Author Archives: Kirsten Weiss

Are You A Secret Steampunker?

by Kassandra Lamb and Kirsten Weiss

We are delighted to announce that a new sub-genre has been added to the misterio press stable of mysteries: Steampunk suspense!

Have you wondered what this thing called Steampunk is all about? I certainly have.

Kirsten Weiss has just released her first Steampunk suspense story and she’s here today to explain the whole phenomenon for us. Maybe you’ll discover that you are really a Steampunker. Take it away, Kirsten.

5 Hints You May Be a Secret Steampunker:

The joke goes that Steampunk is simply Goth wearing brown.

But since Steampunk is much more than fashion, as jokes go, this one isn’t terribly accurate. Steampunk is a sub-genre of historical fantasy set in the Victorian era. Usually featuring steam-powered machinery, over-the-top characters, and a touch of magic, Steampunk is finally starting to break into the mainstream.

Here are some hints Steampunk might be right up your fog-shrouded alley.

1) You’ve got a yen for adventure. [Tweet this!] Ever fantasized about being in one of those old British explorers’ clubs? The kind with leather armchairs, and where the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are broken only by a fireplace and ancient maps on the walls? Steampunk is all about exploits and escapades.

steampunker in corset on stilts

Speaking of over-the-top characters! LOL

2) You secretly lust for corsets. Too uncomfortable, you say? Stuff and nonsense! It’s fashion, m’dear. So if you’ve an eye for vintage, Steampunk may be for you. [Tweet this!]

3) Love a good period drama? I say! Steampunk is set in Victorian days. And though it’s usually set in Victorian England, with all the attendant aristocrats, it can cross the Atlantic to America for a Wild Wild West vibe.

4) You crack open a book for a fun escape and the more mayhem, the merrier. By jove, reality’s what you get when you roll out of bed. Who needs to read about it, dash it all!

5) You like Star Trek and aren’t ashamed to admit it. What do Star Trek and Steampunk have in common? Fab characters and crazy technology. Some folks call Steampunk a sub-genre of science fiction. But I disagree. Jules Verne-style steam technology is a building block of the Steampunk world, but Steampunk is set over a century in the past. Still, it has a certain wacky, techno-charm, particularly reminiscent of the old 60s Star Trek TV series. Top drawer, that!

So are you a secret Steampunker? What do you think of this genre?

Kirsten Weiss is the author of the Riga Hayworth urban fantasy/paranormal mystery novels, and a new Steampunk adventure, Steam and Sensibility, set in 1848 San Francisco.

Kass here again: This is the cover and blurb for Kirsten’s new book. I would not have thought of myself as a Steampunker, but I read this book and absolutely loved it!

Srteam and Sensibility coverSteam rising.

California Territory, 1848. Gold has been discovered, emptying the village of San Francisco of its male population. Steam-powered technology is still in its infancy.

At 19, Englishwoman Sensibility Grey has spent her life tinkering in her father’s laboratory and missing the finer points of proper British life. But when her father dies in penury, she’s shipped to San Francisco and to the protection of an uncle she’s never met.

The California Territory may hold more dangers than even the indomitable Miss Grey can manage. Pursued by government agents, a secret society, and the enigmatic Mr. Krieg Night, Sensibility must decipher the clockwork secrets in her father’s final journal, unaware she’ll change the world forever.

Magic, mayhem, and mechanicals. STEAM AND SENSIBILITY is a pre-Steampunk novel of paranormal suspense set in the wild west of the California gold rush. [Tweet this!]

Available now on AMAZONBarnes & Noble and Kobo.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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Magic, Mysticism and the Paranormal

Magic, mysticism, and the paranormal. Figuring out what they are is confusing enough. But what’s the difference between the three?

As a paranormal mystery writer, these are questions I get to ask on a fairly regular basis. To smarten myself up, I’ve been taking a class on mysticism and modern psychology. And it’s getting me a bit closer to answering the above question.

So get ready to dazzle your friends at cocktail parties, because here we go:

1.    Magic is all about changing the world around you, ala Harry Potter. Well, maybe not quite so dramatically. But just check the Internet – people are buying magical assistance every day such as love charms, spells for wealth, etc. And at heart, the goal is to make something we want happen in the real world.

2.    Mysticism, on the other hand, is about changing our perception of the world. Mystics will try and change the way they experience reality. In turn, when we start seeing the world differently, we tend to start interacting with it differently.

And in case you’re wondering where the psychology comes in, this is it. In common with mysticism, psychology tries to change the way we interact with the world, perceive the world, and hold ourselves in the world. Like mysticism, psychology attempts to change our internal space.

3.    Paranormal abilities seem to almost combine magic and mysticism. Mystics believe that the mind transformed by mystical practice has different abilities than the ordinary mind, and this can grant them paranormal powers. But don’t call it magic. Mystical paranormal abilities are based on how the mystic has changed his or herself.

Of course, there’s another “magical” theory for paranormal abilities as well. Many modern day magical practitioners believe that amulets and spells and incantations are simply a method to… change the way they perceive and act in the world. And this in turn changes their world.

Because if you’re behaving differently, it’s a good bet that those around you are reacting differently.

I can’t get enough of this idea. In fact, it’s threaded through my Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels, including my latest, The Elemental Detective.

To sum it all up, magic and mysticism may simply be two sides of the same coin. What do you think?

If you haven’t already done so, check out Kassandra Lamb’s post over at The Dark Side of Love, on why some women are attracted to abusive men. Talk about needing to change something on the inside in order to change what is happening in the world!

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten works part-time as a writer and part-time as an international development consultant. She writes the Riga Hayworth urban fantasy/paranormal mystery novels. (Riga is a Metaphysical Detective.) Kirsten is currently working on Book 6, The Hoodoo Detective.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Iceland: The New Hot Spot for Mystery Novels

I recently returned from Iceland and was fascinated by the quality and depth of its bookstores. For a country of only 300,000 people, Iceland has a fertile written heritage, starting with its medieval Viking sagas and continuing to a rich collection of modern mystery novelists.

photo of Icelandic waterside town

A typical Icelandic fishing village.

Is their voracious reading habit because of the cold weather? Iceland’s recent economic crash? The BBC recently reported that Iceland has more writers, more books read, and more books published, per capita, than any other nation. It’s estimated that one out of ten Icelanders will publish a book. Unfortunately, only about three percent of Icelandic works are translated for the English market.

Iceland hasn’t yet developed the international reputation its Scandinavian neighbors have for mystery novels and thrillers. The English-language series I found most prominently displayed in the bookstores of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, (and also available on Amazon) was the Reykjavik Murder Mystery series by Arnaldur Indridason. His prose is as sparse and clean as Iceland in October, which happens to be when the first book in the series, Jar City, takes place.

The book is noir-ish, featuring Reykjavik Detective Erlendur. Like a good noir hero, he’s divorced and feeling his age. One of his children is a junkee, the other in rehab. Chapter one drops the reader into a murdered man’s apartment, while the Detective examines the body. It seems like a simple enough crime against an elderly male –and most likely random – except for one clue: a cryptic three-word message left beside the body. Tantalizingly, the author only gives the reader one of the three words, driving an otherwise prosaic scene forward.

photo of moss-covered lava field

A lava field in Iceland, covered in moss.

The Day Is Dark, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, is another currently “hot” Icelandic book, though it is largely set in Greenland. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, an attorney, departs Iceland for a snowbound outpost in Greenland, where Icelandic employees have disappeared. Malignant townsfolk and hints of danger in the woods ratchet up the tension in this book, which is part mystery and part thriller.

Looking for a real classic? The medieval Icelandic sagas are jam-packed with murder, mayhem, and magic. Ranking as one of the world’s most important literary works, the sagas take place around the beginning of the last millennium, and have preserved much of what modern scholars know about the daily life, religion, magical practices, and adventures of the early Norse men and women, including their astonishing journeys to America.

kirsten-1

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten works part-time as a writer and part-time as an international development consultant. She writes the Riga Hayworth paranormal mystery novels. Her fifth book in the series, The Elemental Detective, will be published in December, 2013.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

The Mystery of the Grilled Brie and Chocolate Sandwich

In the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels, there’s lots of magic, lots of wine, and a definite appreciation for food.

But metaphysical detective Riga Hayworth is too busy solving paranormal crimes and being romanced by sexy casino owner, Donovan Mosse, to slice and dice a gourmet meal. So she’s a whiz with the fast and delicious. Grilled cheese is one of her comfort foods.  Here’s one of her most sinful sandwich recipes:

Riga’s Grilled Brie and Chocolate Sandwich

grilled brie and chocolate sandwich

Ingredients:
2 pieces of sliced sourdough bread
Olive oil
Spreadable brie
Spreadable mascarpone cheese
Dark chocolate chips
Jam (any flavor, preferably a tart berry)

Directions:
Heat non-stick skillet at medium-high. Spread brie on one side of one slice of bread. Spread mascarpone on the other slice. Spread with the jam, and drizzle a small handful of chocolate chips on one side. Put the two pieces together in a sandwich and drizzle the outside of the bread with olive oil. Grill until bread is toasted lightly brown and chocolate is gooey.

Riga recommends serving with a full-bodied cabernet or zinfandel. But then again, she’ll serve just about anything with a full-bodied cab or zin.

glass of wine next to bottle

*****
So what’s the mystery? Though Riga is a metaphysical detective, she’s been unable to figure out whether this sandwich is dinner or dessert. (I think it’s a two-in-one).

What do you think? Do you have any simple but gourmet recipes Riga can try out?

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten worked for fourteen years in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. She is the author of the Metaphysical Detective mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)