Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Book Information supplied by Bewitching Blog Tours
Chasing the Star Garden 
The Airship Racing Chronicles
Book I
Melanie Karsak
Genre: Alternative History/Gaslamp-Steampunk
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
Date of Publication: December 4th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0615878775
ISBN-10: 0615878776
Number of pages: 325
Word Count:  70,000
Cover Artist: Damonza

BLURB supplied by Bewitching Blog Tours
An opium-addicted beauty.
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.
An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak’s “Chasing the Star Garden” takes the reader on an exciting adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem colored waters of the ancient world, introducing us to Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and a shattered past.

Lily Stargazer is having a bad day. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. 

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.


Chapter 1

I was going to lose-again. I gripped the brass handles on the wheel hard and turned the airship sharply port. The tiller vibrated in protest making the wheel shake and my wrist bones ache. Bracing my knees against the spokes, I tore off my brown leather gloves to get a better feel. The metal handgrips were smooth and cold. My fingers tingled from the chill.
“Easy,” I whispered to the Stargazer. I looked up from my position at the wheelstand, past the ropes, burner basket, and balloon, toward the clouds. They were drifting slowly left in a periwinkle blue sky. There would be an updraft as we passed over the green brown waters of the canal near Buckingham House. I locked the wheel and jumped from the wheelstand onto the deck of the gondola and looked over the rail. The canal waters were about a hundred feet away. I ran back to the wheel and steadied the ship. If I caught the updraft, it would propel me up and forward, giving me an edge.
“Cutter caught it, Lily,” Jessup yelled down from the burner basket below the balloon opening. “Up he goes,” he added, looking out through his spyglass. The gold polish on the spyglass reflected the fire from the burner.
“Dammit!” I snapped down my binocular lense. I saw Hank Cutter’s red and white striped balloon rise upward. At the top, he pitched forward with great momentum, catching a horizontal wind. I could just make out Cutter at the wheel. His blond hair blew wildly around him. He turned and waved to me. Wanker.
I was not as lucky. Just as the bow of the Stargazer reached the water, a stray wind came in and blew me leeward. The balloon jiggled violently in the turbulent air. I missed the air pocket altogether.
“No! No, no, no!” I cursed and steadied the ship. I had chased Cutter from Edinburgh across the Scottish and English countryside. He had been off his game all day. I’d had him by half a mile the entire race. With the bottom feeders lingering somewhere in the distance behind us, I’d thought the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix would be mine. That was until St. Albans, where Cutter caught a random breeze that pushed him slightly in front of me. Cutter had a knack for catching favorable winds; it was not a talent I shared.
“We’re coming up on Westminster,” Jessup called from the basket. “Lily, drop altitude. Cutter is too high. Come in low and fast, and you might overtake him.”
The airship towers sat at the pier near the Palace of Westminster along the Thames. A carnival atmosphere had overtaken the city as it always does on race day. There were colorful tents set up everywhere. Vendors hawked their wares to the excited Londoners and international visitors. Even from this distance, I could hear the merchants barking from their tents. I even fancied I could smell roasted peanuts in the wind.
I jumped down from the wheelstand, ran across the deck, and pulled the valve cord, opening the flap at the top of the balloon. Hot air released with a hiss. I kept one eye on the balloon and another eye on Tinkers’ Tower. At this time of day, the heat coming off of the Palace of Westminster and Tinkers’ Tower would give you a bump. I looked up. Cutter had started preparing his descent. It would be close.
I ran back to the wheel.
“Angus, I need more speed,” I yelled down to the gear galley, rapping on the wooden hatch that led to the rods, belts, and propeller parts below.
Angus slapped open the hatch and stuck out his bald head. His face was covered in grease, and his blue-lense monocle glimmered in the sunlight. He looked up at the clouds and back at me.
“Let’s giddyup,” I called to him.
“You trying the Tower sling?” he yelled back.
“You got it.”
He laughed wildly. “That’s my lassie,” he yelled and dropped back down, pulling the wood hatch closed with a clap. I heard the gears grind and the propeller, which had been turning nice and steady, hummed loudly. The ship pitched forward. Within moments, we were coming up on Tinkers’ Tower. The airship towers were just a stone’s throw away.
I aimed the ship directly toward Tinkers’ Tower. Just as the bowsprit neared the clock, I yanked the wheel. The warm air caught us.
“Whoa!” Jessup yelled as the balloon moved within arm’s length of the tower.
The sound of “Ohhs!” echoed from the crowd below.
A mix of warm air and propulsion gave us some go, and seconds later we were slingshotting around Tinkers’ Tower toward the airship platforms. Gliding in on warm air and momentum, we flew fast and low.
Cutter had kept it high, but now he was dropping like a stone toward his own tower. Damned American. I didn’t blame him; I would have used the same move. His balloon was releasing so much air that I wondered if he would be able to slow down in time, not that I wouldn’t mind seeing him smash to the ground in a million pieces.
“It’s going to be close,” Jessup yelled as he adjusted the heat pan.
I guided the helm. The Stargazer was temperamental, but we understood one another. A shake of the wheel warned me I was pushing too hard. “Almost there,” I whispered to the ship.
The Grand Prix Marshalls were standing on the platform. Cutter and I had the end towers. I was going to make it.
“Cut propulsion,” I yelled toward the gear galley. On the floor near the wheelstand was a rope attached to a bell in the galley. I rang it twice. The propeller switched off.
A soft, sweet wind blew in from the port side. It ruffled my hair around my shoulders. I closed my eyes and turned the wheel slightly starboard, guiding the ship in. As the bowsprit scooped into the opening of the tower, I heard a jubilant cheer erupt from the American side and an explosion from the firework cannon signaling the winner had been declared.
My eyes popped open. I tore off my goggles and looked starboard. Cutter’s balloon was parked. I threw the goggles onto the deck and set my forehead against the wheel.
The Stargazer settled into her tower. Jessup set the balloon on hover and, grabbing a rope, swung down to the deck. He then threw the lead lines and anchors onto the platform. The beautifully dressed crowd, gentlemen in suits and top hats and fancy ladies in a rainbow of satin gowns and parasols, rushed toward the American end of the platform to congratulate the winner.
I was, once again, a national disgrace. Lily the loser. Lily second place. Perhaps I would never be anything more than a ferrywoman, a cheap air jockey.
“Good job, Lily. Second place!” Jessup said joining me. He patted me on the shoulder.
I sighed deeply and unbuttoned my vest. The tension had me sweating; I could feel it dripping down from my neck, between my breasts, into my corset.
“You did great,” I told Jessup. “Sorry I let you down.”
“Ah, Lily,” he sighed.


Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there was an abysmal lack of entertainment, so she turned to reading and hiking. Apparently, rambling around the woods with a head full of fantasy worlds and characters will inspire you to become an author. Be warned. Melanie wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, the author now resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Melanie is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.
Be sure to request an Authorgraph

What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Melanie Karsak. I was born in northwestern Pennsylvania. I am from a little town named Tidioute, PA. I now live in Viera, FL.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I always wanted to be a writer. I used to write newspapers for fun when I was a kid. I wrote my first play when I was in the 5th grade and my first novel when I was in 6th grade. I always wanted to be an author. I finished my first 100,000 plus word novel my freshman year of college. Gosh, what a cliché ridden piece of writing it is, but it was a start!

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I am currently an English Instructor at Eastern Florida State College.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My new work is Chasing the Star Garden.  Less than 20 words. Humm, let’s try this: Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer, finds herself chasing love and the stars in new steampunk adventure.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I do a lot of writing in my head. I can complete a first draft in a couple of months. After that, however, it can take me a year to edit!

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I have several partial, unfinished novels. It seems that the story either works or it doesn’t. I try to think a plot the full way through before I begin writing. If I don’t, the novel seems to die 30,000 words in.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I am a fantasy writer, but you will see me in steampunk, zombie, and historical fantasy sub-genres. I am currently working on other projects in The Airship Racing Chronicles series and I am also writing The Harvesting series, my dark fantasy/zombie series.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
The second novel in this series, Chasing the Green Fairy, will be released in the spring of 2014.

What genre would you place your books into?
Fantasy and  her sub-genres.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I love it. I have always loved to read fantasy. I feel very at home here.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
I worked hard to come up with the right title for this series. I wanted something I could carry across the series. Once I decided all the titles would include “Chasing,” I was all set. Damonza designed the cover for this novel. We knew we wanted the star and Venice depicted. After that, Damon made an amazing cover.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Usually title comes last for me because it is so bloody hard to come up with a great title. For this novel, however, the right title fell into place. We played with the title “High Addiction” but “Chasing the Star Garden” felt more romantic.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
There is a great back-story on how Lily Stargazer ended up with her name. It is revealed through the course of the first two novels. I’ll let the reader discover how this unique name unfolded 

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Lord Byron is, of course, a historical figure. But my Lord Byron is not the Lord Byron per se. The Lord Byron in my book is based off the real man, but George Gordon never really knew a girl named Lily Stargazer.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Yes, everywhere. From the names of the airships to the meaning of the flowers mentioned, I carefully chose all of the symbolic meanings in this book.

Where can readers follow you?

Follow me here:

Books available here:

Would you like to share anything else?
Thank you so much for letting me stop by! It is so much fun to share some of the details that went into writing Chasing the Star Garden. Enjoy!

You are so welcome to stop by! Thanks for sharing so much interesting information about your book and it's writing process.

This is a Tour Wide Giveaway
in conjunction with
Bewitching Blog Tours

The Prizes are:
Grand prize is a Kindle Fire HDX Table and an autographed copy of Chasing the Star Garden
Second place, an autographed copy of Chasing the Star Garden (5 winners)
Third place, 20 ebook copies of Chasing the Star Garden (20 winners)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the giveaway. The book sounds amazing. It wouldn't be a bad idea if I win one. :)