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Archive for the ‘Guest Thursday’ Category

Today we welcome a special guest Doctor Q of the Artifice Club.

Doctor Q is the co-founder of the Artifice Club, Media Editor of the Steampunk Chronicle, DJ, Writer, and Track Director of the Alternate History Track at Dragon*Con.  When not spinning tunes, planning shows, reading comics, and enjoying all the many facets steampunk has to offer all, he is hard at work in planning, scheming, and rarely slowing down.  He lives in Decatur, Georgia, with his lab partner and Burlesque Star Talloolah Love and their four-legged kids.

Welcome to Steamed! Would you please introduce yourself?

DQ: Hello, gentle readers, I am Doctor Q. I dabble in many things, but am likely most known for my skills behind a turntable as a DJ or also behind a microphone as a producer and event organizer for the steampunk community in the southeast. I am the Media Editor for Steampunk Chronicle, Director of the Alternate History Track for Dragon*Con, and Co-Founder of The Artifice Club.

Oh, Dragon*C0n! I hope to attend that one day. So, can you tell us a little about your work and how you got into it?

DQ: I put together shows, perform in others, and also edit and help get content up on an online paper. But of all I do, I love being part of the scene in general and am happy to be part of it in any form or fashion. I got started via my lovely better half and co-Founder, the talented Talloolah Love. In 2008, she wanted to do a Clockwork Doll number and her requirement was I get on stage with her to introduce the act, as I had loved steampunk since before there was a word for it and simply stalked it from afar. So she pushed me onto the stage and provides the inspiration for almost all of our Artifice Club shows.

Since then, I’ve been part of a number of fantastic teams. I’ve helped a number of conventions, and the fantastic folks in the Club have put on some incredible events for the past two years.

The clockwork doll number sounds amazing.  Who or what are your biggest influences?

DQ: First and foremost, Emmett Davenport. She runs the Clockwork Cabaret radio show and podcast is among the coolest gals I know. Her Clockwork Ball events were what inspired us to start the Club. Her radio show also inspired my own growing taste in music.

As a DJ, in addition to Emmett, I’m also inspired by DJ Fact.50 (aka Josh of Vernian Process), as well as DJs like Earworm, Dean Gray, and some of the talented Electro-Swing DJs across the pond like Parov Stelar and Max Pashm.  And last but not least, some of my other favorites include DJs Vourteque, Tommy Toony, Spider, and Swivel.

What’s one thing you know now you wish you would have known when you started?

DQ: That’s a tricky question. I have been fortunate enough to be around a great group of creative, amazing people. It’s been success after success, and so I really have no complaints, regrets, or worries. I knew going into this scene that it would have all this creativity and my hope was that it had open, supportive, and kind people to help promote the scene as a whole. And overall, I have been right at almost every turn. I like being constantly surprised with how big this whole scene has become and how it continues to grow, so I suppose I’d really wouldn’t have done things any differently.

That’s really great. Can you tell us about your latest project?

I’ve got two projects coming down the pipeline. First is Fascination – an electro-swing night here in Atlanta I’m trying to get off the ground. I’m a huge fan of the scene they have there in Europe and the UK and thought that my city would love it as much as I do, so I hope it’ll be success. I’ve got a classic swing DJ, DJ Moose, along with fellow electro-swing DJ Vourteque alongside me, plus burlesque acts between sets from Lola Le Solei, Fonda Lingue, and Ursula Undress should make it quite a night!

The other wild night is the end of the year bash from the Artifice Club – The Imperial Secret Society Speakeasy! With The Emperor of the Red Fork Empire as our MC, music from `Till Someone Loses and Eye, The David Tyberg Trio, and Christ, Lord, and topping it off with burlesque from Talloolah Love, featuring acts from Lola Le Solei, Fonda Lingue, and Chicago’s own Peal Pistol. It’s going to be a helluva night.

Wow, that sounds fun. I wish I lived closer. Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Sure thing. No matter where you are, just because you’re not in the southeast doesn’t mean you can’t join the Club. The Artifice Club is an organization for all artists, makers, costumers, performers, and those patrons who enjoy being immersed in such creativity. We are even starting up new chapterhouses outside of Atlanta. Do you not have a scene in your city yet? Well we’d be happy to offer up our lessons learned and walk you through having your own Artifice Club event near you. Happy to share, just drop us a line!

That’s a great idea. Where can our readers find out more about you?

Feel free to follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDoctorQ

I post my set lists there, as well shout out on upcoming gigs, talk about music and such, and more. If Liking Pages aren’t your thing I also have a personal page, but I’m all over the map on that one.

Or you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DJDoctor_Q

I kind of ramble all over the place on twitter when I’m actually on it, which sadly is touch and go – but it is my favorite of the social networks.

Or you can also become a Fan of the Artifice Club on Facebook (or join our Group), Twitter, or tumblr.

–Doctor Q

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Today we welcome Edrie from the Army of Broken Toys!

Raised on a farm in North Dakota, Edrie never thought her Lawrence Welk accordion skills would come in handy. Now from heifers to the Hynes Convention Center and everywhere in between; follow Edrie as she tells you about her life and her Army of Broken Toys.

Steampunk Theatre

by Edrie

For the past couple of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in the making of a steampunk theatre piece with my band Walter Sickert & The ARmy of BRoken TOys. The piece started out as a SteamCRUNK radio play called “28 Seeds: The Last Radio Show” created for the RPM Challenge (if you are at all into AWESOME music – you should check RPM out!) which you can listen to for free on our Bandcamp page.  After hearing the radio play – a Boston based experimental theatre company Liars & Believers convinced us to go in on a huge experiment with them – bringing 28 Seeds to the stage, steampunk style!

After a year of script writing by a very talented writer (and our band’s Mandolin and Mustache) Meff and collaboration, and work-shopping and previews and begging for money  – we premiered the play on 4/20/12 at the Boston Center for the Arts . There were accolades, and a behind the scenes video, and we generally sold out each of the 16 performances to a very appreciative crowd, but what, my dear readers, made this a steampunk play?

Well, I’m not sure actually. It might be funny for me to admit this, but really steampunk is so many things to so many people that it’s awfully hard to pin down a definition that makes everyone happy. It’s not all gears and cogs (though to be sure we had plenty of that on set) or even the kind of costuming used (it certainly ran the gamut) or even the music (really no one can agree about what steampunk music sounds like – and frankly I like it that way).

For us it was much more the collaborative, inclusive nature of the production. The roll-up-our-sleeves-and- get-it- done-together attitude that everyone from the band, actors, and production staff to the theatre, producers and audience had.  For me, steampunk is really more about community than accoutrements. The latest ray gun is cool and all, but only when shared with others who have equally cool new monocles, spats or a steam-powered typewriter.

It’s the community that makes the experience and that is what steampunk theatre is; an experience rooted in community!

~Edrie

(One of the BRoken TOys)

28 Seeds tells the story of how greed and ignorance destroyed the world. This is H.P. Lovecraft meets rock music, steam power, and 1000 channels of TV beamed directly to your head; it’s government conspiracy, burlesque, ray guns, and tentacles; it blends a live rock show, science fiction, dance, theatre, video and sound into an immersive performance experience.

“Over 25 Boston artists and performers are involved in this unique collaboration. We’re bringing together innovative theatre, with all its story-telling tools, and the wild music of a live steampunk band. We have musicians, actors, dancers, video artists, sound artists, graphic artists and more. All are sharing in this wild collaborative work… ”

28 Seeds (the SOUNDTRACK) out NOW – st(r)eam it free HERE

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Today we welcome Zoë Archer and Nico Rosso!

Zoë Archer and her husband, romance author Nico Rosso, currently live in Los Angeles.  She and Nico share an office and get up periodically to take turns accosting the cats. When she isn’t writing or forcing herself to exercise, Zoë loves to read, bake, and tweet about boots and men in cravats (strictly as a service to her readers).

Nico: Thanks so much for having us today, Suzi! What a great way to wish my lovely wife, Zoë a happy birthday. Usually, I’d get her a pair of boots (which I did), but this year I also wanted to do something special for Zoë.  So I pulled a few strings and called in some favors from Her Majesty’s Aerial Navy and got us a ride along on a Man O’ War airship.

We were already in London consulting with Navy intelligence regarding their airship telegraph docking stations, so it was only a quick train ride to Newbury.  We arrived in the early morning, a low mist shrouding the giant hangars and scaffolds where the airships were built and repaired.  Captain Christopher Redmond was gracious enough to welcome us onto the Demeter and from there, we were off.

Zoë:  Having never been aboard an actual airship before, I was thrilled when Captain Redmond offered us a tour of the Demeter.  We were joined on the tour by his charming wife, Louisa.  It seemed unusual for a woman to be aboard a ship of war, but Mrs. Shaw seemed as much a member of the crew as anyone else—though her role on the ship was somewhat mysterious.  She gave us goggles to protect our eyes when above deck.

The cool air rushed around us as we stood upon the deck, seeing the patchwork of green below us and the wide expanse of cloud-dotted sky overhead.  The view, you can well imagine, took my breath away.  As I’m slightly afraid of heights, I made sure to keep my hand firmly within Nico’s while we took our tour.  But I’d never complain about having to hold Nico’s hand!

We saw the telumium panels bolted to various parts of the ship’s interior.  Captain Redmond’s telumium implants were hidden beneath his uniform, yet we knew that the panels drew his energy toward the ship’s central battery.  The captain pointed out the tanks that collected the ether, which is  a byproduct of the transferral of energy.  This ether permits ships like the Demeter to fly.  Both Captain and Mrs. Redmond seemed perfectly acclimated to the process.  What a remarkable era in which we live!

N: While flying over the rolling hills we spotted another Man O’ War airship practicing maneuvers.  It wheeled and turned in the air nimbly, and I almost felt sorry for anyone who might be the target of its various ether-cannons and Gatling guns.  Skimming along with the ship were three smaller crafts, roughly the shape of a horse with a single rider.

Captain Redmond explained that they were Sky Chargers, part of the US Army’s cavalry. Mrs. Redmond added that they were training with the Man O’ Wars, though there was little hope in refining the cowboys from the West to fight like proper British soldiers. Yet she did admit that what they lacked in propriety, they made up for with fighting spirit.

A table was brought on deck and we all sat to a birthday luncheon for Zoë.  Spanish wine, Italian cheese, English beef.  The horizon spread out all around us as we dined.  The conversation floated as easily as the clouds the ship sometimes passed through.  A brass cylinder about fourteen inches tall was brought to the table.  Captain Redmond cranked a small handle on the side and set the internal machine to action.  It boiled water, brewed tea, then poured the perfect cup for each of us through a discrete spout.  More amazing than the device were the French pastries we had for dessert.

Z: As a lover of all things sweet, I was delighted by the offerings. Once we’d finished dessert, the captain showed us the galley, where the cook proudly showed off a clockwork pastry-making device. One simply had to pour the flour, butter, and sugar into a bowl, wind the machine, and it not only mixed the ingredients into a dough, but rolled it out into the perfect thickness for an elegant pastry.  Mrs. Redmond confessed that it was she who urged the cook to obtain this device, showing her to be a woman of excellent character.

After this, Captain Redmond admitted that the Demeter would be setting off on another mission within the hour.  Our time aboard the airship had come to a close.  Nico and I thanked Captain and Mrs. Redmond for their hospitality, and thanked the crew as well for keeping the skies safe.  We rode back to solid ground in an ether-powered jolly boat, then watched as the Demeter flew west, chasing the setting sun.

It was a wonderful, steampunk birthday.

So, our question to you is this: if you could have a birthday steampunk adventure, what would it be?  One commenter will win digital copies of SKIES OF FIRE and NIGHT OF FIRE.

***
SKIES OF FIRE: The Ether Chronicles can be found here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Powells
All Romance eBooks
Books-A-Million

Zoë can be found here:
website
Twitter
Facebook
Tumblr

NIGHT OF FIRE: The Ether Chronicles can be found here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Indie Bound

Nico can be found here:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

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Today we welcome author Nick Harkaway. His new novel ANGELMAKER is a “blistering gangster noir meets howling absurdist comedy as the forces of good square off against the forces of evil, and only an unassuming clockwork repairman and an octogenarian former superspy can save the world from total destruction.”

Nick Harkaway was born in 1972, a distinction he shares with Carmen Electra (allegedly), a collection of indifferent wines, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album, and a company which makes guttering in Pietermaritzburg. He is tall and has a shaggy and unkempt look about him which even the best grooming products cannot entirely erase. His eyebrows were at one time wanted on a charge of ruckus and affray in the state of Utah, but this unhappy passage has now been resolved. He is the author of ANGELMAKER and THE GONE-AWAY WORLD, which was originally titled THE WAGES OF GONZO LUBITSCH– a name which still occasionally crops up on Amazon lists. The new title was adopted because no one could pronounce the old one, and because while he originally intended people to think of Gonzo the Muppet, it was apparent that a majority of readers defaulted to Hunter S. Thompson instead.

Hi Nick, welcome to STEAMED. ANGELMAKER sounds both fun and facinating. Where did you get the ideas for this story?

Nick Harkaway: Everywhere. I get ideas from everything around me, all the time. In this case there was my own criminal granddad and his bent mates, who were the subject of all manner of tall and hilarious tales when I was growing up (but who were monstrous in person and whose company in the real world I was mercifully spared). Then there was the broken clockwork toy on the café table in Primrose Hill, and – inevitably – Jules Verne’s submarine. There were Capra’s movies and my friend Tom’s observation that villains are more interesting than heroes because villains are always launching a revolution where heroes are proponents of the often-miserable status quo. There was Al-Mas’udi’s recounting of the history of Manfarqalas the war elephant of Mansura, and there was an article in the Independent about a despised and utterly blameless ethnicity in southern Europe.

Is ANGELMAKER more character-driven or plot-driven or both? How so?

Nick: The separation is a false one; in any story, you come to know the characters by what they do and feel in the context of the events which unfold. At the same time the more they become involved in those events the more they influence them and the whole thing unrolls together. Style is in there, too – the voice is derived from and partially constrains what can happen and how it can be told; it gives mood to the perceptions of the characters and determines whether we see them from within or without, whether we sympathize or mock. You can’t ultimately separate these things from one another – though it’s fashionable in some circles to try to snip one part away to look at it in depth, that approach inevitably misses a large part of what’s going on.

Here at STEAMED, we love to read book about awesome women. What kind of heroine do you have and how does she relate to the hero?

Nick: There are three central women in this story: Edie Banister, who when we first meet her is retired and 90-odd years old, but who in her youth was a full-blown James Bond-style secret agent for the British Government’s most clandestine service. Young Edie is dryly ironic, desperate to escape her boring existence, physical and smart. Old Edie is complex, her young self still burning inside her. Along the road she’s fallen in love, fallen out of love with her government and her previous profession, and won and lost a lot. I love them both: Young Edie would have broken my heart, Old Edie would inspire my delight and admiration.

Then there’s Frankie, the mathematician whose genius is at the heart of the drama, who is abrupt, wounded, and brilliant.

And finally there’s Polly the Bold Receptionist. Polly has the hardest job from a story point of view – she has to be a person despite having a lot of jobs in the narrative. She’s sexy, somewhat offbeat and unpredictable, dangerous and determined. I worried that she didn’t get enough time to show her colours in the book, but I got a tweet from someone this morning saying how much they wanted to be her, so I’m happy.

Since many of us here at STEAMED write romance, we tend to love a good HEA. How important is a happy-ever-after in your writing?

Nick: I like a story to come to an end in a way which doesn’t make you want to go out and throw yourself under a bus. I also don’t really get along with unresolved endings. I feel if I’m a reader I’ve invested a lot of time and emotional energy in a book and I’m owed some kind of payoff. I don’t really accept that doubt and angst are a payoff, though I know intellectually that some books are about those things and the ending must reflect that.

Even so.

So my stories have happy or happy-ish endings in general; I figure by the time they reach the end my heroes tend to have been through the mangle and they’ve entertained us and fought for us and made us care and they deserve a break. I don’t like things too pat, though, so it’s not so much happily ever after as happy now, more to do, which I think is all any of us gets.

That said, I don’t do sequels. I read a sequel once to a book in which the hero clearly died at the end of the first story, and the new book started ‘but he did not die’ and proceeded to mess up his life again for three hundred pages and I just thought: that’s mean. It’s just frankly unkind to the guy.

Do you have any villains? And how do they relate to your hero and heroine?

Nick: Oh, you’ve got to have a good villain. I have a couple, and they are villainous! The villain defines the action and the nature of the story at least as much as the hero. Who’s the main character in Star Wars? Luke Skywalker. Who defines the action? Darth Vader. He’s at the heart of it all.

So my villains are like that. They are the instigators, the hidden hands which must be revealed, the stalking scary bad which comes at you from the dark. How do they relate to my heroes? They hate them. They hate them with a burning, fiery passion.

It’s always so interested to hear about how people balance life and writing. Can you share with us your writing schedule?

Nick: Sure. It’s not complicated. My wife goes to her office at around 8am, and I write from then until when she comes home, with a break for lunch. I say “write”, but I don’t mean that I necessarily bang the keyboard all that time. It depends on how a book is working. Sometimes I read it back, edit with a pen, scribble ideas, stare into space, make tea… it’s all process.

Do you have any more projects in the work?

Nick: Of course! I always have more stuff in the works. I wrote a shorter novel while I was waiting for the edit on ANGELMAKER, so I have that to rework and sort out. Then I have a thriller in my mind which will be pretty scary. After that… there’s so much to do… we’ll see.

If readers want to know more about you and your writing, where on the web can they find you?

Nick: I am ubiquitous. The best thing to do is Google me and pick what you like. I’m on Twitter (@Harkaway) and Facebook – I have a professional Page there, I’m trying to wean people off my personal page because it basically doesn’t get used much any more and it doesn’t get the announcements and stuff – and tumblr (www.Harkaway.tumblr.com) and I have my own site, due for a revamp this summer – www.nickharkaway.com – and I’m on Google +. Heck, I’m on Diaspora* – I’d love to move all my social media stuff there, but it’s not quite ready yet.

So, yeah, not hard to find.

Actually, that’s a good thing for me to ask you – what’s your favourite way of interacting with an author? It drives me crazy that most author sites are basically like old posters at bus stations – they’re flat announcements of information with very little depth. That’s why I love Twitter – because it’s fully interactive. But maybe that just makes me a niche social media person. Where would you most likely look for an author?

Thank you so much for coming, Nick!

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Miss Jack Lewis Baillot is the author of the Steampunk adventure book, Haphazardly Implausible as well as the other three in this series.
 
Why I Write Steampunk
 by Jack Lewis Baillot
 
Before I start this post I would like to thank Miss Suzanne Lazear for allowing me this opportunity. 
 
 I am a young adult Steampunk author. I am new in the Steampunk world, having just discovered it by accident when I wanted to write a little tale about me and my friends in an airship. Since that time I’ve found Steampunk showing up all over the place. Surely you have as well. There are new movies coming out which have Steampunk elements – such as “Sherlock Holmes,” and the new “Three Musketeers,” which has a very cool Zeppelin in it. I’d go see that movie just for the Zeppelin.
 
 But maybe you are new to Steampunk as well. And maybe you are an author asking the question, “Should I give it a try? How do I know if I will even like it?” Well, maybe these questions will help you in finding the answer. 
 
 First, do you love history, particularity the Victorian Era? Steampunk isn’t limited to the Victorian times of course. I have seen it set in the Wild West as well, and recently in World War One in Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan Trilogy.” From what I have researched, the West and Victorian Era are the most popular settings for Steampunk. Even looking in movies this is seen. However, I think it is spreading to other times. After all, the Three Musketeers lived in neither of these times but that movie very much looks Steampunk. 
 
 A love for history is probably very important. Even though you will not be sticking strictly to historical facts you will want to stay within that time period. After all, in the “Sherlock Holmes,” movies they stayed withing the Victorian time period, and the same is with the movie, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” So, pick your favorite time in history and get started. 
 
 Second, do you love inventions? Steampunk inventions do not stop with the lazier guns and airships. Do some research to find other inventions that have found their way into this gene. A great place to do some investigating is in Scott Westerfeld’s books where you can learn about Walkers and living and breathing airships. Also, look through other Steampunk books. If you wish to create an airship read about other airships so you can get an idea on what you want. Remember, this is your book and your intentions. Get creative. But remember to stay within the bonds of the time period you have picked. Research the things they used during that period and ask the question, “What if they had done this instead of this?” Use the materials they had available at the time. 
 
 Third, (and maybe you don’t need to enjoy this, but it sure is fun) do you like designing fashions? Look around you and you can easily find Steampunk fashions. Type it on google and you will pull up all kinds of things. Goggles, leather, corsets, boots with buckles, aviator hats. You can even put your own twist on these fashions, research will help you in learning what Steampunk looks like so you will be sure to stick to that genre. And, this is something I’ve read somewhere, in Steampunk brown is the new black. Though I couldn’t tell you dead certain what that means (I’m not much interested in fashion myself) if you are to pick a color to use the most stick with brown. Leave black for the motorcyclists. 
 
 And remember to have fun. Even though this might take a bit of research, or a lot as the case may be, Steampunk is truly worth it. I’ve written books set in almost every period imaginable and every genre and I can honestly say Steampunk is by far the most fun to write. So, have fun! The world is at your finger tips. 
 
~Jack

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Emily, aka “Professor Raven” runs Professor Raven’s Curiosity Emporium on Etsy.

Steampunk: My Coal-Dusty Heaven

by Professor Raven

I am in finally in heaven: steamy, coal-dusty heaven. Several years ago, I knew that I wanted to create, I wanted to write, I wanted the American version of success. I ran out and bought tools and supplies, the likes of which I knew nothing. My first attempts at jewelry creation were amateurish, awkward, and not beautiful. But I learned, refined my technique, my pieces became a wee bit more sophisticated. I still had no real focus.

I found the Twilight series (don’t hate) and thought that could be my focus. However, since all of my Twilight-inspired pieces had my own brand of sarcastic gothism imposed, they weren’t run-away best sellers. I still hadn’t found my niche.

About two years ago, I was introduced to the steampunk genre. Not only was I in love, but I had found a creative home, a style I not only understood, but a style I felt understood me. I’ve always been an imposter: a lonely, weird soul pretending to be normal. In steampunk, I found a place to belong! The steampunk community has been mostly welcoming, societal outsiders like me, friendly, warm, and weirdly entertaining. I found my focus!

Since embracing steampunk, I’ve not only narrowed my focus significantly, improved my technique, and started branching out to new mediums. I’ve met authors, bloggers, and been embraced as an artist in my own right. Sure, I’ve run into the odd purist who thinks that “merely slapping watch parts on something does not steampunk make”, but for the most part this is a welcoming community.

At my shop, I believe that steampunk is a state of mind. I love combining industrial, Victorian, and gothic elements into a cohesive piece. I love talking with other Steampunks and getting their unique take on our genre. I’ve started listening to steampunk bands and their eclectic sounds.

As a “social misfit”, I’m a bit perturbed that steampunk seems to be gaining mainstream ground; while this makes it easier for us to be accepted and find low-cost goodies, it also makes it harder to craft the genre we want, and harder for the true craftsmen to grow. I don’t count myself in the latter group *yet*, but I’ll get there.

While mainstream acceptance of the genre and its presence makes it easier for us to “explain” ourselves, I can’t help but wonder: what happens when popular opinion leaves us alone? And just how much more unique would our gear-driven world be if mass popularity hadn’t intruded itself?

–Emily
Facebook.com/Professor.Raven

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~The Following Post is About a Story Intended for those Over 18~

The Lords of Aether is a gay steampunk serial. Authors Charlie Cochrane, KC Burn, Jaime Samms, Jason Edding, Stephani Hecht, Z.A. Maxfield and Lex Valentine weave a world of machines and Victoriana with the paranormal and gay rom to bring you a story filled with intrigue, excitement, love, lust, machines and mayhem. The story advances each week with a post from one of the authors. This serial will be as rich as any novel with characters, plots, sub-plots and layers to every scene and post.  Visit the site at  http://lordsofaether.com or the trailer at http://youtu.be/m0FhyaW8vvo.

 

The Lords of Aether 

by Lex Valentine

The Lords of Aether is a gay steampunk serial written by authors Charlie Cochrane, KC Burn, Jaime Samms, Jason Edding, Stephani Hecht, Z.A. Maxfield and Lex Valentine. Our intent is to weave a world of machines and Victoriana/Edwardiana with the paranormal and gay rom to bring you a story filled with intrigue, excitement, love, lust, machines and mayhem. The story advances with each post from one of the authors, typically posted on Fridays, but more often if the story is flowing. *wink* This serial will be as rich as any novel with characters, plots, sub-plots and layers to every scene and post.

The Lords of Aether is a gay gentleman’s club, but the actual “lords” are the characters the story focuses on. They are members who met and became friends (and lovers) through the club. The authors take you through their lives and the mysteries they become involved in so expect some hot sex, tender love scenes, violent encounters, dark secrets, twists and turns and inevitable cliffhangers.

I’m Lex Valentine and I’m the person who dared to voice this idea of a serial story to some friends. Luckily, I have cool friends who really liked the idea and jumped on board right away, giving this idea wings, feet and flesh and blood.

To build the world of the Lords of Aether, we set ourselves up with a private Yahoo group where we brainstorm and vet our posts before they go up on the site. We toss out ideas like a line of children throwing garbage at a wall to see what sticks! Seriously though, since none of us have ever written steampunk before, we thought this would be a good way to figure out how to do it. We started by choosing a time period of turn of the century. Then we decided whether we wanted this to historically accurate (our world) or some kind of alternate world. We decided on it being a sort of alternate world because we decided to include the paranormal in the story. Werewolves, vampires, and magic are all allowed and we already have been bouncing around a sub plot involving lycanthropy.

Once we settled on the kind of world we had, we moved on to details such as the city and information about the club. Then we each worked on characters. After coming up with one or more characters each, I put together an initial post that had two of my characters meeting at the club. This spawned ideas in the other authors and relationships between characters began to grow out of our discussions about the initial two posts (by myself and Z.A. Maxfield) and the subsequent posts we have planned. There’s a missing person and this leads to the introduction of basically all the main characters and our bad guy who is written by Jason Edding.

It’s been great fun watching and being part of the process of tossing around ideas and watching what they spawn and how they end up. It’s amazing what you can create when you have so many different views on something. My perspective on my characters and storyline shift with each idea the others come up with for their characters and storyline. And of course, we have to fit all the pieces together like a puzzle which makes it a challenge and exciting at the same time.

KC Burn got very enthusiastic about the idea and has been really getting into the plotting, but I’ll let her tell you about the process from her perspective.

When I was invited to join the Lords of Aether authors, I was thrilled by the chance to branch out into a new genre (a little scared, too) and excited to be working with authors that I admire.  I’ve read a few books in the past that could loosely be called steampunk, but it’s been a while and I’ve never tried writing it.  I grabbed several recent releases to try and figure out what the current trend was.  I have to admit, I was surprised by the number that also had paranormal elements.  I had assumed the development of fantastical inventions using Victorian technology to be the primary focus of steampunk, but the inclusion of the paranormal provides even more possibilities for our new world. 

Writing in any sort of collaboration is new to me.  I’ve tried once, but it devolved into a mess of bad puns about a werewolf butcher and his “meat.” Amusing, but not viable.  If it were just me, the storyline I have planned for my two characters might deviate as I wrote, but they’d more or less end up where I intended.  Already I can see that my ideas are merely a tentative framework on which to build.  I might have thought I knew who was going to end up romantically involved with whom, but already those initial ideas are in flux.  Having a group of talented authors you can rely on to assist in brainstorming?  Awesome.  The combination of ideas into a big, exciting story where I don’t know the ending?  Pretty damn cool. 

Charlie Cochrane is finding the whole experience of organising plot and characters in advance a highly novel one. A confirmed “seat of the pantser”, she’s learning an awful lot, while at the moment only contributing advice on whether a word is anachronistic or not.

She created the loyal but ill tempered club steward, Savage Beare, and will be contributing snippets from his history of the club (a work he has in progress but will probably never find a publisher for.)

For Jaime Samms, a die-hard pantzer, same as Charlie, the whole idea of planning ahead is like asking her to give up chocolate, or…coffee! She says it’s not impossible, but sometimes makes for a grumpy-ass author who’s greatest challenge so far has been accepting the Zen of the delete key. Here’s what Jaime says about her experience with the LOA and group world building.

When Lex first asked me to join this adventure I wondered if my friend had lost her mind, momentarily or maybe mistaken the email address her email program fill in the autofill space, because I’ve never written steam punk in my life. About as close as I’ve got to the genre has been Howl’s Moving Castle, and nary an alpha male has stepped foot in my stories, like, ever. As far as writing historical goes, I might have written something set in the eighties once. And by eighties, I mean 1980’s. But, she assures me it’ll all be okay. At least I have the gay angst romance angle covered.

I am most curious to see how closely my character, Alexi will resemble his bio by the time I’m done with him. I’ll tell you, it was tough writing a bio for a character I hadn’t met yet. Already, he’s morphing into something I hadn’t anticipated when I wrote his life story. Between me and this blog, I think he reflects my own view of this whole venture in that he’s young and inexperienced, and kind of feels like he’s gone and stepped into the deep end of the pool to play with the big kids and left his floaties at home. Good thing he’s an inventor who specializes in boat building…

As for Stephani Hecht, she had pretty much the same take on this idea as everyone else.

When Lex approached me about the idea for a steampunk collaboration, my first thought was, “How in the hell am I going to do this?” Not only don’t I write historicals, but the closest I ever got to anything Steampunk was the one time I watched Wild, Wild West and that was years ago.

Then I found out what other authors were already on board for the project and I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Plus, I met Lex last year at RT and I knew what an awesome person she is, so I considered it an honor that she thought to include me in this wonderful endeavor. Now, I find myself looking forward to bringing my characters to life and watching as they interact with the other author’s creations. In the meantime, I’m going to make sure that I watch Wild, Wild West at least ten more times, plus I’m going to be reading every steampunk novel I can get my greedy hands on.

Now, the interesting part of all this has been getting turned down by my pal Z.A. Maxfield for this project only to have her go ballistic with ideas for it over lunch at Don Ramon’s. I guess I made her fall in love with my character Anthony Banning which gave life to her character Shelley Jefferson. And the plotting and brainstorming in person over chips and salsa was amazing.

The experience has been a positive one overall and the world building seems to come easier with more hands to do the building rather than the chaos you’d think would ensue when so many creative hands get into the pot. And we’re having fun which is the main reason to do something like this. We’re gaining readership daily and the wait for installments keeps them on the edge of their seats wanting to know what’s next. You can’t fast forward to the end with this story!

We’d like to thank the Steamed gang for having us and letting us talk about our new venture. We’re so glad Suzanne offered to have us here.

Readers 18 and older can read Lords of Aether at http://lordsofaether.com.

~Lex Valentine

 

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