Today we welcome back author Seleste deLaney. One lucky commenter will receive a digital copy of Badlands as well as the opportunity (if they wish) to have one of the Badlands warriors named after them in a future story. Contest ends April 15, 2012.
Seleste deLaney never lost her love of the fantastic, and her stories now always reach into other realms. The worlds and people she creates occupy as much of her time as the real world, and she is most fortunate to have a family that understands her idiosyncrasies and loves her anyway. Visit her website at http://selestedelaney.com/
Fashion in a Time of Steam
by Seleste deLaney
When I created the world of Badlands, I wanted four very definite regions: the Union, the Confederacy, Texas, and (of course) the Badlands. Along with their different social attitudes—about pretty much everything—I came to realize that each place would have different ideas about clothing.
Ever was easy. The Badlands is a place where life revolves around the necessary. Ideas like “decency” and “propriety” don’t mean a lot when you’re a woman dealing with violent criminals on a daily basis. Clothes for Ever are more for protection than fashion, which is one reason she viewed her dress uniform with such disdain. It was so fitted she couldn’t fight in it effectively and, in that scenario, fighting without “armor” became preferable. It’s an attitude women from the Badlands, including the Queen, share and respect.
Aboard the Dark Hawk, however, there were two other women. As a former slave, Mahala didn’t care about a little bare skin one way or the other. To her, clothing was a sign of choice, and choice was a sign of freedom. Though she grew up in the Confederacy around women of status who dressed like traditional southern belles, her tastes skewed in a different direction. She loved and appreciated having the right and the means to purchase her own clothes, but she wanted very badly to leave her past behind her, so she disdained anything that would make her feel “like a lady.” Frilly clothes and the accessories that go with them were things slave-owners wore. So Mahala chose utility in the form of fitted breeches and men’s style shirts in bolder colors than she would have been allowed in her past life.
One womann, however, clung to her past life desperately. Out of the Dark Hawk’s crew, Henrietta was the only one to really balk at Ever’s state of undress when she came aboard (and that included the men). Born to Philadelphia society, Henri was raised to be both a scientist and a lady. The traditional steampunk garb of corsets and bustles became something that were a part of her because of that history. Even rushing around to deal with crew injuries, she made sure to always present herself in such a way that she would feel equally comfortable walking into the halls of Congress to visit her father. For her, those articles of clothing were her nod to propriety on the Dark Hawk, they were the thing that linked her to the life she left behind.
For those of you who have read Badlands, you know I like to challenge the way in which my female characters view themselves. Ever had to accept certain conditions in order to fulfill her mission—one of them being clothes—just as Henrietta had to accept that sometimes clothes and a veil of propriety are nothing more than masks.
Discussion point: When reading steampunk, do you require the bustles, corsets, vests, and pocket watches, or does the lack of them make you look for the reason behind their absence?
One commenter will receive a digital copy of Badlands as well as the opportunity (if they wish) to have one of the Badlands warriors named after them in a future story.
After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation’s border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.
Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen’s assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever’s reluctant ally.
As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn’t find them first…
You can read an excerpt here: http://selestedelaney.com/Seleste_DeLaney/Stories/Entries/2011/2/28_Badlands.html