Indie-WednesdayAlong my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to include self-published, indie, and small press works in my reading schedule.  But it is difficult to know where to start: So many new authors and books to examine to find the perfect fit for my tastes.  And to help others with this same problem, I’ve decided to turn my Indie Wednesday feature into a day where writers can introduce themselves and their work to everyone.

With this in mind, I’m turning over the blog to Craig Comer, author of The Laird of DunCairn.




“…and the queen’s men hunted her.” Sometimes a single line can spark into life an entire world—or in the case of The Laird of Duncairn, a different version of the world we know. Stories are, after all, a combination of many things and can grow from any source. In this case, I had the image of a cold and starving orphan huddled on the side of a road, fearing the strangers she watched from afar.

So how did I get from the line above to a world populated with stardust, giant steam hammers, and a cult of ruthless fey hunters?

First, I went back to the days when I lived as a student in Scotland. I’d studied history there and knew about the wars, the Clearances, and other times of strife between England and Scotland, and something about this girl’s dilemma connected with all that. The road became a carriageway winding through the craggy hills of the Highlands, and the girl a young Scottish lass from not so long ago.

But I didn’t want to write a history of the country. (That has been done many times before and by authors way more qualified than me!) Instead, I wanted to take these elements of Scotland, its magnificent lochs and glens, its people and culture, its great thinkers and crafty villains, and warp them to suite my tale of the hunted, orphan girl. This is perhaps an opposite approach to most alternate historical fiction, which normally takes a historical event or figure and wraps a new narrative around it.

Next I sought to answer why the queen’s men hunted the girl. Perhaps she had done some terrible wrong? Or perhaps she represented something they feared? Either of these would instill a theme for the plot to explore, and I chose the latter. The girl would be of a race subjugated by the crown and shunned by society, one blamed for famine and pestilence; basically, anytime the crown needed a scapegoat.

And not just any race, but a magical one. One that stood counter to the scientific principles spawned by the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. One society would view as hampering their newfound prosperity. And that’s when the plot of the book clicked. I asked myself, what would happen if a magical substance were discovered but its use shunned?

I realized then my nugget of a tale had become a variation of steampunk. Steampunk has a long tradition with these types of magical power sources, often calling them aether. I called my substance Aerfenium after the Celtic goddess of fate and battle. But while steampunk takes steam-powered technology and imagines it progressing and being bettered into machines of wonder, in my alternate history, this technology has stagnated because the means to improvement are blocked by societal prejudice.

So what is The Laird of Duncairn? In the end, I’ve borrowed a little from alternate history—there are historical figures and events—a little from fantasy—there are fey and eldritch powers—and a little from steampunk—airships and steam carriages, aplenty! I use the term Gaslamp Fantasy to describe it because it blends a 19th century Victorian aesthetic with fantasy elements in place of science fiction. It doesn’t dwell on how a steam carriage works but rather delves into the mythology of trows and selkies. Nor does it expound on the different types and terms for costume and high tea but rather evokes some of the places I’ve seen firsthand.

Regardless of label, I hope readers will enjoy the adventures of Effie, the orphan girl, as she sets out in her first of hopefully many great adventures!


The Laird of DuncairnThe year is 1882 Scotland, and the auld alliance betwixt king and fey has long been forgotten. Men of science, backed by barons of industry, push the boundaries of technology. When Sir Walter Conrad discovers a new energy source, one that could topple nations and revolutionize society, the race to dominate its ownership begins. But the excavation and use of this energy source will have dire consequences for both humans and fey. For an ancient enemy stirs, awakened by Sir Walter’s discovery.

Outcast half-fey Effie of Glen Coe is the Empire’s only hope at averting the oncoming disaster. Effie finds herself embroiled in the conflict, investigating the eldritch evil spreading throughout the Highlands. As she struggles against the greed of mighty lords and to escape the clutches of the queen’s minions, her comfortable world is shattered. Racing to thwart the growing menace, she realizes the only thing that can save them all is a truce no one wants.


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craig comerAUTHOR INFO:  Craig Comer is the author of the gaslamp fantasy novel The Laird of Duncairn and co-author of the mosaic fantasy novel The Roads to Baldairn Motte. His shorter works have appeared in several anthologies, including Bardic Tales and Sage Advice and Pulp Empire volume IV. Craig earned a Master’s Degree in Writing from the University of Southern California. He enjoys tramping across countries in his spare time, preferably those strewn with pubs and castles.

This entry was posted in Author Spotlights, Fantasy, Gaslamp, Guest Post, Indie Wednesday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. What a great idea, and this was an excellent guest post by Craig. I love learning about what sparks stories and how they unfold in a writer’s mind. Sounds like a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A World With No Use for Aether | The Writing of Craig Comer

  3. Thanks for sharing! It’s fascinating to observe the winding paths through which a collection of ideas becomes a story, and one that promises to be quite intriguing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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