Owl Dance is a Weird Western steampunk novel.
The year is 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico, meets a beguiling woman named Fatemeh Karimi, who is looking to make a new start after escaping the oppression of her homeland.
When an ancient life form called Legion comes to Earth, the two of them are pulled into a series of events that will change the history of the world as we know it. In their journeys, Ramon and Fatemeh encounter mad inventors, dangerous outlaws and pirates. Their resources are Ramon’s fast draw and Fatemeh’s uncanny ability to communicate with owls.
The question is, will that be enough to save them when airships from Czarist Russia invade the United States?
David Lee Summers is an author, editor and astronomer living somewhere between the western and final frontiers. He is the editor of Tales of the Talisman Magazine. When not working with the written word, he operates telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Owl Dance is Summers' seventh novel.
Praise for Owl Dance
"A rip-snorting, Wild West steampunk extravaganza with a touch of Arabian Nights that comes alive with authentic insight into the magic, peoples, and landscapes of the Southwest. Satisfies as both science fiction, and a western that is fantastic, and comes alive with realism. The kind of book that makes me proud to live in Aztlán."
author of Cortez on Jupiter and Smoking Mirror Blues.
"Owl Dance has everything. Airships, owl-ornithopters, a clockwork wolf, a multiple alien entity, a fast-shooting sheriff, a Russian plot to conquer America, and a very sexy, eco-aware, Bahá’í Persian healer-woman – I mean everything! Heaps of fun!"
author of Worldshaker and Liberator
"In David Lee Summers seventh novel, Owl Dance, he explores the American Southwest in a crazy 1800s Wild West Steampunk adventure. This was the perfect brain candy for me and diving into the first chapter, I felt right at home. … Clockwork wolves and owls, cutting edge submersibles, dirigibles, and one Persian lady who whistle-talks to owls. It’s a great ride. If you’re looking for a good read and satisfying adventure, jump into Owl Dance."
An Interview with the Author
Seven Questions With Author David Lee Summers
Q: What was your initial inspiration for Owl Dance?
A: Owl Dance started as a short story called "The Persian Witch". At the time I wrote the story, I had recently heard that a witch had been buried in a local cemetery about a century ago. I began researching New Mexico's witch trials and began asking, what if this "witch" was a misunderstood woman. Where did she come from? Why did she make people angry? Near the cemetery, I came across a nest of burrowing owls. I began to realize that I could whistle at them and they would respond and do a little dance, moving from one foot to the other. I began to wonder, what if someone could communicate with owls? If the misunderstood woman communicated with owls, would people think they were her familiars?
Q: How did you become interested in the world of Owl Dance, and what makes it so compelling?
A: Owl Dance was inspired by my love of New Mexico and its rich history. My grandparents homesteaded in New Mexico before it became a state. I grew up in Southern California, east of Los Angeles and I was really fascinated by the big open spaces and dramatic skies of New Mexico--so much so, that I moved to the state when I went to college. I think what makes New Mexico so compelling is a cultural diversity that goes back hundreds of years. I explore that diversity and the way people both clash and come together throughout the novel.
Q: What were the challenges of bringing Ramon Morales and Fatemeh Karimi to life?
A: Fatemeh is a Bahá'í from Persia. I wanted to treat her faith and culture respectfully and did a lot of research into it. However, I didn't want to make her a stereotype. She's far from a perfect Bahá'í, but I wanted her to present the faith as accurately as possible to Ramon, who had never heard of it before.
The biggest challenge with Ramon was understanding why he decided to leave Socorro with Fatemeh. Editor Matthew Delman helped me to see why Ramon was unhappy where he was and had good reason to leave.
Q: What was the timeline from initial spark to publication, and what major events happened along the way?
A: As I mentioned earlier, Owl Dance started as a short story called "The Persian Witch". That was published in the anthology Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Wild West in 2006. I really enjoyed the characters and used them again in a story called "Electric Kachinas" that was published in Science Fiction Trails magazine a year later.
About a year after that, Maggie Bonham invited me to submit a story for an anthology she was editing called WolfSongs. I wrote a story for her called "The Clockwork Lobo." The story didn't get picked up for the anthology, but a revised version will appear in WolfSongs 2.
However, around the time I was writing "The Clockwork Lobo", David Rozansky [the publisher of Flying Pen Press] mentioned to me that he was looking for Steampunk novel proposals. My three stories were so interconnected, I realized they could serve as the first three chapters of a novel. I revised the three chapters and then sent an outline to David. He liked it, so I settled in to write the rest of the book. That process took a year and I finally submitted it just before Christmas 2010. We edited the novel intensely through the first part of the year and now we're bringing it out in autumn 2011.
One of the real challenges during the editorial process was learning that my wife had developed breast cancer. Fortunately, surgery seems to have done the job and she is now cancer free.
Q: How does Owl Dance differ from your earlier novels such as The Solar Sea and Vampires of the Scarlet Order?
A: Owl Dance is basically a Wild West Steampunk novel set in the past, whereas The Solar Sea and The Old Star/New Earth trilogy are science fiction novels set in the future. The first section of Vampires of the Scarlet Order is historical fiction, but most of the novel is set in the present. Owl Dance is my first novel set entirely in the past. The steampunk elements were fun to play with. I have always enjoyed writing about technology and I liked imagining what inventors might have done in the past if certain funding and resources had come their way.
Q: What do you hope readers will feel or experience as they read Owl Dance?
A: First and foremost, I hope I've given the readers a fun and exciting ride through the Wild West! Along the way, I hope they might also gain a little more insight into the cultures and history of New Mexico, and the world at large.
Q: What part of Owl Dance did you enjoy writing most?
A: I think the part I enjoyed most was a chapter called "The Pirates of Baja". I have always enjoyed pirates and one of my all-time favorite novels is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. In "The Pirates of Baja", Ramon and Fatemeh meet a pirate captain who commands a submarine that, in some ways, is more advanced than Captain Nemo's craft. Thing is, the submarine in Owl Dance is based on one that actually existed!
Other Flying Pen Press titles by or including David Lee Summers:
Space Pirates: Full-Throttle Space Tales #1 edited by David Lee Summers
Space Sirens: Full-Throttle Space Tales #2 edited by Carol Hightshoe, including the short story "Hijacking the Legacy" by David Lee Summers
Space Horrors: Full-Throttle Space Tales #4 edited by David Lee Summers
Space Tramps: Full-Throttle Space Tales #5 edited by Jennifer Brozek, including the short story "Locator Beacons" by David Lee Summers
Owl Dance is available wherever great books are sold,
and is available to the book trade from Ingram Books.
By David Lee Summers
Published by Flying Pen Press LLC, September 2011, under the imprint Flying Pen Press Science Fiction.
ISBN: 978-0-9795889-3-8. Trade paperback. Cover Price: $15.95.
5.5" x 8.5" x 0.567", 0.7 lb.
Flying Pen Press catalog number FIC-S-00005