The world within the Steel Roots series is actually America with my own twisted history. The government is a conglomerate of corporations who saw fit to run the country like a business. This of course is all master minded by one man above the rest. The history of this conception in the story has brought America to becoming a lone country. America is surrounded by a wall protecting the boarders from all outside influence. Without trade or outside influences the System as I call the government found that they needed to sustain America in some fashion. Their solution was to build America on the backs of the poor.
If a person is not within a certain income level and unable to sustain their home and family financially, then they forfeit all they have. The System takes all their belongings including land and any valuables which include the children who are now System commodities. Everyone works on farms or in mines and workhouses or as my characters call them, workinhouses. This is where our story begins with the main character, AB’Gale living on a farm in the medium class of society until her father is suddenly no longer there to produce the wages to the land owner. Abby is then torn from her happy world and thrown into a spiraling adventure across a land that she finds more and more distasteful as she sees the nature of the System. Abby’s determination to get her family back along with her compassion for humanity creates an unwilling heroine in this story.
This story concept is not new but inspired by stories I have read such as 1985 with the concept of Big Brother watching you and controlling your life. I also derived influence from history itself and the oppression of the poor. I did extensive research on workhouses and poverty in the early 1900s as the industrial revolution spread across the nation.
The idea of using a train in my story not only gives the characters a means of travel but also for Abby to meet the underclass and hidden pockets of people who live off the grid so to speak. I studied the world of Hobos and found a whole other source of information that I’ve not seen used very much in today’s books.
Unfortunately my research led me to some dark aspects of our own history and there was not much that I had to fictionalize. I found myself saddened by this but empowered at the same time because in writing these truths even in a work of fiction, people will learn a bit about history. I challenge the readers to look up things up such as workhouses and orphan trains and learn about the past. As for the world I created, it is really a messed up America and I only hope that my characters find a way to save it or at least themselves. I am currently working on the 4th novel of this series and I can’t wait to find out what happens.
The Steel Roots Series:
Born in a boxcar on a train bound for Georgia. At least that is what Papa Steel always told AB'Gale. But now, fifteen years later, the man who adopted and raised her as his own is missing and it's up to AB'Gale to find him.
Aided only by a motley gang of friends, AB'Gale train hops her way across the United States in a desperate attempt to find her papa and put her life and family back the way it was. Her only guide is a map given to her by a mysterious hobo, with hand written clues she found hidden in her papa's spyglass.
Here is the Great American Adventure in an alternate steampunk dystopian world, where fifteen-year-old AB'Gale Steel learns that nothing is as it seems, but instead is shrouded in secrets and mysteries ... and that monsters come in all shapes and forms.
The Boxcar Baby is the first book of the Steel Roots series.
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Bishop Steel is still missing, so AB’Gale must follow the map continuing the search for her papa. Her quest leads Abby down dangerous paths that threaten to get her captured by the System. Danger lurks at every turn of the road, on every doorstep and every train.
Finding it difficult to know who to trust when she discovers she is now wanted for crimes against the System, Abby travels under the guise of a young boy. Conflicted with the desire to rid her world of the unjust or find her papa, Abby finds few friends amid hobos, air pirates, and entrepreneurs.
Abby finds that real friends will never abandon you, nor will they allow you to give up on your convictions. A true awakening to internal conflict and the desire to put right what is wrong, this is the great American adventure ringing with the sound of freedom along the steel routes.
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“The System Regulatory Unit has determined that the responsible parties of last week’s explosion in Downtown St. Louis are none other than the notorious Abigail Steel and her band of pirates. She is wanted for questioning regarding numerous acts of rule breaking against the System. She is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached but informed upon at once.”
Not only is her name misspelled, but the System has her description all wrong because AB’Gale Steel is not a criminal. She just wants to find her papa and now she feels she is so close, but will the System catch her before she finds him? And what about the marks on the map the old hobo gave her? What was Papa doing in all those places? Why is the System so concerned about Bishop Steel and his daughter? Are the people of America seething with frustration? And is there an insurgency boiling beneath the surface?
All the answers lie within Rails West.
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About The Author
A California native born in Hollywood, J.L. Mulvihill has made Mississippi her home for the past seventeen years. Her debut novel was the young adult title The Lost Daughter of Easa, an engaging fantasy novel bordering on science-fiction with a dash of Steampunk, published through Dark Oak Press in 2011. The sequel to this novel is presently in the works.
Her Most recent novel, The Boxcar Baby of the Steel Roots series, was released in July 2013 through Seventh Star Press. Steel Roots is a young adult series based in the Steampunk genre and engages the reader into a train hopping heart stopping adventure across America. Book 2, Crossings released December of 2014.
She is also the co-editor of Southern Haunts; The Spirits That Walk Among Us which includes a short story of her own called Bath 10, and a fictional thriller involving a real haunted place. Her poem, The Demon of the Old Natchez Trace, debuts in Southern Haunts part 2, Devils in the Darkness.
J.L. also has several short fiction pieces in publication, is very active with the writing community, and is the events coordinator for the Mississippi Chapter of Imagicopter known as the Magnolia-Tower. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA), The Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG), as well as the Clinton Ink-Slingers Writing Group.
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