I wrote this for I Read to Relax but I wanted to share it with you all.
Also, don’t forget to join me, Seleste DeLaney, and Cindy Spencer Pape on Friday at 6 pm PST for #steampunkchat on twitter.
Steampunk’s Place in YA’s Future
By Suzanne Lazear
Young Adult books push boundaries. That’s what many teens do, why shouldn’t some books do the same? When someone says “you can’t do that in YA”, much like a teen, it juts out its jaw, meets the challenger’s gaze defiantly, and mutters “watch me.”
Steampunk, by its very definition is respectfully defiant. Its roots in innovation (and rebellion), Steampunk, especially as a written genre, is constantly changing, discovering, seeing if it is possible to go places no Steampunk has gone before.
That’s partially why all of these discussions on what Steampunk isn’t or shouldn’t be irk me. To me, this seems adverse to the very ideals of Steampunk itself. Sure, like all genres, there are establishing parameters, but Steampunk, like YA, is a genre grounded in exploration. Perhaps we should focus more on what Steampunk is. After all, we do that in YA, focusing on all the great and wonderful things the genre is instead of nitpicking and compartmentalizing.
So much about the very nature of Steampunk (rebellion, identity, hope, innovation, adventure) lend itself quite naturally to young adult stories. YA steampunk writers aren’t afraid to stretch the limits, borrowing and mashing up genres until perhaps it’s not even steampunk anymore yet still has that spark and spirit that make steampunk such an attractive genre to writers. My book, INNOCENT DARKNESS, is “fairytale steampunk”, a mashup of faeries, fairytales, and steampunk. Jay Kristoff’s upcoming novel STORMDANCER is set in Japan, and SHADOW AND BONE, by Leigh Bardugo is what she coins “Tsarpunk.”
I foresee Steampunk and Steampunkian tales (or those with Steampunkatude) as becoming a mainstay of YA. Because both genres have similar guiding principles. Because in both genres, when someone says “you can’t do that”, we say “why not?”
Because YA and Steampunk is.
Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens. They have faeries in them. Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, is now out from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.