Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

#WritingWednesday: In The Cities Of Cloaks And Daggers

Happy Wednesday! And Happy New Year! I hope it’s an utterly fabulous one for you all!


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




“What are you three doing out there?”


The children’s mother sighed. They were always digging. Not much else to do when you lived in a field. The hose she called a tap spat and sputtered a sporadic vomit of clean-ish water into the tin bucket she called a sink. 

An hour passed.

“Are you alright out there?”

“Yes. Still digging.”

She began to pull various items of clothing off the piece of string which ran from one end of the caravan ceiling to the other and folded them neatly, placing each one into the large cardboard boxes she called wardrobes. 

Another hour passed. 

“Where are you digging to? Mars?”

“Just digging.”

It was getting colder. Summer had slipped away from the party unnoticed beneath a cloak of shale coloured cloud and was now mocking them from the opposite side of reality. The day was golden, the sky clear and blue but the wind danced with icy toes and wicked fingers across the hilltop and tonight its consort Frost would join the revels, she was sure.

She reached up on tiptoe to a piece of driftwood, which she called a shelf and had nailed onto the wall of the caravan at an impractical height, and brought down a stack of knitted polygons which she called blankets.

She neatly laid a blanket over the eiderdowns of the two bunk-beds, a third she folded into a wad and tucked into the large drawer she called a cot-bed and the last she laid over the piece of plywood she sometimes called a sofa and at other times a bed.

She poured boiling water into an empty bean tin she called a mug, dropped in three teabags, seated herself on the multifunctional piece of plywood and opened a bundle of paper bound in leather she called a book. 

Three hours passed and then there was a knock at the door.


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!


11 responses

  1. And she posted the story on what she called a ‘blog’.
    Great stuff, Penny!

    Liked by 2 people

    January 8, 2020 at 4:44 am

    • smithandskarry1

      lol, thanks Icky, I’m really glad you liked it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 8, 2020 at 10:54 am

  2. Happy Wednesday & Happy New Year to you too! I hope it is kind to you and your loved ones.🥰
    It was getting colder. Summer had slipped away from the party unnoticed beneath a cloak of shale coloured cloud and was now mocking them from the opposite side of reality. The day was golden, the sky clear and blue but the wind danced with icy toes and wicked fingers across the hilltop and tonight its consort Frost would join the revels, she was sure.
    Oh, this is gorgeous.❤️
    ‘The wind danced with icy toes and wicked fingers’ is sheer magic. You’ve captured her life so vividly in so few words, and portrayed her with such grace and dignity. Her stoicism is as tangible as it is admirable. I adored the refrain of ‘she called a…’ it’s achingly poignant.
    Thank you for sharing the snippet. ‘The Book of End’ is a wonderful title; made all the more marvellous by the absence of ‘the’ before End❤️
    As ever, I love your personification of the elements, your sublime wordsmithery, and your writing, full-stop.🥰

    Liked by 3 people

    January 8, 2020 at 6:53 am

    • smithandskarry1

      Thankyou lovely, I’m so glad you liked it – and that you got that impression of her too. It’s sort of the way I grew up (when I was very young) and for a long time how I had to parent and I’m aware that in can inspire two viewpoints – both the one you express, but also the stance of contempt / ridicule / meaningless condescension from a privileged perspective… so I felt I was taking a bit of a risk and I’m so glad it worked because I didn’t want folk to either deride or pity her in a condescending way. Oh I’m glad you like the title too, I’m hoping this section has a very different feel from the land kite crew and the Trikashi parts, even though it is deeply interwoven with the stories unfolding there. Hopefully it’ll all come together in the end! lol! And I’m glad you like the personification of the landscape and elements, it’s how I was brought up and so it sort of happens instinctively and sometimes I think ‘woops I’ve done that again!’ I know it bugs some people. Lol. At least the wind in part of the story here does have a whole story of its own, lol. Thankyou as always for your lovely words and for stopping by, you support is so wonderful! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      January 9, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      • I’m so sorry you had to parent that way, all the more so, after experiencing it for yourself; knowing how privileged folk treated you as a result. It didn’t even cross to mind to view her with anything but admiration, and the respect her graciousness deserved. 💞You infused her with such innate dignity I find it appalling that anyone could perceive her otherwise. Despite knowing damn well (in retrospect) that your description of that perspective is accurate. 😔 Oh I love the title ❤️ And yes indeedy, it does have a very different feel to the land kite crew & Trikashi parts…despite the sense of them existing in the same realm (? world? universe?) as those stories. I’m so looking forward to seeing how they all come together. You’ve created such a fascinating world, every snippet you’ve posted has been lusciously drawn and vividly realised. Likewise the characters who inhabit each; both living and elemental. I love your personifications, they feel perfectly in keeping with my own innate awareness of the world. So I hope you’ll continue to woops to your heart’s content .❤️ The wind is one of my favouritest characters so far😁🥰 Aw…you’re very welcome. It’s an utter pleasure to stop by and share in your worlds.😻 xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 9, 2020 at 6:37 pm

      • smithandskarry1

        Aw thankyou my lovely, but there’s no need to feel sorry – experiences make us who we are and I wouldn’t change them for the world, even the bad ones, lol! ‘Without tears we don’t see as many rainbows’ ! XD And luckily our family has moved waaaaayyyy beyond that place now, tho we’ve had ups and downs we are doing fabulously fine now 😀 Oh I’m so glad you think her part fits the world despite being tonally different, she is of the same world, very very much so, so I’m glad that’s apparent – and I’m glad you love the wind, they have quite a crucial part to play as the tale goes on… lol.. I’ll keep slipping up then! XD Aw thankyou, I’m glad you’re enjoying reading them as much as I am writing them! xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 10, 2020 at 11:03 am

      • I’m so glad that you’re doing so fabulously fine now🥰 You are a wonderful mum & I wish you all the happiness you do so deserve🌹
        ‘Without tears we don’t see as many rainbows’ ! Wise words indeedy…the things that seemed worst in my world have oft worked out best as fate unfolded. Despite the mess I made and how implausible that seems at the time.😖
        Oh I do…very much so and it is, very apparent. I love the tone of the entire novel; you’ve captured a true sense of intimacy in such an expanse world; that’s a feat in itself. One you’ve pulled off with such compassion for your characters, they have an authenticity that makes their physicality matter not a jot(animal, mineral or elemental) I care what happens to them from the moment they appear on the page, they’re so richly drawn and vivid. Yay😁 I’m chuffed t’bits that you’ll slipping up…it’s one of my favouritest things. 🥰Oh I am…I adore them. You infuse every word you write with a charm as irresistible as it is inimitable. xx❤️xx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 11, 2020 at 1:21 am

      • smithandskarry1

        Bless your heart, your kind words of support always mean more than I can say, thankyou so much for being so utterly your lovely self xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 13, 2020 at 10:55 am

      • You’re very welcome. Always. It’s a joy to be here. Aw, I’ve gone all daft now…thank you! xxx🥰

        Liked by 1 person

        January 13, 2020 at 5:21 pm

  3. Your writing leaves me gasping with the sheer beauty and honesty of the words. You truly are one of my favourite wordsmiths. Thank you for these weekly shares. I love them.

    Liked by 2 people

    January 10, 2020 at 10:49 am

    • smithandskarry1

      Oh Jan, thankyou so so much for your kind words of encouragement! They mean the world they really do! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the snippets of this story and thankyou for stopping by and taking the time to comment, it really is appreciated! Hopefully I can hold this one together and not make a cat’s cradle of all the different strands by the end of it! XD -hugs – xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      January 10, 2020 at 10:58 am

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