About a year ago, I met a young author named J.L. Gribble who reminded me so much of myself I began calling her my Internet doppelganger. After an exchange of books and author interviews, we became friends, and I was thrilled to be asked to host J.L. here on my blog.
The Steel Empires series features a vampire named Victory who doesn’t sparkle and can be violent and voracious when the need arises, but who also loves her adopted human family deeply and will do anything to protect them. Victory is a consummate warrior, an astute politician, and a patient and loving mom. She’s my favorite character in the series, so I’m really excited about the release of Steel Blood. In this third novel in the Steel Empire series, Victory faces a whole new load of problems involving political intrigue, imminent danger, and wayward young people. What’s a fanged mother to do?
I also love the world J.L. created for this series, an urban fantasy/alternate history in which Rome and Britain are the world’s two superpowers and in which humans, vampires, werecreatures of all sorts, and elves live openly (though not necessarily harmoniously) in the independent city-state of Limani. The Steel Empires series opens upon the stirrings of a new conflict within this world, but I was intensely curious about the fascinating alternate history we glimpse throughout the narrative. Therefore I asked J.L. to write something about her inspirations and the backstory behind the founding of Limani.
History of Limani
by J.L. Gribble
When I asked my friend and author A.M. Justice whether I could stop by her home on the internet as part of the blog tour for my latest novel, I told her that I was open to write about pretty much anything. She quickly returned with a request for a very specific topic: How the home city in my alternate history world came to be.
Trust me, I wish I could respond with something as amazing as “spaceships,” as in A.M.’s excellent fantasy novel A Wizard’s Forge. Alas, my fantasy series is rooted much more in the, well, fantastical. In a world that has evolved where the common person has always known and coexisted with the supernatural, historical evolution has taken some wacky turns while still staying very much familiar to what we know in our own world.
The independent city-state of Limani, home to the main characters of my series, started life as Greek colony. The alliance of Greek city-states in Europa joined in the rush to settle the “New Continent,” managing to establish a foothold along the coastline near a major bay along the middle of the eastern coastline. They snagged space between the British colonies to the north and the newly claimed Roman territories to the south.
But while the British settlements were funded by second and third children of the werewolf nobility, and the massive Roman plantations were supported by corporations led by wealthy Roman vampire lines, the Greek colonists embodied the nature of their origins. These disparate colonists, from multiple Greek cities, maintained the ideals of equality and democracy that linked their alliance back in Europa. The major factor in their favor was that a larger proportion than expected of the original group of colonists consisted of mages from every elemental faction. These were mages schooled in the Greek magical academies held in esteem throughout Europa, looking for adventure and new beginnings.
And it was what saved Limani, in the end.
Bolstered by resources pouring in from their new territories in the New Continent, the Roman Empire set its sights on expansion at home once again. In a few short years, the last Greek city-states that had existed for thousands of years finally fell. Some fought for their independence to the bitter end and ended up in ruins, while others saw the writing on the wall and signed treaties with Roma that would ensure certain freedoms for their people.
Suddenly cut off from all support from home, as the city-states suddenly had bigger issues to worry about, Limani almost failed as a colony. But the mages, already spread throughout the colony and trying to establish lives for themselves, helped to keep the farms growing food and the small manufactories creating goods needed for the survival of their city. Those who were more combat-inclined helped the colony defend itself from incursions from the north and south. But every time the British and Roman settlements in the New Continent thought they smelled blood in the water, Limani proved itself more than willing to depend its staunch independence.
Later, the British and Romans established Limani as a neutral zone between their lands. Once it heard the news, Limani kind of shrugged and kept going about its day. It had better things to do than play politics with great powers across the ocean. By now, it already had trade deals with the nearby Romans and British and was as self-sufficient as possible.
It might have been easy for the mages to say, “Hey, we kept this city running. We should be in charge.” But Limani never forgot its roots, keeping to the ideals of democracy and fair representation. Over the years, a family of werewolves showed up and sought sanctuary from their noble families who’d disapproved of a marriage made for love. Other werecreatures drifted in, found a society where they weren’t automatically second-class citizens under the wolves, and made themselves at home.
Two vampires moved in one day. One of them started a bar. The other announced plans to found a university. Limani tolerated its eccentric immortals, until they chased off another pair of vampires who killed in the city with abandon. Then Limani heaved a sigh of relief when one of the vampires finally acknowledged that she was the Master of the City. They gave her a seat on the city council with a partial vote, like the werewolf alpha and representatives of the other werecreatures.
Elves had lived in the city since shortly after its founding, but more moved in once it had a functioning university, mage school, and Mercenary Guildhall—three of the modern hallmarks of civilization. Though short a Qin weredragon, Limani was now a microcosm of the greater world. Even surrounded by empires, the city existed as a quiet power in its own right.
The city is certainly not without its share of drama. At one point, the werepanthers fought for equal representation with the werewolves on the city council. Later, a new Roman emperor thought he could march in and take over the city (see Steel Empires Book 1: Steel Victory). The city more than proved him wrong. But overall, it’s been a quiet town on a river, with opportunities for education and occupation. Limani would be happy to welcome you home.
Though the vampire Master of the City leaves Limani for a short time in Steel Empires Book 3: Steel Blood, she’ll never forget her adopted home! About the book:
As her children begin lives of their own, Victory struggles with the loneliness of an empty nest. Just when the city of Limani could not seem smaller, an old friend requests that she come out of retirement for one final mercenary contract—to bodyguard his granddaughter, a princess of the Qin Empire.
For the first time in a century, the Qin and British Empires are reopening diplomatic relations. Alongside the British delegation, Victory and her daywalker Mikelos arrive in the Qin colony city of Jiang Yi Yue. As the Qin weredragons and British werewolves take careful steps toward a lasting peace between their people, a connection between the Qin princess and a British nobleman throw everyone’s plans in disarray.
Meanwhile, a third faction stalks the city under the cover of darkness.
This is not a typical romance. It’s a good thing Victory is not a typical vampire.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/steel-blood-jl-gribble/1126268372
From the publisher: http://rawdogscreaming.com/books/steel-blood/
About the author:
By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.
Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.
She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).
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