Karen Bayly

Author and Copywriter

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My novel, “Fortitude”, came out last week in both paperback and digital forms. I’m quite chuffed as it is over six years since I completed the first draft.

“Fortitude” has been described by several readers as an eclectic blend of science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk. This means that no major publishers would even read it! In fact, most major publishers don’t read anything that isn’t presented to them by an agent, and getting an agent is difficult, especially for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk. I did try several times to procure an agent and received some very encouraging rejections.

Image by Nokuro/

I also sent the manuscript to several boutique publishers. One replied with a very encouraging rejection. Most of the rest didn’t bother answering even when I followed up. Finally, my novel found a home at Mary Celeste Press with Matthew Glenn Ward at the helm.  Matthew had published several short stories of mine in the highly regarded “Skive Magazine”. The beginning of my relationship with Skive Magazine was in the 2005 issue “You Are Going Away” where my short story “Daphne’s Dance” was first published.

Skive Magazine

Getting back to how my novel has been described - I think of “Fortitude” as science fantasy that is steampunk-based, rather than pure steampunk.  I’ve taken the idea that steam has been favoured over other types of energy in this world, and refined to power something more elegant than the usually clunky machines portrayed in most steampunk stories.

The last thing I want to do is present myself as a steampunk aficionado. There are people out there who live and breathe steampunk (as seen at Oamaru, home of the annual NZ Steampunk Festival) and although I love what they do, I’m not one of them. However, the idea of steampunk has interested me since “The Wild Wild West” (the old TV show, not the movie). In fact, the name of one of the main characters in my book - Artemis Devereaux - is a nod to my favourite character of the TV series, Artemus Gordon.

Scene from The Wild Wild West which ran on CBS 1965-1969. Artemus Gordon is on the left.

The novel isn’t set in the steam era nor the Victorian era. I constructed a whole new universe with a different political, scientific, religious and ecological background. There are some aspects of life reminiscent of Victorian London as well as 1920s Europe. I did a huge amount of research on ancient gods, history, and steam technology as well as dirigible aerodynamics and how to fly a dirigible. Sadly, I couldn’t find any dirigible pilots to interview - I would have loved to ask questions instead of relying totally on You Tube videos and text.

I also had the fun of creating a whole lot of inventions, mainly because four of the characters are scientists / inventors, and the whole plot revolves around the misuse of one of these inventions. I’ve no doubt I've pushed the laws of physics to their max - but great inventions are built on great ideas, and who really knows for certain what will work until you begin to build it.

One could say that about a novel as well.

Image by Magergram/

Where to buy “Fortitude”




Barnes and Noble
Kobo (use the flag at the top of the website page to switch stores)
Angus & Robertson

Also in the Apple Books store


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