Today we welcome author Sheryl Nantus.
Sheryl Nantus was born in Montreal, Canada, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. A rabid reader almost from birth, she attended Sheridan College in Oakville, graduating in 1984 with a diploma in Media Arts Writing.
She met Martin Nantus through the online fanfiction community in 1993 and moved to the United States in 2000 in order to marry. A firm believer in the healing properties of peppermint and chai, she continues to write short stories, poetry and novels while searching for the perfect cuppa.
“Wild Cards and Iron Horses” is her third published title and is currently available in ebook form from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. A print edition from Samhain Publishing will be released in the summer of 2011.
Riding the Rails in New Babbage
by Sheryl Nantus
One of the hardest things to do as a writer is immerse yourself in the culture you’re writing about. Sometimes it’s difficult to work on stories about living in a Victorian age where machinery rule the skylines while you’re hammering on your computer keyboard or trying to quit the newest games app cold turkey. Getting your mind into the game can be almost impossible with all of the current-day distractions offering tempting alternatives or just killing the creative drive.
When I started out writing “Wild Cards and Iron Horses”, my American steampunk novel set in the Old West, I already had a great place to sit and work – my virtual home in New Babbage in Second Life. There my avatar, Sheryl Skytower, could meander around the virtual town and trip over various steampunk devices and settings while chatting in-character with other steampunk fans using New Babbage for their own virtual get-aways.
But wait… let me show you a bit about what New Babbage is. Come take a quick Christmas tour!
Second Life is a virtual world free to anyone who wants to sign up – you can spend real money buying Lindens to purchase what you wish to wear or use but many residents get along just fine picking up the free clothing and items offered by friends and retailers. Visit New Babbage.
Once inside Second Life you can find a variety of sims to visit, from vampire-themed areas to jazz clubs to Zen gardens. Almost three years ago I discovered the small and grimy steampunk town of New Babbage and decided to make it my home. That’s me there, the little clockwork dragon.
Once there I settled down and enjoyed all the usual small town activities. Evil scientists trying to take over the town, Martian invasions, zombie invasions, Christmas parties and, of course, airship races. I also discovered a wonderful little café where I could sit and write while my real-life identity did the same. It was during this time that I did the majority of work on “Wild Cards” because it was so easy to fall back into the steampunk world on the page while experiencing it on the computer screen.
Roleplaying is common in many steampunk areas of Second Life, but not mandatory. If you want to create another persona for yourself with a mechanical arm or even entire body, it’s perfectly acceptable. As for myself, I chose to be a human trapped in the body of a clockwork dragon due to my grandfather doing some rather unorthodox experiments. Think Walter Bishop from “Fringe” and you’ll get an idea of what I’m referring to.
Spending some time in a steampunk virtual world is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and to enjoy some time away from the real world. Visit a Victorian-era carnival and see the mechanical beasts on the carousel! Attend a dance overseen by a loud noisy smoking robot putting down some radical tracks over the airwaves! Take an airship tour of the many libraries in Caledon and see the original (or so I’ve been told!) Time Machine donated by Mr. Wells!
I have to credit my time in New Babbage for the success of “Wild Cards and Iron Horses” and for inspiring me for the future. Between the people and the setting it’s easy to imagine a steampunk world when you spend some time living in it!
If you’re looking for a way to interact with fellow steampunk aficionados and am unable to get out to the conventions or meetings you might want to consider visiting Second Life and all of the Steamlands in the virtual world. You never know who or what you might find in your steampunk Second Life!
~ Sheryl Nantus