An Interview with Trudie Skies

I’m pleased to present my interview with Trudie Skies, whose debut The Thirteenth Hour is a finalist in the 2022 SPFBO!

Hi Trudie and a very warm welcome to Spells & Spaceships blog!

So, your current work The Thirteenth Hour is a Gaslamp Fantasy. How would you entice new readers over to Gaslamp who aren’t quite sure what it is?

Trudie: If you like steampunk and wanted it to be more magical, then that’s Gaslamp fantasy! Sometimes it comes in dark fantasy or gothic flavours, and other times with a flair of Regency, but the Victorian vibes are there.

If you loved Arcane, then you may enjoy Gaslamp!

Despite not having got around to reading your work yet, it is shuffled within the great mountain we call mount TBR. The thing that intrigues me the most is the 12 domains which I find really inventive! I love when there are different realms or kingdoms to discover with their own unique feels. Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular?

Trudie: My original vision of the world that became The Thirteenth Hour had domains based around the elements, so a fire world and water world and so on. That’s where I began, but then as I began to focus on the clockwork influence in the overall world, I added in domains based on dawn and dusk (Solaris and Eventide) and the four seasons. I needed to come up with twelve to fit a clockface, and I tried to design it so that all domains had a purpose in the world, and I positioned them to be opposites or complements to each other. So if you look at the domain map, Eventide is opposite Solaris. Kronos (the domain of time) is opposite Witheryn (the domain of death).

Some of these races are based on fantasy archetypes, such as the Glimmer of Solaris are high-elves, the Vesper of Eventide are dark elves, etc. Others just came to me.

From there, the domains took on a life of their own and I created their societies based on how they would be perceived within the larger Edwardian-inspired society. The Glimmer, being high-elf types who are made of sunlight, are obviously snobby and sit at the top. The Diviner, being masters of time, consider themselves the caretakers. The Vesper, who can hide within shadows, are viewed as untrustworthy.

I imagine it was a lot of fun creating the domains – do you have a favourite and do we get to spend time in each one?

Trudie: In The Thirteenth Hour, the reader only gets the chance to travel to one domain, but in the sequel, The Children of Chaos, we’ll travel to each of the domains except one, which will get its turn in the third book.

Each were fun to explore and bring to life. I think my favourite is Memoria, the domain of the fish-like Amnae, which is a fully underwater world where the cities are inside giant glass domes. It’s illegal to eat fish, because that’s offensive to the Amnae!

How much impact do your Cruel Gods have in the everyday lives of the people and is the impact felt differently depending on the domain? Are some gods crueller than others?

Trudie: Each domain’s god chooses how they treat their mortals, though they all adhere to a constitution known as the Covenant, which promises mortal free will in exchange for worship. Not all the gods care for worship, or indeed for mortal matters at all, which is why each god has a designated ambassador to act as their ‘voice’ for mortal affairs.

Some gods such as Valeria, the god of the Vesper, demand tithes of their mortals because to them, they are deserving of treasures and their mortals should be willing to pay it in exchange for their existence. Mortals who don’t pay up face torture or death, and so Valeria’s mortals rightly fear her.

Other gods have a more parental relationship with their mortals and see their mortals as children who need guidance and the occasional punishment should they stray. And some gods act as celebrities within their own domains.

All mortals are encouraged to pray and worship their gods, and keep their gods laws in mind when going about their daily lives, and some gods are stricter than others. Pubs are common in the main city of Chime, but the Glimmer are forbidden from drinking as they consider it sinful, for example.

Which domain would you prefer to live in?

Trudie: I’d love to live in Phantasy, the domain of the Mesmer. It’s basically a giant observatory inside a dome, but unlike Memoria, there’s space and stars beyond. The Mesmer are a sleepy and curious lot who receive visions and find reality quite confusing. They’re lovable, due to their habit of napping and eating candy, and their home is designed to make them as comfortable as possible. It’s probably the friendliest domain of them all!

A weird one from me here; I don’t even know why exactly, but if anyone can shed any light it will be the author! The artwork and general vibe your book gives from what I’ve read makes me want to drink a cup of tea with some nice cake when I come to read it. Does that make ANY sense to you whatsoever!?

Trudie: It makes complete sense! Many readers have told me that The Thirteenth Hour has inspired them to boil a cuppa and reach for the biscuits, and I can only blame Quen, the secondary main character who takes his tea drinking very seriously. In fact, I recommend that this book is best enjoyed with a tea and biscuit to hand.

Tell us about the traveler’s handbook you’ve written to complement the novels. It’s the first time I’ve seen something like that!

Trudie: Many authors create a small short story to give away for free to readers who join their newsletter, but I like to do things differently. I had so much worldbuilding content for The Cruel Gods that I wanted to do something with it, but also have fun, which is why I threw a tourist handbook together with lots of silly little descriptions and fake adverts. To make it more of a ‘story’ I also added in some journal entries from the main character of The Thirteenth Hour, making it also a prequel of sorts!

Since I wrote it, I’ve developed the domains a lot more, so I’d like to go back and update The Traveler’s Handbook. I’ve also been writing short stories based on each domain as part of my newsletter (I’m now up to Eventide!) which I’m thinking of including!

When is your second book, The Children of Chaos released?

Trudie: The Children of Chaos is out now!

How many books are you planning to release in the series?

Trudie: The Cruel Gods is a trilogy, and soon I’ll be drafting the third and final book for release in summer 2023. But I don’t think I’m done with this world yet! I’m already thinking of spinoffs set before and after the events of The Cruel Gods.

How many years in the making was your first Cruel Gods novel, was it a long process? 

Trudie: This is kind of a weird one, as the original blueprint for what became The Cruel Gods was an idea I played with back when I was twelve and then kept coming back to over the years. It was the story of someone travelling through portals to collect magical elements and safeguard them from the forces of chaos. While I enjoyed the concept, my adult-self couldn’t work it into a coherent story, so I shelved it as one of those childish ideas that was best off forgotten.

And then during the pandemic, I started playing more Skyrim again and got thinking about the Daedric gods and how they each ruled their own realm… and that inspired me to go back to my younger self’s worldbuilding and re-work it into domains ruled by cruel gods.

I also took inspiration from the steampunk elements of the Dwemer. While The Thirteenth Hour became a completely different story compared to my original ideas, there’s also a lot I kept, including a water world, a volcanic world with casinos, and the main character’s name of Kayl.

So you could say I’ve been working on this book for a long time! But in truth, it probably took less than a year haha.

Your books honestly sound so interesting, and I’m sure people who didn’t know about them will be eager to check them out! What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

Trudie: I’m currently reading through Titan Hoppers by Rob J. Hayes and having a blast! It’s a progression sci-fi fantasy that reminds me of my old favourite video games.

Thanks Trudie!

Trudie: Thank you for having me!

Synopsis of The Thirteenth Hour

WHEN THE SAINTS FAIL, THE SINNERS STEP UP.Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.

Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.

To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.

For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.

The Thirteenth Hour is the first book in The Cruel Gods series—a gaslamp fantasy featuring magical portals, gothic cosmic deities, quaint Britishisms, and steampunk vibes. This is an adult book containing strong language and mature themes that some readers may find disturbing. For a full list of content warnings, visit Trudie Skies’s website.

About the Author

Trudie Skies has been living inside fantasy worlds ever since she discovered that reality doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Through the magic of books, she wishes to share these worlds of hope and heroes with other weary souls. Living in North East England, Trudie spends most of her free time daydreaming about clouds, devouring whatever fantasy books or video games she can get her hands on, and chasing after her troublesome dogs, who would like to reassure you they are very good boys.

Her debut YA fantasy series, Sand Dancer, was published through Uproar Books. Trudie is now writing adult gaslamp fantasy with her new series, The Cruel Gods.

You can find Trudie on:


Her Website


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: