Today I am very excited to welcome author Jana Oliver to Steamed! as Steampunkapalooza 2010 continues. Visiting Lolita Jana is going to share with us her insights on the power of Steampunk. She’ll also be giving away a copy of her book SOJOURN, Time Rovers Book 1.
Jana Oliver admits to a certain fondness for almost all things Victorian and her continued search for the world’s most perfect single malt. Her multi-award winning Time Rovers Series has earned the praise of historians and readers alike for its gritty portrayal of London during the reign of Jack the Ripper. For more about Jana please visit her website: http://www.JanaOliver.com
I am not an oblivious person, but I must confess that steampunk rather crept up on me. It probably was making lots of noise with all those steam fittings and outlandish gadgets, but somehow I missed its creation.
The term steampunk first dropped into my world in 2005 when a friend asked if the book I was working on (SOJOURN from my Time Rovers Series) was in that sub-genre. Well, it is set in the late Victorian Era. It does involve time travel but frankly I wasn’t sure, even after my friend politely explained exactly what steampunk was.
Steampunk fell out of my life Dragon*Con 2008. Now if you’re not familiar with Dragon the best way to explain it is The World’s Largest Summer Camp for Adults (as per a friend). Anywhere from 40-60K souls converge on downtown Atlanta over Labor Day weekend each year and attend what is a very amazing multi-media convention. You got elves, you got Buffy, you got Dr. Who, anime and robots. And you got steampunk.
I was scheduled to be on a panel about the topic. I dutifully did my research, reading various steampunk novels to try to capture the essence of the “movement”. My mistake was that I was caught up with the results, not the creative spark.
My fellow panelists included a very knowledgeable gent (his name escapes, I apologize) and Carole Nelson Douglas who writes the Irene Adler series. Carole knows the Victorian Era inside and out and the gent knew steampunk. I was moderating so after a while I opened up the discussion to the audience. They had packed the room to overflowing (I’m guessing at least one hundred folks) and the rest had taken over another room for an impromptu steampunk panel on costuming and equipment. That was my first hint this was a big deal.
And here is where I learned about the dynamo that is steampunk. I threw out open ended questions – What does steampunk mean to you? How you think it relates to the “real” world? Where do you think steampunk is headed? The answers were incredibly deep and thoughtful. Though the audience ranged in age from teens to gray hairs, everyone had something in common – they were freethinkers. They didn’t see life through a certain kind of lens, but examined issues from all sides. They were inventive (can you imagine what it’s like to be in a roomful of MacGyvers?) And they’d brought that creativity into the steampunk world and into their lives. They bemoaned our “throw away” culture and the loss of beautiful objects which reflect the love of the master craftsman. They saw around corners, looking for solutions. They debated each other with respect and they cited their references. In short they were highly intelligent, engaged and energized.
I listened in awe, realizing that because of these folks this energy was at work in our society. Beyond the incredible costumes, the nifty gadgets, the airships and the goggles was a dynamic spirit that echoes the Victorian Era’s greatest strengths. Victorians believed they could master just about anything. They valued craftsmanship and ingenuity. It’s my opinion those remarkable traits are exactly what our disposable society craves.
Though I went into the panel a bit nervous as to how it would go, the hour ended too quickly for me. To my delight Dragon*Con read the tea leaves and in response to the growing steampunk culture they green-lighted a separate programming track devoted to Alternate History/Steampunk for 2009. It was jammed with people last fall and I know this September won’t be any different.
I’m currently prepping for AnachroCon, a smaller steampunk convention here in Atlanta. I’m hoping to get another dose of that spirit, that drive I felt in 2008. Another shovelful of coal into the boiler of imagination. That is the hidden gift of steampunk and it’s available to all. No airship required.
Thank you so much for visiting us, Jana. I can’t wait to pick up the Time Rovers series.
Visiting Lolita Jana is going to give a copy of SOJOURN to one lucky poster.
London, September 1888
An aged Queen Victoria rules. The threat of anarchy hovers in the air. A new kind of evil lurks in the back alleys of Whitechapel. Enter Jacynda Lassiter, a Time Rover on a mission—find an overdue ‘tourist’ and return him to 2057 before he changes history.
Victorian London is a dangerous place for the unwary. Mysterious shape-shifters haunt the streets, making friend and foe indistinguishable. When a fellow Time Rover is murdered, Jacynda’s mission becomes personal. Can she trust the two gentlemen who come to her aid or do they harbor their own dark secrets? In a few days Jack the Ripper will add to his bloody legacy. But old Jack isn’t the only threat in Whitechapel. Unless Jacynda can outwit a madman, her Victorian sojourn will rewrite history— and end at the point of a blade.
The book was a finalist for ten awards and won seven, including the Prism for Time Travel and the Daphne du Maurier Award (Paranormal).
Winning is easy. Just post a comment below and you get an entry.
Earn an extra entry by blogging/posting/facebooking/tweeting about Jana’s visit and the contest (please, don’t spam, and let us know how you promoted the contest.) You can also earn an extra extra by subscribing to the steamed! blog or by joining our Facebook Group (let us know you did, if you’re already a subscriber let us know and you’ll get an extra entry, too!) Good luck!
On Saturday, April 10th we’ll be visited by The Royal Ladies’ & Gentle-mens’ Experimental Madness Society’s represented by Joseph CR Vourteque IV. Artist TotusMel will be visiting on Sunday the 11th. On Monday, April 12th our visiting Lolita will be Aimee Stewart of Foxfire Art.
Thank you for joining us for Steampunkapalooza and keep stopping by all month long for more special guests, prizes, and mayhem.