Kitten Graves and the Floating Pleasure PalaceThe basic concept is for a Steampunk novel that revolves around a 17 year-old girl named Kitten Graves. It is set in the 1880s and the action will take place on a steam powered luxury liner that is a travelling high-class brothel. (I envision the ship being advanced for the era in the same manner that Captain Nemo's sub is advanced in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). Below are some character sketches etc:
The Floating Pleasure Palace THE CHAMBER OF VENUS: A giant luxury liner, built in 1850, of the variety that actually wasn't seen for another 40 years. Think luxury on the lines of the Titanic, with promenade decks, a ballroom, formal dining, smoking parlors, three and four bedroom suites etc. The ship is propelled by a system of planed flippers that work like the old roman slave rowing system. Each blade is controlled by its own steam engine, and each engine is manned by a team of engineers that can shovel coal and keep the pressure at a perfect tipping point. The ship is fast and highly maneuverable in open water, and the flippers can be retracted while a simple screw propeller is enacted for coming into port. A snaking series of brass speaking tubes allows the captain to issue orders to the engine room and control the direction and velocity of the ship. She is an oddity in an era when all steamships used paddle-wheels and oceangoing steamships used auxiliary sails.
Connor James Iain Aiden Graves: A Black-Irish immigrant to Scotland, Connor is 6'3" tall with pale skin and a shock of white hair that once was coal black. At the beginning of our tale, he is shot dead on ship as they are docked in Boston Harbor. He was an Irish immigrant to Glasgow in the 1820s. Worked in the shipyards. Never married. Scraped and saved every penny and sought investors until he had enough to build the FPP luxury liner steamship from his own designs. Owned and operated the world's most luxurious and exclusive brothel in the ship - sailing from port to port. All clients are vetted and searched before boarding - no weapons allowed on board, and all payments up front on and full night's basis. He met the whore that would become Kitten's mother in Tangiers when he was 70 years old - she was Scottish and a fiery redhead. Smitten, he promptly recruited her. They never married and the mother took off when Kitten was 5 years old.
Katherine 'Kitten' Collette Mary Jean Graves: Born of Connor James Graves and the mysterious Scottish whore. She is extremely petite (5'4"), and has honeyed peach skin, marred by freckles across her nose, and a shock of strawberry red curls. Kitten lived her entire life (while she wasn't at school) on The Chamber of Venus. Her mother left when she was five, and other than a couple of old daguerreotypes, she knows nothing of her. Determined that his daughter will have all the good things in life he didn't have while growing up, Connor Graves sent her away to exclusive boarding schools in England and France where she received a perfect classical education. When her elderly father is shot by an unknown assailant, Kitten inherits the FPP and all of the employees therein.
Madame Rita: She is a South American who Connor found in the Cote Azure on his first trip to Africa in the 1860's. She is of late middle age, stout and redoubtable. She is responsible for the health of the whores, and is also quite versed in all known methods of birth control. She serves the role of the traditional English housekeeper as well, menu planning, supervising the staff, overseeing decorations for holidays and special events and monitoring the 'household' budget.
Just Fletcher: A combination of Butler and Bouncer, Just got his appellation by refusing to divulge his full name - 'Just call me Fletcher' got shortened to Just over the years. A giant of a man, who made even Connor Graves seem short, Just keeps order on the FPP and ensures that travel and arrivals in port are handled smoothly and professionally. Although he looks a bruiser and is responsible for paying bribes, recruiting new girls and managing the seedier sides of the business, Just is a very gentle soul with a penchant for playing piano and a love of poetry. He was in Boston at the funeral of his father when Connor Graves was shot. He blames himself and has sworn to never leave Kitten's side because of it.
Various Whores and Tutors: The whores are all quite high-class, although as is usual for the time, completely uneducated. They will be witty at conversation, skilled in various artistic pursuits, perfection on the dance floor and paragons of beauty. The tutors will be recruited to live on the ship, paid by room and board, plus a once weekly romp with the whore of their choice. I imagine them in the Byronic mold - dreamers, poets and philosophers.
The Story: Kitten will be away at school when her Father is shot. Just will bring the FPP to London with her Da's body for burial. She will bury him and then, much to the dismay of the various villains who are hoping to seize control of the FPP, take on the running of the family business. During her first turn at sea, as she comes to know the individual girls who now work for her, she will decide that they deserve to be educated, so she will hire tutors to travel with them. With Just's help, she also sets out to search for her father's killer. She will struggle to master the intricacies of running the FPP, while fending off the despicable attentions and underhanded dealings of her business competitors who feel that the legendary Floating Palace does not belong in the hands of a little girl.