Hello everyone, and thank you to Coffee Time for inviting me over! It’s a pleasure and I hope you’re all having a great start to the week.
I’m Rae Gee and I write the Veetu Industries series. Currently I live in tiny town in the heart of England and am partly owned by Bertie the cat (he’s actually the neighbours but spends most of his time around here. Our food is obviously better…). I was asked to answer a few questions, so here we go!
1. What does Steampunk mean to you?
Flights of fancy on iron wings!
I think it’s the ability to be creative within it. You can do so many different things, take so many different directions, and create something fantastic. I’ve never wanted my worlds to be “normal” and Steampunk has given me that opportunity.
We were recently chatting about this on one of the Steampunk forums and, to many of us, it feels like a bit of a revolution. We live in a world which is obsessed with the economy, and which is falling apart and, for me, it Steampunk is that opportunity to do something for others, even if it’s as small as saying hello. The mantra for the UK Steampunk community is “Be Splendid” and we try and live by that every day. Be nice to people, do nice things, create amazing pieces, and generally turn the darkness of the world in to light.
3. What is your favorite steampunk accessory?
That’s a tough one! Most people will probably say their top hats. While I love mine an awful lot, my favourite accessory is probably my corsets. I love how they make me look!
4. What turned you on to steampunk?
There’s an odd story behind that! I began writing “Mars on the Rise” back in March 2009 and a friend asked me what it was about. Being a fan of H.G.Wells (“The War of the Worlds” is my favourite book), I said that it was a book taking such ideas and expanding on them. “Oh, Steampunk then,” my friend replied. So I looked it up and the rest, as they say, is history!
5. Do you have any upcoming Steampunk stories you can tell us about?
Not at the moment, although I’m just about to finish Book 3 in the Veetu Industries series and get that checked and sent off. There’s also several short stories set in the universe on my website. The most recent one is from Christmas. Feel free to head over there and have a nose around! We’re a friendly bunch and you’ll be made most welcome.
6. Who is your favorite character of all from one of your Steampunk stories?
It’s the one everyone hates, Erus Veetu. He’s an awful lot of fun to write, part crazed engineer, part mad weapons designer and part bullying Master. He goes through a lot of changes, his character evolving and devolving before evolving again. Never happy, he pushes those around him to their limits. Many people actually dislike him because of how he treats people. But it’s based on how people would have acted back in the 19th Century. As there is now, there were definite class divides minus the welfare that people have to help them when they fall on hard times. A hundred years ago, you didn’t have that choice and if you were offered a chance to move from the gutter to a better position in life, you more than likely took it, even if it meant making painful choices and sacrifices.
But he’s getting a lot better. You’ll have to wait until Book 3 to see just how far he’s come. And whether he goes back to his bad old ways again…
Because the Veetu Industries series is set in a fictional city, there were a lot of things. What currency to use (despite being set in England, they use a different currency), the layout of the streets, how things worked, how the postal system worked. Mainly it was niggling little things but they were things which were essential to the story and to make the universe feel that little more real. I come from an engineering family so everything has to work! A lot of the machines and weapons which are featured in the books were run past engineers to make sure that if they were ever built that they’d actually work. (And 9 times out of 10, they would work!)
8. What’s the easiest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?
For me, I think it was the characters. They were already there, in my head, waiting to be placed into a universe. Once the city had been created, they were free to enter and start telling their stories.
9. What does steampunk allow you to do as a writer that no other genres can?
I think it allows you to take what was created in the Victorian era and do something completely different for it. Transport, communications, even computers all feature in these stories. I enjoy digging around and finding out what governments were doing back in the 19th Century. Taking that, I shake it up a little, and change it in to something completely different. For me, the Steampunk genre is about the “what if’s”. What if Queen Victoria had died? What if they’d had intercontinental missiles? What if they’d been able to travel beyond our universe?
It’s also allowed me to explore relationships which would have been frowned on. In the 19th Century, homosexuality was still illegal (in 1861 it was removed from the death penalty. The final executions in the UK for homosexuality were of James Pratt and John Smith in 1835.). My stories still assume that homosexuality is still punishable with imprisonment but that it’s rarely enacted. It’s wonderful to be able to tell the stories of several people whose relationships weren’t what was considered right and proper but, because of where they are in society (often through taking up contracts of slavery), they’re allowed to continue. Although, as we’re slowly finding out, punishment can be meted out by the people on the streets, a terrifying situation which still exists today.
10. What are the challenges and advantages to writing a steampunk story?
Challenges: Making sure everything is just right. It’s like laying a table for a fabulous dinner party; you have everything you need, it’s just placing it correctly so it looks right.
Advantages: Being able to take a blank sheet and create, from scratch, an entirely new universe that no one has seen. It’s a bit like walking in to a brand new building, one which has only just been finished. You’re the first person to go in, explore and report back to everyone else what it’s like.
11. How much research does it take and how much imagination.
For me, the research is the best part. I love it! Once upon a time, I worked as a researcher (still do on and off) so digging around for that correct term, or a certain piece of clothing, or a particular location is like a game to me. Then I take what I’ve learned, add a heap of imagination and let it fly! At the moment, I think it’s an easy 50/50 split between research and imagination although, as the series progresses and I get to know the characters and location, it’ll become more imagination.
You can find me online at:
I’m also giving away the first two e-books in the series (“Mars on the Rise” and “Selling Mars”) to one lucky commentator! Feel free to leave a comment saying why you like Steampunk, how you got in to it, or even just saying hi!