We’re excited to announce a finalized book deal for Van Essler’s debut novel, Vial Thoughts, to be published in 2023.

In Vial Thoughts, which was Essler’s thesis at Seton Hill University, the city of Canimere is buried in the soot of its own slaving factories. Despite the Council’s promise of a technological golden Age of Awareness, the constant ashfall coats everything in onyx filth. For a price, Aqua Peritia Cuffs allow anyone to inject knowledge straight into their veins, but information can’t keep the ashen powder from piling up at their doorsteps.

Still… there are worse things that settle into the cracks of Canimere. A plague is sweeping through, causing an epidemic of insanity and tainting the city even darker.

Ambitious Lenora Leahill wasn’t prepared for all the madness hidden in the ashfall. After her father’s peculiar death, she grabs the reins of the Leahill estate with plans to better the country. But when some of her father’s more questionable associates reveal a conspiracy, she must thwart the threat before it plunges the city into the hands of a madman—all while keeping her life and her sanity intact.

“I’m delighted to be working with Raw Dog Screaming Press,” Essler says. “The whole RDSP family brings such amazing, unique works to readers and supports their authors. I’m humbled and a touch giddy to add my novel to their list. I know my work is in good hands.”

About her time writing the novel for her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, she says, “The seeds of Vial Thoughts came from a group of short stories I had written. I had all these wonderful pieces of a world that mirrored back so much of our own society that we often ignore; I knew I needed to merge them together into a novel. I brought those lovely ideas to the SHUWPF program to craft a story worthy of those pieces’ potential.”

Award-winning small press RDSP is excited to bring Essler into the family. “From the moment I first worked on this story with Essler, I knew its unique vision was special,” says editor Heidi Ruby Miller. “Her voice is smart. Her world, immersive. And the thrills are chilling.”

Praise for Vial Thoughts

“An utterly readable mélange of steampunk and gothic horror, Essler’s stellar debut novel—the first installment of her Age of Awareness saga—is like a milky shot of absinthe: hypnotic, hallucination-inducing, and highly addictive. There is a lot to love here: the richly described pseudo-Victorian setting, the brilliant use of sensory descriptors throughout to create a fully immersive reading experience, the cast of memorable characters, the relentless pacing and tightly woven plotline… but ultimately the power of this novel is the story’s heroine, Lenora Leahill, a courageous and ambitious 23-year old woman living in a patriarchal society where women have been systemically repressed for generations. After the death of her father, Leahill stands alone to battle a corrupt political system as well as a madman demagogue—not for her own personal gain but for the advancement of an ideal: the Age of Awareness. A darkly lyrical and stylishly stygian page-turner—literary opium.” – Barnes & Noble Reviewer Paul Goat Allen

“From the ashes rises a truly outstanding heroine on a journey to self discovery through generational trauma. Highly recommend, a masterpiece!” – USA Today Bestselling Author Virginia Nelson

“Van Essler’s debut novel Vial Thoughts surges through your veins with its frightening vision of a dystopian world where knowledge is bought, sold, controlled, and killed for. Feeling a little too possible for comfort, this steampunk dark sci-fi is a shot of adrenaline from the first chapter that will leave you tearing through the ash-covered streets sweating, panting, and begging for more.” – Bram Stoker Award Winner EV Knight

Van Essler

Van Essler tinkers with devious devices and macabre magic. She writes a signature blend of dark edged, cross-genre fiction, creating fantastical settings to expose real world societal issues. Her work appears in Like Sunshine After Rain, Story Emporium Magazine, and Zimbell House anthologies and she won the Founder’s Award from the Professional Writers of Prescott for fiction. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. A tarot deck collector and believer in cat naps, Essler makes friends with all her dreams, whether they are sweet reveries or nightmares. She lives in the Seattle area with her family, and spoiled, ginger cats. You can find her on twitter @VanPunkAuthor or her facebook author’s page.

Raw Dog Screaming Press

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Review copies when available can be obtained upon request, and interview inquiries can be coordinated, through Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com or twitter or Instagram (@erinalmehairi).