Ever since she was young, Kiki Howell has loved to listen to a well-woven tale with real characters, inspired plots, and delightful resolutions. Kiki could spend hours lost in a book, and soon she knew that creating lives, loves, and losses with just words had to be the greatest thing that she could do. She has now had over twenty stories published between seven different small presses.
Mixing Genres into the Steam and the Punk
by Kiki Howell
Inspired to try my hand at writing my first steampunk story, I let my overactive imagination, one that often kind of works like well-oiled clockwork parts, needing lots of different genres to move together and create a finished piece. I wondered through ideas in my usual mix of genres, paranormal and erotic romance along with a touch of suspense, to see what kind of story line I might be able to crank out which included the parts and pieces of steampunk stories that I love so much.
First and foremost, I consider myself a paranormal author, though at times I do stray. Some sort of mythical creature usually shows up in some way in most of my stories – mainly witches with a few werewolves and vampires at times. I like sassy witches, so this took me right to the punk part. My historical period I love to write in is Victorian England, so social unrest was a easy given.
I took this a step further to put a chip on my witches shoulders, not only to have issues with the fastidious social standards of the upper ten thousand, but to also battle the whispers of what makes them different. Their mothers had married into the upper class, so it often takes a few generations to be actually accepted as one of them after that. On top of that, even close to a few hundred years past the witch hunts in England, these witches’ behaviors were suspect at times. So, they challenged the rules, used their magick to add to the unrest rather than conform to it, a social comedy of errors if you will.
Soon though, as the story was developing, I found the magick moving into the steam portions as well. I took my vampire, made him a failed inventor in life, and had my witch use her powers to help power his cast-aside contraptions. These inventions, with new-found magickal life, soon added to that comedy of errors the witches created in public to challenge the social customs.
So, I had the steam and the punk all wrapped up in the paranormal, but what about the romance? I would say second, although some may argue the point, that I’m a romance writer, some steamier than others *winks* Of course, relationships, romantic entanglements, are nothing new in the steampunk genre, nor is even erotic romance like I tend to write. Yet, I still took this up a notch to include the convention of sex magick to power the spells used in my story. The sex rituals created energy which became a magickal sort of steam if you will.
So, steampunk with its social statements and crafty inventions, paranormal with its witches and vampires and spells, historical with all the fun of the clothing and language, romance with all the steamy erotic moments…yes, I had fun mixing it all together.
Here is the blurb and an excerpt, the first few paragraphs of the story, to give you a taste of Love, Creativity & Magick: A Steampunk Valentine’s Day Tale. Guess the combination of genres is what made the title so long *giggles*
All acts of magick take on shades of gray in the end, especially for Emma, one of four females witches who by birthright belong in the social circles of the privileged upper ten thousand in London. Yet, by rumor of the unknown and the misunderstood, she stands apart, cut by her peers along with her cousins, because they hold a secret—each is gifted with magick.
Their elders had taught them respect for their powers even when mixed with a spanking amount of fanciful mischief. On the other hand, if a lesson was warranted, then white verses black magick could be hard to define. Nowhere was the color of steam more evident than in the matters of justice, a slippery term to define. Yet, they’d made breaking the laws of society their mission. Most of their nights at parties and balls were spent creating a magickal comedy of errors, helping the uptight aristocracy side step their fastidious standards.
Only this year, days before Valentine’s Day, a damnable day for women without suitors, Emma is not quite sure what is happening to her. Something dark and seductive, something not of this world, is luring her, possessing her, and she has no comprehension of what or who the presence really is. But, when he does show his face finally, and she feels him to be a nightwalker, she must fear not only the threat he poses to her blood and to the energy or magick he can suck from her, but also the danger he poses to her heart. After all of these days feeling him, wanting him, she has to wonder if her feelings are just a matter of his compulsion, if she is under this vampire’s own type of magick.
To complicate matters further, the vampire’s propositions are as exciting as they are scandalous, to teach her how to power her magick with the overabundance of sexual energy she bears. But, how he knows such things he remains elusive about. And there is the added attraction that this vampire was a failed inventor in life, one with a basement full of contraptions she finds she can power through the use of her sexual energy. Valentine’s Day seems like it could be all kinds of fun this year now.
Yet, in these days of social unrest and out-of-control creativity, what is a witch to do with a vampire? When Valentine’s Day rolls around, and a secret is revealed, what will be left for her?
Through lowered lashes, Emma glanced in inappropriate ways at the masculine forms striding into another room, one where men of the upper ten thousand spent too much time devoted to hedonistic pleasures. Where they were going port would be drunk to access, talk would be dirty and the wagers would be dangerously high.
She was not paying particular attention to the exquisite tailoring of their clothes or the perfect knots in their neck cloths, which kept those in the privileged aristocracy at rapt attention. Instead, she mellowed without a drop of spirits by looking upon the places where the fabrics these men wore touched close to their skin, outlined for her the beautiful mysteries beneath. If the chaperones watching over their spectacles could follow the path of her eyes, scandal would erupt with their swooning cries.
Old ladies close to hysterics and tears just might amuse her more than usual tonight, days away from London’s time to celebrate love. Valentine’s Day to those of the female persuasion without suitors seemed wrought of the devil himself, a damnable and confounded affront against them. It surly would not be long before lacy papers, love knots and puzzle purses would start being exchanged, sporting all sorts of sweet rubbish. Puzzle Purses! Who wanted to go about the trouble of reading the many verses scattered among their many folds? Hell and blast, what is wrong with me? Even I’m not usually this cynical.
Of late, she’d no comprehension of what was happening to her. Something from outside, someone not of this world it seemed, pursued her, begged for her, haunted her. This being was dark and seductive, luring her into a state where sexual desires took over, built a lust, which couldn’t be quenched. Restless, she longed for something, someone she couldn’t find, for things she knew little about. She was a witch, a strong one, and yet, she couldn’t help fearing she was being possessed. Emma had played with scrying mirrors, but even she didn’t mess with demons.
“Well, of all the deuced, Devilish things! By the by, all the rakes have left the room earlier that usual. What shall we do now?” Miss Cecilia Ingram’s chin lifted as she spoke. Emma’s eyes scanned the room.
Her group stood in a quiet spot, a tiny alcove with windows overlooking the gardens. With her and Cecilia were Miss Isabella Hunt and Miss Laurisa Abbott. They were cousins, witches each of them, the only ones from families with magick in their circle of London. Their elders had taught them respect for their powers even when mixed with a spanking amount of fanciful mischief. On the other hand, if a lesson was warranted, then white verses black magick could be hard to define. All acts took on shades of gray in the end. Nowhere was the color of steam more evident than in the matters of justice, a slippery term to define. Yet, they’d made defining the laws of society their mission.
“Why, dare I say, Emma, we’ve created quite the magickal comedy of errors here tonight, and you’ve barely lent your hand to the cause. Some rebel you are, standing here quietly in such a bread and butter fashion, acting according to the rules, being a wallflower. Do you suddenly disapprove of our ways? Because, remember, we believe there are such ornaments of society present that would thank us for the chance to side step society’s fastidious standards. Such pretense is a bore.” The words of reprimand dripped from Cecilia’s tongue.
“Disapprove? Such a ridiculous notion. However, if it were up to you we would all keep to gentleman’s hours giving no heed to the dictations of civilized society at all,” Emma touched her fingers lightly to her chest feigning disapproval. Excitement tingled over her fair skin.
Tonight, the presence lingering around her promised. Looking at her friends, it was obvious she was the only one who heard the voice.
“We have a purpose of freedom,” Cecilia continued in a huff. “We’re setting the women of England free from wheedling away the hours either dancing or talking behind their fans.”
~where love is a mystical thing~