Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crown Phoenix Series Virtual Book Tour

Crown Phoenix: Night Watchman Express
(The Crown Phoenix #1)

An underground factory a terrifying laboratory, and the eerie whistle of the Night Watchman Express…

Miriam has only her guardians' son for company, and she and Simon dislike each other from the start. But they must find a way to trust each other, or they will end up on the sinister Night Watchman Express.

Full of danger, suspense, betrayal, and a hint of romance, this steampunk adventure is for readers of all ages.


“Look!” Simon pointed to the cliff face. “What are those things?”
‘Those things’ were a series of flat, silver circles set into the rock in the shape of a larger circle, perfectly spaced apart. There were twelve of them, and they were level with the cliff. Neil ran his hand over one and could not distinguish where they ended and the rock began.
“Never seen anything like it,” he concluded at last. “Look – the stone itself is completely smooth and flat. It’s as if someone planed down the cliff itself and set those metal discs into the rock.”
“But who?” Simon jabbed at the circles with one finger. Contrary to his expectations, no secret door slid open to expose a secret passageway lined with overflowing treasure chests and grinning skeletons.
“That won’t do anything.” Neil pushed Simon away. “They’re not buttons, or levers, or anything like that.”
“How do you know?” Simon demanded.
“They aren’t meant to move at all – see? A button would have some kind of rim or space to move in.”
“Well, what are they for, since you’re so clever?”
“No idea.” Neil probed the circles again and shook his head.
Simon was bored with the puzzle. “Come on, professor, let’s go and find someplace to eat our grub. Afterwards we’ll go back up and explore the house.”
“Wait a bit.” Neil pointed at a flat stone in front of the mysterious circle. “That bit of rock is a different color from the others near the cliff – see? It looks as if it was moved there, on purpose.”
“Really?” Simon forgot his hunger. Without hesitation, he jumped onto the rock. Its position put him right in front of the circle; its diameter was taller than his head by about a foot. Simon spread his arms out to the sides and stared stiffly ahead, waiting for something to happen.
Neil began to laugh. “You look just like that Da Vinci drawing,” he said.
“Oh, you mean that one of the bloke with the lines in the geometrical figures.” Simon resumed his position, crossed his eyes, and stuck out his tongue. “How about now?”
“Come on, let me have a go.” Neil leaped onto the rock and shouldered Simon aside. After a few good-natured shoves, Simon stepped off and watched Neil stand in one stance after another.
“Feel any machinery or magic or anything?” he demanded.
“Nothing.” Neil jumped back onto the sand beside Simon. “I’d really like to know who came up with the design for inlaying those discs,” he mused.
Simon had already turned away, and he pulled out the large napkin tied around their food. “I’m famished. Let’s sit over here and–”
There was a loud scream from the direction of the house. “What was that?” Simon forgot the stolen breakfast. “Come on, let’s go and see!”
Neil was already running towards the steps. Together, they raced back to the house, away from the waves and silent stones.

Crown Phoenix: The Devil's Kitchen
(The Crown Phoenix #2)

In The Night Watchman Express, Miriam and Simon were kidnapped and thrown on the strange train... Now in Book Two of The Crown Phoenix series, they arrive at the terrifying destination known as Devil's Kitchen.

There they will face human experiments in a laboratory known as The Infirmary.

There Miriam will be forced to work in an underground factory.

There Simon is held in a luxurious prison by jailers who are as beautiful as they are deadly...

And their courage will be tested to the breaking point.

Crown Phoenix: Lamplighter's Special
(The Crown Phoenix #3)

Lizzie and her beautiful sister Ninna are forced to work in a huge Manor and on a steamship to support their family.

They are caught up in several mysteries:

The squire’s oldest son cannot leave the attic
An old typewriter seems to move time and space
A passenger hides in a secret room
A beautiful visitor is plotting against them

And Lizzie discovers that she has a strange, new ability.

She and her sister must discover the secrets of The Lamplighter’s Special before their enemy catches up with them.

Guest post by Alison DeLuca


The Third Eye

While I was writing the Crown Phoenix series, I had a definite voyage in mind. The book would start with a mysterious train in the distance and end with my main characters, Simon and Miriam, riding to an unknown destination on The Night Watchman Express.

In fact, writing the books was like being on a train. The current scene on my screen was very clear and present, and as I hurtled away to another chapter, that location became clear. What was unclear and yet to be captured on paper grew more focused as the books progressed.

Even though my journey was mapped out for me, however, I received some jolts of inspiration along the way that I just couldn’t shake. For example, one night I sat up in bed, my heart pounding. I had a sudden vision of a beautiful woman locked up in  a cage that hung from a long chain. She swung back and forth, and the only way to access her was a tunnel through the mountains.

I heard the creak of the chain, the dripping of the water in the tunnel, and the low voices of two children who discovered her. That scene, of course, became a pivotal part of the second half of Night Watchman.

Another image came to me as I was stopped at a red light, on the way to my daughter’s school. I saw a boy and a girl on the deck of a steamship. Between them was an old, battered typewriter that hummed as if it had mysterious, mechanical innards. Their hands were on the machine, clutching it tightly to make certain that it wouldn’t smash as they sailed through a strange storm at sea.

Again, the image became real, as though it bloomed. I heard the wind whistling around them and the hissing of sparks that flew from the machine they held so tightly. The boy, Toby, tried to say something to the girl, Lizzie,  but his voice was snatched away by the uproar of the storm.

As soon as I pictured the image, I couldn’t wait to go home and write it. (Of course, I had to go and chaperone a Brownies meeting at the time, so inspiration just had to wait.) I entered that fog, familiar to many writers, that comes from existing in two places at once – I handed out paper cups of juice and helped the leader set up games for the girls, but all the while I was lost at sea on my steamship, The Lamplighter, as it was nearly torn apart by a wild, electrical storm.

That scene eventually became one of my favorite parts of The Lamplighter’s Special, the third book in the Crown Phoenix series. To this day I read over it, while editing or formatting, and wonder, “Where did that  inspiration come from?” I still have no idea.

When my inspiration takes a day off and my muse has a head cold, I developed an exercise for helping ideas flow. Once I have a concept  for a chapter (Barbara imprisons Simon in a tiny attic room) I make up lists of words that come to mind with the concept. The attic prison led to : Stockholm effect, hunger, exhaustion, dirt, loud music, soiled mattress. That list let me begin to see Simon, my spoiled, rich boy, now held in a tiny garret by jailers who tortured him psychologically. He lay on an old bed, stained with age, clutching his head in agony as someone played loud music outside his room. I’m afraid that as disturbing as it sounds, that scene was a lot of fun to write!

Another list led to the creation of the home where Riki, my girl from the island of Lampala, lived. I wanted her family to be very well-off, and the house had to be beautiful. At the same time, I really wanted to evoke an island setting. My list included images such as: parrots, lily pond, fountain, curved roof, large shutters, wide porch, flowered vines, carved squids. At that point, I could suddenly see the house in front of me. I can see it now – if you go in the front door and up the stairs, Neil’s guest room is to the right. It has huge wooden shutters, embellished with carved squids and mermaids, to close off the heat of the day, and there is a tiny fountain in one corner.

I love that third eye – the one that somehow conjures up scenes that never existed before. My images are sometimes bright, sometimes dark and deadly – but they are my own.

About the author

Alison DeLuca grew up on an organic farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Her parents were British, so in the summers she went to stay with her grandparents near Dublin.

There was no stereo or TV there, so Alison, her sister, and her cousins spent the summer inventing stories and plays for each other.  “This gave me the ability to entertain myself with my own imagination in any situation,” she says. “We used to be taken to tea with great-aunts, and we were expected to sit on an uncomfortable couch and not move or say a word.  It was possible to endure it because I was watching my own little stories play out in my mind.”

After graduating from West Chester University, Alison became a teacher of English and Spanish, teaching students from kindergarten up to college level. She loved teaching, and it was with reluctance that she left the classroom to be a fulltime mom when her daughter was born.

While she was teaching and raising her daughter, Alison took every free minute she had to write.  The Night Watchman Express and The Crown Phoenix Series were the result.

She is currently working on the final book in the series, as well as several other projects.

You can find Alison here:


  1. Thanks for the great post. I haven't heard of this series before.

  2. I haven't heard of this series and I'm not sure it's something I would pick up. But thanks for sharing!

  3. Sounds interesting, but probably not my cup of tea. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks so much for featuring my series. The blogpost was a lot of fun to write. Beautiful site, too!