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Archive for April, 2012

This is the final post in Steampunkapalooza. Thank you so much for making it a success, once again.  Stay tuned for winners.   Don’t forget, our Gadget Contest ends tonight, so get your entries in.  Our signed book contest ends tonight as well–we have signed copies of two great books up for grabs.

Today we welcome author Nico Rosso.  Night of Fire will be available on July 10th from Avon Impulse.

Taking the “What If?” and Making it a Reality

by Nico Rosso

Steampunk was real.  In a way.  Imagine you’re a farmhand in the 1870s, taking a rare day off to visit the county fair.  And there you see a man on a steam-powered bicycle.  It would’ve looked like science fiction come to life.  The way technology was evolving, there was always a new and amazing machine just around the corner.  Now, the steam powered bicycle wasn’t very practical, but giant agricultural machines and new developments in trains were quickly implemented and brought into the world.  In a time when many people still made their own tools by hand, it must’ve seemed like fantasy made real.

So my job in writing steampunk is to create new technology that captures the same excitement and wonderment for a modern reader.  A steam train, or a Gatling gun, while groundbreaking at the time, are too familiar now.  The technology has to be pushed further.  The Gatling gun turns into a Gatling rifle, fired from the shoulder and wound with a clockwork mechanism.

The hero of my first steampunk western Night of Fire: The Ether Chronicles has one of these rifles.  Together with the heroine, they fight against a mining company that wants the land around their town.  But again, things need to be escalated beyond the familiar.  Instead of the evil mining company trying to buy up the land, they’ve sent a thirty foot rolling machine that can eat through the side of a mountain or level a whole town.

While my wife, Zoë Archer, and I were working on creating the world of The Ether Chronicles, we looked for new ways to let the steampunk elements drive the plot, while keeping the humanity consistent.  It had to be grounded.  If we were writing straight historical, then the inventions would seemantastic.  But for our characters, each development is consistent with the world they live in.  They can still marvel at the airships and motor-driven stagecoaches, just like that real farmhand in the 1870s, but because they understand them, it makes it that much more real for the reader.

And that’s the great fun of steampunk: taking the “what if?” and making it a reality.

So my question to you is: What real technology from the Wild West would you like to see in a steampunk setting?

Skies of Fire: The Ether Chronicles by Zoë Archer is available now.  Night of Fire, my western set in the same world will be available on July 10th from Avon Impulse.

~Nico Rosso

http://nicorosso.com

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If you live in Southern California you should check out the Gaslight Gathering in San Diego May 11-13, 2012.  I’ll be there on Saturday.  Come say hi.

Anastasia Hunter is the Director of Programming for Gaslight Gathering and has actively volunteered on various Southern California conventions including San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon, and LosCon.

Gaslight Gathering 2: The Expedition – A Southern California Steampunk Convention

Most steampunk enthusiasts in Southern California have not been largely involved in the convention scene until the last few years.  The local steampunk communities focused primarily on hosting various meet ups, single day events and the occasional concert. San Diego Comic Con became a haven for all local steampunks who were able to attend and the response was overwhelming.  In 2010, Comic Con won the Guinness Book of World Records for Largest Steampunk Meet Up.

Elsewhere, a number of new dedicated steampunk conventions were already in the works. Nova Albion Steampunk Expo launched in the Bay Area and was an immediate hit.  TeslaCon, in Wisconsin, and SteamCon, in Washington State, pioneered a unique steampunk convention model as a weekend event filled with performances, panels, and many special ticketed events. This was exactly what Southern California steampunks were looking for!

Out of this void, Southern California’s first steampunk specific convention – Gaslight Gathering, was born. The brain child of a few San Diego steampunk & SF/F fans who had decades of convention experience, these pioneering souls teamed up with other local steampunks to bring forth a brand new steam powered convention open to all enthusiasts, both young and old.

The inaugural Gaslight Gathering convention kicked off on May 6, 2011, at the Town and Country Hotel. Organized and operated exclusively by volunteers, Gaslight had a total attendance of just over 1200 guests with more than 85% making an effort to dress the part. Along with a wide variety of presentations, classes, vendors, teas, and other special events, the Gaslight crew made every effort to ensure there was something for every steampunk enthusiast.

Gaslight Gathering 2: The Expedition will be returning to the Town and Country Hotel this May 11-13, 2012, with Kaja Foglio, writer and co-creator of Girl Genius, and Dan Jones, Maker of Tinkerbots as our Guests of Honor. Award-winning authors Tim Powers and James Blaylock, two of the founding fathers of steampunk fiction, will also be on hand to discuss their thoughts on where steampunk has been and what steampunk may become in the future.

New in 2012, Jon Magnificent will be performing at Gaslight’s first annual Airship Ambassador Ball and there will be an amazing Travelling Medicine Dinner Show, with special guests Steam Powered Giraffe and a Safari inspired High Tea!

Whether you stop by Basecamp, where newly unearthed Mayan relics with some very unusual carvings will be on display, or show off your steampunk or vintage bathing costumes at our Poolside Bathing Contest, Gaslight Gathering 2 will have fun and excitement for all ages!

Please join Suzanne, and all of our amazing guests, as Gaslight sets sail on another incredible voyage! All passengers are welcome, especially volunteers! (Steampunk or Victorian costumes are not required, but highly encouraged.)

Check out Gaslight Gathering’s website for a full description of our special events, maker classes, confirmed guests, and other information.

http://www.gaslightgathering.org

 

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Get those gadgets in!  You don’t want to miss out on our really cool prizes.  Our gadget contest ends 4/30/12.  https://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/steampunkapalooza-prizeapalooza-ends-43012/

Also, our signed book giveaway also closes 4/30/12. 

Today we welcome a very talented author who writes under many names…

Kady Cross and Kate Cross are both pseudonyms for USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Smith. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and a pride of cats. She likes singing with Rock Band on the 360, British guys, Vietnamese food, and makeup (she’s hopelessly addicted to YouTube makeup tutorials!). When she’s not writing she  likes to catch up on her favorite TV shows, read a good book or make her own cosmetics.

I Love Writing Steampunk
By Kady/Kate Cross

Steampunk saved my career. That might sound overly dramatic, but it’s true! For years I wrote historical romance as Kathryn Smith – romance that got me on the USA Today list – and then something changed. I wrote 5 vampire novels that readers loved, but when I decided to go back to straight historical romance, my readers didn’t follow. People wanted more vampires from me, and I didn’t have any more to give. What was I going to do? I didn’t want to do more vamps, but I didn’t want to do straight historical either. I wanted to do something different.

Around this time I was approached by a former editor of mine who now worked at Harlequin. She asked if I was still interested in doing more YA novels because Harlequin had just recently launched their teen imprint. I said, “Heck, yeah!” and she asked what I had in mind. I really don’t know where it came from – I just asked myself what would be the most fun. I replied, “Teen X-Men meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” The Steampunk Chronicles was born that day. I renamed myself Kady Cross and set out to write Steampunk Young Adult fiction. The first book was The Girl in the Steel Corset. The second is The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, and it comes out May 23rd. It got a rare starred review from Kirkus and I’m terribly proud of it.

It wasn’t long after selling The Steampunk Chronicles that I started giving serious thought to what I was doing with my adult books. It was time to change. I’m not usually a brave person – impulsive, yes. Anyway, I made the decision to say good-bye to Kathryn Smith for a while and reinvent myself completely. Since I was already writing as Kady Cross, I decided to write adult Steampunk as Kate Cross. I put together a proposal for a Steampunk romance, gave it to my fabulous agent and… waited. Not for long, though. Next thing I knew I was writing for Signet Eclipse.

So there I was with a fresh start sprawled out before me. Terrifying and exciting. I let my fans know about the change and started writing. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. Everything was new and sparkling before me! It was also scary. I loved my former publisher and former editor, and now I was with someone else who didn’t know my quirks and neurosis. I’ve always sought to turn in the best book of my ability, but now I felt like I had something to prove. I wanted to write the most fabulous book I could – my career depended on it. I’d taken a huge risk to write this book, and I needed to make the risk worth it.  I needed to write a romance I wanted to read, and I needed to put my heart into it. I had to bring it.

And I think I did it.

On May 1st, 3 weeks before the release of The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, Heart of Brass will hit shelves with its gorgeous gold and purple cover. Romantic Times gave it 4.5 stars and called it ‘riveting from beginning to end.” I think it’s one of, if not the, best romance I’ve ever written, and I’m extremely proud of it. Was it worth the risk of starting over? Definitely. Steampunk has breathed new life into my career, while allowing me to continue writing in a historical setting. I think the genre is here to stay – at least for a good long while, and I cannot wait to write more of it!

~Kate/Kady Cross
KadyCross.com
KateCross.com

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Today we welcome author Kiki Hamiltom.

Kiki Hamilton is the author of the YA historical fantasy series: THE FAERIE RING, and a YA contemporary story entitled THE LAST DANCE.  Visit her at http://www.kikihamilton.com

Just the Facts, M’am….Blending Historical Fiction and Fantasy

by Kiki Hamilton

When writing my YA historical fantasy, THE FAERIE RING, my goal was to try to immerse the reader in Victorian London, make it as real as possible, but then add a slightly fantastical twist. To that end, I worked hard to make all of the historical facts accurate and true to London 1871.

My research was multi-pronged as I had to research both Victorian London and the history of faeries in the British Isles. Luckily, I found both to be fascinating topics! While I wrote the first draft of The Faerie Ring in a fairly short amount of time, I spent quite a bit of time in revision enriching the historical details and checking for accuracy.

I’d never been to London when I started writing, and actually didn’t know much about the City.  It was really quite fortuitous that I had set my main character living in Charing Cross railway station, which is the true heart of London and the point from which all distances are measured to this day.

The Faerie Ring is set in 1871 because that’s the year one of my characters, Prince Leopold, (Queen Victoria’s youngest son, was 18.) My research was conducted through a variety of sources – several books were a wonderful resource: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool (Simon & Schuster 1993) and Victorian London, The Tale of a City 1840-1870 by Liza Picard (St. Martin’s Griffin 2005). Additionally, I used online resources including Google Earth.

After I’d sold the book, but before I’d worked on any editorial revisions, I had the opportunity to visit London for the first time. It was a wonderful experience and so helpful in writing this book. As everyone knows, London is an ancient city with so much history oozing out of the buildings and sidewalks, it can’t help but to inspire a writer! I got to walk in my main character’s footsteps from Charing Cross to St. James Park to Buckingham Palace and more.  The trip was surreal and fantastic (!!!) and very beneficial in filling in some of the more oblique, but very important concrete details.

For faeries, I did a ton of research into the wide and varied history within the British Isles through a combination of online research and books. Additionally, part of the world is completely imagined – one that I’ve envisioned and created – based on folklore and the lives of my characters.

Of course, some of the challenges in writing historical fantasy is that the author is faced with writing about an era that they can never actually visit and in the case of THE FAERIE RING, a race (faeries) that are imagined.  But for a fantasy writer – that’s the fun part!

~Kiki Hamilton

http://www.thefaeriering.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today we welcome Leigh Barduo who’s going to tell us all about Tsarpunk, because Tsarpunk is awesome.

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. She indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as a makeup artist. She lives in Hollywood and can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.Her debut novel, Shadow & Bone, is the first book in the Grisha Trilogy and will be published by Holt Children’s/Macmillan in June 2012.

Genre Friction: What is Tsarpunk?

by Leigh Bardugo

We can be frank with one another, yes? We’ve known each other, lo, these many seconds, shared a few vowels. All right then, I’ll give it to you straight: The term “Tsarpunk” started off as a bit of a joke. When I wrote my debut novel, Shadow and Bone, people kept asking me to identify the book’s genre. One glance at the map will tell you that this story isn’t alternate history, but saying “High Fantasy” made people reach for their crossbows. Do Shadow and Bone and Tsarpunk belong anywhere along the Steampunk spectrum? Lia Keyes, founder of the Steampunk Writers and Artists Guild and host of #SteampunkChat (Fridays, 6pm PST, not to be missed!), was kind enough to help me break it down.

Lia Keyes: Shadow and Bone, is a genre-mashing feast being referred to as Tsarpunk, so let’s get right to it: How do you define Tsarpunk and how does it differ from High Fantasy?

Leigh Bardugo: First of all, I would very much like to attend a genre-mashing feast. It sounds delicious and possibly messy.

Second, I always thought of the Grisha Trilogy as High Fantasy or Epic Fantasy. (Please don’t ask me to distinguish between these two things because I’ll start babbling about heroic quests, and word count, and eventually, you’ll just find me in a corner muttering in Elvish.) But I was surprised at how often this was met with resistance and confusion– and occasionally, outright hostility.

Despite the fact that plenty of authors have created secondary worlds built on varied cultural bedrock, most people still associate High Fantasy with Medieval Europe, usually Medieval England. So, for some reason, the Russian influence seems to throw people for a loop. Also, the advance of military technology plays a major role in the series, and when you bring guns into the discussion, all hell breaks loose.

So, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll say that Tsarpunk is fantasy that takes its inspiration from the aesthetics, culture, politics, and social structure of early 19th century Russia.

But the magical system is a bit different from standard High Fantasy, too. Lavie Tidhar of the Internet Review of Science Fiction defines Steampunk as that moment whereby ”technology transcends understanding and becomes, for all intents and purposes, magical.” Can you tell us about the tension between technology and magic in Shadow and Bone?

Keith Thompson's Map of Ravka

I don’t think there’s a science fiction or retro-futurist element at play here. The Grisha practice the Small Science: the manipulation of matter at its most fundamental levels. But they can’t create or animate matter. Inferni can summon combustible gases like methane or hydrogen from the atmosphere, but they still need a flint to create a spark. Similarly Grisha steel or corecloth (similar to modern body armor) isn’t endowed with wizard sparkles. It’s the result of the Fabrikators’ ability to hone a blade at the molecular level and to create modern alloys and polymers through means that to us would appear magical. So maybe there’s a bit of an inversion of Tidhar there?

The Fabrikators are a recognizably Steampunk archetype, much like Makers. What part do they play in the overall storyline?

The Fabrikators get kicked around a bit in Book 1. They’re considered the lowest Grisha Order because they aren’t valued as soldiers in what is essentially a garrison state. But they’ll become more important to the war effort as the books progresses. Keep in mind, too, that one of the defining characteristics of Ravka is the deep gulf in wealth between the aristocracy and the peasant class. An incompetent monarchy is squandering the country’s resources and this includes Grisha power. In Book 2, I introduce a privateer inventor who brings a bit more ingenuity to the table… and some much needed goggles. (They’re functional, promise.)

So the historically uneasy relationship between magic and science is merged in Shadow and Bone, providing a scientific basis for Grisha power, but science isn’t an entirely friendly presence.

Yes, this isn’t a question of magic fading or the old gods dying away. These old gods take a bullet to the brain. Ravka is a country that has failed to industrialize and is being left behind by the modern world. Beyond Ravka’s borders, repeating rifles, more mobile cannon, and the forerunner of the machine gun are being developed. Meanwhile, Ravka is cut off from its ports and harbors by the Shadow Fold. Every weapon and every bit of ammunition is obtained at tremendous risk and usually with heavy casualties. As the Darkling says to Alina early in the story, “The age of Grisha power is ending.”

You also allude to the dangers of trying to push the boundaries of that power.

Merzost is the Ravkan word for both magic and abomination. It looks a lot more like what we traditionally consider magic– creation of matter, animation of the inorganic. It’s considered taboo by the Grisha, but it’s also quite a temptation and, naturally, it carries a terrible price (dire warnings!). Grisha power feeds you; merzost feeds on you. I also touch on this in my short story, “The Witch of Duva.”

In creating the Russian-inspired Ravka, how did you approach research, and how did you decide where to divert from reality in order to create a unique world?

My goal was always to create a fantasy world that used Russia as its cultural touchstone, not to write alternate history. Early on, I was lucky enough to discover Natasha’s Dance by Orlando Figes. It’s a thoughtful, richly detailed cultural history and I recommend it to anyone interested in reading about the real Russia. I collected books like Glants and Toomre’s Food in Russian History, Susan Massie’s Land of the Firebird, The Bathhouse at Midnight by W.F. Ryan, Bowlt’s beautiful work on the art of Moscow and St. Petersberg (which focuses on the early 1900s, but you never know what you’re going to learn where), old atlases, collections of Russian fairytales. Over Facebook, my friend Erdene Ukhaasai helped me negotiate some choices in Russian and Mongolian when building the Ravkan language. (Fun fact: the Grisha combat instructor, Botkin Yul-Erdene is named after her.)

The choices I made were always based on what I felt served the world and the reader’s experience best. But things enter the narrative in funny ways. For instance, after the Napoleonic wars, the aristocracy’s infatuation with all things French fell out of fashion and there was a clamor for the “authentically” Russian. In Shadow and Bone, the Grisha have embraced peasant crafts and culture (down to what they eat for breakfast) in an attempt to distinguish themselves from the aristocracy and to associate themselves with the Ravkan people. Much like Russian noblemen who rusticated in fake hunting lodges, they’ve adopted a kind of theme park version of serf life. For the Grisha, it’s a misguided attempt to seem more populist and to assimilate.

“Assimilate.” Is that a deliberate choice of words? In the #Steampunkchat I hosted, you mentioned that you’re a Russian Jew.

On my mother’s side, way back. On my biological father’s side I’m Sephardic. So, when we weren’t running from pogroms, we were running from the Inquisition. Apparently, I should be much more fit. (Also, my last name is Spanish for “executioner” so I guess we didn’t spend all of our time fleeing.) And yes, I suppose “assimilate” is a deliberate choice. Though the Grisha are an elite, they’re also a group subject to a great deal of prejudice and suspicion. One of the reasons Ravka has survived is because they’re the one nation where Grisha are safe from persecution for their abilities. Elsewhere, they’re burned as witches, experimented on, sold as slaves. To me, this idea of Ravka’s Second Army was a bit like the Jewish scientists who fled Europe and became a kind of braintrust for the United States in World War II.

You said Tsarpunk started out with tongue firmly in cheek. But what’s the verdict now? Do you think of Shadow and Bone as High Fantasy, Steampunk, or something else?

Hell if I know. To be considered a real sub-sub-genre, I think Tsarpunk wouldn’t just be about Russian influence as window-dressing but also about incorporating a distinctly different worldview and spirit. I hope the Grisha Trilogy does that, but I’m not going to be the one to claim it. If the series shares the revolutionary and DIY sensibilities of punk, then that makes me happy. If I get to rub up against the innovation and ingenuity of Steampunk, I’m honored by the association. If Shadow and Bone stays firmly grounded in High Fantasy, I’m good with that, too. As long as no one calls it smooth jazz, we’ll be just fine.

~Leigh Bardugo

Watch the book trailer for Shadow and Bone here.

Download a free excerpt here.

Learn more about the Grisha Trilogy at LeighBardugo.com.

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Today we welcome Theresa Meyers.

Raised by a bibliophile who made the dining room into a library, Theresa has always been a lover of books and stories. First a writer for newspapers, then for national magazines, she started her first novel in high school, eventually enrolling in a Writer’s Digest course and putting the book under the bed until she joined Romance Writers of America in 1993. In 2005 she was selected as one of eleven finalists for the American Title II contest, the American Idol of books. She is married to the first man she ever went on a real date with (to their high school prom), who she knew was hero material when he suffered through having to let her parents drive, and her brother sit between them in the backseat of the car. They currently live in a Victorian house on a mini farm in the Pacific Northwest with their two children, three cats, an old chestnut Arabian gelding, an energetic mini-Aussie shepherd puppy, several rabbits, a dozen chickens and an out-of-control herb garden.

Supernatural Steampunk

by Theresa Meyers

You know we don’t give enough credit to the Victorians for our current love of all things paranormal, but it really was that era that brought creatures of the night out into mainstream society. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to surge of interest in Egyptology (and hence mummies) the 1800s really laid down the foundation for our fascination with monsters.

The Victorians loved the supernatural. It was a period of time where Spiritualism (the contacting of the dead by the living) was rampant, as was fortune telling, and séances. This is when you found stories of fairy sightings being reported in daily newspapers or fictional accounts of airships being seen hovering over the city reported as front page fact (thanks to authors like Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe). This was paired with the newly emerging sciences of cryptobiology, cryptozoology and Egyptology. The blend of fact and fiction, mysticism and science was at it’s zenith.

I suppose that’s part of the reason why I enjoy writing paranormal steampunk romance. I know—a mash up if there ever was one—but it really all does work together. What we consider Frankenstein, hard-core steampunk fans would consider a construct (revivified human body). All I had to do was add in my Jackson brothers, who hunt down Darkin (aka supernatural beings).

In The Legend Chronicles Winchester, Remington and Colt (all named after their father’s favorite guns, naturally) are Hunters in the wilds of the America west. It’s an age of cowboys, rustlers, miners and stage coaches.  But the world is getting smaller too. Telegraphs and airships, the use of electricity and the development of science is all happening and converging during the late 1800s. So while the Jackson brothers may use old-fashioned know how when it comes down to hunting demons, vampires, ghosts or skinwalkers, they often have a few gizmos courtesy of their intrepid inventor friend, Marley Turlock.

Writing paranormal steampunk means I get a chance to play in that Victorian era, when monsters were something fresh, exciting and new to the masses. While my brothers are well-versed in Hunting, average citizens still see these monsters as merely fictional creations by the writers of the day. They don’t know that vampires are real.

Which puts my eldest brother, Winchester, in a tough spot in The Slayer. You see, he’s given up hunting and is trying his best to lead a normal life as sheriff of Bodie, California. But when a vampire contessa arrives, asking for his help to recover a stolen piece of the Book of Legend (the compendium of all Hunter knowledge handed down generation to generation) he can’t really say no. The world depends on him and his brothers recovering the scattered pieces and reuniting the Book to defeat an even bigger threat to our world.

To be perfectly fair, I put all my Jackson brothers in a tight spot, forcing them to rely on gorgeous Darkin (a succubus, a vampiress and a shapeshifting thief) in order to accomplish their goals. What better way to torture a character than to make him fall for the thing he trusts least in the world?

And just like the Victorians, my stories get to be a blend of supernatural and plausible science side by side, with a dash of romance and generous dollop of action and adventure thrown in. I really do believe that our love affair with monsters started with the Victorians. Seriously, can you imagine how Dracula would have looked without the benefit of a great cape? Simply dreadful. It wouldn’t have had nearly the impact if he were in slouching, baggy jeans and a hoodie. The Victorians imparted our impression of monsters with style and grace, flair and excitement. Without them, would our vampires and demons, witches and werewolves still have the same appeal?

For a taste of paranormal mixed with steampunk I suggest you consider going to Steamcon IV (www.steamcon.org) in the Seattle area, Oct. 26-28 (yes, Halloween weekend). Their theme this year is…take a wild guess….Victorian Monsters. Bring your top hat, and your fangs. I can’t wait!

~Theresa Meyers
www.theresameyers.com

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As promised our open-internationally signed book giveaway is up here. Also, don’t forget to enter our gadget contest, which ends April 30.

Today we welcome author Steven Harper.

Steven Harper lives in southeastern Michigan with his sons.  THE DOOMSDAY VAULT, the first novel in the Clockwork Empire series came out in November, 2011 and its sequel THE IMPOSSIBLE CUBE arrives in stores on May 1.

The Speed of Write
by Steven Harper
I’ve written my share of steampunk: three novels, a novella, and a novellette.  I just realized today that when I finish the fourth Clockwork Empire novel, I’ll have written more steampunk than any other genre.

And the process always feels somehow wrong.

See, when I sit down to work on another chapter, I pour myself a tall glass of diet soda, boot up my dual-core processor computer with 2-terrabyte hard drive and flat-screen display, call up a word processing program and a streaming music player, and begin writing.  When I finish a book or story, I create a computer file for my editor and send it off by email.  Later, the same file returns to me with comments in the margin, asking for this change or that.  Later still, I get a PDF of the pages to proofread.  Never do I actually touch pen to paper.  I’ve only actually spoken to my editor once.  All the rest of our interaction has been by email.

This feels just . . . wrong.

Steampunk is (usually) set in the 19th century, and it should be created differently.  I should climb the steps to a drafty garret, slide a creaky chair up to a rolltop desk with a stack of foolscap on it, and pick up a pencil or fountain pen.  I should be wearing tweed and flannel, and a teapot with a leaky spout should perch on a spindly table nearby.

Or maybe I should sit in a comfortable, leather-backed chair in a book-lined study with a roaring fire in the grate while yellow fog presses against the windows and a maid in starched ruffles brings a lunch tray and the afternoon post.  Words are carefully tapped out on a cast-iron typewriter with a crooked M.  Scratchy music from a Victrola complements the hiss of gas lamps.  This version sounds less likely but a lot more fun.

True, I could write by hand.  But the modern world won’t really let me.  The speed of write has changed.

My publisher requires all manuscripts to arrive electronically, not on paper.  And modern bookstores don’t keep novels on the shelves for very long (unless you’re famous), so my publisher fights back by putting books out faster.  This is nice for readers–the next book in the Clockwork Empire is always no more than six months away–but it means I have to work quickly.  Fountain pens and foolscap simply won’t cut it, especially when I can type 80 words per minute.

Ah well.  I do have to admit it’s nice to have total control over the temperature in my office, and that my choice of music helps me stay focused at all times.  It’s easier to correct mistakes on a computer.  And I prefer diet soda over tea.

But in my imagination, I’m still wearing tweed.

–Steven Harper

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