Lucretia’s quiet life as an astronomer and hat-maker is quickly turned on its head by her brother. He is commanded by the king to build the grandest telescope in the land. Unfortunately for Lucretia, she is introduced to his majesty as her brother’s assistant. Her nights spent on rooftops gazing at the stars are replaced by adventure and danger. In a race to build the Forty-foot telescope on time for the king, her misfortunes take their toll. When Lucretia finds herself held hostage at the Clockwork Court, the innocent country girl doesn’t know who to trust. The lady astronomer finds court life to be more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Even if her brothers manage to build the telescope on time, she might not live to earn her freedom.
With the help of her brothers, Freddie and Al, and her constant companions Leibniz the Lemur and Orion the Eagle Owl, Lucretia embarks on a journey that could change her life forever. Can she find the strength inside to balance her new life and overcome the obstacles threatening her destiny? Only the stars will tell.
“The Lady Astronomer” by Katy O’Dowd is a quirky and very entertaining story that reads in parts as a regular historical novels and in parts like a fantasy tale.
Set in exciting Georgian times of geographical and technological discoveries it carries the spirit of the “no dream impossible” of those times.
Equipped with highly intelligent and helpful animals the heroine Lucretia tries to accomplish her mission to assist her brother.
Lucretia is an interesting character herself, with many more bows to her string. She is based very loosely on a real lady astronomer.
The writing is engaging, the pace just right and the story line charming and beautifully over the
top. The portrayal of British society and Royalty feels authentic but never dry.
This is a fascinating and compelling read.
Hi Christoph! Thank you so much for having me over.
Your novel is called a steam-punk novel. Can you explain the term for the rest of us?
Aha! Most tricky question to answer succinctly, ever! Instead I’ll cite this – “Steampunk is a creative social movement that draws inspiration from Victorian and pre-war history in an anachronistic mix of science fiction, modern values and a sense of fun.” The opening comes from an experiment in which Steampunks all over the world were asked to explain what it is in one sentence. I think it does it quite admirably.
How did the idea for the novel come to you?
I’d love to say, oooh in a dream, or in a bolt from the blue, or something really creative. No, I was reading a book of my husband’s called The Age of Wonder and the Herschel family were mentioned in it, and something there really caught my imagination – Lucretia in The Lady Astronomer is based loosely on Caroline Herschel.
How did you come to writing in the first place? Was it always going to be Historical Fiction for you or did you have other genres in mind, too?
I started off many moons ago in radio, then print journalism, then onto copy writing. So I’ve written for a while now. After the birth of my second son, I decided it was high time to start on novel writing. As for what I write, well I love Historical Fiction, but I reckon I’ll give a few things a whirl.
How did you choose the characters for the story?
As I said above, Lucretia and her brothers are based on real people. From there the surrounding cast came quite naturally. I wanted to give Lucretia some strong support too, in the form of her trusty side-kicks Leibniz the lemur and Orion the European eagle owl.
The animals in the story are highly intelligent. Were you ever tempted during the writing to go overboard and let them speak and be completely like humans?
I think that would have been a lot of fun – but no.
Who is your favourite character and why?
Ah. Orion the owl. Because I love owls. But I also love lemurs. Damn, this is tough!
What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?
I worked with an astronomer and that was brilliant.
Did you have any say in the cover art and who was that process?
Yes – the wonderful artist Jennie Gyllblad created it. In a series of emails, I described what I’d like and she magically turned my garbled warbling into the cover art.
Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?
Completely planned. I’d be a hyperventilating mess if I didn’t plan everything.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
Losing yourself in another world entirely. The worst is the waiting to see if anyone actually wants what you’ve written.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
Oh! That’s so tricky isn’t it? I try to set aside time for marketing, usually in the evenings after a day’s work.
What do you do when you don’t write?
My boys are at school, so I write during school hours.
Which are your favourite books and authors?
Too many to mention! Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age; Nick Cave: And the Ass Saw the Angel; Stephen King: Different Seasons; Jilly Cooper: Riders – I could go on.
What would you take to an isolated island?
Books. And chocolate. And a big comfy bed. And possibly my cats. And dog. Hmmm.
A few facts:
I wrote The Lady Astronomer for my eldest son – he was jealous that I had used my younger son’s name in something else I was writing.
I work with an Astronomer on books that require his expert knowledge – the idea for The Lady Astronomer came to me while reading another book that he recommended I read.
The Lady Astronomer is inspired by the life of Caroline Herschel (1750-1848). She suffered from both Smallpox and Typhus, was a milliner, soprano, her brother William’s Assistant – he discovered Uranus, then known as George’s Star for the King who funded the build of the ‘Great Forty-Foot’ telescope – and most importantly, perhaps, became the first woman in recorded history to discover a comet. Not to mention the first woman in the UK to receive a working wage, from the King if you don’t mind.
The Lady Astronomer was published by Untold Press www.untoldpress.com on 26th September 2012. It is available as an eBook and Paperback.
Where to buy:
You can purchase The Lady Astronomer on Amazon USA
and Amazon UK
and all other Amazon online stores.
Amazon smart url –if you click it takes you to the store for your country! http://bookShow.me/B009HIIKS0
“This is a tall tale well-told, full of imagineering and eccentricity.” The British Fantasy Society
“Touching on the welcome terrain of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’, Katy O’Dowd concocts a canny fusion of alchemy, fantasy and steampunk, rolled up within an adventure story – one that’s aimed as much at those of us aged forty as our kids in their teens.” Andrez Bergen, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude
“A delightful read, The Lady Astronomer transports the reader into the life of Lucretia The Astronomer and rekindles memories of the fairytales our parents read to us when we were children.” Jenny Thomson, Hell To Pay
“An engaging introduction to the wonders of Steampunk for tweens and young adults, certain to dazzle the imagination.” Lunar Haven Reviews and Designs
Katy is an arts and entertainment journalist and has worked for Time Out, Associated Newspapers and Comic Relief and her articles have appeared in The Times (London), Metro (London) and many other arts and entertainment publications, paper and online.
She reviews for the Historical Novels Review and the British Fantasy Society, is a commissioning editor at Pendragon Press and is co-editor of the Nasty Snips II Project for that press.
Alongside writing with her Dad under the pen-name Derry O’Dowd, whose first book ‘The Scarlet Ribbon’ was chosen to launch the History Press Ireland’s fiction line, she writes under her own name.
astronomer, astronomy, Caroline Herschel, historical fiction, history, Katy O'Dowd, review, steampunk