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Posts Tagged ‘Theresa Meyers’

Today we welcome Theresa Meyers.

Raised by a bibliophile who made the dining room into a library, Theresa has always been a lover of books and stories. First a writer for newspapers, then for national magazines, she started her first novel in high school, eventually enrolling in a Writer’s Digest course and putting the book under the bed until she joined Romance Writers of America in 1993. In 2005 she was selected as one of eleven finalists for the American Title II contest, the American Idol of books. She is married to the first man she ever went on a real date with (to their high school prom), who she knew was hero material when he suffered through having to let her parents drive, and her brother sit between them in the backseat of the car. They currently live in a Victorian house on a mini farm in the Pacific Northwest with their two children, three cats, an old chestnut Arabian gelding, an energetic mini-Aussie shepherd puppy, several rabbits, a dozen chickens and an out-of-control herb garden.

Supernatural Steampunk

by Theresa Meyers

You know we don’t give enough credit to the Victorians for our current love of all things paranormal, but it really was that era that brought creatures of the night out into mainstream society. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to surge of interest in Egyptology (and hence mummies) the 1800s really laid down the foundation for our fascination with monsters.

The Victorians loved the supernatural. It was a period of time where Spiritualism (the contacting of the dead by the living) was rampant, as was fortune telling, and séances. This is when you found stories of fairy sightings being reported in daily newspapers or fictional accounts of airships being seen hovering over the city reported as front page fact (thanks to authors like Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe). This was paired with the newly emerging sciences of cryptobiology, cryptozoology and Egyptology. The blend of fact and fiction, mysticism and science was at it’s zenith.

I suppose that’s part of the reason why I enjoy writing paranormal steampunk romance. I know—a mash up if there ever was one—but it really all does work together. What we consider Frankenstein, hard-core steampunk fans would consider a construct (revivified human body). All I had to do was add in my Jackson brothers, who hunt down Darkin (aka supernatural beings).

In The Legend Chronicles Winchester, Remington and Colt (all named after their father’s favorite guns, naturally) are Hunters in the wilds of the America west. It’s an age of cowboys, rustlers, miners and stage coaches.  But the world is getting smaller too. Telegraphs and airships, the use of electricity and the development of science is all happening and converging during the late 1800s. So while the Jackson brothers may use old-fashioned know how when it comes down to hunting demons, vampires, ghosts or skinwalkers, they often have a few gizmos courtesy of their intrepid inventor friend, Marley Turlock.

Writing paranormal steampunk means I get a chance to play in that Victorian era, when monsters were something fresh, exciting and new to the masses. While my brothers are well-versed in Hunting, average citizens still see these monsters as merely fictional creations by the writers of the day. They don’t know that vampires are real.

Which puts my eldest brother, Winchester, in a tough spot in The Slayer. You see, he’s given up hunting and is trying his best to lead a normal life as sheriff of Bodie, California. But when a vampire contessa arrives, asking for his help to recover a stolen piece of the Book of Legend (the compendium of all Hunter knowledge handed down generation to generation) he can’t really say no. The world depends on him and his brothers recovering the scattered pieces and reuniting the Book to defeat an even bigger threat to our world.

To be perfectly fair, I put all my Jackson brothers in a tight spot, forcing them to rely on gorgeous Darkin (a succubus, a vampiress and a shapeshifting thief) in order to accomplish their goals. What better way to torture a character than to make him fall for the thing he trusts least in the world?

And just like the Victorians, my stories get to be a blend of supernatural and plausible science side by side, with a dash of romance and generous dollop of action and adventure thrown in. I really do believe that our love affair with monsters started with the Victorians. Seriously, can you imagine how Dracula would have looked without the benefit of a great cape? Simply dreadful. It wouldn’t have had nearly the impact if he were in slouching, baggy jeans and a hoodie. The Victorians imparted our impression of monsters with style and grace, flair and excitement. Without them, would our vampires and demons, witches and werewolves still have the same appeal?

For a taste of paranormal mixed with steampunk I suggest you consider going to Steamcon IV (www.steamcon.org) in the Seattle area, Oct. 26-28 (yes, Halloween weekend). Their theme this year is…take a wild guess….Victorian Monsters. Bring your top hat, and your fangs. I can’t wait!

~Theresa Meyers
www.theresameyers.com

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Hello darlings.

Yes, I’ve been away far too long. But Lolita Theresa has been working dilligently on a new steampunk novel for you. In the meantime, since you know how much I adore research, I thought I’d take you on a little trip into fashion.

I’ve always found it fascinating how our society and what’s happening in it can directly impact the way we dress. Today we’re going to look at the changing silhouette of the Victorian era as a mirror of the times. (Courtesy of http://lady-of-crow.deviantart.com/art/Victorian-Silhouettes-83666275 which provided the original artwork.)


In 1837, Victoria ascends to the throne. She’s young, only 18, and beautiful and the silhouette of the time reflects that ingénue-like frame. Times are changing, there’s research happening about dinosaurs in the Pleistocene epoch, Samuel Morse has exhibited his electric telegraph at the College of the City in New York, and there’s a Gag Law in place passed by the U.S. Congress suppressing the debate on slavery.

By 1842, Victoria would have been, 23, and trying to appear very grown up. The skirts are widening (as are the hips and bust line after bearing two children), and do so even more in 1847 when she would have already had five children.

In 1852, at the age of 33, Victoria is truly on her way to showing the world that the English are a world power. They control India, Tasmania, Australia, parts of Canada. Notice the amount (and expense) of ruffles and added lace in the silhouettes of both 1852 and 1857.

However by 1862 the silhouette changes drastically to more simple lines. Victoria’s beloved husband Albert died in December 1861. As Victoria grows older and more critical of the behavior of her wild son Prince Edward, you can almost see the stricture and behavioral mores of the Victorian era changing in 1867 as the skirts grow increasingly more tight and confining until 1882.

Know what surprised me most? Check out the difference between the first image 1837 and the third to last image of 1892. Not much difference is there? Ever hear how at the end we start thinking about the beginning. Makes me wonder if the same was happening with Queen Victoria. Or perhaps, like all fashion, they just started recycling things, and she just happened to be old enough for what was old to become new again *resurgence of 1980’s fashions, cough, cough*.

Notice that by 1902 the silhouette has become so relaxed there’s barely even a bustline anymore. It looks almost worn out and tired. Since Victoria died in 1901, I can see why. (Well that and Edward, who succeeded her, did tend to be a pretty relaxed sort of guy.)

These images also illustrates why it’s so critical to make sure you know precisely which decade (or in many cases which five year period) you are discussing in your steampunk writing. Sure you don’t have to be accurate all the time (as rayguns and dirigibles aren’t exactly accurate either), but if you put an enormous bustle fit for 1887 in your 1847 set book, you really ought to be able to explain why.

Next time you are writing a scene, ask yourself, what do you read into the changing clothing trends and how can it more aptly reflect your characters?

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We take a break from our normal Fantastic February programming to bring you the following diversion:

Books have been sighted!

The first copies of the fantastical vampire tale (aka – my latest release) The Truth About Vampires from Harlequin Nocturne have been spotted at a local Walmarts in Port Orchard and Bremerton, Washington, and reports are coming in (on Facebook) that they’ve also been seen in Mililani, Hawaii.

The book, which features a roguish cover of a vampire doing things better left unmentionable in the presence of those prone to vapors and other such lady-like sensibilities, recounts the story of a bluestocking (female, gasp!) reporter Kristin Reed intent on uncovering the purportrator of the vicious Bloodless Murders happening in Seattle only to uncover instead a clan of vampires living beneath the streets of the city in the Seattle Underground. While the security leader, Dmitri Dionotte, attempts to guide Kristin’s exploration of the vampires, he is also working to protect her from a rogue band of vampire reviers intent on harming the populace of the fair Emerald city and Kristin Reed in particular for her audacity to reveal their presence to humans.

a glimpse of the Seattle Underground

Now you may ask, what in blue blazes does a modern vampire tale have to do with steampunk? My answer: The Seattle Underground.

Created in the aftermath of the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, the Seattle Underground happened when the city decided to rebuild more than 25 blocks of prime business district waterfront, with the goal of elevating the streets to avoid the capricious flooding brought on by the tide. The city streets were rebuilt an entire story above the old. For many years during construction there were ladders that went up and between these sections of the city while the supporting walls and roads were built overhead.

Today that little bit of Victorian culture from Seattle still stands and can be viewed at hourly intervals by proceeding through the delightful auspices of Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1889 era saloon, as part of Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour.

As an author, I thought the tour was not only fantastic, but it inspired me to think what a perfect place for my vampires to make a city of their own beneath Seattle where no one would suspect.

And now, dear reader, I ask you, where else may you have spotted this book?

Until next time, truly yours,

Lolita Theresa

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This month on the STEAMED! blog we’re going to declare it Fantastic February. We’ll be looking at the fantasy element in fiction. However, this post is where real life intrudes. There is no doubt that the wonders of the Victorian age were splendid, but there was one thing that did take time and wasn’t so very progressive – the mail. In this one instance alone (ok, that and perhaps dental hygiene) I am so very grateful for the wonders of the modern age, including the Internet and email.

Let me say, you don’t know what you have until you lose it.

My case in point is today’s blog on behalf of fellow Harlequin author Oliva Gates who is currently living in Egypt without Internet or cell phone access who has a book out starting today, Feb. 1, titled To Tempt a Sheikh (which now that I truly consider it, might indeed be the fantasy of some of you – so it still fits with this month’s blog theme.)

Here’s a tasty bit about Oliva’s story:
He rescued hostage Talia Burke from his royal family’s rival tribe and swept her into his strong embrace. But Prince Harres Aal Shalaan soon discovered there was more to the brave beauty than he knew. Talia held information vital to protecting his beloved kingdom…and she had every reason not to trust him.

Marooned together at a desert oasis, Talia couldn’t resist Harres. Yet even as his sizzling seduction entranced her, his loyalty to his family and country would always make them enemies. Falling for the sheikh would be her heart’s greatest mistake…but she feared it was already too late….

As I mentioned the book is out TODAY and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books A Million and bookstores everywhere. Also available at eharlequin both in print and as an ebook.

If you’d like to take a mini-fantasy vacation of your own, you can even read a first chapter and visit Olivia’s webpage, click here.

With best regards to our esteemed STEAMED! readers,

Lolita Theresa

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There’s long been a debate among those looking at steampunk from the outside if steampunk can really be anything but Victorian England.

I, for one, would argue YES. (And really this has nothing to do with the fact that my steampunk books in The Legend Chronicles are set in some part in the Wild Weird West–honestly.) If Jules Verne can write about being 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, then that isn’t Victorian England, is it? If H.G. Wells can write about the New York of the future in his work The Time Machine, that isn’t exactly London either, is it?

I choose to espouse the view that steampunk is more of a time period than a particular setting. You can write about or design costumes from any area of the globe (and a few beyond our own stratsophere) during that golden age and still be steam. The punk comes from being your own little creative mad genius self.  So why not have dragon ladies, courtesans of the far east? What about appearing as a Maha Raja or one of his veiled lovey wives? Certainly you could even been a Plantation owner from the Caribean or a Cattle Baron from South America. Truly the combinations are endless.

But I digress.

What really has me excited is the steampunk movement into the Wild Weird American West. If you haven’t already heard about the Wild Wild West Steampunk Con going on at Old Tucson Studios in Arizona in March, you should check it out. It’s the first large steampunk gather in Arizona. Not only will Abney Park and the League of S.T.E.A.M. be there, but there’s nothing quite like venturing into Arizona to get the authentic feel of the old west. (I lived there for nearly a decade–trust me.)

Not only do you get the Miner ’49er, but the cowboy, the saloon girl, the rancher, the townie,the gunslinger, carpetbagger and cardshark; so many new and fun ways to express all the goodness that is steampunk. I don’t know about you, but I have a LOT of sewing to do to prepare for the con. And Lolita Elizabeth will be there as well!

If you were going to be one character from the Wild Weird West, what would it be?

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It honestly doesn’t take much to make someone into steampunk gush enthusiastically about a fantastical hand-crafted ray gun or stunning hat, but when it comes to reading, there is a comic that combines the best of steampunk with the best of entertainment – Girl Genius.

Now, if you are into steampunk, you probably know all about it. You probably even know that their inventive comic series has now spawned a delightful novel that hit the top 20 on Amazon on Girl Genius Day, Jan. 12th, but what you might not know is that from a writer’s perspective, Girl Genius is damn brilliant writing.

What makes it work? First you’ve got a fun, smart, quirky main character who is an underdog. That makes Agatha Heterodyne sympathetic from the start. But add into the mix that she’s enamoured with the son of her deadliest rival for control of Europa (not that she knows that in the beginning when she meets Gilgamesh Wulfenbach), that she’s being hunted, and that she discovers her role as the last heir to a great mad-inventive legacy and you’ve got a character mired in a great bundle of internal and external conflict. Story developer Kaja Foglio further amps up the tension by adding in a third main character/love interest who competes with Gilgamesh (and has known him from the past when they were in school) and a coniving blonde cousin to Agatha who wants to kill her and take over as the fake Heterodyne heir.

The action is packed to the brim. The visuals, courtesy of Phil Foglio, are dynamic and fun. The inventions are mad and brilliant. And every Monday, Wednesday and Friday they post up the next page (which is not nearly enough for we true addicts of the Girl Genius). And every page ends with a fabulous hook that lures you on, keeps you addicted and makes you want to flip pages faster than a steam-powered airship engine could.

But what really makes it all hang together better than super rubber bands, is the inventive world the Foglio’s have created. It’s familiar (set in a Europe-like fascimile of the Victorian era) and yet it’s very otherworldly with airships, creatures and villians enough to make this a very bumpy ride for our characters. (Conflict is essential to good story-telling, btw.)

I first found Girl Genius when I was doing research on steampunk, because I didn’t really realize that’s what I’d been writing. I’d just been toodling along in my own story in my own little Victorian world.

The comic has ever page posted since Monday, Nov. 4, 2002. WARNING: These are addictive. And I mean that sincerely. I spent four to six hours a day for three days straight reading them all. I then had to invest in the entire series of comic books for my children who were reading them over my shoulder…once you drink of the genius tea, you will not be able to walk away. And if you wish to indulge, you have been amply forewarned (and encouraged). They are at www.girlgeniusonline.com (click on the comic to get to the latest installment. If you wish to start at the beginning click start and it’ll take you to where it all began.)

I adore Girl Genius because it’s smart and fun. I adore the characters because they are flawed and delightfully human (even if they are cartoons). There is romance and adventure as promised, and definitely lots of mad science. And I can’t wait to read their novel Agatha H. and the Airship City.

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One of the things I love best about writing steampunk are the opportunities for research. Take this, for example: did you know that during the 1870s and well into the 1900s there was a all-female crime syndicate in opperation in London?

Oh, yes, dear reader. It’s true! And it’s the fodder for a steampunk imagination like mine run rampant.

In his new book, Gangs of London, author Brian McDonald reveals details of one all-female gang, who rule the underworld of London for nearly two centuries. The Forty Elephants–or Forty Theives–was a well-run collective of cells who opperated across London and in other cities as well, headed by a formidable “queen”, which was responsible for most of the largest shoplifiting syndicate ever seen in London between the years of 1870 to 1950. Police records indicate that the gang, which was first mentioned in newspapers in 1873, had in fact been in operation even longer, since the late 1700s.

The ladies of the syndicate dressed in specially tailored clothing, coats, cummerbunds, muffs, skirts, bloomers and hats, sewn with hidden pockets. They raided the West End shops of London, pocketing, literally, goods worth thousands of pounds from diamond rings, to ranksacking employer’s homes after providing false references, to blackmailing the men they seduced.

“The girls benefited from the prudish attitudes of the time by taking shelter behind the privacy afforded to women in large stores, ” McDonald said. While the women rarely wore what the stole, choosing instead to fence it through a series of contacts in north and south London, they did use their ill-gotten gains to dress in legitimate high fashion, which they used as a coverup for their dealings. “…they threw the liveliest of parties and spent lavishly at pubs, clubs and restaurants,” he said. “Their lifestyles were in pursuit of those of glamourous movie stars, combined with the decadent living of 1920s aristocratic flapper soceity. They read of the outrageous behaviour of the rich, bring young things and wanted to emulate them.”

The gang guarded their territory fiercely, demanding percentages from others caught stealing from the stores in their turf. If the money wasn’t paid, they showed no mercy, arranging beatings and even kidnappings until it was paid up. If caught, they knew they could be sentenced to between three to 12 months’ hard labor, or three years in prison.

McDonald came upong these fascinating women while scouring the official birth and death redords, marriage indexes, newspaper archievs and out-of-print books in the British Library. An example of one such individual was Annie Diamond, born in 1896 in Soutwark, who became queen of the gang when she was but 20 years old. Thanks to a fist studded with diamond rings and a killer punch to back it up, she earned her name of Diamond Annie. With military precision, she could mount simultaenous operations in a series of shops across the city and the police called her “the cleverist of thieves.”

“Many a husband lounged at home while his missus was out at work, and many an old lag was propped by by his tireless shoplifting spouse. Some of these terrors were as tough as the men they worked for and protected,” McDonald added.

How could you not be intrigued by ladies who buck the system with such panache?

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