backwardglance2Hello everyone!  My name is Amanda and I write under two pseudonyms: Quinn Templeton, (who is visiting you today) and A.L. Davroe who is visiting you March 3!  Both Quinn and A.L. write in the same City Steam universe and we borrow characters from each other.  However, the content each of us works with is quite different.  What’s the dividing line?  Steam heat!  Basically, Quinn writes the hot stuff and A.L. writes everything else…Including the unsettling, sometimes squicky stuff.  Quinn’s series is City Steam X and A.L.’s is City Steam.  Make sure you don’t get them mixed up, otherwise you’ll be getting a Tale from the Heart of Dormorn that you weren’t expecting!  Some of the answers for these questions are the same between the two, but I tried to look at each set through the lens of the specific genre each of my pseudonyms writes.

  1. 1.  What does Steampunk mean to you?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an advocate of the “punk” aspect of Steampunk.  In layman’s terms, Steampunk is all about taking the Victorian era and turning it on its head.  You can introduce ideas, technologies, fashion, etc. that aren’t necessarily from that era BUT you have to properly integrate them into Victoriana.  The results should be something that is roughly half Victorian, half something else or a combination of various Victorian things.
2. What is your favorite thing about steampunk or writing about steampunk?

In general, I love the Victorian era.  I love being able to write about it or represent it without having to worry about it being 100% accurate.  I can write about a woman who likes to take tea in the parlor and wear corsets, but I don’t necessarily have to shove her into the Domestic sphere that she would have normally been in nor do I have to cover her ankles!
3. What is your favorite steampunk accessory?

033 (3)Out of all my favorite pieces of jewelery, I love this one most.

It’s (I believe) a one-of-a-kind bracelet made by Kuriouser and Kuriouser.  It has the alchemical symbols for each of the archangels on it.  I wear it for almost all of my Steampunk costumes.  It’s particularly close to my heart because not only is it a lovely piece, but it incorporates angels (one of my favorite things in the world) and alchemy – a subject that is close to the Steampunk genre.
4. What turned you on to steampunk

I read a couple of Steampunk books a while back and I figured why the heck don’t I try it?  I put my own spin on Steampunk by creating my own fantasy world overlaid with a Victorian aesthetic.  In my world, you have paranormal creatures, a God who is still very present among the people, and an Empire that’s loosely fashioned after the British Empire during the Victorian era.
5. Do you have any upcoming Steampunk stories you can tell us about?

Well, my publisher recently went out of business, so I had to scramble to figure out what to do with everything.  After some deliberation, I decided to self publish (at least) the City Steam short stories.  I’m going to have another short story in the City Steam series, called The Krie Seekers, releasing early in March.  It will be a “light” horror with some romantic elements, so it might appeal to certain romance readers.
6. Who is your favorite character of all from one of your Steampunk stories?

That’s a really tough one and I’m going to cheat because I know something readers don’t know.  There is a City Steam novel in the works.  I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now and I’m coming into the home stretch for completion.  My hope is to get it on submission to editors this year.  Anyway, my favorite character is one from that book, a girl named Adelle.  She’s the princess of the Windward Empire who runs away from home in order to assassinate one of the head religious figures in an opposing state.  I love her because she’s strong and stubborn, but she’s also hella compassionate and super smart.  She’s one of my favorite female characters ever because her journey is such a spiritually and morally poignant one.
7. What’s the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?

I’m going to say that generically, it’s making everything look and sound convincing to the reader.  I write a darker, harder version of Steampunk than my alter-ego Quinn Templeton.  Where-as she writes romance and sex, which appeals mostly to a female audience that would rather you write about the titillating aspects of things, I really have to consciously think about my hard-core fantasy and sci-fi readers.  My machines, my religion, and my political systems have to be solid and make sense.  When I make adjustments to what people understand as “reality” I have to make it clear what that adjustment is and why I made it.  For example:  Alchemists in my world aren’t exactly like the alchemist’s of our world.  They’re more like simple chemists than people who look for the philosopher’s stone and make homunculi.
8. What’s the easiest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?

The easiest thing for me is the fact that I chose to make my series Alternate World instead of Alternate History.  What this means is that I don’t have to adhere to a timeline or make sense.  My world is simply a Victorianesque world, not a variation on what was.  Given that, I can pull certain technologies and mentalities from any aspect of history that I want, though I try not to do it too liberally because I still want to maintain my Victorian aesthetic.  Some examples of this are the weapons that I choose to give the Empire’s soldiers.  Their main weapon of choice is a spring-bow — a highly modified composite bow.  While items like variations on grenades and guns do exist in this world, they’ve chosen to go with something else where the obvious choice in our world would be to go with guns.
9. What does steampunk allow you to do as a writer that no other genres can?

I’m stealing this answer from my Quinn Templeton post:  I kind of feel like this is a mean question?  Haha!  To be honest, you can’t necessarily say that any subgenre offers something over another.  We have to keep in mind that Steampunk is technically a subgenre of Science Fiction and Science Fiction is technically a subgenre of Fantasy and Fantasy is a subgenre of Fiction.  So really, there’s nothing in Steampunk that any other piece of fiction can’t offer you.  There’s intrigue and adventure, romance and horror.  The only thing that makes the Steampunk genre different from any other is the fascination with the Victorian era and the need to re-explore the many possibilities of what was, what could be, and what will be (because yes, there is futuristic Steampunk too).  Really, what it offers is a facet for those obsessed with the Victorian era to re-live it in all the high definition excitement that other subgenres offer for other time periods.
10. What are the challenges and advantages to writing a steampunk story?

The challenges are entirely up to the author, I think.  If you choose to write alternate history, you’ll have to figure out how your timeline fits into the grand scheme of time and how it deviates and why.  If you’re using real historical figures, you’ll have to research them.  It has to make sense.  Also, if you’re doing a more sci-fi or adventure based book, you might have to do more research.  Readers in these genres are looking for true technical writing, they want your gadgets and gizmos to work on legitimate laws of mechanics and physics.
11. How much research does it take and how much imagination.

In my case, because I write alternate world instead of alternate history, I don’t worry too much about the research aspect.  I’m an aesthetic writer, not a technical one, so most of my scenes will show you what something might look like, but not how it functions.  For A.L. stories, I focus on the technologies, the surrounding world, and the gritty aspects of what’s going on.  So, it does require at least an aesthetic knowledge of the Victorian era.

Excerpt from The Krie Seekers:

She was vicious and beautiful, inhuman in the way she had looked when Boone had first seen her in the Ariella Sturgeon.  Her mouth and chin were stained crimson, as were her hands and a good bit of her blouse and jacket.  Her eyes glowed, wide and cat-green.  She glanced between the two of them, stiff and alert, then about the alley – as if searching for something else.  Then her brow creased ever-so-slightly.

Her movement then was like a slow motion, balletic move to Boone’s mind.  Her despairing eyes rolled up into her head and she fell forward.  Unconscious.

Mardigan was the one who rushed to her side, Boone was still in shock from seeing her blood-stained beauty.  He rolled her over and checked her pulse.  “She’s gone into another fit of stasis.”

Boone shook himself out of his stupor.  “Where is Miss Tatty?”

Stiffened by the realization that Skell was alone, Mardigan shot to his feet and glanced around, searching the road and surrounding rooftops as if expecting her to be crouched like a gargoyle above them.

But she was not.

Miss Tatica was missing.

Chapter Eleven:

Alertness came to Tatty one muscle at a time.  She heard low humming.  Male voice, young and deep and clear.  He was less than ten feet away from her.  He wasn’t moving, but she sensed that his attention was fully upon her.  She smelled coal and dry stone and fire.  Where-ever she was, it was warm and dry.  A single room with a low ceiling.

She was laying on a bed of rough-spun wool and leathery old flesh.  She could smell that it was flesh.  Human skin.  Not fresh, but it still made bile rise to her throat.  She investigated it with her fingers, noting the seams between the different textures.  This had once been human flesh.  But more recently, it had been Krie flesh.

She suddenly knew where she was.

“Took you long enough.”

She went tense at the male voice that spoke to her, but tried not to reveal it.  She was aware of his gaze now squarely upon her and it made her skin crawl.

“Open your eyes.  I know you’re awake.”

She didn’t want to.  She was afraid of what she would see.  But she refused to show her fear, so she did as she was asked.

At first, all she saw was an outline, a lying humanoid shape looming before the colors of fire.  She blinked, trying to clear her vision.  She was in some kind of furnace room, a deep heat fire burning high and bright just beyond the mouth of a metal monster.  Before her stood another monster, but as her eyes adjusted he took on a face of innocence and gentrification.

Confused, she frowned at him and attempted to sit up.  The effort made pain shoot through her legs and set her head to reeling.  Wincing, she fell backward.

“You’re injured.”

She forced her eyes open again and glared at him.  “You’re human.”

His grin was predatory and adorable, set into the features of a young man who looked to be just barely twenty.  Handsome and well built, he was dressed as though he were ready to attend a night at the opera.  She didn’t trust the ruse.  “Do you like it?”

She narrowed her eyes at him.  “No.  You’re like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

His fine lips closed over perfect teeth and the grin became a deep, self-satisfied smirk.  He had dimples.  And bottomless dark eyes.  She turned away, unnerved, and stared at the wall.

“You wouldn’t believe it.  This body literally fell on me,” he explained.  “I was walking along, minding my business and it just came tumbling out of a pipe.  Still warm, the life barely left from it and totally saturated in fear.  It was like Ehleis himself had dressed and marinated it for me.”

Tatty rolled her eyes at his humor.  She didn’t understand.  A whole body?  Krie – even Kings like this one — never took a whole body…Just pieces.  Just bits.

As if reading her thoughts, he said, “I understand your confusion.  It’s abnormal, I know.”

Her voice rasped as she said, “Why?”

She saw his shadow shrug against the stone wall.  “Why not?  We can evolve.  A Seeker knows this most of all.”