The Origin of Revin’s Heart
Rewriting the Rules is the final novelette of Revin’s Heart, my steampunky fantasy adventure with pirates and airships and a trans protagonist, available on June 23 from Water Dragon Publishing.
When I started writing what became The Third Time’s the Charm (the first part of Revin’s Heart), I had published several works of speculative fiction with queer and non-binary characters, but all in Esperanto. Charm was the among the first works I tried to publish in English.
I had a lot of big ideas when I wrote it. It clocked in at around 5000 words — pretty long for a short story. But when my beta readers looked at it they said it didn’t really work as a story. It was exciting, but the ending didn’t really resolve the problems that were raised. I came to realize that I had written (and for a long time tended to write) the first chapters of a book, not a story in itself.
This was in 2004.
A lot of things happened. I put down fiction writing for a few years. But during the pandemic, I started writing again. I wrote a bunch of other stuff, but I still remembered Charm and wanted to finish what I had started. With what I had learned in the interim. I pulled the manuscript back out, blew off the dust, and began revising. I simplified what was there, and added a story arc that could be resolved with a few thousand more words. The final manuscript clocked in at 8000 words. The larger story was still there, implicit in where the story stopped. But what was left, told a single, coherent story with a satisfying resolution.
I had been submitting my new stories all summer while I, little-by-little, worked my way through revising Charm. But I had only stacked up a respectable list of rejections thus far. When I attended Readercon, I met with the managing editor from Water Dragon Publishing who mentioned a “Dragon Gems” program that accepted novelettes. I had just wrapped up my revisions and hadn’t yet found another venue for submitting it, so I sent it off to them. The story got good reviews and was accepted for publication. My debut work!!
I was encouraged enough that, when I had free time to write again, I started working on a sequel and shared my interest in writing a series of novelettes to tell the rest of the story. After some discussion, the editor offered me the opportunity to publish the rest of the story over the course of the following year. As a new author, I was ignorant of how monumental an offer this was to make to a new, untried writer. But I leapt at the chance and, over the following three months, I wrote the rest of the novelettes.
It’s been a fascinating journey for me as a new author. And a wonderful learning experience. In addition to the seven novelettes, I’ve also written several side stories that are told from the viewpoints of other characters. These will be collected together and published with a “fix-up” novel that will include all of the novelettes, somewhat revised and expanded. And I’ve written a follow-on novella that I hope to publish in the future.
Revin and his compatriots have become an essential part of my life. I think about him and what’s happening to him nearly every day. I hope you will let him into your heart too and follow his adventures.
Steven D. Brewer has a new queer steampunk book out (trans, gay): Rewriting the Rules. And there’s a giveaway.
When peace is no longer possible, one must either go to war or run away.
Abandoned by the nobility, everything goes wrong for Revin and he makes a run for it, ready to give up all hope. But when confronted with the choice he must make, will his heart lead him true?
About the Series
Revin, a young man from a poor mining town, has pulled himself up by his bootstraps to become the student apprentice of a law professor. But then, everything goes wrong: their airship is captured by pirates and Revin loses his mentor. Born female, Revin must make his way in a world oriented toward men while he struggles with his own identity.
Set against the backdrop of a war between island nations, Revin must navigate a world divided between the aristocracy and the common people. And, as a promising young man, he must choose whom to align himself with — and to serve. But what does Revin’s Heart say?
Steven is giving away a $10 Water Dragon Publishing gift card with this tour:
The Queen of Belleriand approached the coast of Havelock in the pre-dawn hours at a high altitude and then turned to skirt the coast. Grip cranked down the ramp while Will helped Revin strap himself into the glider.
“Unassisted, you should have no problem reaching the coast,” Will said. “But even a small towline will probably be enough to keep you aloft until the city.”
“And you’ll be ready?” Revin asked.
“As soon as the Baron launches the assault, we will watch for your signal.”
With this assurance, Will gave Revin a pat on the shoulder and helped him out onto the ramp. Revin had worn two extra shirts for some extra insulation, but was still shivering, though not entirely from the cold. He was familiar with heights having been on airships many times. But jumping off of them was something else altogether. He pulled out the monocle he had gotten from Will and fixed it over his eye. Then, taking a deep breath, he took a running start and leapt off the ramp into open air.
At first, he panicked when it felt like he was going straight down. He struggled to get his feet up into the supports, heart racing. But once he’d picked up a little speed, he felt the glider start to gain lift and the dive flattened out into a long glide.
With the monocle, he studied the etheric flows and made an attachment to a strong flow going the right direction. He felt the glider pick up speed and it actually started to climb! He grew increasingly confident as he overflew the coast.
He had chosen to approach the city from the East, to stay well clear of the aerodrome, but it meant approaching the city from an unfamiliar direction. He strained his eyes trying to look for familiar landmarks and trying to spot Lidja’s apartment building. He was practically straight above it when he finally recognized it. He panicked for a moment feeling like he’d missed his chance. But then he just cut the towline and began turning lazy circles, dumping altitude, until he was just above the rooftops.
The building with Lidja’s apartment had a mansard roof and looked forbidding to land on. But the adjacent building had a large, long flat roof. Revin lined himself up, then realized, with the wind behind him, he was going too fast and would overshoot the building. In a panic, with the roof of Lidja’s apartment rushing at him, he found another etheric stream, and made the biggest towline he could. He squeezed his eyes shut as he started to climb and just barely cleared the roof. He climbed for a few minutes, then cut the line and looped back for another try. Heading into the wind this time, he lined up well in advance of the roof and judged the height better. As he cleared Lydia’s roof, he dropped his feet out of the supports and touched down at a run. He almost lost his balance and nearly tumbled, but just managed to stay on his feet and bring the glider to a stop. He had never wanted to kiss the ground more.
After he unstrapped himself, he ran to the edge of the building and, looking down a few feet, identified the window of Lidja’s bedroom. He pulled a few copper bits out of his pocket and threw one against her window. And then another and another, until he saw she was opening the window to look out and see what was going on. She looked up and caught sight of Revin and her face broke into a huge smile.
“Revin!” she squealed. “What are you doing here?”
“May I come in?”
“Yes, of course!”
Revin sprang across the narrow gap between the buildings and scrambled over to the window and climbed inside. Lidja seized him in a hug and pulled him down onto the bed.
“Oh! Oh! Oh!” she said, kissing his face over and over. “I’ve missed you so much! But, look at you! What happened to you?”
She put hands on both sides of his face and looked at his black eye and bruises that were finally starting to fade. She kissed his eyes very gently.
“I’m here,” Revin said. “And that’s all that matters. What’s been happening here?”
“Oh, it’s really bad, Revin,” Lidja said. “There are soldiers everywhere now. They’re stopping everyone and searching everything.”
“Are you still driving the coach for the Seneschal?” Revin asked.
“No,” Lidja said sadly. “They said that until the crisis is over I should stay home.”
“It just means I’ll have you all to myself,” Revin said. Lidja hugged him even tighter and then kissed him on his mouth when he tried to say something else.
“But there is something I want to do,” he said, when Lidja finally came up for air.
“Mmmmm,” Lidja said, giving him little kisses on his neck and throat and working her way lower.
“And it’s dangerous,” he continued as she began to unbutton his shirts.
“Mm-hmm,” she said, reaching around to unhook his chest binding.
“And I’ll need your help,” he said.
“Mm-hmm,” she agreed as she kissed him on his chest and belly.
“I’m not sure you’re taking this seriously,” Revin said.
“Hmm,” she said, loosening his trousers and working her way even lower.
Revin closed his eyes, leaned back, and gave himself over to her completely.
Steven D. Brewer has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy stories for as long as he can remember. He still remembers getting scolded for not reading chapter books in fourth grade because he was avidly consuming the Hobbit, late at night, by flashlight under his covers. And he probably got his copy from his older brother and most important mentor.
As an author, Brewer identifies diverse obsessions that underlie his writing. His early interest in natural history, life science, and environmentalism he learned from his father, an ecologist and ornithologist. He attributes seeing his mother study German for his abiding passion for languages that led him to major in Spanish (as well as Biology) and subsequently learn Esperanto and use it for international correspondence and travel. His fascination with Japanese culture grew from writing haiku and haibun in Esperanto. And his mania for information technology and the Internet led him back to graduate school where he earned a Masters in Earth Science and a PhD in Science Education.
His scattered interests led to an eclectic employment history. He did farm work and food service growing up in southwest Michigan. He has worked as a large-animal caretaker, an archeological faunal analyst, a hunter of the fastest lizards in the world, a gas-station attendant, a bilingual teacher’s aide for a migrant-worker education program, and an edutainer with live animals and a portable planetarium. For the past quarter century he has served as a non-tenure-system faculty member in higher education.
Brewer currently teaches scientific writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with his extended family.
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