Today we have a guest post from Christine Bell, the author of The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale, an awesome Steampunk (with an amazing title!), for the Favorite Things Event. She's also being very generous and doing an awesome giveaway, which you'll find at the bottom.
Thanks for joining us today Christine!
Thanks so much for having me today, Candace!
Today, I thought I could talk a little about putting the PUNK in steampunk. When people think of this hot new sub-genre, we often think of dirigibles and corsets, of goggles and bowler hats, of alternate worlds featuring fantastical machines, possibly made from gears, andpowered by steam. Granted, those are all definitely part of the steampunk aesthetic.
There’s also this intangible quality to it, an almost “you know it when you see it” type of feel. I like to say that if steampunk was a movie it would star Johnny Depp and , be directed by Tim Burton,and the score would be done by Danny Elfman.
Yet another aspect of steampunk is often a dystopian society (i.e. what happened after mechanical monsters took over the world). That can go hand in hand with thelast, less talked about facet of steampunk, which is the “punk” part. In order to fall under the umbrella of a“punk movement”, there is typically a sort of anti-establishment thread woven into the fabric of thediscourse. To my mind, steampunk is no different.
Let’s use Meljean Brooke’s as an example, because…well, because it’s a really good book, PLUS is illustrates my point perfectly! Meljean created a swashbuckling tale of sky pirates and nanobots, and paired it with a really well-done love story. With its top notch world-building and fast pace, I was so entertained, it didn’t strike me until afterward that she’d also masterfully woven a poignant critique ofimperialism, colonialism and racism into this tapestry.
While she doesn’t shove it in your face as such, there is no question that it’s there lurking under the surface of every page. It’s evident in the way her protagonist, Mina Wentworth, is treated by others due to her appearance and her blood line. The way the Horde views its victims. The nature of Horde-run “crèche’s” where manychildren were kept. The world has suffered enough major and well-documented periods of class/race/sexual discrimination, apartheid, oppression, genocide etc. thatwe know a nod to a particular instance when we see it,and there were nods left and right in The Iron Duke.
I loved that about the Iron Duke, because that’s the part that had me thinking about it long after I turned the last page (who am I kidding? I mean pressed the last next-page arrow on my Kindle). While it doesn’t have the theatricality that the other elements of steampunk have, it’s the one I feel really sets the sub-genre apart from science fiction or fantasy. Not to say that sci-fi and fantasy can’t have anti-establishment underpinnings, just that it’s not integral to the genres, whereas with steampunk, in my opinion, it is to some degree.
This probably seems funny coming from me, especially if you’ve read or heard about my book, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale. To steal a phrase from fab author Cindy Spencer Pape, it’s “steampunk light.” I love steampunk that mixes in other genres, maybe some paranormal, definitely romance, or maybe even a hint of a twisted fairytale. So when I wrote this novella, I picked the parts I loved most about traditionalsteampunk and skipped others. I skipped the fantastical world-building. Stormy is set in a world that is pretty much just like the regular world was during the Victorian era. My characters are the only ones who know about time travel and the various mechanical inventions that facilitate their journeys. I also didn’t make mine a dystopian society and while, at points, it’s certainly emotional, the overall tone is not dark. In mine, the romance takes center stage, the time travel element is stronger than the steam-element, the characters have a lot of banter and my heroine is full of piss, vinegar and snark. And I like it like that. That’s the story I wanted to write.
BUT, even with all that, there is a message buried in there. Stormy wears pants when everyone else wears dresses, she’d rather be brave than pretty, she rails against the injustices of society based on class and works to right the wrongs heaped on the impoverished. My hero Devlin’s plight shines a light on the way society views the mentally ill and the way the aristocracy views the poor. It’s not exactly a rage against the machine or anything, but this book stands for something and my characters buck the status quo in many ways.
Right now, I’m working on the sequel to this tale, tentatively titled From the Logs of Bacon Frogs which will chronicle Stormy, Devlin and Bacon’s unexpected trip back to 17th century Salem, Massachusetts. There will be mayhem, and romance, and adventure. There will be time travel, and goggles and corsets. And, my trio of characters will again stand up and fight for the oppressed!
Because I like my steampunk with at least a dash of punk.
Please tell me, readers, how do you like yours? Do you feel like there are some facets of steampunk that are non-negotiable? What has been your favorite steampunk read so far?
Now that was an entertaining post! "Piss, vinegar and snark" sounds exactly like my kind of thing! I haven't read The Iron Duke, it's been on my wishlist for ages, but it sounds entertaining. My favorite Steampunk... hmmm... to be honest I'm not sure I can say for sure, but I LOVED The Native Star by M.K. Hobson and am reading the second book, The Hidden Goddess, right now. It's takes place in the US, while most other Steampunk books I've read take place in England. It's also full of magic and it's a very interesting world that the author has created.
Christine is giving one lucky winner an ebook of The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale, a The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale mug, a refrigerator magnet and romance trading cards to one US/Canadian winner. She is also giving away one ebook of The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale to one international winner. Please specify if you are US/Canada or International.
You must be 16 or older to enter.
Open to US/Canada only for the big prize pack.
One ebook copy to an International winner.
Ends July 5th, 2011
Answer the question Christine asks above. Tell me if your US/Canada or International. Leave contact info as well!
For the schedule of The Favorite Things event check out the schedule post. And make sure you head over to My Bookish Ways to see what she has going on today as well!