What's it all about?
Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key? That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.
Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport, she continues her quest for answers abroad.
With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late.
How did the idea of the story come about? Did you outline this story, or let the story create itself?
To be honest, I don’t remember how I came up with the original premise for The Exile’s Violin. I knew I wanted to write a steampunk novel that was full of adventure, gunfights, and airship battles. I definitely accomplished that goal! Some of my original ideas involved a lot more magic than what actually ended up in the final product. I’m glad I cut that stuff because it didn’t fit with the tone I was aiming for.
I definitely outlined the story. That’s how I work. If I don’t have an outline, I get real panicky and unable to write. My outline for The Exile’s Violin was about 20,000 words or so, and the outline for the sequel is more than twice that.
Are there any characters in the story you feel greater kinship with? Why?
I really like writing the main character Jacquie Renairre. She’s a short, petite woman who’s not afraid to get in somebody’s face. She’ll threaten to shoot somebody and actually mean it. It’s really fun to write her because she can be selfish and mean, but she’s also fiercely dedicated to what she believes in. Pretty much any scene with her and her partner Clay was a blast to write. Their banter always came easily to me.
I also really liked writing Admiral LeBlanc. She’s in charge of an airship fleet and is a kickass admiral. It doesn’t matter that everything isn’t exactly how it would be in the military (besides airship navies don’t really exist). It was a lot of fun to indulge in some military speak.
If you were in front of a reader for the first time, and asked to summarize why they would love this, what would you say?
I’d tell them they’d love it because it’s a fast-paced adventure through a steampunk world where a determined young woman goes on quest for revenge. There’s gunfights, airship battles, and lots of banter between the two main characters.
Who is R.S. Hunter?R.S. Hunter fell in love with science fiction when he watched Star Wars with his grandmother as a small child. From then on there was no turning back. To escape suburban life he turned to stories that took him on wild adventures through time, space, worlds both real and imagined. While he knows space combat won't work the same way as it does in the movies, he still hopes that someday he'll get his own X-Wing or TARDIS.
His short fiction has appeared in anthologies like Abaculus III, Growing Dread: Biopunk Visions, and the forthcoming In Situ. One reviewer commented that his story "Strike Breakers" from 20,001 A Steampunk Odyssey gave "an unsettling but profoundly necessary foundation to the prettier ideas of steampunk [...] because it shows us that it's not just gleaming brass." Hunter's tales love to answer the question "What if?" and they rarely end well for the protagonist.