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Archive for April, 2013

Dawn Donati

Dawn Donati

As I stand on the  deck of the airship, I welcome Steampunk Stained Glass Artist, Dawn Donati. With an animated wave, she hikes up her stunning gold skirt then fluidly  leaps over the gap between the dock and airship.

“You’re just in time for tea.” I show her into the parlor where she eases onto the cushioned settee with the claw feet as I sink into the armchair across from her. “I can’t wait to see your unique and gorgeous Stained Glass art. So much work and thought goes into creating glass art.  Please take us thorough the process. Give us an idea of the different elements, tools, skill and creativity involved.”

The engine purrs and the china teacups on the coffee table rattle as the airship begins lift off. Speaking over the noise, Dawn answers,”Choosing the texture to provoke thought and the right color to suggest emotion is where I start. I look upon all the found objects I have collected: copper tubing, brass buttons, metal findings, industrial pieces of machines, old clocks I have taken apart, anything I can solder and apply to my stained glass as a sculpture.”

I grab the armrests of my chair as the airship gains altitude. “Your art is so beautiful but I know  glass is a difficult and challenging medium to work in. What drew you to the art of stained glass?”

Now that the tea cups cease rattling, Dawn leans toward the coffee table and lifting the blue willow tea pot, she pours a cup of steaming tea. “The translucency of glass, the fact that it is a liquid and solid all at the same time and the history of stained glass, the story it tells.” Dawn holds her teacup up and smiles. “A stained glass  window in the morning light with your cup of tea looks different at dinner time. That is what draws me to stained glass.”

“How intriguing.” I brim my teacup full and take a dainty sip. “What are the biggest challenges in working with stained glass?”

Dawn reaches her slender fingers between the plate of sliced lemons and the spouted creamer of milk to the sugar bowl. Picking up a white cube, she plunks it into her tea “The biggest challenge working in the medium of glass is heat fractures creating three dimensional sculptures, as in boxes, can pose difficult. The end result is worth it. Quite a few of my boxes have moving parts: airship propellers that spin, gears that engage and have a function. Maintaining the integrity of the found object while making it function and remain secure is a standard I strive for when creating my art.”

I take a sip of my earl grey. “And you do that so well.  Your three dimensional sculptures, your stained glass boxes, are incredible. What do you like about the box form?”

Dawn sets her cup on its saucer with a soft clink. “I like to think of my boxes as functional pieces of conversational art. Yes, some can be used as a jewelry box, however I also see them as a centerpiece on a table to spark an engaging discussion. Take the beauty and fascination of stained glass off the window and bring it into your hand.”

“How marvelous. Truly, they are not only boxes but art sculptures. They could certainly spark the premise for a story. Imagine in a fiction tale, what incredibly special object or message might they contain.” I set my cup in its saucer on the mahogany coffee table. “You must have been working with art for a long time. At what age did you realize you wanted to be an artist?”

“I have traveled all over working art fairs, helping vendors. At 14 I was gifted to see metal smithing and pottery done out in the open in the forest  at week long events.  I fell in love with the traveling artists and their craft.”

“It’s so wonderful to hear how childhood experinces at art and craft fairs helped shape you into this amazing artist.” I glance at the coffee table at the sound of rattling and clinking. “I see the teacups are shaking. I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for one last question. How did your first become interested in Steampunk?”

Dawn grasps hold of the arm of the settee, bracing for the shaky landing. “Along my travels, some of the vending I did was in Victorian reenactment. I am well versed in the clothing aspect.  Steampunk was a natural progression for me. What intrigues me is the inventions, the people who create them and the stories they tell. The community, the ingenuity and historical knowledge of the artists is just delightful.

I have noticed the steampunk movement is growing I see it all over in art, clothing, movies. It’s fun to see peoples interpretation of what steampunk is. Or maybe I’m just so immersed myself such a hopeless romantic for the opulence of this movement there is no saving me.

For my next endeavor, I want to bring stained glass into steampunk as a noticed art form.   How Victorian is stained glass. Take steamed powered concepts, add a splash of industrial machinery, a dash of filigree embellishment and there you have  steampunk stained glass…. well that is what my minds eye would like to see.  I am working on my kaleidoscope and a signature piece.”

“I can’t wait to see them.” But for now the airship Steamed has landed so I must way farewell to Dawn. But you can visit her anytime. Here are her calling cards: Esty Shop, Webstite Facebook

Maeve Alpin is the author of four Steampunk/Romances: To Love A London Ghost, Conquistadors In Outer Space, As Timeless As Stone, and As Timeless As Magic.

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Today is the final day of Steampunkapalloza. Thank you so much for helping us celebrate Steamed’s 4th birthday.  I can’t believe we’ve been running this for FOUR years–and we couldn’t do it without you.

Today I have a very special post, an interview with James Blaylock, one of the founding fathers of Steampunk.  His new steampunk release The Aylesford Skull is available from Titan Books as both a trade paperback and as a special, signed, first edition.

The great folks at Titan have given me a copy of The Aylesford Skull for one of you!!! One lucky person will win! (see below for details.)
Suzanne: Welcome to Steamed! Can you tell us what the story of your recent release is about?

Ayelsford Skull Main 2_1.jpg.size-230James Blaylock: That’s a tough question, because the novel is full of plot turns, and I don’t want to give too much away.  Even the jacket copy is a spoiler, to some extent.  The main character, Professor Langdon St. Ives (featured in other novels, novellas, and stories that I’ve written over the past 35 years) has semi-retired from adventuring and is a gentleman farmer, growing hops in Aylesford, Kent.  Loathsome crimes occur in the area, however, and he begins to suspect that his old nemesis, Doctor Narbondo, is up to no good.  His new, comfortable life very shortly flies to pieces, and he and a cast of characters become embroiled in personal and world-threatening conflicts involving river pirates, dirigibles, grave robbery, magically altered skulls, kidnappings, swamps, Neolithic coal, paranormal chicanery, and so forth – heaps of things that the reader has been anxiously awaiting without, perhaps, being aware of it.

S: Where did you get the ideas for this story?

JB: I do a lot of research when I’m writing Steampunk, and I find myself abruptly influenced by odds and ends of things that I discover in the moment and that I knew nothing at all about two minutes earlier.  I’m also continually influenced by the books that lie around on my desk, and that I read over and over again for the pleasure of it.  I’m a fan, for instance, of the novels and stories of Patrick O’Brian and for the short stories of James Norman Hall in the collection titled Dr. Dogbody’s Leg.  I tend to reread The Pickwick Papers and whatever volume of Sherlock Holmes stories is closest at hand.  All these books are close at hand, in fact, in the “favorite books” bookshelves over the desk.  It’s often been the case that I run across throwaway ideas in the things that I read for pleasure: a mention of this or that, or a brief bit of intriguing setting detail.  When that happens, sometimes something useful will come into my mind, which I immediately clutch with both hands and hold onto.  Also, I’m crazy about old reference books that contain fascinating information that’s long out of fashion, one of my favorites being Wonders of the Universe, a Record of Things Wonderful and Marvelous in Nature, Science and Art (which has a very convincing chapter on plesiosaur sightings).  That one piqued my interest in Japanese magic mirrors, which set off a train of strange notions in my mind, resulting in the skull lamps featured in The Aylesford Skull.

S: This is the next in a series, right? How did this series come to be?

JB: That’s a moderately long tale that goes back to 1977, when I wrote a short story titled “The Ape-box Affair” and sold it to Unearth magazine.  That was my second sale as a fledgling professional writer, and it became the first Steampunk story published in the U.S.  (Actually, K.W. Jeter and Tim Powers and I were all writing that sort of stuff in our own ways, but I lucked into print first.) I was on a Robert Louis Stevenson binge at the time and had recently read The New Arabian Nights and The Dynamiter, and it came into my mind to write a wrong-box story – several similar boxes abroad in London that get mixed up.  I was also crazy for P.G. Wodehouse, and my head was full of the sound of his prose and the voices of his goofy characters.  I had no idea at the time, but the characters I created in “The Ape-box Affair” would keep surfacing often enough in the following years that very soon they became series characters.  They’re more fully drawn now and far more active than they ever were in the past.

S: You’re one of the “founding fathers’ of Steampunk, can you tell us a little about how Steampunk came to be?

JB: K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers, and I were friends (still are) in the 1970s.  After we graduated from the university, we were young enough and idle enough to have time to hang around with each other during the day.  We were all new writers at the time.  I had published my first short story, and Tim and K.W. had sold novels.  I was enthusiastically working on an impossible novel, which I would figure out how to write several years later as The Digging Leviathan.  All of us were big on Victorian literature.  K.W., who had a degree (I seem to remember) in sociology, had read Henry Mayhew’s brilliant London Labour and the London Poor, and was regaling us with wild accounts of treasures and feral pigs in the London sewers and that sort of thing.  Tim was researching and writing the novel that would become The Drawing of the Dark, and K.W. was writing Morlock Night.  Much of our “research” went on at O’Hara’s Pub in downtown Orange, California, where I lived at the time and still do.  (I mean I live in Orange, not at O’Hara’s Pub.)  K.W. and Tim were living in a bohemian sort of neighborhood  in nearby Santa Ana, where Phil Dick was living at the time.  None of us had the idea of writing any particular sort of thing at all.  It simply seemed right and natural to set a story where the story seemed to want to be set, and all-things-Victorian were on our minds.  It was nearly a decade after “The Ape-Box Affair” and Morlock Night were published that K.W. would coin the term Steampunk, which abruptly gave shape to the whole thing.  Up until then we had no idea that these novels and stories formed any sort of science fiction subgenre.  We weren’t trying to achieve anything much beyond publishing stories and novels.  We might as easily have been writing pirate fantasies (which would come later for me, unsuccessfully, and for Powers, successfully) or vegetarian thrillers or protozoan stories like Twain’s “The Great Dark,” which I was also fond of at the time.  We might easily be Piratepunks or Vegetarianpunks or Pondwaterpunks now.

S: How have you seen Steampunk evolve from when you first started writing to now?

JB: It certainly has changed, largely by growth and the odd and interesting business of its having affected pretty much all the arts by now.  Whatever literary tastes a reader might have, he or she can find Steampunk examples of that thing in growing abundance.  As for my own writing, however, I’m doing the same thing today that I did 35 years ago when I wrote “The Ape-box Affair.”  If the writing has evolved, it has evolved in the sense that I’m a better writer now.  I bring 35 years worth of stuff to my writing that I couldn’t bring to it back then.  My ear for the language is better, I do more adequate research, I work harder to get rid of anachronism, etc.

S: Are you a plotter or a pantster? Can you tell us a little about your writing style/schedule?

JB: I’m an inveterate outliner, actually: I’m very nervous about promising a story or a novel to a publisher without having a fairly clear idea of what it will entail.  Over the years I’ve sold most of my books after showing the outlines to editors, and that was the case with The Aylesford Skull, my first novel to be published by Titan Books.  I was happy to provide evidence that I actually had a story to tell, and that Titan could safely advance money to me.  That being said, I’ve always hidden the outlines away in the drawer once I’ve finished them, and most of what develops in the novel is purely organic.  My best ideas come into my mind during the writing, when I’m not actively looking for them.  The outline abdicates once the writing starts, because if the outline is on my mind, then fresh ideas have a harder time finding their way in.  I wish I had a writing schedule, actually.  Currently I teach full time at Chapman University, and I also direct the Creative Writing Conservatory at the Orange County School of the Arts (where Tim Powers teaches poetry and novel writing).  So during the school year you can find me frantically driving around town, eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch while flying from one place to another.  I’m up at 5 a.m. and often put in 12-hour days, but there’s no time to write during most of them.  So I grab time during vacations and over the summer.  When I’m up against it, my weekends disappear into whatever I’m writing, and I take reference books and etc. along on vacations.  Like most writers, sitting down to write is a frustratingly wasted effort unless I have a several-hour block of time in a moderately quiet house – enough time to read something relevant for half an hour first to compose my mind.  The Aylesford Skull took two years to write.

S: What’s next? Can you share anything with us about any new projects (in any genre)?

JB: I’ve just turned in another Steampunk novel to Subterranean Press – a short novel that’s a companion to my two previous Sub Press productions: The Ebb Tide and The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs.  This new one is titled The Adventure of the Ring of Stones.  I’d chat about it here, but in many ways it beggars description.  I’m also working up a new novel for Titan Books, which (I’m fairly sure) will tie up a loose end in The Aylesford Skull, although the tying up is only a very small fraction of what the novel will be.  Also, a few months back I published a young adult novel titled Zeuglodon, the True Adventures of Kathleen Perkins, Cryptozoologist, and I’ve got the plot for a followup adventure in my mind.  That book really wants to be written.  In short, I’ve got too many writing projects vying for my time.

S: Anything else you want to tell everyone?

JB: Only that readers are my favorite people, and that if they read my books, I hope they enjoy them.  Also, and maybe more vitally, I read recently that a meteor is going to take out the earth in another 25 years.  It’s hurtling toward us as we speak, giving us the glad eye.  So whatever you really want to do, don’t put it off.

–Cheers, Jim Blaylock

http://jamespblaylock.com/

James Paul Blaylock  is noted for a distinctive, humorous style, as well as being one of the pioneers of the steampunk genre. Despite his close association with Steampunk, most of his work is contemporary, realistic fantasy set in southern California, typified by books like The Last Coin, The Rainy Season, and Knights of the Cornerstone. When he’s not teaching or writing, Jim spends his time going to the beach, gardening, working on the family home in Orange, California, traveling, and building sets for local community theaters.

 

To win The Aylesford Skull just leave a comment below. Open internationally. Contest closes May 7, 2013 at 11:59 pm PST. 

 

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out not, CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. Vist www.aetherchronicles.com for more info.

 

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As a contributing author in Shanghai Steam & the Steamfunk! Anthology, Ray Dean enjoys writing about many different cultures. Steampunk speaks to her in a retroactive futurism that opens so many possibilities. Her blog, My Ethereality (http://raydean.net), explores history, culture, war and love in eras and countries that influence the Steampunk world.

The Pacific Commercial Observer 
29 April, 18–
by Ray Dean

advertIt has come to this humble reporter’s attention that a rash of attacks perpetrated on women touring seaside locales has not given rise to widespread panic. The reason? A simple cure created by the world renowned chemist, Dr. Oh!

“I truly had no idea why such a thing was even needed,” heiress Wilhemina Chatsworth informed us as she lounged in the sitting room of her rented flat. Her feet pillowed on a richly brocaded ottoman, Miss Chatsworth made some mention of her injury. “I am able to move about on my own,” she assured me, “most likely I would have suffered a much greater injury had my most able companion not leapt to my defense.”

At such time, she did indicate the woman standing a few feet away. Dressed in a sensible day dress of woolens, the woman of indeterminate age and unremarkable looks stepped forward.

When asked for her name, the woman demurred, insisting that her actions were nothing out of the normal. That any other person, armed with Dr. Oh’s Octopodiform Deterrent, would be able to protect someone in their acquaintance from such an attack.

The atomizer, she explained, was one that contained an ample supply of the deterrent. Displaying the conveniently sized bottle, one that we are assured fits easily into a moderately sized reticule, she demonstrated how easy it was to use.

London Weekly Record
21 June, 18–

The shores of Lyme are known for their dark beauty and wild waves. Many flock to the town to experience the majesty of the ocean, but a sinister shadow now lies beneath the waves. A shadow with eight appendages has terrorized both visitors and denizens alike.

While many pressed for an increase of police at the water’s edge, the local constabulary asked that any visits to the Cobb be postponed until the danger had abated. On any given day, nearly a score of visitors could be found treading the slick stones beside the water.

One such visitor, a young woman by the name of Philomena Prentiss, was nearly dragged into the sea by the fearsome shadow.

As a few visitors raised the alarm and called for assistance, Miss Prentiss watched in horror as a second tentacle snaked out of the waves and wrapped around her wrist.

A gentleman nearby, who asked to remain nameless, gave the young woman great praise for her quick thinking and quicker hands.

“Even with the unwelcome attention of the mysterious beast, the young lady was able to loosen the strings of her purse and from its dainty confines withdraw a smart-looking bottle. One spritz and the creature rushed out to sea before the tides!”

When Miss Prentiss divulged where she had purchased the bottle of Dr. Oh’s Octopodiform Deterrent, the shopkeeper was soon sold out of the miraculous product and planning on ordering a number of cases for his stock.

ETSY listing –
http://www.etsy.com/listing/67383459/steampunk-advertisement-11-x-14-inch-art

~Ray Dean

http://raydean.net

 

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Veronique Chevalier, aka The “Weird Val” of Dark Cabaret, is a woman of many hats. Literally, as well as figuratively. She’s an Entertainer/MC/Panelist who’s plied her trade at Steampunk & Comic Book events the width and breadth of the US. A self-proclaimed “Mad Sonictist”, she’s gained notoriety for her parodies on the theme of Steam, & she roguishly appropriates the tune-age of everyone from The Beatles to Thomas Dolby. MAD Veronique also holds the dubious distinction of originating Gothic Polka, with her recording “Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation” which was an Official Selection on the 51st Annual Grammy Ballot. She shall soon be releasing a volume of steampunk haiku, with full-color illustrations by Walter Sickert; and she was also the 2012 Recipient of The Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Award for “Best Dressed Female Steampunk”. Visit Veronique’s Website at http://WeirdVal.com

 

Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue
by Veronique Chevalier

gearheartsErotica, just as any other human creative endeavour, is in the eye of the beholder. Fortunately, for those of us who prefer to let the organ between our eyes fill in the blanks for us, there is Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue.

Published by comic book company Antarctic Press, this quarterly photo pin-up mag features compelling images of steampunk-attired ladies (and in Issue #5, gents only). Also, featured are book, music & film reviews; interviews; illustration; and various forms of literary expression. Many of the models are contributors to the content, rather than being relegated to being merely ornamental.

Some of the noteworthy array of steampunks, who have been featured between the covers of the various issues thus far, are authors O.M. Grey, & Gail Carriger; illustrator Brian Kesinger; cosplayer/personality John F. Strangeway, aka “Steampunk Boba Fett”, and Yours Truly (pictured here, on the cover of Issue #6).

Editor Guy Brownlee and his staff are to be commended, especially Patricia Ash, who is a most adept pen-slinger, indeed.

Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue is available at most comic book emporiums across North America, and may also be purchased online, directly from the publisher thus:
http://www.antarctic-press.com/html/version_01/store.php?id=Gearhearts You may also go to the main page of their online store, scroll down to where all the titles are divided up by creator, and find it under “Guy Brownlee, Tim Collier” or just search the text string “Gearhearts” on the page. They still have copies of all issues, including #1, available!

~Veronique
http://WeirdVal.com

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Imagine 
by Kassy Tayler
ashes_coverImagine what would happen if a comet came to close to earth in the mid 1800’s.  Astronomers saw it coming and knew it would lead to the ultimate destruction of everything in its path.  Who would the world chose to save?  And how would they save them?
In Ashes Of Twilight a group of scientists in England built a dome on the coast of Wales to save the royal family, along with the peerage of that time.  How did they survive in the dome when the world burned?  By the power of steam.
My heroine, Wren MacAvoy mines the coal that keeps the dome alive.  But after 200 years the society within has become stagnant and the mines are running out of coal.  Imagine living out your life in a place where there is no option beyond what you are destined to do because of where you are born.  The royals stay royals and the workers stay workers.  There is no chance for advancement and no option to do anything else.  Wouldn’t you want to escape that?

shadowsofglasscover

Writing about a world that was changed 200 years ago was a challenge but it was also a joy to stretch my imagination.  How did people survive inside a dome?  There had to be fans to keep the air cool, but there also had to be a system in place to feed them.  Gardens were placed on rooftops to grow fruits and vegetables.  Animals lived out their lives in tiny pens.  And underground, where Wren and the “shiners” lived, they figured out a way to have power from waterwheels because having a fire in the mines is dangerous due to the buildup of methane gas.

Ashes Of Twilight is a story about Wren’s start of a revolution and eventual escape from the dome.  But it comes at a steep price and just because she accomplished her goal does not mean that life will be easy.
So what about life outside the dome?  In the second book in the series, Shadows Of Glass, there are airships when a group of explorers from America arrive.  But there is also the different geography of the world.  Continents have changed due to the melting of the polar ice caps.  The world is renewed with new growth after the fires.  But it is also a savage place and the people who were once sheltered inside the dome have to learn how to survive in it.
remnants_of_tomorrowWriting Steampunk isn’t so much about the gadgets.  It is about a world where technology stayed on one track instead of taking a turn with the invention of the light bulb.  (Imagine if Edison had not been born). It’s about people who think this is the norm, and their lives, struggles, losses and victories.  Steam is as normal to them as cars and planes and cell phones are to us.
Luckily, we live in a world where invention of new and better things is the norm.  For Wren, invention and change was frowned upon.  So she fought for something better.
I hope you enjoy Ashes Of Twilight.  Comment and I will give away an ARC of the sequel, Shadows of Glass, coming July 23 to one lucky poster.  Be sure to look for the conclusion, Remnants of Tomorrow.
~Kassy

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Jared Axelrod is an author, an illustrator, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that he’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it. He is a founding member of the daily flash-fiction website 365 TOMORROWS, and the writer and producer of two science-fiction podcasts, “The Voice Of Free Planet X” and the serial “Aliens You Will Meet.”

 

I Prefer My Steam Punked

by Jared Axelrod

battle-bloodink-coverAshe, the protagonist on my graphic novel THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK is young, angry and poor. She spends half the book homeless. She spends the entirety of it trying to bring down an unjust government. Like the punk musicians and journalists of the last quarter of the 20th Century, Ashe believes in the power of violent speech to change the culture. She’s going to be heard, even if that means speaking with the volume and power of an explosion.

Ashe is a punk, or in the parlance of her world, a clouddog. She’s the rabble the upper crust dismisses, and her journey to be heard is the main thrust of the book.

Steampunk exists in a weird place. There is a lot to recommend it. The outfits are sexy, the DIY underpinning is marvelous, and the 19th  Century itself was a time of exploration and discovery the world over. All of this makes for a fantastic fictional setting. But it also takes an overwhelming amount of inspiration from an increasingly narrow cultural conceit. The use of “Victorian” and “Edwardian” to describe steampunk is especially problematic. Not only because countries other than Great Brittan  had a 19th century, but because tying the genre to white European royalty is exclusionary on both a racial and class level. I’m sure people who refer to steampunk as “Victorian Science-Fiction,” don’t mean to exclude people, but sadly the language does it for them.

B+I-001-largeI often wonder, though, if perhaps the biggest issue is that the exclusionary element IS part of the appeal of steampunk. I’m not saying that people get into steampunk because they want to be exclusionary. But it’s easy to fall into a focus on the upper class, and allow the dress and mannerisms of a wealthy Victorian to be celebrated. Even the scientists and explorer characters fit with in this umbrella, as those were the occupations of people of privilege.

This is understandable. Who doesn’t want to be part of a ruling class, even if only for afternoon? Or in time it takes to read a novel or short story? There’s no fun in dying of cholera, either, the end result of many a 19th century rabble rouser.

B+I-002-003

But  there is so much to mine beyond wealthy Brits sipping tea and wielding rayguns. There’s one hundred years of history full of punk concepts! Things like cholera riots, gold rushes, suffrage  wars abroad and at home, and the fight for the right of entire subsets of humanity to be treated as people. The status quo was challenged often in the 19th century, and often violently, and those challenges gave us the world we live in today.

B+I-009-large

Ashe’s flying city home of Amperstam is a fantastical place, set above a fantasy world. But within it is the grit and grime of police brutality, child-labor, kidnapping, torture, assassinations and everything else that kept an Industrial-Age city alive. And she’s fighting against, the only way she knows how. By making sure she’s heard.

I got a brand-spanking new paperback copy of THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK. Leave a comment with your favorite punk character in steampunk fiction, and I’ll pick on at random and send you a copy!

 –Jared

http://www.fablesoftheflyingcity.com/

http://www.jaredaxelrod.com

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Caitlin Kittredge writes both YA and adult books including The Iron Codex series. She is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. Visit her website at www.caitlinkittredge.com to learn more.

 

The Finish Line

by Caitlin Kittredge

itcoversmallI read a lot about starting a steampunk story—how to worldbuild, how to create compelling characters, how to mix up timelines and history to make a unique, compelling universe—but I don’t see much about endings.

The last book in my Iron Codex trilogy was released in February  and while I’m sad to have the journey end—as any writer would be—I never intended the series to be more than three books. I always had an end in mind, a destination for the journey. I don’t think that’s necessary—some of the best writers I know start with no end in sight and figure it out as they go. But I knew these characters and their world had a single story to tell, and then I’d exit gracefully.

ngcoversmallYet, as I drew to the end of writing The Mirrored Shard, I found myself leaving little things open. Aoife, Dean and Cal get their endings—some happy, some not so happy—and the plot that carried me for three books wrapped up, but I left more ends open than I anticipated. Was I just being wistful? Maybe. But I think it’s a sign that maybe I didn’t say quite all I had to say about the world of the Iron Codex. Maybe there’s a short story, or a novella in my future. I can’t say!

I like little openings for future stories scattered here and there in the natural arc of the story I’m actually telling. I don’t like ambiguous endings. I blame a childhood of serial stories, mostly in comic book form, that led me to be the sort of writer who has to leave a few trails of breadcrumbs here and there for alternate storylines.

The Mirrored ShardI tried to strike a good balance in Mirrored Shard—all the major threads ending where I’d always intended them to. But there’s still one large element left without resolution at the end of Mirrored Shard, and that’s absolutely on purpose. In another time, with another set of characters, this could absolutely be its own series. I’ve only ended one series before the Iron Codex, and since those stories were serial, not really connected, it was very different. The heroine got her ending, the plot wrapped up, and everyone could pretty much go home happy (except the bad guys, of course.) This time, I like to think I was smarter, and left myself with another story to tell, a small door left open to sneak back into this world I’ve devoted close to half a decade to writing in, imagining, dreaming about.

Like I said, maybe I’m just wistful. I love steampunk and Victoriana, so I know I’m definitely nostalgic!  But maybe in the future I’ll get another chance to go back to the start with a new set of characters and revisit Aoife’s world, explore that last thread left loose. Loose threads, after all, beg to be pulled and they exist in all of my favorite books. Tantalizing possibilities that, once explored, can lead to brave new worlds of their own.

~Caitlin

http://www.caitlinkittredge.com/

 

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