Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

#WritingWednesday: In The Cities Of Cloaks And Daggers

Happy Wednesday! I’m using Wednesdays to share some short bursts of the stories I’m working on… because that way, I figure, I’ll be motivated to keep working on them

Right now (besides the Smith and Skarry adventures, which get quite enough attention in my other posts) I’m working on an LGBTQIA+ Mythpunk standalone novel called In The Cities Of Cloaks And Daggers whose central themes are identity, voice and power.

It’s based in a world where Time grows like grass and is harvested, where people of the four cities – Gnarl, Ash, Slain and Caligari – wear their whole lives on their backs in the form of patchwork story Cloaks. Those who don’t have a Cloak, have no clue as to who they are. Those who have Cloaks guard them jealously for fear of the desperate Daggers who would steal them for themselves.

The novel is divided into four books – The Book Of Bujo (which btw is a complicated word whose closest meaning would be heist/ joke/ prank/ trick), The Book Of Scales, The Book of Feathers and The Book Of End – but in the opening the reader finds themselves in a burned down library where the pages of all these books have been scattered, charred and disarrayed across the floor so the narrative has to be pieced together in fragments and the time line dawns slowly rather than being obvious from the start.

It’s ambitious, I’m scared about failing at the vision I’m aiming for, but I love pushing the boundaries of what I can do and I’ve done similar things with short stories so I really hope I can make it work, let’s see… This is the next extract, you can find the previous part here: #WritingWednesday: In The Cities Of Cloaks And Daggers 

Victorian Steampunk Plague Doctor Assassin


The Grass Temple had to take care ; the winds that swept across The Sea Glass Isle were perfect for high speed Kiting but when you were made of grass, wind was never going to be your ally. 

‘Weave me,’ The Grass Temple thought with all her strength, “weave me stronger my little ones, my wee, wee priests and priestesses who scuttle through my hollows and who build and mould and create and destroy and create me new again, weave me firm against this gale.” 

The Grass Temple had no idea whether the creatures who dwelt inside her heard her thoughts. Sometimes it seemed they did her bidding; seemingly miraculous coincidences once or twice had almost convinced her to adopt an unshakable faith in that fact… but more often they wove and snipped and clipped and trimmed and embellished and refurbished and went on about their days seemingly oblivious to her attempts at communication. 

The Grass Temple was certain that they were oblivious right now to her – and their own – impending doom at the hands of the violent gusts  which tugged and teased and threw the long multicoloured tendrils of her form every way they pleased. 

‘Weave!’ The Grass Temple pleaded, looking desperately around the Kite for shelter. She had not been with the others long, they had rescued her from a group of Daggers who, not content with cutting off her Cloak, had begun to pull her apart just for the fun of it. 

She treasured that day in her memory; The swift blades of The Duchess, the bellow of The Magon’s rage as they chased the last of her assailants off into the knotted city walkways, the dashing Kesili as they lifted her in strong arms to safety and the mocking wit of The Dragpie whose scathing curses followed The Daggers’ heels off into the gloom. 

She had known who she was before that… at least, she had known what Her Cloak said about her, and she had believed it. The Grass Temple was one of the lucky few who had grown a Cloak from her shoulder blades when the sky had shattered and the voices had all been sealed away by The Alchemists, for the protection of The People.

No one with a cloak doubted that the embroidered patches of words and pictures told the story of who they were, what they had done and what they would do in the future. They immediately began adding to them, recording their daily escapades and  achievements and each patch they added became an intrinsic part of their own, true self. 

The Grass Temple remembered all this, she remembered the thrill of adding each new segment of fabric to her frame … but nothing else; whatever those pictures and words had said about her was now gone, all except a few tattered fragments that still clung to her back… a black and white bird … a dragon… a windmill… a seed… a tree… and one beautiful golden eye…  

That was what Daggers did – having no Cloaks of their own and no clue to their own identity or purpose the people of The Four Cities were left with several choices ; Daggers chose to cut the Cloaks of others and steal a history for themselves. Of course the Cloaks didn’t graft onto their flesh and truly become their own, but no one would know the difference unless they looked closely. The Dragpie had said that there were even Daggers who cut Cloaks into fragments and traded them on, and that some Daggers actually had Cloaks themselves but coveted and stole more illustrious or exciting parts of the stories of others. 

The Grass Temple didn’t have a mouth to smile with just now, but she felt the smile rise inside her all the same ; she was safe, the crew of The Land Kite had welcomed her like a sister and, they had promised, they would help her recover her lost Cloak – piece by piece if necessary – from the Daggers’ who’d stolen it.


There you go, I hope you enjoyed reading the next little extract and thankyou so so much for taking the time to read along and for all your kind ‘likes’ and words of support and encouragement- they keep me going!  🙂 What are you writing at the moment? Feel free to share links to your own works in progress or Writing Wednesday posts in the comments 🙂

Blessings on all your writing endeavours!

8 responses

  1. Thank you for the gorgeous extract.🥰 The Grass Temple a fabulous character and I loved sharing her musings on the creatures who dwelt inside her head; those seemingly miraculous coincidences when she suspected that they heard her thoughts, despite the fact they mostly ‘wove and snipped and clipped and trimmed and embellished and refurbished’ ,❤️ seemingly oblivious to them.

    So much of this extract seems to encapsulate human interaction – both in RL and on social media. It’s a brilliantly well done, insightful glimpse into ‘points totting’ and the Personal Presentation that seems to obsess so many people: the construction of the persona they want others to perceive as their true selves. Wearing their experiences as a cloak; concealing their truths while exhibiting their triumphs for all to see:

    She had known who she was before that… at least, she had known what Her Cloak said about her, and she had believed it…
    No one with a cloak doubted that the embroidered patches of words and pictures told the story of who they were, what they had done and what they would do in the future. They immediately began adding to them, recording their daily escapades and achievements and each patch they added became an intrinsic part of their own, true self.

    Oh this is luscious ^ it’s my favourite part.❤️ The first sentence is sublime. So, so true of so many people.

    They had rescued her from a group of Daggers who, not content with cutting off her Cloak, had begun to pull her apart just for the fun of it.

    The brutal reality; the flip side of this construction of self…as a house of cards that can be scythed down & dissected for the hell of it. 😔

    I have verrry probably read it all wrong, but it works brilliantly as an extended metaphor. I adore your writing style, the way you weave your words. Your stories transport me to another realm entirely. I’m no longer inhabiting my own head (as I do reading contemporary romance) which is a Wonderful Thing. A gift in itself, just like your writing. It’s as transportive as it is magical…mesmerizing.❤️😻❤️ Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 20, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    • smithandskarry1

      Oh wow, I can’t thank you enough for all this… that is all EXACTLY what I was trying to get across – the whole social media image problem and the repercussions of that, the impact it has on self and others… you’ve not only seen it all but actually summarised it better than I can myself, lol, because for me I see it straight away like the metaphor and then have to work backwards from there to explain it literally (which is not my forte!) . I honestly can’t explain how happy that makes me that you ‘got it’ because I’m about 30,000 words in and I’ve hit a knot in the overarching plot that means some things aren’t working and are going to have to be cut back and re-worked… so this was a HUGE boost and incentive to keep going, thankyou! 🥰 I’m so glad you liked the little people inside her too, she’s a bit of a metaphor herself but I created her contrast to another character who is similar but quintessentially different and who hasn’t surfaced yet. 😉 I’m super blown away that you’re enjoying the extracts so much – as you said earlier, it helps me write when I know someone is enjoying it! Your enthusiasm and kind support is a huge gift, thankyou so much for being there! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      November 21, 2019 at 10:17 am

      • Aww…you’re so welcome, it’s a pleasure & a privilege to be here 🥰 Thank you!❤️ Oh, I’m soso glad I didn’t get it horribly wrong! After I’d written my post I thought oooh gawd, 😳 Now look what you’ve gawn & written 🙈 I’m so relieved! I think I did much the same as you, I saw the metaphor instinctively – entire in itself – then had to try and break down where the bejeezus I’d got that from. I thought I’d made a muchalot of a mess, so I couldn’t be more chuffed.🥰 Oh, I’m so sorry you hit a knot and do so hope you can untangle it and reweave your words in a way that feels right. I shall look forward to meeting the character bubbling beneath the surface. Oh I love them, and love being here too. Thank you for being so brilliantly you🌹

        Liked by 1 person

        November 21, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      • smithandskarry1

        Aw thankyou so much for your lovely words, treasure, – and listen, never ever feel bad or like you’ve made a mistake for saying what you think / feel … even if it hadn’t been what I’d intended, I still would have felt blown away that you’d both taken the time to read and think about something I’d written so deeply, and seen something I had missed; I would have found it interesting to see a different perspective on it so please, never worry about that sort of thing… I always say to people ‘I never take a fence’ , it’s just silly because fences are heavy and cumbersome and impossible to sell on the black market. Watch your silverware and fine china though 😉 As for making a mess, well, I do that on a daily basis so I’d be the world’s A1 hypocrite for ever getting moody over someone else doing it, lol. No. This is a safe space so just chill and say what you like 🙂 As for the knot, thankyou 🙂 I think it’s slowly coming undone… we shall see! XD xx

        Liked by 1 person

        November 22, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      • Aww…you’re welcome 🥰 Yay, I’m chuffed your knot seems to be coming undone, and hope you soon unravel it afore weaving away with wings on your fingers and bells on your toes.😳 Oh dear, that went horribly awry along the way…which is all the more reason to say thank you, so much, about making messes & having mishaps.🌹 Aww…thank you truly, for every wondrous word, they meant the world to me. ❤️ I love coming here, I adore your blog…and you.🥰

        Liked by 1 person

        November 22, 2019 at 4:46 pm

      • smithandskarry1

        Aw, bless your heart honey I love your whimsical word-smithery … if that’s even a word, lol. And back atcha, it’s always fab to find a new friend – especially one as thoughtful, kind and generous as you. Hope your weekend is a fabulous one 🥰

        Liked by 1 person

        November 23, 2019 at 10:12 am

      • Aww…thank you for your lovely words 😻 It’s a fabulous one whether it is or not!😸 Oh, thank you, I hope yours is wonderful too🥰

        Liked by 1 person

        November 23, 2019 at 4:27 pm

  2. Pingback: #WritingWednesday: In The Cities Of Cloaks And Daggers | Blake And Wight . com

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