In the center is the Pinnacle, settled in the Cloudpeaks. The Pinnacle is ruled by dragonshifters. In between all the Scepters are the plains, where a lot of the smaller cities and villages are located.

In Lawless the featured city-state is the Scepter of Commerce, so this article will focus on that city.

If we were to visit The Scepter of Commerce as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?

If you have money, the sky is the limit! Go on tours through the Junglelands, sail one (or all) of the Trebbian Seas (Ilyon, Olyon, and Tryon), and visit the Music Quarter and Art Quarter. When you find yourself out of money (which is easy to do in the Scepter of Commerce), there are beautiful mosaics inlaid in many of the walls and floors. The Central Market is resplendent with gold and silver tiles. Local folklore claims if you toss a penny in the fountains in front of the Central Market, your deity of choice will grant your wish.

What dangers should we avoid in Sekastra?

Well, there’s currently a war going on between the humans and the dragonshifters, and the Scepter of Commerce is military central. It’s far safer to travel by train, although there are bandits and train-robbers, so it can still get treacherous.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in The Scepter of Commerce?

Lawless focuses on the Scepter of Commerce (each book focuses on activities in one Scepter). In the Scepter of Commerce you can get delicious roasted crenbird and fresh, tart strewsberry juice. There are also a variety of vegetables that come in from the surrounding Junglelands.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in The Scepter of Commerce?

Money and bribery are much preferred over violence, but since it is wartime, many people are armed with a variety of weapons: cheap Berringer pistols, military-grade Heotzlers, and elegant Starvens that are easy to hide under clothing.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to The Scepter of Commerce?

In the Scepter of Pleasure, they have shiny ground cars for transportation—but they give off a lot of smelly fumes. For air travel (if you dare), there are airships, but not the kinds with balloons. Instead, they use turbines. The adaptation happened when humans realized dragons could set their hot air devices on fire. There are also trains between each Scepter. In the plains, people often use horses, and there are a variety of ships that travel the rivers to the Trebbian Seas.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Sekastra that we don’t see on Earth?

In Sekastra, humans share the territory with dragonshifters, who are simply referred to as dragons whether they are in scale form or skin form. But you shouldn’t see any in the Scepter of Commerce because of the dragon-human war. Theoretically. There are rumors of dragon spies…

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in the Scepter of Commerce?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.

One unique element of Sekastra are that all humans and some dragons have innate Talents. These Talents can be passed down through families. Talents aren’t always useful or powerful. For every individual who has a Talent for telekinesis or invisibility, there’s someone who has a Talent that lets them detect the color of an object through touch. Talents do not always lend to societal influence or leadership because the steampunk technology is advance enough to counter many abilities. 

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in The Scepter of Commerce?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.

The overall technology is fantasy steampunk with airships. Devices include voicelators (dragon tech pendants that modified vocal timbre and tone), clipse-mirrors that project visuals (think of it like steampunk Facetime), and wireless commers used for general communication.

The Scepter of Commerce doesn’t have much distinctive tech apart from this. The populace is very pragmatic, so they’ll adapt things from the Scepter of Pleasure, Scepter of Knowledge, and Scepter of Industry that make marketable and practical sense.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in the Scepter of Commerce.

In the Scepter of Commerce it doesn’t really matter what is being played, as long as people can bet on it. And if you want to play a game, you can find plenty of people in the Low Quarter who will take part as long as you pay them.

Is there a particular religion practiced in the Scepter of Commerce?  Please describe what it involves.

The Scepter of Commerce has the same freedom of religion practices as all of the Scepters. There are numerous temples around the city-state, from the elemental temples that Jungleland natives used to worship various spirits to the open-air altars where many airship sailors make sacrifices to Fiarston and Viorstan for safe travels.

There are also worship houses for the Four Corners religion, the oldest religion in Sekastra. Adherents to the Four Corners religion worship Bonilus the Beneficent and strive to imitate his apostles, Allandra and Olosael. There are monastic orders known as the Sons of Olosael and the Daughters of Allandra.

What is the political or government structure in the Scepter of Commerce?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

The Scepter of Commerce is traditionally run by a ruling council of the leading merchants and counts/countesses in the city. Power is inherited, but is leveraged and balanced by the court system. Currently, however, the Scepter of Commerce houses the High Command of the Congruency military fleet, so the military has ultimate say.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit The Scepter of Commerce?

The fashion is considered the most modern out of all of the Scepters. A lot of the fashion is adapted to the humid temperatures. Women wear loose pants with blouses and short-sleeved corset coats as daily fashion. Men wear pants, short-sleeved collared shirts, and vests. Military uniforms are standard throughout the Congruency fleet, and consist of boots, black pants, plain black waistcoats, long-sleeved button-down shirts, rank insignia, and caps. The color of the shirt denotes area of service: engineering, command, medical. Since it’s wartime, so everyone is expected to fight if necessary.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?

I may have partly stolen from different biospheres in the United States for different geographical elements of Sekastra and then flagrantly shoved all the biospheres all closer together. I’ve adapted the steampunk elements to the different native cultures and histories of Sekastra, so that is why The Ironfire Legacy books are fantasy steampunk, not Victorian steampunk. The Scepter of Commerce has elements of chromepunk, and the other Scepters also have elements from other ‘punk periods.

Author Autobiography:

Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She creates writing resources and writes speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She's also an experienced author coach, editor, teacher, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, geeky TV, and brownie batter. A lifelong misfit, she believes different is beautiful and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.

Lawless: The Ironfire Legacy (Book 1) releases on Friday, September 29 through Uncommon Universes Press. It is available for preorder on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks.

You can also preorder autographed paperback copies at a discount price through the Uncommon Universes Press website (limited time only).

Where can readers connect with you online? 

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Janeen Ippolito is an extroverted writer who loves to connect online! You can find her on her Facebook page, on Twitter (@TheQuietPen), and on Instagram (janeen_ippolito). She also cordially invites you to the Lawless Facebook Launch Party on Wednesday, October 4!


I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Sekastra.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

1 comment:

Laura A. Grace said...

Really fun post! Eagerly looking forward to my copy coming in the mail so I can start this! :D