When I was first invited to join CTR’s new Steampunk site, I hesitated. don’t get me wrong – I love Steampunk! – but my novellas are… a little harder to class. I like to mix genres, so I don’t have a story one can shelve as “Steampunk”. There’s always something of an overlap. I also don’t like genre to overshadow the plot. IRONHAVEN – my first publication – is about love refound. It’s set on a future Earth, is apocalyptical, science fiction, romance and has a dash of Steampunk. Blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s there in Gen’s lab, in her choice of clothing and the reliance on gas.
ELEANOR’S HEART, released last year, is a bit more obvious. It’s set in Victorian England, and includes a steam train and an airship. The main character is addicted to laundanum, an opiate often used in the period. But there are also a vampires, a species war and a temple hidden under Glastonbury. It’s paranormal, historical romance, and Steampunk all mixed together.
I don’t write Steampunk. I write a whole load of speculative genres lumped in with a generous dose of romance. I’m the Heston Blumenthal of romance. A genre alchemist. 😀
What does Steampunk mean to you?
More than just a genre. I first came into contact with Steampunk eighteen months ago, when a friend of a friend mentioned a local group. I joined up, found people who accepted me no matter what, and that was that.
What is your favorite thing about steampunk or writing about steampunk?
Letting your imagination run riot. It’s not all cogs, bustles and goggles.
What is your favorite steampunk accessory?
Oh God, corsets. I love them!
What turned you on to steampunk?
Like I said, a friend of a friend. Plus I’ve always had a fondness for steam trains (I blame The Railway Children) and a fascination for machinery.
Do you have any upcoming Steampunk stories you can tell us about?
I don’t have anything set for release, but I am working on a series of shorts stories and a Steampunk Western (with zombies)
Who is your favorite character of all from one of your Steampunk stories?
Gen, from IRONHAVEN. She’s an inventor that refused to accept the status quo and fought to save the planet. She has a real heart of gold, but is physically and emotionally scarred. I love her sense of right and wrong, and her determination.
What’s the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?
I think there’s a temptation to throw in a lot of stereotypes to “make” it Steampunk. But if you do that, it just comes off as being too much. The Steampunk should evolve from the world, not the other way around.
What’s the easiest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?
Being able to rewrite history!
What does steampunk allow you to do as a writer that no other genres can?
Steampunk crosses genres. It can be purely historical, alternate history, future-set, fantasy-set and so on.
What are the challenges and advantages to writing a steampunk story?
A definite challenge is making your world different to others’. An advantage is that you aren’t stuck in one era, or even on one planet – I’ve read sci fi where the society, though alien, uses steam technology and so on.
How much research does it take and how much imagination?
Research depends on how close to history you want to get. I’m currently researching the language used in the American West during the Victorian/Edwardian period. It does take some imagination. It also takes an ability to think sideways and not follow convention. The whole idea of Steampunk is to push boundaries.