Beneath the Skin: Where Sleeps the Serpent?

Heads up to my readers. I have a new Steampunk adventure now available on Amazon! Only £2.24 (Kindle) or free with Kindle Unlimited!! This is the first book in a duology.

Publication date: 30th August 2020 Publisher: KDP, Sticks & Stones imprint

Beneath the Skin, Book One: Where Sleeps the Serpent?

Airship courier, Shakti O’Malley takes on one last job before heading home. It will be a job she deeply regrets. All she wants is a simple life, to go home to her mother in Kerala, but her employer convinces her to take on a final delivery. It’s paid for, sealed, and already in her cargo hold before she has agreed – couriers rarely know what is in the packages they are delivering.

On board the Emperor Ashoka, Shakti discovers a stowaway, defends her ship from pirates, and finds out what is in the box she is transporting. She is forced to confront the truth about her father’s death and of her own hidden nature. From the heat of Kerala to the cool of Paris, Shakti is drawn into international politics and espionage.

The year is 1878. France’s Empire has overtaken the British and has a strong alliance with India. But some English men have ideas to alter the balance of power.

Meanwhile, in Paris, a serial killer is on the loose.



The Emperor Ashoka sat on the waters of the River Seine. The dock swarmed with shoals of flying boats, mini dirigibles, fantastic arrow-shaped craft with water landing gear. Mooring masts on the Champ de Mars sprouted dirigibles like giant seed pods, docking towers ran cables that tethered a variety of craft. The Aerodrome du Seine was a floating docking station replete with everything the aeronaut could need; food supplies, engine parts, engineers even. It also provided a hotel service for those who were unable to live on board their vessels, or for tourists who had newly arrived. President Charbonnier even had his own personal zeppelin stationed in the aerodrome complex. Shakti, Anita, Kinza and Deepak gawked around in wonder at some of the sleek airships and the brilliant aerodrome from which a harsh spring sun glinted. Apart from Kinza, they had never been outside of India before. The princess had travelled throughout much of the Middle East with her tribe before joining the Ashoka, and was, therefore, less awed but just as delighted.

Kinza exclaimed loudly and excitedly, indicating the arrow shaped airship that looked at home on the water as much as in the air.

“Oh my goodness! What is he wearing?” she cried pointing at a strangely garbed man exiting a semi-submerged craft.

She continued gabbling enthusiastically, clutching and tugging at Torben’s sleeve now and then. The big man smiled patiently. Shakti and Anita linked arms and wandered along taking in the European scenery. Michel had headed straight into the city proper to purchase supplies, after reminding her that she needed to register their vessel before too long. She had watched the boy tag along behind the Frenchman, staring at leather-clad aeronauts and straining his neck to see to the top of the huge gleaming aerodrome. Shakti noted the new smell, so different from home – no warm spices, hot, dusty air, or lush green vegetation. There was a cool, crispness with an underlying hint of river water. Cigarette smoke and perfume and urine. Coal and engine oil.

“Let us get registered and give the ship an overhaul before we get carried away.” She said, “Remember, we’re not on holiday.”

“We are not working either,” her first mate reminded her, “So what exactly are we doing here?”

Shakti twisted her mouth sideways, thinking. “You know, I am not really sure. Tinka was definitely giving us a hint to get ourselves here. All I know is we are now on the run from the Indian authorities.”

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Writer of fiction, sci-fi, horror and more. Painter of magic realism. Grower of cabbages and currants.

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