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Today we welcome the incredible Kiki Hamilton.

Kiki Hamilton is the author of the YA historical fantasy series THE FAERIE RING. Book 1, THE FAERIE RING and Book 2, THE TORN WING are both out now. Book 3, THE SEVEN YEAR KING releases in May of 2013.

 

Writing Historical Fantasy

by Kiki Hamilton

Thanks for inviting me over to STEAMED! Though I’m not a writer of steampunk fiction, I do write historical fantasy (THE FAERIE RING (2011) and THE TORN WING (2012) )which has some notable similarities with steampunk, such as life in the Victorian era.

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is how much research do I have to do for my books?  The short answer is A LOT! The longer answer is that I do spend quite a bit of time researching Victorian England, as well as British faerie lore, but luckily, I find it fascinating. The goal of any writer who sets their story in the Victorian era is to make the reader feel like they’ve stepped back through time (or taken a time machine…) and are walking the foggy, cobblestone streets of the past along with the characters.

How does one accomplish that?

In my case, it’s a combination of setting, character definition (which includes description, dialogue, backstory and behavior), weaving  fact with fiction, as well as using language that is suitable to the time period.   I’ll share some brief thoughts on each of those below:

Setting

Setting can be much more than the physical attributes of the scene. In some instances, setting can almost become a character within the story. Setting is an opportunity to set a mood. Here’s an excerpt from THE FAERIE RING that I like:

“The World’s End had a packed house tonight. The wooden plank floor of the pub was slick with spilled ale and the rich, yeasty smell of beer hung thick in the air. A row of sailors sat shoulder to shoulder along the wooden bar, hunched over their drinks as though fearful their glasses would be snatched away. Big mirrors lined the walls, etched with the names of ales or whiskeys, reflecting the bright lights in the room as well as the cloud of tobacco smoke. Barmaids and prostitutes, with their skirts partially tucked up in their waistbands, worked their way through the thick crowd milling between the full tables, smiling and joking with the customers. The tinkling notes of a piano were a backdrop to the cacophony of accents that clashed above it all, like an instrument with several strings out of tune.”

Hopefully, the reader can see the interior of the pub, along with the patrons, can smell the spilled ale, can hear the notes of the piano and feels immersed in this world.

Character Definition

This is a critical part of any story.  Characters need to be described in a way that is suitable to the era. Character definition is an opportunity to further immerse the reader into another era. Dress, language,  backstory and motivations each play a part in creating  a mental image for the reader.  Tying each of those to the time period reinforces the setting and mood you’ve established.

Weaving Fact with Fiction

For me, this is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing THE FAERIE RING series – finding ways to weave actual history with the fantasy story I’m telling.  I like to think of the books as ‘what if…’ stories which is similar to the alternate timelines that many steampunk novels employ.

Anachronistic Terms

Using language that is suitable to the timeframe is an important piece in creating the world of your novel.  Using language or terms that are too modern for a Victorian setting (anachronistic) is one of the fastest ways to pull your reader out of the ‘dream’ and remind them that they’re reading and not living your story.

So, that’s a quick look at some of the considerations I put into writing historical fantasy.  Hope you found it interesting and helpful! Any others we should add to the list?

~Kiki Hamilton

http://www.kikihamilton.com

http://www.thefaeriering.com

 

 

 

 

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First off, we have some winners to announce.

The winner of  The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer is:

Teawench

The winner of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is:

Rebecca RyalsRussell


Congratulations! Email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Now, on to Book Monday.


The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

(ARC Provided by Tor)

I have a huge soft spot for young adult faerie books, since I write about faeries.  I have an even larger soft spot for Victorian faerie stories.

This book didn’t disappoint me one bit.

Hamilton skillfully combines faerie lore with Victorian London weaving together an enchanting tale of magic, mystery, and mayhem.

Tiki is a teen-pickpocket living with her “family” of orphan thieves, including little Clara, who’s often sick.    When Tiki steals a ring from the palace she thinks first of Clara and how the ring could buy the medicine they need for the littlest and frailest member of their band.  Only the ring Tiki stole binds the treaty between the royal family and the fey.  Away from the safety of the palace, the ring–and Tiki–become a target.  If the ring is destroyed then the treaty is broken and the fey can do as they will, probably at the cost of mortal London.  In order to save the treaty–and humanity, she must figure out who to trust, which includes the handsome rascal Riecker and the young Prince Leopold.

This fast-paced action-packed story is full of twists and turns that had me glued to my chair.  I fell in love with Tiki from the very beginning.   She’s plucky, and resilient, and even though life hasn’t dealt her the best hand, she’s not bitter, rather, she rolls with the punches and does what she needs to do to survive–and protect her family.  I love how loyal she and the other orphans in their little band really take care of each other — even little Clara.

Hamilton’s version of Victorian London comes alive–complete with the grit, despair, and poverty all-too-common in that era.  However, thanks to Tiki and her resistance, even when the story gets dark, there’s always a glimmer of hope.  It’s also quite fun to journey through London with Tiki–from the streets of London to the palace and thanks to the brilliant descriptions you feel like you’re *right there*.

And Riecker.

Oh yes, there’s Riecker.

Again, I loved the way Hamilton seamlessly melded faerie lore–and even Gaelic–into her Victorian world.  Like in faerie lore, these faeries aren’t always nice, especially those of the dark court.  There’s something for everyone in this story–a little historical fiction, a little romance, a really good story, faeries, action, and mystery.  I highly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of either faeries or Victorian stories.

Since I love this story so much and am going to buy a final copy, I’m going to give away my ARC.  All you have to do is leave me a comment and tell me what sort of faerie (dark or bright) is your favorite.  Contest open internationally, ends October 9th, 2011, at 11:59 PM PST.

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Today we have Jane George, author and illustrator of the YA book, The Mumbo Jumbo Circus. 

Sideshow, Burlesque and Circus

by Jane George

“STEP RIGHT UP! DON’T BE SHY. THAT’S RIGHT FOLKS, WHAT’S INSIDE MUST BE SEEN TO BE BELIEVED!”

As a kid, I was exposed to such imaginative oddities as The Wild, Wild West TV show and The 7 Faces of Dr Lao.

These kinds of cultural influences wax and wane, and now the lure of the mysterious, the impossible, and the forbidden is stronger than ever.  The resurgence of interest in circus arts, sideshow and burlesque theater may be part of the same cultural backlash to beige-box consumerism that spawned Steampunk. Humans crave color, imagination and creative freedom.

Poster: Gemini & Scorpio

Intense explorations of cabaret/burlesque, circus, sideshow and Steampunk have popped up all around the country, from one night events like The Lost Circus Circus Meets Dark Cabaret With a Steampunk Twist in Brooklyn last year to on-going performances and dinner theater.  Just to name a few:

In Austin, Texas, The East Side Show Room serves up gourmet cuisine and vintage cocktails with a side of cabaret in a steampunky-circus atmosphere. For a Tim Burton meets the circus experience, there is Cirque Berzerk   in Los Angeles. And in San Francisco you can have, “Love, Chaos & Dinner,” in a tent with Teatro ZinZanni

While the delights of classic roadside attractions like The Thing are now few and far between, there are performers who are carrying on the tradition of Sideshow and the Ten-in-One.

Austin, Texas is also home to Noel Benedetti aka Ballyhoo Betty, a sideshow performer who specializes in fire arts.

Noel is blogmistress of www.HeyRubeCircus.com , a fantastic celebration of all things circus and sideshow. She is affiliated with 999 Eyes Freakshow, The Invisible Man Corporation, and The Surreal Sideshow.

Noel says this about her experience as a sideshow performer, “Aside from musical acts, people are relatively sheltered from live entertainment today and so people are typically unaware of the very visceral chemistry that can exist between performer and viewer. During a live sideshow, there is an interaction taking place, unlike the unidirectional consumption of most mass media, such as television. This dynamic often takes people by surprise, and you can see their eyes light up in response to this confrontation.”

In contrast to the hybrid theater/circus/cabaret blends that are gaining in popularity, Noel says this about her art, “While sideshow is often considered a radical or fringe culture, it is also heavily steeped in tradition. There are relatively few genuinely novel sideshow acts around today; people have been eating fire, swallowing swords and displaying anatomical oddities for centuries and tipping the hat to performers of the past has become a norm in the business.”

Photo: Jason Black

Noel suggested I look up a visual artist and sideshow performer named Jason Black, aka The Black Scorpion.  Among the venues he performs at is Coney Island’s Sideshows by the Seashore

A poem by Black describes The Black Scorpion:

A winged, performance Anti-Artist.

He, born a naked baby boy with irregular hands, unlike any other.

When him you see, understand you will.

Witnessing his Anti-Act is the longest day you will ever live.

Remember he is breathing for something onstage, and living the rest for his life.

That last line stays with you, doesn’t it? I’ll bet his act does too.

Current circus and sideshow acts could be be said to be more about individualism and creativity than about “Hey, Rube” hucksterism. This is especially true in the modern world of burlesque. A revival in burlesque and the art of the striptease happened in the Nineties and has been gaining in popularity ever since. Partly driven by a nostalgia for old-time glamor, modern burlesque is also a feminine reclaiming of the “male gaze,” often in intelligent and hilarious send-ups of the medium. Burlesque is theater, cabaret and performance art rolled into one.

photo: RJ Johnson, Hot Pink Feathers

Hot Pink Feathers   is a renowned, award-winning San Francisco Bay Area troupe that performs World Cabaret Showgirl dance. Founder and head Feather, Kellita, told me why she feels burlesque is so popular, “The heart of the matter is that burlesque is an art and a craft that puts the woman front and center, as performer and as producer. Audiences today are more heavily female than they used to be. Content is almost exclusively created by a woman for herself, and it often parodies her personal insecurities, transforming them into mainstays of joy and inspiration.  Burlesque is an art form that deserves its due. When it’s done right, a lot of craft goes into the art of slf-expression.”

Hot Pink Feathers is performing a Sally Rand-type showgirl routine, with feather fans and dripping-pearl bikinis, in San Francisco’s Carnavale Parade on  Sunday, May 29.  Say hello to them at the staging area 9am-12 at Bryant between 21st & 22nd.  Parade starts at noon. They can also be seen on the 2nd Saturday of every month at Café Van Kleef, where they perform with the Blue Bone Express brass band. Next show is June 11.

For a while now, circus arts have been making their way back to the more intimate, single ring circus. When I saw an equine show produced by Cirque du Soleil called Cheval Theatre, I could practically reach out and touch the horses. I definitely felt the whoosh as they galloped past my seat.

Poster: Circus Flora

A circus dedicated to this connection between performer and audience is Circus Flora in St. Louis. Circus Flora weaves a theatrical storyline through their classical circus acts. From their site, “The artistry, magic and charm of Circus Flora’s performances have made it part of the vanguard of the “new circus” movement in North America.”The artistry, magic and charm of Circus Flora’s performances have made it part of the vanguard of the “new circus” The theme of their performances changes annually. This year it’s a Victorian-era riverboat theme entitled Vagabond Adventures.

“Circus Flora is about performance, not spectacle. Circus Flora concentrates on displaying the individual talents and personalities of human and animal performers highlighting their relationships to one another. It’s a circus about family, beauty, magic and inspiration.”  Ivor David Balding

That quote could have been written about my recently-released, young adult fantasy, The Mumbo Jumbo Circus. It describes the themes of my novel perfectly. One random commenter will receive a paperback of The Mumbo Jumbo Circus. Step Right Up! into the world of human possibility that is this writer’s imagination.

Freedom, creativity and individualism are hallmarks of modern sideshow, burlesque, cabaret, and circus arts. Just like the relationship between author and reader, the magic is in the point of connection. I like to think of a circus ring as a sacred circle of human possibility. Happy performing, in whatever you do!

 ~Jane George

What do you love most about the circus? 

Jane is giving away a copy of The Mumbo Jumbo Circus to one lucky commenter (North America only please).   Contest ends 11:59 PM PST  June 1, 2011.

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There’s only a few days left to enter to win the gear ring.

Today we welcome debut YA Author T.K. Richardson, author of Return the Heart, which is now available.

Return the Heart is T.K. Richardson’s debut novel, and like much of her writing, is subtly influenced by her love of Russian history and literature. Raised on the West Coast, she improves the lives of children near and far by advocating for abused and neglected children in her community, as well as sponsoring a Christian based orphanage in India. She lives with her husband and children in California where she is at work on her next novel.

To a casual passerby, Lilly Paige is anything but special. As a seventeen year old, she is faced with all the complications of a teenager, but deep down there is much more. Lilly has a gift, though sometimes it seems to be a curse.

Lilly can peer into the hearts of others – their deepest, darkest secrets are there for Lilly to see – but to what end? Raised by aloof parents, Lilly has been independent her whole life, but soon she will need to rely on her friends to evade an evil that has sold her gift to the highest bidder on the black market. Lilly and her four closest friends are immersed in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, that will not only reveal more about Lilly’s gift, but also her link to an old Russian prophecy.

Can Lilly and her friends escape the danger that is so close they can practically feel it? Where will their perilous journey lead them – to darkness or light?

Lolita Suzanne: Welcome, thank you so much for visiting us here at Steamed! today. Congratulations on your first release. Can you share the story of “the Call”, the “email” or how you broke through into publishing with us?

T.K. Anderson: Like so many other writers I queried for what seemed like forever. Finally, when I felt the manuscript and I were both ready I sought out different publishers to submit to. I’m very happy with my publisher and the work they have put into Return the Heart.

LS: The cover is absolutely beautiful. Now, can you tell us what your book is about?

TKA: Return the Heart is the story of 17 year old Lilly Paige who has the secret gift of reading the heart. When that gift is exposed and sold on the black market she discovers her gift is more than the target of criminal obsession – it’s somehow linked to an old, Russian prophecy.

LS: Ooh, who doesn’t love a good prophecy? What inspired this story?

TKA: Return the Heart was inspired by my children, my love for Russian history and literature, and a desire to create a captivating story that would delight teens. What followed is a story filled with action, secret gifts, a seedy underworld, and more twists and revelations than the reader expects. Toss in a Russian element and Return the Heart is like an action movie about teens and for teens.

LS: I confess, I am an utter and total folklore nerd. What genre would you characterize this story as and why?

TKA: The book is intended for young adults, but I’m finding that people of all ages, from 10 to 92, are reading and enjoying the book. As an author I am very excited that the story is reaching so many different people and age groups.

LS: That’s really great. I love finding stories everyone can enjoy. When it comes to actually writing a story, are you a plotter or a pantser?

TKA: Oh, I’m definitely a panster. I’ve tried outlining before and I’ve tried plotting the story, but I work better when I just wing it and let the story take on a life of its’ own. It’s more fun that way, too. Of course, it probably makes it harder when I’m editing, but it’s the price I’m willing to pay.

LS: Hehehe, I’m a pantser, too, and seeing the story and characters take on a life of their own is half the fun. Do you have a favorite character?

TKA: Hmm… Well, I really love all the characters, so I don’t have a favorite. Each has qualities that I find admirable and that I love.

LS: If your characters went on summer vacation where would they go?

TKA: They might go to Disneyland, or the beach, or somewhere most any other teens would enjoy going.

LS: Do you have any writing habits/quirks/superstitions?

TKA: I don’t think I do, but my family may think differently. I do like to write at night, though. I love it when the dark surrounds everything and blankets my world in mystery and shadows. It’s my ideal time for writing, and it’s quiet.

LS: Quiet can be a good thing, especially when there are kiddos around, lol. Did you always want to be a writer?

TKA: No, I never dreamed of being a writer and it was never something on my list of things I wanted to be. One day the main character, Lilly, “appeared” and I rushed to write her down. Six weeks later the first draft of my first novel was complete, and I’ve been writing ever since. I love it, and I wouldn’t change the way it came about. Although I never dreamed of being a writer, I can see that my love for reading and history really prepared me and opened the door for my writing.

LS: Those dang, pushy characters, lol. Where would we writers be without them? You mentioned your love of reading, what authors inspired you growing up? Who are your favorite authors now?

TKA: Growing up I was really inspired by history and biographies. Corrie ten Boom and Chaim Potok were probably my favorite authors and very influential as a kid. As an adult my favorite authors are Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gogol –all Russian authors from the past. To me their work is the pinnacle of writing, outside of the Bible.

LS: Okay, last question. If you could be stranded on an island with one fictional character who would it be and why?

TKA: Oh, that’s a tough question. I think it would be Prince Andrey from War and Peace by Tolstoy. I always had a secret crush on him and I wished his story was happier. He’s one of my very favorite characters and one that has stayed with me.

Thank you so much for joining us today, and we wish you the best of luck on your release.

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