Blog Tour & Giveaway: Clockwork Heart by Heidi Cullinan

We welcome Heidi Cullinan to the clubhouse today to talk about her phenomenal new steampunk novel, Clockwork Heart.

Clockwork Heart is, like many steampunk novels, a work of alternate history. At its heart are two subtle tweaks to the past we know, and the story imagines the ripples those alterations create.
The first difference between the Europe of our past and the Europe Clockwork Heart’s characters inhabit is the presence of a noble gas called aether. In classical understanding, aether is a philosophical concept of material beyond the terrestrial sphere of Earth. It was something of a catch-all to explain gravity and light. In ancient and medieval times aether was imagined to remain closer to Earth, as Earth was assumed to be most of the universe, but later we imagined aether extended throughout space. There’s much more to aether’s history in our philosophical, scientific, and cultural understanding, and you can get a rudimentary introduction about it here.
In A Clockwork Heart, aether is imagined to be a tangible element, a versatile gas which can be used as an energy source and as a medical aid: as an antiseptic, as a pain killer, and as a means to gently render a patient unconscious for surgery.  It’s mined primarily in the Alps and Himalayas, though the Americas have found it in the mountains of the south, in Argentina and Peru, and in the north, in the Western US and in Canada. Because of the presence of aether, economies, allegiances, and even borders of countries are different than we know them to be today or in the latter half of the 19th century.  Petroleum is entirely unused, save the occasional industrialist pushing it as an alternative fuel source.
The other major difference the world of Clockwork Heart brings to our understanding of history is the domination of the nation of France. Beginning with the rise of Napoleon, France became and remained the dominant power, but unlike the England of the world we know, France never becomes complacent in its power, nor does it overreach. It overtakes Germany and much of Spain, but only at the beginning of the book does it take Switzerland. The Austrian empire holds back France, England largely escaping because it’s so difficult to seize and maintain a hold on the island nation. Italy, in an alliance with Portugal, manages to stay out of the fray and hold dominance in the Mediterranean, and with the rise of the Americas as an economic and developmental power, it’s once again a powerful trade hub.
Of course, Clockwork Heart begins with the world on a precipice: soon there will be either greater, more devastating war, or their will be the first cracks in France’s might and the beginnings of a new peace. Which direction the continent takes is not up to the leaders of nations or the generals of the army. It’s all down to a rag-tag group of airship pirates, a defected young Austrian soldier, and a tender-hearted tinker in possession of a clockwork heart.

RELEASE DATE: Feb 2, 2016
Format: Novel • Genre: Historical/Alternate History/Steampunk • Length: 80,000 words (estimated)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Ebook ISBN: 9781619227231
Print ISBN: 9781619233959
Characters: Johann Berger, Cornelius Stevens
Short Summary: Tinkers. Soldiers. Spies. Pirates. Alternate history, airships, a sweeping tour of continental Europe via the clouds. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism, some naughty use of clockwork prosthetics. Men who love men, women who love women, men who aren't particular. Love, adventure, and a steaming good time.
Love, adventure and a steaming good time.
As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.
Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.
When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.


Today it’s commonplace to get from here to there in a jet airplane, but at the beginning of the 20th century, it appeared equally possible we would one day commonly get around by airship.

Airships, or dirgibles, operate by being lighter than air. They come in different shapes and sizes and can have different functions, but they all have a gas bag full of lifting gas less dense than the surrounding air. The envelope may be one great balloon, or it might be comprised of several cells filled with gas. The gondola beneath the envelope can be simple or grand, and airships can be used for passenger transport or for war. The most notable passenger airship of course is the Hindenberg, and it’s famous for being a fiery disaster. World War I saw the most use of airships as offensive aircraft, though they largely proved ineffective.

In the real world, airships proved far less efficient and more dangerous than their airplane successors, and today airships are usually blimps over sporting events or festivals, or hot air balloons used for recreation. The greatest issue with airships is fuel. Hydrogen, as the Hindenberg proved, is too flammable, and helium is too rare and expensive. Heated air is free, except the energy must sill be spent to heat it, and at the end of the day jet fuel is so much more practical.

In Clockwork Heart, airships are common as mud and are fueled exclusively by the oft-used steampunk element aether. In my novel aether is a noble gas with all manner of uses, but the most common is to function as airship fuel. Pilots of ships large and small use aether to send their vessels into the sky, across oceans and continents. And, in the case of The Brass Farthing, to aid and abet pirates.

At the end of the day airplanes are the most practical, but if all things were equal, wouldn’t you rather see a sky full of balloons than a highway full of cars?  Until that dream is realized, visit the alternate Europe of Clockwork Heart and sail your way into adventure.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Buy links:

About the Author:

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at


Enter to win your own copy of Clockwork Heart!

Just leave a comment with a means of contacting you (email, GR acct page, Twitter). Giveaway ends 10pm CST on February 6th then we will randomly pick a winner. You will have 48 hrs to respond otherwise we will choose another.

Good luck!


  1. I love the way your have incorporated aether into the world building and also the idea of how Europe is divided. Looking forward to reading Clockwork Heart.



  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Sounds really interesting. my email is anthonytaylor121 @

  4. I enjoy the world building of steampunk books


  5. I love steampunk and I love Heidi's works. The two of them together is just perfection. Thank you!

  6. Angela:
    Now i'm intrigued. Thank you for the chance of winning a copy.

  7. Sounds soooo good. Count me in, please.


  8. I haven't read a lot of steampunk, however I'm a big HC fan & if she writes it - I read it. I'm looking forward to reading this one too. legacylandlisa(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. This latest release from Ms. Cullinan sounds fantastic. I love steampunk and historical, and this sounds like the best of both. Thanks for a chance to win! chalonsursaone95(at)hotmail(dot)com

  10. This sounds so good! I'm looking forward to reading it!
    Toni violet817(at)aol(dot)com

  11. I have loved everything I have read written by Heidi. I cannot wait to read this book too! Thank you for the opportunity to win it!

    ree.dee.2014 (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. I have loved everything I have read written by Heidi. I cannot wait to read this book too! Thank you for the opportunity to win it!

    ree.dee.2014 (at) gmail (dot) com

  13. Heidi's book sounds like it will be a great read.....I always love steampunk!! Thanks for the opportunity to read it!

  14. This book sounds great. I really enjoy books with a mix of fantasy, history and steampunk.