Life has been a little crazy in my corner of the world, so I thought I’d repost a blast from the past. his was my first post on Steamed! I was a guest for Steamapalooza. A few things have been updated. 🙂
A World of Gaslight and Gadgets
Steampunk, to me, began not as a lifestyle or cosplay, but in fiction. I’d read it, loved it, and couldn’t wait to write it. The freedom the genre offers for an author is limitless. Any technology, any magic, any social commentary you want to use can all be fit into a steampunk world. Then I met some other steampunk folks. Finally, I understood why I’d saved vintage hankies and antique jewelry, loved lacy blouses and sturdy boots. I’d been waiting for steampunk all my life, as well as for all my career in fiction.
In March of 2011 Carina Press launched a book that was very near and dear to my heart. Steam & Sorcery, first book in the brand new Gaslight Chronicles hit the shelf, and it’s been a roller coaster ride of fun ever since. Earning a 4.5 Star Review from Romantic Times and the EPIC award for Science Fiction Romance, it’s been, by far, my most successful book to date. In April of that year, we released a Gaslight Chronicles novella, Photographs and Phantoms, which is a FREE download from all major e-tailers.
Later, a longer novella, Kilts & Kraken, takes the Chronicles to Scotland in June. It will be available in print as part of Carina Press’s second anniversary celebration, in the Editor’s Choice anthology. Next, a second full-length novel, Moonlight & Mechanicals, and for anyone following the series, told Wink and Liam’s story. Ashes and Alchemy is a shorter story, looking a little more at the middle class in my world, and Dragons & Dirigibles is a novella that has a touch of the Gothic in it. The eighth book, Ether & Elephants, will release in autumn 2015.
When I set out to build a world for the Gaslight Chronicles, I knew a few things. I wanted to start early in the steampunk era, and build the technology over the successive books. Therefore in the first, we’re only a decade or so after the introduction of Babbage engines changed the world, and event a lot of traditional SF alternate history also hinges on. Computers, or engines, are still big and bulky and limited. By book 4, you’ll start seeing terminals connected to a larger machine—sort of where we were in the 1980s. Transportation and communications—airships, steam cars and telephones, are also changing, and as the series progresses, the difference from reality and my steampunk world becomes greater. Other aspects of the Victorian world haven’t changed. Dickens’ London is still a dark, bleak place to be poor. The gap between wealthy and poor is still enormous. Women are still forced into wearing corsets and hoops, and being chaperoned wherever they go. By book 3, though, we’re starting to see some changes as the first few classes of women graduate from Lovelace College, a school my fictionalized version of Lady Lovelace established at Oxford for women in the sciences. The air in London has gotten worse due to all the coal smoke, and now those who can afford them wear gasmasks when they walk outdoors. The poor often die of black lung disease.
I knew my first hero, Sir Merrick Hadrian, had to be part of a secret government organization hunting vampyres and other supernatural threats to the Crown and its people. The exact structure of that organization was one of the biggest hang-ups to writing the book. It was my husband who said, “Well if it’s in England, the logical group for paranormal enforcement is the Order of the Round Table.” Then it clicked and the entire series came together. I’d already used several names in the book that traced back to the original Knights. The MacKay family is obviously derived from Sir Kay. The Lakes? From Lancelot, of course. Devere from Bedivere. The Round Table mythos snapped into place and a series was born. George the mechanical mastiff quickly emerged as a fan-favorite character and makes at least a cameo appearance in each of the books.
As the series has continued, I’ve become more and more lost in the world of alternate history romance. I have a couple projects underway for other publishers, set in different worlds, but I think my first love in steampunk will always be a book I originally called “Mary Poppins meets Van Helsing—with robots.”
The Gaslight Chronicles are available in e-book format from Carina Press and all the major e-tailers, and in audio book from audible.com. If you’d like a risk-free taste of my Gaslight world, don’t forget Phantoms & Photographs is available for free. Book 1: Steam & Sorcery, is also available in print, exclusively from Amazon.com.
As an amusing postscript, I was signing at a local steampunk event this weekend and a young woman came up to me. “I didn’t know there were steampunk books now,” she said. “I thought it was just a fashion movement.” Headdesk. Somewhere, William Gibson is sobbing.