Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Character Days: Gregory Conan Watts from Dawn of Steam: First Light

Back from WisCon and finally I have a break!  Time to catch up on my sleep and get some editing done on the sequel for Seeking the Storyteller, I'm looking forward to getting a lot of work done.

I took a lot of notes at WisCon and will be sharing those once I get them sorted out and typed up.

In the meantime:

Gregory Conan Watts from Dawn of Steam: First Light

Tell me a little about yourself and the world you live in.
I grew up in the English countryside, in my family's ancestral estates, though time and a lack of resources have them in somewhat poor repair. For most of the past five years, I was an aide-de-camp and war reporter during the Napoleonic conflict, stationed all over the battlefronts of the western European mainland. With the war recently concluded in England's favor, I've returned home to seek gainful employment sufficient to convince my fiance's father that I can provide for his only daughter.

Tell us your most closely guarded secret?
I can't say that I have many. My relations would prefer that I was more secretive about, for example, the family being long on tradition but short on wealth, certainly. I'm very poor at secrecy in general, occasionally to my detriment.

Tell us about your single most important memory. What was it and how does it affect you now?
All of my fondest memories involve my childhood with my fiance. My sweet Cordelia and I grew up together, playing at whatever games struck her wild imaginations. Most often, it would involve her running off on some new flight of fancy, and finding myself racing along somewhere between being swept up in the fantasy and going along to keep the both of us out of trouble.
Poor health and propriety keep her from running about quite so much these days, but I remain very much swept up in her.

What type of person are you? Are you a hero or do you shy away from conflict?
I am a man gifted with good vision, large ears, an excellent memory and an abundance of courage. Sadly, as far as my soldiering career goes, what I had no instinct for was aggression. Thankfully, circumstance found a place for me.
I am not a hero myself, but I have the great fortune of having been hired to travel with and document the adventures of the greatest heroes of this age.

Do you have any hobbies, any special talents?
My hobbies have largely been translated into occupation, for while I lack a full University education, I have an appreciation for the written word and a good eye for detail. This combination of talents was deemed perfect for an officer's aide, and then, after the very special war reporter that was sent from London died, I inherited his job and the portable camera device he brought with him to France. I have become adept enough in its use that I have been permitted to keep it for the purposes of documenting the mission I've been given, even though the device, one of four in existence, is worth more than my life by any reasonable accounting.

And in that line, what would be your ideal day?
My ideal day is some way off yet. When I have gained enough fame and wealth to be worthy of her father's esteem, I will marry my betrothed, and spend what time I am able at home. I can hope in the meanwhile that her ill health is resolved, and she regains some of the energy of her youth.

Do you have anyone close to you, any family or friends of interest?
The Benthams, both Cordelia, and her father, the Colonel, have been as close or closer than my own family since I was young. They were part of the new elite, made wealthy by the tides of war and salvage, but had few contacts with England's higher social circles. My own family, in turn, had a great deal of history and an esteemed name behind it, but had left its days of wealth and plenty behind. As the poor Irish cousin to this line, I was left somewhat on the outs, until such time as the Colonel helped see to my education and direction. Even now, he has nothing but the highest regards for me, but he and I are agreed that if I am to marry his daughter, I must show myself capable of supporting her by my own merits.

What is your most prized possession?
Among its many inventions, Oxford created a wondrous device capable of recording images. In the years since, through apparently very difficult and expensive processes, they have been able to duplicate this wonder in miniature. The expense was such that only four prototypes were made. I was in the company of the holder of one of these when he died, and he passed it on to me. To my surprise, the paper has allowed me to keep it in exchange for my solemn vow to protect it with my life, and a further promise to continue to send them images of interest.

What initially spurred your actions in this story?  Obviously it had to start somewhere for you, give us an idea of where that starting point is and where it all started.
I was contacted by the esteemed Lord Donovan. He has entered into a wager with one of his peers regarding the truth or falsehood of the presumed fictional travel journals of Dr. Robert Bowe. The journals claim to tell the truth of what lies in many of the world's most remote regions, with a breadth that should be impossible to cover in one man's lifetime, at least without a dirigible, which only the military possess. Only the military, and war hero Sir James Coltrane.
I have been offered a significant sum, and a chance to gain great fame in service to my nation if I can help recruit Sir James and a number of other notables to the cause of exploration and resolving this bet for the Lords. Aside from their simple wager, the nation is hungry for inspiration in these post-war days. Lord Donovan believes that photographs of England's brightest son conquering the unknown and the impossible will provide just such an inspiration, and he has invested an incredible fortune into making that dream a reality.

How do you envision your future?
We have an incredible adventure lined up ahead of us. I relish the opportunity to go on this one last venture in the company of heroes. I will hope that my photographs and journals will help to provide a window into this epic tale for all of the Empire. Once that is done, however, I will hope my days as a soldier and adventurer will be at an end, and I will have an opportunity to settle into the life of a landowner and husband.

Tell us where we can read more about you?
Dawn of Steam: First Light was released on February 27th on It is currently available im softcover and Kindle formats. The second book in the Dawn of Steam series is on track to be released in September 2014.

Author: Jeffrey Cook (with Sarah Symonds)
Author's blog or website: and


  1. Beautiful book cover. Interesting premise. Sounds very detailed. Good luck to you!

  2. Thank you, Ann! The book is all regency style and epistolary format, so it is, intentionally, very heavy on detail. I appreciate the kind words, and especially appreciate Snow Tigra for putting this up!