Mundie Moms

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fragile Destiny by Suzanne Lazear, Blog Tour: Author Guest Post

Hello & welcome to the next stop in the Fragile Destiny blog tour. I'm so thrilled to have author Suzanne Lazear on the blog today to share her second guest post in the tour. Take it away Suzanne.... 

Balls, Bustles, and Boys: Adding Victorian Elements to the world of the Aether Chronicles
Torturing characters is one of the perks of being a writer. My main character, Noli Braddock, hates balls—the sort where you wear a beautiful gown and dance the night away. In FRAGILE DESTINY I finally have the opportunity to force her to go to one.
However, that meant I had to actually research what happened at Victorian balls. I’ve been to Victorian-style balls (and even worn a ball gown) but the rules are much more relaxed. Sure, the 1901 Los Angles in my books is Steampunk and has flying cars, but a great deal of the etiquette and sensibilities are Victorian.
I poured over many web pages looking for actual etiquette guides from the era. One that was very helpful was which is a document from 1883. I particularly liked how the author referred to wallflowers as drapery. This one, from 1880 is also good, but quite similar, indicating that many of these rules weren’t just one person’s opinion, but standard, Victorian Web.
We haven’t seen Noli, or V for that matter, interact with society much (or interact with each other under those blasted societal rules) so this research was quite important to the world building, especially since this ball scene has a purpose beyond torturing the characters. How would they speak to each other in public? How would they interact at an event such as this? How would it all differ from what we’ve seen before?
I didn’t follow etiquette to the letter. Instead I used them to flavor the scene, and most importantly, make my character’s lives difficult.
Take the rule A lady will not cross a ball-room unattended. A woman couldn’t roam around the ball freely whether it was to leave the room or merely cross it. She would need to be with other ladies or chaperones. Couldn’t you imagine girls going about in packs? And how frightening these coifed and perfumed gaggles might be to the young men at the ball? (I wonder if this is how women going to the bathroom in groups started, not just out of propriety but practicality. Victorian ball gowns with all the underpinnings can be difficult to maneuver.) I used this rule to get Noli stuck, forcing her into situations (and places) she didn’t want to be because removing herself would break etiquette.

The quadrille ended. Someone came over and asked Mrs. Sassafras to dance, leaving Noli all alone. No sooner had she left when Missy and her flock of courtiers accosted Noli. Considering it was improper for a lady to cross the ballroom alone, not only did young women travel in packs, but Noli was stuck. She craned her head, hoping to see someone, perhaps a woman her mother owed a dress to, or any female she was halfway acquainted with. Everyone seemed to be going to the dance floor with their partners. Flying figs.
Many other common rules are also in play in the ball scene to help bring the ball to life—such as it being improper for a lady to turn down a man’s invitation to dance without a very good reason (and certainly she couldn’t accept another for the same dance). Or it being considered rude of a man to dance with the same woman over and over. Or depriving others of your company by not dancing.

“Why are you standing in the corner eating cake and denying others the pleasure of your company?” Mrs. Sassafras gently chided. Now she looked like a lump of brown silk tied with a giant cream ribbon and trimmed in lace. The feathers of her fascinator were also cream, making her resemble an apple dumpling topped with ice cream.
“I like cake, Mrs. Sassafras.” There wasn’t much else to say.
I wish it were chocolate, the sprite told her.
Mrs. Sassafras looked around, frowning. “I’ll escort you back to the ballroom. It’s not proper for you to be hiding in here alone.”
Noli took another bite of cake. Blasted societal rules.
The strict rules about talking to boys, especially if you haven’t been properly introduced, also come into play. Certainly you couldn’t just walk over and speak to one (Missy uses Noli as a prop, pretending to go to her then notice V) and even V needs to be careful about approaching Noli. (They’re little visit to the gallery is a bit scandalous, but they also have a job to do.
Dance cards were used, such as the ones that dangle from the wrists of Missy and the other girls. The dances for the evening at balls would be listed in advance men would reserve a spot on a woman’s dance card, meaning he intended to dance that particular dance with her. A man’s job was more than just a partner it was it is his pleasant responsibility during the course of that dance to see to the lady's comfort and enjoyment of the dance.

Before she could answer, V had her gliding across the floor to the one-two-three, one-two-three of the small orchestra. They twirled and whirled with the other couples to the rhythm of the music, not missing a step.

The dances they have at the ball in FRAGILE DESTINY are dances from the time. Waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, the schottische. It can be quite difficult to dance many of these dances with a large skirt or a train. There are even rules addressing this such as: A gentleman should always walk around a lady's train and never attempt to step over it. If by accident he should tread upon her dress, he should beg her pardon, and if by greater awkwardness he should tear it, he must offer to escort her to the dressing room so that it may be repaired.  
“Polka, Miss Braddock?” He changed his hold on her.
“Why certainly, Mr. Darrow.” Doing the polka in this dress was even more difficult than waltzing. She couldn’t help laughing as she tried to keep her skirts from barreling into people.
V laughed. “That’s a very large dress.”

While there were public balls that were open to everyone, most of the balls Noli and V would attend would be private balls, often hosted at someone’s house. (There is most defiantly a variance in etiquette between the two as well.) There would be refreshments, sometimes even dinner. I am uncertain if there would be one held at a place such as a museum, but I took some liberty to make the location relevant to the plot.
I’m not sure there was much jewel theft at events such as these. However, I could vividly imagine what it would be like to arrive in a flying car. Couldn’t you?
~Suzanne Lazear

Fragile Destiny, Book 3, The Aether Chronicles Releases 8-8-14 from Flux
Broken into pieces and hidden in the mortal realm long ago, the Staff of Eris bestows vast powers on whoever possesses it. King Brogan, V’s treacherous uncle, is trying to rebuild the staff. If he succeeds, the consequences for the Otherworld will be dire.
In a desperate effort to keep the Otherworld safe, Noli and V plot the daring theft of a jewel that is needed to complete the staff. But Brogan is not so easily defeated. When he and Noli finally come face to face, the balance of power shifts, and Noli must consider joining forces with an unlikely ally in order to save the Otherworld.

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA steampunk fairytale series The Aether Chronicles. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now from Flux. FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14. For more information on the series visit or

Recent YA News - Books To Movie News: Book Trailers

Wow, has this summer flown by or what? It's been a crazy busy summer and I just recently got back from a much needed family vacation. While I was gone, I feel like I missed a ton of bookish and book to movie news. In the coming months some beloved YA books will be coming to life on the big screen. The Giver, If I Stay, The Maze Runner and Mockingjay. Check out some of their recently released movie trailers bellows: 

Out in theaters on August 22nd (in the US), Warner Brothers shared If I Stay's 2nd trailer recently with fans. Check it out above. Check out movie stills, cast interviews and more here


THE MAZE RUNNER! This is a movie that received a ton of buzz at last year's Comic Con. I attended last year's Nerd HQ, where they shared a teaser of an unedited snippet of the trailer, and even that looked AWESOME! I can not wait to see this movie come to life on the big screen. The Maze Runner hits theaters on September 19th.  


It's almost here! The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1) was first revealed at San Diego's Comic-Con recently, and has now hit the web. This was my first time watching this trailer, and wow! This looks like it's going to be another fabulous movie adaptation. I can't wait to see it when it hits theaters later this fall. Check it out above. 

Are you planning on catching all these movies on the big screen?