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Cherie Priest

Fiction and Excerpts [7]

Fiction and Excerpts [7]


, || Alice Dartle is a talented clairvoyant living among others who share her gifts in the community of Cassadaga, Florida. She dreams of fire, knowing her nightmares are connected to the shell-shocked war veteran, Tomás Cordero.

The Family Plot

|| Dahlia Dutton's salvage company has recently acquired the deed to Augusta Winthrow's ancient family estate. But something in the Withrow mansion is angry and lost. This is its last chance to raise hell before the house is gone forever, and there’s still plenty of room in the strange little overgrown cemetery plot…


In the trenches of Europe during the Great War, Tomás Cordero operated a weapon more devastating than any gun: a flame projector that doused the enemy in liquid fire. Having left the battlefield a shattered man, he comes home to find yet more tragedy—for in his absence, his wife has died of the flu. Haunted by memories of the woman he loved and the atrocities he perpetrated, Tomás dreams of fire and finds himself setting match to flame when awake….

Alice Dartle is a talented clairvoyant living among others who share her gifts in the community of Cassadaga, Florida. She too dreams of fire, knowing her nightmares are connected to the shell-shocked war veteran and widower. And she believes she can bring peace to him and his wife’s spirit.

But the inferno that threatens to consume Tomás and Alice was set ablaze centuries ago by someone whose hatred transcended death itself…

Cherie Priest’s new dark historical fantasy Brimstone is available April 4th from Ace Books—read an excerpt below!

[Read more]

The Family Plot

Music City Salvage is a family operation, owned and operated by Chuck Dutton: master stripper of doomed historic properties, and expert seller of all things old and crusty. But business is lean and times are tight, so he’s thrilled when the aged and esteemed Augusta Withrow appears in his office, bearing an offer he really ought to refuse. She has a massive family estate to unload—lock, stock, and barrel. For a check and a handshake, it’s all his.

It’s a big check. It’s a firm handshake. And it’s enough of a gold mine that he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project.

Dahlia preps a couple of trucks, takes a small crew, and they caravan down to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the ancient Withrow house is waiting—and so is a barn, a carriage house, and a small, overgrown cemetery that Augusta Withrow left out of the paperwork. Augusta Withrow left out a lot of things. The property is in unusually great shape for a condemned building. It’s empty, but it isn’t abandoned. Something in the Withrow mansion is angry and lost. This is its last chance to raise hell before the house is gone forever, and there’s still plenty of room in the strange little family plot…

Cherie Priest’s The Family Plot is a haunted house story for the ages—atmospheric, scary, and strange, with a modern gothic sensibility that’s every bit as fresh as it is frightening. Available September 20th from Tor Books. Read chapter 2 below, in which Dalia Dutton and her employee Brad drive up to the old Withrow estate to prepare it for salvage.

[Read more]

Fiddlehead (Excerpt)

Check out Fiddlehead, the fifth book in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century steampunk series, available November 12th from Tor Books!

Young ex-slave Gideon Bardsley is a brilliant inventor, but the job is less glamorous than one might think, especially since the assassination attempts started. Worse yet, they’re trying to destroy his greatest achievement: a calculating engine called Fiddlehead, which provides undeniable proof of something awful enough to destroy the world. Both man and machine are at risk from forces conspiring to keep the Civil War going and the money flowing.

Bardsley has no choice but to ask his patron, former president Abraham Lincoln, for help. Lincoln retired from leading the country after an attempt on his life, but is quite interested in Bardsley’s immense data-processing capacities, confident that if people have the facts, they’ll see reason and urge the government to end the war. Lincoln must keep Bardsley safe until he can finish his research, so he calls on his old private security staff to protect Gideon and his data.

[Read an Excerpt]

The Button Man and the Murder Tree

George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards multi-author shared-world universe has been thrilling readers for over 25 years. Now, in addition to overseeing the ongoing publication of new Wild Cards books (like 2011’s Fort Freak), Martin is also commissioning and editing new Wild Cards stories for publication on In Cherie Priest’s “The Button Man and the Murder Tree,” it’s Chicago in 1971, and Raul is a button man—a professional ender of lives that the Mob needs ended. But something’s odd about his most recent assignments. And then there are those mushrooms growing out of his skin….

This short story was acquired and edited for by George R. R. Martin.

[Read “The Button Man and the Murder Tree” by Cherie Priest]

Series: Wild Cards on

The Inexplicables: The Low-Down

This month is UK publication month for The Inexplicables! So WHAT you may ask IS THE SKINNY ON THIS ONE? Well, I’ll tell you, starting with an amended version of the flap copy.

[Aside: Why amended? Because I’m a control freak, basically. Also because people who read the stuff that’s actually on the back of the book tend to freak out and email me questions with lots of exclamation points. But I think it’s important to remember that (a). I, personally, did not write the flap copy, and (b). if you want proper answers to your exclamation pointy questions, it will be more expensive and time-consuming to just buy the book and read it, yes… but ultimately you’ll find that course of action more satisfying than emailing me with your demands.]

The Inexplicables (Excerpt)

Take a look at the opening of The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest, a new Clockwork Century novel out now:

Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him. Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.

The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there’s the monster. Rector’s pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply “The Inexplicables.”

In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall—just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided  there’s gold to be found in the city and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.

[Read more]


Presenting “Wishbones,” a story by Cherie Priest, reprinted from recent Prime Books horror anthology Creatures for’s Monster Mash. In “Wishbones,” a horrific composite creature with a long-lived past spooks some locals….

At the Andersonville camp there is a great, stinking dread. The Confederates don’t have enough food of their own, so they sure as hell aren’t feeding their prisoners of war; and the prisoners who aren’t wasting away are dying of diseases faster than they can be replaced. Here, the world smells like bloody shit and coal smoke. It reeks of body odor and piss, and sweat.

South Georgia is nowhere to live by choice, and nowhere to die by starving.

[Continue reading “Wishbones”]

Series: Monster Mash on

Dreadnought (Excpert)

Down in the laundry room with the bloody-wet floors and the ceiling-high stacks of sheets, wraps, and blankets, Vinita Lynch was elbows-deep in a vat full of dirty pillowcases because she’d promised—she’d sworn on her mother’s life—that she’d find a certain windup pocket watch belonging to Private Hugh Morton before the device was plunged into a tub of simmering soapy water and surely destroyed for good.

Why the private had stashed it in a pillowcase wasn’t much of a mystery: even in an upstanding place like the Robertson Hospital, small and shiny valuables went missing from personal stashes with unsettling regularity. And him forgetting about it was no great leap either: the shot he took in the forehead had been a lucky one because he’d survived it, but it left him addled at times—and this morning at breakfast had been one of those times. At the first bell announcing morning food, against the strict orders of Captain Sally he’d sat up and bolted into the mess hall, which existed only in that bullet-buffeted brain of his. In the time it took for him to be captured and redirected to his cot, where the meal would come to him, thank you very kindly, if only he’d be patient enough to receive it, the junior nursing staff had come through and stripped the bedding of all and sundry.

[None of them had noticed the watch…]

Series: Steampunk Fortnight

Steampunk Wardrobe Customizations for the Lazy, the Poor, or the Crafty

I posted before about how to gracefully nudge your old goth wardrobe toward a steampunk sensibility, and this week I’d like to offer a few practical, economical tips for taking the basics to the next level.

First, a disclaimer: I can’t sew. I don’t own a sewing machine, and can’t do anything much more intricate with a needle and thread than tack the occasional hem or replace buttons. So if you hear “steampunk wardrobe customization” and think, “Oh God, someone’s going to go off about making period-correct underpants from a Simplicity pattern,” then fear not.

My tools of choice are simple and cheap. To create the items below the fold, I used (1). a pair of miniature jeweler’s needle-nose pliers (about $4 from a craft store), (2). a tiny hot glue gun (about $5, including glue sticks), and (3). waterproof metallic fabric paint (about $4 a pot).

[Let the mad science begin!]

Series: Steampunk Month

How to steam up your old goth wardrobe

After a glass or two of wine, I threw this topic out onto Twitter—entirely as a joke. But the response was overwhelming … possibly due to the fleeting enthusiasm of other drunk people, for all I know—but even so, enough readers expressed enough interest that I’m going to try and give the topic a shot.

Let it not be said that I was quick to shy away from a challenge, but I’m aware before I begin that this is something of an exercise in futility. No two goth wardrobes are alike, any more than any two steampunk wardrobes are alike. (And just this once, let us never mind all the fractious conversations about what those two loaded adjectives actually mean.)

Therefore, in the interest of keeping it civil and vague, I’ll natter on in a fashion that’s informed by what I’ve done to transform my own personal eldergoth partytime wardrobe into one that works a bit better on an airship.

Since I’m not a dude, I regret to admit that this is going to be a post leaning toward the ladies, or at those who are inclined to dress like ladies. My apologies on this point.

[Stripping, remixing, and stepping out]

Series: Steampunk Month

All this stuff totally happened (except for how it didn’t)

My introduction to alternate history was a funny one. No, literally. My first encounter occurred in 1997 with Dave Barry Slept Here—an oddball comedy gem masquerading as a history book. Written by Dave Barry (surprise!), DBSH’s crowning delight was that the more you knew about history, the funnier it got.

I could appreciate that.

Coincidentally, about that same time I began watching Hysteria!, a Looney Toons production that didn’t run nearly long enough for my liking. Hysteria! was a smart, funny show with an alternate-history/parody base from the creators of Animaniacs (a true classic, to be sure). While Hysteria! was genuinely informative, it also had a tendency to run rather cleverly off the rails—granting history’s players unexpected quirks, paths, challenges, and comparisons. My personal favorite episode remains the one wherein the Justice League is populated with FDR as Batman and Truman as Robin. Eleanor Roosevelt was Wonder Woman. Et cetera.


And I think I loved it so much because it surprised me. Anytime you watch or read something with a historic bent (if you know anything about the real-life events) you have expectations about how it’ll play out. Then those expectations are thwarted, and voila—you get humor…

[…or sometimes, you get something else. Click here for more.]

Series: Steampunk Month

Prescription: Zombies

I’ve seen a lot of conversation about why steampunk so commonly goes hand-in-hand with zombies, and part of the answer is that both zombies and steampunk discuss what’s on the other side of the controlled, regulated lifestyle most of us live.

To talk about this further, I feel compelled to bring up something I read not too long ago—The Unthinkable: Who Survives when Disaster Strikes and Why, by Amanda Ripley. The thesis of this book is that people who are  marginally prepared—including people who only feel prepared—are much more likely to survive a nightmare scenario then if they remain ignorant about their options and oh, say, sit around and wait for help to arrive.

And for all the various threads of zeitgeist feeding the steampunk steamroller right now, I think this is one element to the genre’s appeal. Many steampunk scenarios (most of those which aren’t alternate history constructs) detail catastrophic chaos in the wake of a culture’s collapse, essentially asking the question, “So if all this high-tech, iPhone-carrying, wifi-having civilization goes away … what do we do?” And then, steampunk tries to give us some answers.

It tries to prepare us for what comes next.

[More below the jump]

Series: Steampunk Month

Hello and Good Morning (Technically. Here in West Coast Time)

I’m tempted to make a dorky joke to the tune of [:: tap tap ::] “Is this thing on?” But I’ll restrain myself. Sort of. The truth of it is, I always feel a little weird when guest-blogging—much less in front of an audience the size of this one. I’m always afraid I’ll say something to embarrass my host, or reveal a gaping black hole of personal ignorance.

But was kind enough to invite me, here on the cusp of my fifth novel from Tor Books, Boneshaker. So here I go, game and happy to give it a whirl.

As a matter of general introduction—and to get the obligatory self-promotion out of the way—I figured I’d natter on a bit about this new book and how it came to be; and thereby warn you about what you might expect from me over the next few weeks.

To lay it down personal-ad style: I’m a history dork and an alternate-history nerd. I like to ask “what if?” and give honest consideration to wacky conspiracy theories. I’m fond of pirates, clandestine societies, adventure pulp, mad scientists, and hats. I love short sprints on the beach and overly elaborate goggles. I brake for zombies. But then I rev the engine and hit the gas.

Shall we then?

[Please do click the jump, and I’ll begin]

Series: Steampunk Month

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