Ione D: Birth of a Steampunk Heroine

Professor Ione D

Angelique Endres as Professor Ione D.

Ione D began with an effort by my then-girlfriend Arlys to promote my new steampunk novel, Fidelio’s Automata. She conceived of the character as a young Victorian-era girl who would travel to places mentioned in the book and write about aspects of the local culture, especially the cuisine. Her “Ione D” Facebook posts featured photos of the meals she prepared featuring Cuban, French, Western, and Native American dishes. The name was an homage to her parents, Ione being her mother’s middle name and Dee being her father’s. To create a face for the character, Arlys photographed her daughter Arlys Angelique in steampunk regalia of her own design.

I found the character to be so charming that I decided we would write a novel to give Ione D her own adventures. First was the matter of backstory: Ione would be the daughter of a US ambassador living in London, which would allow her to be a world traveler at an early age. Her mother is French and provides the impetus for her interest in cooking. Then there was the matter of the surname, which Arlys had envisioned as the initial “D” only. I discovered that there is a Welsh river which is called Dee by the English and Dfrdwy (differ-dwee) by the Welsh. Although most Welsh people have English family names, we decided that Ione’s Welsh-American father would be an exception, and take his difficult-to-pronounce name from that river.

I had always intended to list Arlys as my co-author, since she created the character, and gave her veto power over the character’s actions. To my delight she embraced an equal role in the writing, tirelessly editing and rewriting the manuscripts. Though the story lines and settings are mostly of my creation, Arlys has written a significant portion of the dialog, and she’s conceived many of the scenes that appear in the Ione D books. Without her participation, these stories would not be half as good as they are. She keeps me from going off into boring explanations and exposition and provides the woman’s perspective that we need to successfully write a first-person female character.

Epicurean Incident was my idea for the first book, but it proved to be more challenging than I’d expected. First of all, it is based on a cooking contest, something that’s largely outside my area of expertise. We re-wrote the original draft several times. In the interim, I stumbled upon a sci-fi folk tale competition and decided to write a short story in which Ione encountered magical artifacts in ancient ruins. By the time I was halfway done with this, I realized I’d misunderstood the contest parameters, and that what we had written didn’t fit them at all. That didn’t matter, because Miss Ione D and the Mayan Marvel, a novella featuring the adventures of a 19-year old Ione in Guatemala, had captured our heart. It became the first published Ione D book, predating Epicurean Incident, which is set in 1901, when Ione (born 7/7/1877) is 24 years old and the youngest female college professor in America.

Once Mayan Marvel was finished, we returned to the matter of finishing Epicurean Incident. One factor that helped us was watching the popular anime Food Wars, which features teenagers competing for dominance in an elite cooking school in Japan. It convinced us that a story line involving cooking could have an audience. We also decided to make it a murder mystery, which provided an additional challenge. The original story was too linear, containing none of the misdirections that a mystery novel requires. We needed to learn to think a bit more deviously.

Now that Epicurean Incident is completed and posted to Amazon’s Kindle Direct, we can’t help but look forward to Ione’s next adventure, this time on the island of Crete. Ione is intelligent, spunky, and kind, but not infallible. She does not hesitate to speak her mind, but she is often indecisive in matters of love.

Search “Vaughn Treude” on Ione’s new adventure should be available shortly. It’s a great read for young adult and other age groups.


Happy (Real) Victoria Day!

Queen Victoria, Photograph by Alexander Bassano, 1882

Queen Victoria, Photograph by Alexander Bassano, 1882

Today is the 198th anniversary of the birth of England’s celebrated Queen Victoria, namesake of the Victorian Era, which lasted from 1838 to 1901. It’s an official holiday in Canada, though they’ve adopted the American custom of moving people’s birthdays to Monday, so it was not observed today. It was also celebrated in the United Kingdom as “Empire Day” and later “Commonwealth Day,” until they moved it to March for some reason.

It’s also the day on which Arlys and I had planned to release the second Ione D adventure, Professor Ione D and the Epicurean Incident, in e-book form. It is exactly a year since we released the first Ione D book. And to answer the obvious question, Victoria Day seemed to us like the ideal day to promote a steampunk book. Sadly, we’re delaying the release, because we’re not quite done with the final edit. We estimate this should take us about a week. Stay tuned for more info, and Hail Victoria!

See our book Miss Ione D and the Mayan Marvel, available as both e-book and paperback on Amazon.

Coming Soon: a New Ione D Adventure

Ione D in Steampunk Hat

Arlys Endres as Professor Ione D

While we prepare the Mayan Marvel paperback for production, my multi-talented co-author Arlys has been preparing for the second book in the series, Professor Ione D and the Epicurean Incident. Its publication is tentatively scheduled for Queen Victoria’s 198th birthday, May 24, 2017. Here we see our model Arlys Endres playing the globe-trotting young Professor, Ione Dyfrdwy. This time, we’re getting a jump on getting the illustrations for the novel ready ahead of time. We’ll be keeping you informed of our progress.


Steampunk Holiday Promotion, Part II


Ione D spies a holiday promotion!

Time marches on. I have long last begun the formatting of Miss Ione D and the Mayan Marvel, my first literary collaboration with Arlys Holloway. Although the novella has been available in e-book format since May, it doesn’t seem quite real to me until I have a paper copy I can hold in my hands. This edition will be supplemented with chapter illustrations by Ben Gill, a very talented local artist we met while working on our play in conjunction with Phoenix Pride.

It’s exciting to take another step toward bringing these stories to life. Someday, perhaps we can find an artist with the time and inclination to work with us on a graphic novel version. For the author, it’s akin to writing a script, complete with scene direction. Artistically, it’s a much larger amount of work, which is why graphic novelists often outsource the inking and shading to a country with lower wage rates. We sure hope the Donald doesn’t find out, or we may be in trouble! Seriously, though, from the comic, it’s a short hop to a full-blown animation, which has always been a dream of mine. How about a score by steampunk luminaries such as Abney Park or Steam Powered Giraffe?

While we do that, we’re also editing the second book in the series, Professor Ione D and the Epicurean Incident, which takes place in London in 1901. Our progress has been slowed a bit by the demands of our day jobs. Hopefully, we will both have more free time after the holidays.

In honor of this next step, we have declared a fiction giveaway contest. No money is required; all you need to do is like and/or share the relevant post as it appears on my Facebook author page today December 4th, or last Sunday’s post (it’s a Steampunk Christmas) in which we first announced it. All who do so between now and December 11th will be entered into a random drawing. First prize is a free novel in paperback form, either my steampunk novel Fidelio’s Automata or my earlier work, Centrifugal Force. There will also be five second prizes of a free e-book download from our works listed on Amazon. For the paperback, we’ll need to have your physical address of course, but don’t worry, we won’t spam you and we never share that information. (Due to the high cost of overseas shipping, US addresses only please!)

SELF-PROMOTION SUNDAY: Coming Soon from Ione D

Arlys Endres as Ione D

Arlys Endres as Ione D

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it’s been more fun since acquiring a collaborator, my amazing friend and partner Arlys Holloway. Though at the time she had little writing experience, she has proved to be a very capable co-author. Our character “Ione D” was her idea, as part of a Facebook campaign she devised to promote my steampunk novel, Fidelio’s Automata. Ione’s name is derived from the middle names of Arlys’ mother and father. I immediately fell for the character and decided that she had to star in her own series.

As a man, writing in first person for a female protagonist has been challenging for me. Arlys has been an incredible help, editing and rewriting my draft dialog from a woman’s perspective. Creating this series was partly a marketing move since these days women dominate the audience of avid readers. Though Ione is quite progressive for her time, to our sensibilities she’s a very old-fashioned and proper girl. We felt this would make Ione a refreshing change for the people of our cynical modern era.

Our first Ione D story, Miss Ione D and the Mayan Marvel, takes place in the 1890’s as the 19-year-old Ione moves with her parents to Guatemala, where her father has been appointed the deputy to the US Ambassador there. There she visits the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, makes an amazing discovery, and uncovers a sinister plot. Our second book takes Ione back to London, the city where she spent much of her childhood. She’s attending the first Royal Epicurean Exhibition, a pet project of the new King Edward. His Majesty aims to rehabilitate the image of English cuisine, featuring a fiercely competitive cooking contest. We’ve been working on it diligently and expect to release it early next year.

Another of our projects is to produce a paper edition of the Mayan Marvel book. Since as a novella it is shorter than a typical book, we plan to supplement it by including artwork at the beginning of each chapter. This project will hopefully be completed in early 2017 as well.

I’d like to remind readers that I haven’t given up my plans to publish a sequel of Fidelio’s Automata, called Fidelio’s Insurrection. The Ione D project has delayed my original plans to get to it next year, but I’ll get to that correctly.

Continue to check out my Sunday blog posts for news of another opportunity to win free books and swag from Nakota Publishing (that’s us!)