My guest today is YA steampunk author, Jon Hartless, who has dropped by to talk to us about his action adventure novel, Rise of The Petrol Queen – the second in the Poppy Orpington Chronicles Series. Isn’t the cover fantastic?
Now let’s find out a bit about the book.
Following a controversial loss at the Purley Cup, Poppy Orpington and her petrol-fuelled race car, Thunderbus, are dominating the headlines. But not one article is complimentary, or even unbiased.
Jon is sharing an extract from Chapter 9:
‘There are certain standards and expectations within society. A great many of my contemporaries prefer to hold on to the past.’
‘Why? The new age isn’t really any different,’ replied Poppy as she walked around the room, trying to get comfortable in the dress. ‘The rich and titled still hold all the power and all the opportunities.’
‘We do exist in different worlds, I’m afraid,’ admitted Helena, ‘but there are doors into your world which are forever closed to me as well as doors to my world closed to you.’
‘Yes, but we’re never even told the doors are there,’ replied Poppy in irritation at the inequality of English society.
‘Don’t mind Poppy; she’s been reading her socialist books again,’ interrupted Amy, embarrassed by Poppy’s comments. Amy herself still retained many deferential tendencies toward her supposed social superiors.
‘You can’t deny society holds people back,’ responded Poppy. ‘The majority of people need luck to make something of themselves; talent alone isn’t enough. That’s the only reason I’m standing here now; exceptional good fortune. If dad hadn’t taken Thunderbus out that first day, at that time, and taken that route, we would never have encountered you and Simeon. He would never have got to the Sussex and I would never have got to Purley.’
‘Surely, you do yourself a disservice?’ protested Helena. ‘How many others would have seized the opportunity as thoroughly as you have done?’
‘Not many could afford it. Imagine you’re bringing a few shillings a week into the home; it doesn’t sound much, but those shillings may be all that is keeping the family from dropping beneath the starvation line. So even if you have an opportunity, if you take it and leave, you know your family will go hungry. And that’s assuming you can even afford to leave. Transport costs money, putting a deposit down on new lodgings costs money, and so it goes on.’
‘I hadn’t thought of that aspect,’ said Helena, her face worried.
‘Besides of which,’ continued Poppy, her colour rising, ‘deference is bred into people, making them too scared to even try. “It’s not our place” is a refrain I have heard a lot from the servants here, and from others down the social scale. It’s astonishing, the way most people are unaware of how limited their world really is – and how they collude with authority without even realising.’
‘I wonder if anything can be done about the situation?’
‘Doubt it,’ replied Poppy, sadly. ‘The system is too ingrained. Those at the top have no reason to change as it would loosen their power and prestige. People like Simeon worry about it but don’t really do anything, and most others further down the scale aren’t even aware of how they’re imprisoned within deference and social conformity.’
You can buy the book here:
Jon Hartless was born in the 1970s and has spent much of his life in the Midlands and Worcestershire. His latest novel, Full Throttle, a steampunk motor racing adventure examining the gulf between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the dispossessed, appeared with Accent Press in August 2017, while the sequel, Rise of the Petrol Queen, appeared in August 2019.
You can find out more about Jon here:
Thanks so much for talking to us about your new book, Jon. Wishing you many sales.
My new book, Single All The Way – an unputdownable and uplifing Christmas romance – is now on pre-order.