I had an idea for a long while to write an alternate history with steam that works for me.
Paul Johnson in his masterful The Birth of the Modern (sadly, still not available as an eBook) mentions that there was a serious chance that steam vehicles — cars — might have been created in the early 1800’s but that the entrenched forces of the carriage trade and the fledgling rail industry stymied it.
That comment was the seed for the foundation of this story.
What if, instead of creating a locomotive engine, someone created something else? Say, a steam horse? Or, rather, a cart raised on four walking legs?
And, as it the idea was an alternate history idea, I wanted to make it a good alternate history — so I decided that my inventor would create it up in Edinburgh just as Bonnie Prince Charlie liberated the city.
Of course, just to make things more interesting, my inventor had to be a girl (because in those early years of the 1700s women and children were still considered little more than property) — a girl born with a genius for steam and steel.
I had a lot of fun with this novel, so much so that I’ve already started the sequel — and if things seemed interesting before, they’re much more interesting now with the Stuarts returned to the combined throne of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales — and the Steam Walker was only the first invention of a fertile mind!