Defining Steampunk

Image taken from free image library Pixabay(https://pixabay.com/en/clock-time-gear-gears-face-blue-70182/)What began as a small subgenre of science fiction has become a movement large enough that almost everyone has some idea of what steampunk is. Yet for most people the idea of steampunk is extremely vague. The word conjures images of corsets, gears and airships, but what does it actually mean?

Steampunk is a genre that brings advanced steam technology to the Victorian era(or an original world made to resemble the Victorian era). You’ll often find an interesting jumble of modern and Victorian sensibilities in steampunk stories, many of which play directly off of tumultuous politics caused by rapid changes in technology. Most steampunk fiction is optimistic, using the advanced tech to better the world.

Like fantasy or science fiction, steampunk is all about the setting. You’ll find all kinds of stories in steampunk: murder mysteries, adventure novels, romance novels, political novels and novels that combine all of those elements.

The steampunk movement is a vibrant DIY culture filled with creative people of all kinds. And the art forms are as varied as the people. There are painters, seamstresses, illustrators, sculptors, metalworkers and more creating amazing steampunk adventures. Some are enthusiasts who actually have day jobs in the arts but more are people who taught themselves so they could express their passion for this genre.

You can also find many people who build their own steampunk gadgets. Many of these are for costume use only but you can also find lots of functioning steampunk gadgets–some of which take real modern technology and transform them into beautiful steampunk creations(my favorite example is steampunk keyboards).

Of course there are people who sell all of these beautiful creations, but part of the culture is learning to make your own. It’s the “punk” in steampunk.

Steampunk now also has a few subgenres of its own:

Clockpunk is set in what is called “the Enlightenment Era”, shortly before the industrial revolution. Some advanced technology exists in the world but instead of being powered by steam it uses gears or clockwork technology. You’ll usually find this kind of technology in steampunk worlds as well but you never find steam technology in clockpunk.

Gaslight Fantasy combines the Victorian era(or a world that resembles it) with both steam technology and magic or mythological beings. Some definitions also include aliens/anything not created by humans themselves. How the magic works and how much of it there is varies greatly from story to story. Gaslight fantasy is perhaps the fastest growing subgenre in the realm of steampunk. As a total fantasy nerd, it is also the one I’m most excited about(if you have a gaslight fantasy novel PLEASE send it to me).

Dieselpunk is actually set in a later time period than steampunk, focusing on the period between the world wars all the way through to the 1950s. It combines the time period with advanced technology based on diesel as well as steam and clock power. Most of these stories take place between the wars but there are also many dieselpunk narratives during World War II. Dieselpunk also tends to be more pessimistic whereas steampunk is usually optimistic.

Valvepunk comes a little bit later than dieselpunk, although the line here is very often blurred, and most advanced technology is based on valves. Wondering what kind of tech used valves in real life? High quality radios and early televisions used valve technology. This is obviously a lot of fun to play with.

The technology in each subgenre may be different but at their hearts they all have the same themes: how our world would have been different if we had certain tech sooner, how rapid change is, how people can change their world(usually for the better). They’re also all part of the same massive community.

How do you define steampunk? Do you agree with my list of subgenres? Think I’ve missed one? Let me know in the comments section below!

Author Interview: Nikki McCormack of The Clockwork Enterprises

Used with permission from Nikki McCormackBlogging has allowed me to meet many great authors over the years, several of whom came to my blog as debut authors and have gone on to find many successes. Nikki McCormack, author of steampunk series(it might technically be clockpunk, but more on that next week) The Clockwork Enterprises and the Forbidden Things fantasy series, is one of these authors. I met her not long after her first novel, The Girl and The Clockwork Cat, came out and I am thrilled to be showcasing her successes here years later. I hope you’ll enjoy our conversation and take the time to check out her work.

Can you tell us a bit about your Clockwork Enterprises series?

The Clockwork Enterprises series follows the adventures of a young half-Japanese pickpocket named Maeko living on the streets of London. Everything changes for her when she finds Macak, a cat with a clockwork leg. In her efforts to protect the cat, she becomes entangled in a murder investigation and the hunt for the one person who might know the truth, Macak’s true owner, the wealthy inventor and owner of Clockwork Enterprises. Along her adventures with Macak, Maeko has the chance to discover love, friendship and the true meaning of family. Most importantly, she has the chance to show that she is much more than the lowly pickpocket people see her as.

What originally drew you into the world of steampunk?

I was always marginally aware of steampunk, but I knew very little about it until, in the summer of 2010, a friend of mine invited me to a steampunk vendor faire with a burlesque show and Abney Park concert in the evening. I was captivated by the creativity of the people involved and the unique look and feel of the steampunk atmosphere. That was when I first started paying attention to steampunk.

That’s awesome! I am utterly fascinated by burlesque dancing and I can only imagine how wonderful it is when combined with the steampunk aesthetic. I would have been sucked in right away too.

 

Did you set out to write a steampunk novel or did steampunk simply worm its way into your world?

Shortly after the event I mentioned above, I attended a writer’s conference and heard several editors and agents mention steampunk. I had been listening to my new Abney Park cd on my drive to and from the concert and the event was still fresh in my mind so, even though I was working on another book at the time, I started wondering how one would go about writing a steampunk novel. The next morning on the way to the event, Maeko popped into my head and I started playing around with a story idea. A few days later, I mentioned it to my mom and we started talking about the idea and Maeko showed up in that conversation. After that, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so I had to write it, so I started doing research, attending events, and reading other steampunk work so I could get a better feel for the genre.

What is your favorite thing about steampunk? (Feel free to talk about the aesthetics/subculture as well as the stories themselves)

I honestly think my favorite thing about steampunk is the creativity. Whether in writing, clothing, or art, I have seen some of the most amazing creative effort put into steampunk and some amazingly beautiful work has come from those efforts. It is really wonderful to see people diving into a creative form so enthusiastically and witnessing the results of their passion. I also have a soft spot for the grittier leanings that give it an slightly dystopian feel at times.

The Clockwork Enterprises takes place specifically in Victorian London. How much research did you do before starting the first book?

I researched everything I could think of before starting the book and continued to do extensive research during the writing and editing process. I picked a time period and researched clothing, culture, maps of the city in that time, technology, politics, medicine. I researched everything I could think of, including Japan and its culture and political situation at the time since Maeko’s mother is from Japan. Once I had gathered as much information on London at the time the book takes place, I could start tweaking it to fit the alternate reality I was creating. I also got the fantastic opportunity to visit London after writing book one so I could see many of the places I had written about in person before diving into the second novel.

Even Japan? Talk about thorough! As for London itself, it really is an amazing place. I was there last year myself and I only wish I’d had more time to explore it.

 

Can you tell us an interesting random fact you learned during your research?

There were so many interesting things. I think what I found most interesting was all the invention and development that occurred during the time period. They started paving roads with tarmac for the first time, pedal driven bicycles were invented, the Metropolitan Police Force was established (and subsequently driven out by the Literati Police Force in my books), and many things started developing into more widely consumable forms, such as electricity in the form of the incandescent lightbulb. There were also huge strides in the areas of medicine and waste management. There was so much going on.

It is a pretty amazing backdrop, one that really lends itself to new, wackier inventions. Perhaps that sheer amount of innovation is what draws us all to the time period, even if we tell ourselves it’s the beautiful corsets 😉

 

Who is your favorite steampunk author and why?

I don’t know if I have a favorite author (though I am quite partial to Jay Kristoff with his take on Japanese steampunk in the Lotus War series). I do have a favorite book though. The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling was the first steampunk novel I read and I really appreciated the approach. In some books, I feel like the steampunk aspect gets so much attention it almost becomes the main character. I do love a lot of the books that take that approach, they are incredibly fun, but in The Difference Engine steampunk was an accepted part of the world. It was an integrated part of the atmosphere and society. I really liked that approach and tried to mirror it to a certain degree in my Clockwork Enterprises series.

Most of the steampunk I’ve read or watched actually uses the same approach–steam technology is just part of the world. The tech might be used in the story at some point but for the most part it’s the backdrop. Frankly I prefer that–my favorite steampunk stories focus on the politics rather than the steampunk aspect itself. I’ll definitely check out The Difference Engine!

 

What are you working on right now that readers can look forward to?

I am very close to releasing the third book in my Forbidden Things fantasy series. After that, my focus will be on getting the third Clockwork Enterprises book out by late summer/early autumn. At the end of the year I will be introducing a new fantasy that I am quite excited about.

A new fantasy thing! I’ll admit I’m kind of behind on the old fantasy thing–it’s hard to keep up with all my author friends AND all the other books I want to read–but I can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with this time. And of course I can’t wait for the next book in the Clockwork Enterprises.

SmallpicNikki McCormack lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest tending to her sweet old horse, a couple of cuddly cats, and her fun-loving, toy-destroying dog. She feeds her imagination by sitting on the ocean in her kayak gazing out across the never-ending water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She finds peace through practicing iaido or shooting her longbow.

You can find Nikki at the Elysium Palace or follow her on Twitter/Facebook.

Thank you to all of you for taking the time to read this and to Nikki for taking the time to chat with me. It’s always a pleasure to share awesome authors with the world. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and suggestions for authors I could interview in the comments section below!

Serial Fiction and Steampunk

SpireCityUrchinAgainThis week marks the beginning of the third season of my steampunk-fantasy serial-fiction project. For thirteen weeks I’ll be sending the episodes out to subscribers (and Amazon, etc.) every Monday. So you can understand why I have serial fiction on my mind. For my inaugural post here at Steampunk Cavaliers, then, I’m going to write a bit about the history of serialization in the Victorian era.

Serialized works and steampunk seem like an ideal fit to me. The image of Victorian-era readers eagerly buying a new issue of some magazine or other to catch the latest episode of one of Dickens’ novels is a familiar idea for many of us, even if we don’t know much about the details of what novel, what magazine, etc. The growing use of the printing press and increased literacy made it an ideal time for serialization.

pickwick papers coverHistorians pinpoint Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers as a key spark to the popularity of serialization for English readers. Dickens was brought in initially to provide some narrative to a series of prints, with the pictures themselves intended to be the primary focus for the magazine subscribers. Dickens’ writing ability plus the death of the original artist after only a few episodes flipped that focus, and the serialized novel burst into the English literary scene.

I’m always keen to learn about what was happening in other countries and cultures at this time as well. Steampunk always benefits from opening itself to as many influences and cultures as possible. In Russia the serialized novel was common, with both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky publishing famous novels that way (Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov). Madame Bovary was first published in France as a serial, as were Alexandre Dumas’ works. In China the serialized The Nine-Tailed Turtle was for a brief time one of the country’s most popular works.

prague cemetery coverAll that kind of history you can dig into more on Wikipedia if you choose. One historical note you won’t find there I discovered in reading Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery (while I haven’t been able to verify this fact elsewhere, Eco’s reputation and approach here leads me to grant this anecdote at least provisional trustworthiness).The novel is a historical mystery about the forger Simon Simonini. At one point in the novel, Simon recalls some details about the unification of Italy. At the time the government in Piedmont, fearful of the lower classes, banned the novels of Alexandre Dumas and other works of serial fiction that had been popular (in translation) among the common people. Couldn’t have any of that revolutionary French influence in Italy!

I like that image, that serial fiction itself is dangerous—that serialized works might be a source for revolution, among the peasants and those who are being mistreated by society. I hope it still can be, at some level, that steampunk and serial fiction both can call on the factory bosses and overbearing elite (and their contemporary/non-steampunk analogs) to end injustices and create more just ways.

So what’s there to do with steampunk and serial fiction? Well, obviously I’d love for everyone to check out my Spire City series. And if you are a fan of something else or a creator of some other serialized steampunk work, I’d love to hear from you! Maybe I can feature your work here on Steampunk Cavaliers in the future.

ClockworkDagger coverBut that’s not all. Barnes & Noble has recently introduced its Serial Reads, and their selection for the month of March happens to be steampunk! Beth Cato’s The Clockwork Dagger is being released day by day this month. So if you have a Nook or the Nook reading app, be sure to check that out.

Then go out and create your own series, because nothing is more steampunk than making something with your own hands.

All images used in this post either belong to Daniel Ausema or are available either in the public domain or with permission from the owners.

Author Interview | Conversing with E.A. Hennessy an Indie Author who used crowd-funding to launch her debut novel “Grigory’s Gadget”!

Conversations of Steampunk banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Pierre Rougier.

I am listening to a wonderfully brilliant radio programme, where the music of the early 20th Century is crackling through my airwaves giving me a proper grounding of ‘time’ as I contemplate the subject of ‘Steampunk’ and yesteryear. Talk about an ever so sweet atmosphere for blogging about a genre which implores your exploration!

I am conversing with an Indie Author of whom I crossed paths with originally in October of 2015. I even went so far as to compose my initial joy in finding her and her debut novel being featured on IndieGoGo whilst selecting content for my then #BookishNotBookish No.7. I relate this to you in the ‘past tense’ as this is one of the posts I never had the pleasure of releasing and look forward to finishing before my 3rd blogoversary on the 31st of March, 2016. As I have happily been sharing my bookish and readerly adventures on jorielovesastory.com to such an extent of joy it’s hard to believe my *third!* blogoversary is upon me!

I digress. This isn’t about my own journey, but rather Ms Hennessy’s – I simply wanted to anchour my first interview with a small tidbit about myself, as throughout *March!* our dear hearted Steampunk readers will be starting to become familiar with the Cavaliers! If this is your first visit with us, I wanted to at least give you a small glimpse into who is behind the conversations – as I truly feel honoured to continue my exploration of a genre on a blog full of enthused creatives who each have found their own path into Steampunk, whilst encouraging the community to engage with us and carry forward a torch of curiosity as we blog our thoughts, our ruminations, our conversations and the topics which keenly draw an interest to dissect!

It’s my wicked sweet joy to introduce you to an author I hope you might already know, as she’s actively conversing in the twitterverse: Ms E.A. Hennessy!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Grigory's Gadget by E.A. Hennessy

Lodninsk, Morozhia is a frozen, industrial wasteland. Isolated by steep mountains and ruled by an authoritarian government, it isn’t anyone’s idea of home-sweet-home.

Zoya and her friends Demyan, Lilia, Anya, and Nikolai decide to leave their freezing home to start a new life. They set their sights on the tropical paradise of Mirgorod, Vernulaia, where they can study at its prestigious university while taking in the sun and sand…but nothing ever goes so smoothly.

When pirates attack their passenger ship, the friends are shanghaied and forced to be part of their crew. What’s more, the pirates have a particular interest in Zoya’s family heirloom: a small gadget of compacted wires and gears. Unsure what power the gadget holds, Zoya knows she must protect it with her life.

Trapped with pirates, caught in the struggle for the mysterious gadget, will Zoya and her friends be able to make it safely to their new home?

Cover Art Designed by: Deranged Doctor Designs

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comWhat first drew your eye into the aesthetics of the Steampunk genre? Did you enter through the craft of stories, the sound of Steampunk music, the flair of the fashion or was it an organic re-direction into an imaginative world created out of Victorian technology that set your heart passionate for everything inter-related to Steampunk as a whole?

Hennessy responds: I was drawn to Steampunk long before I knew what Steampunk actually was. It was a culmination of a lot of other interests: interest in history, in technology, in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and in alternative- and counter-culture. The first piece of Steampunk I remember experiencing, specifically, was the movie Howl’s Moving Castle. I love that movie, and have since also read the book. I highly recommend both.

I find the same to be true of myself, if I look back on my entrance into Steampunk, as it was the fashion designers (esp via Etsy!), the music and the brilliance of finding Steampunkesque elements threaded inside motion pictures which truly set the stage for me to organically follow this emerging interest in a genre I barely knew much about but was so thirsty to learn ‘more of’, like you, I followed my heart and continued to seek it out, exploring all of it and finding such a wicked sweet array of creatives and artisans!

I have heard of ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ but to be honest, it’s not one I have seen as of yet. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a good fit for me – wherein the remake of ‘The Three Musketeers’ with the airships truly was a wicked turn of finding how even classical stories can be happily re-envisioned!

I agree – I was a history buff throughout my years in school; I was drawn to History moreso than contemporary concepts and subjects because there was something so very alluring about the historical past. To step back through those folds of time and see the world the way it once was is something you don’t lose a passion for once you’ve found your niches in time. I never quite realised it but yes! Your quite champion to point out how Steampunk is a lovely blend of everything in Sci Fi & Fantasy whilst bending it into a new conceptionalised world of it’s own.

What do you feel you personally can identity as your main passions within the sub-culture of Steampunk? In regards to your favourite creators within the Steampunk world across mediums of creativity?

Hennessy responds: The aesthetics of Steampunk are certainly the biggest draw: muted colors paired with browns and golds, corsets, goggles, gears, steamships and airships. I love the side of Steampunk that’s often referred to as “Gaslight Fantasy”. Grounding Fantasy in a setting as hard and dirty as the Victorian and Edwardian Eras and the Industrial Revolution, rather than the distant past, almost makes the fantastical elements seem grander.

As for my favorite creators in the Steampunk genre, I’ll name Hayao Miyazaki for his films. Not all of them necessarily would be called Steampunk, but he’s one of my favorite filmmakers, so I’m including him.

For books, I’ve recently become a big fan of Gail Carriger. I’ve read her Parasol Protectorate series, and intend to read her other series as well.

For art, I’m a huge fan of Vadim Voitekhovich’s cityscape paintings, and of Catherinette Rings’ jewelry. I also greatly enjoy both of Lindsey Stirling’s Steampunk music videos: “Shatter Me” (view) and “Roundtable Rival” (view LIVE from London version).

Speaking on behalf of your Steampunk Creatives, I must give you my gratitude for pointing out Voitekhovich’s works! I browsed his galleries on DeviantArt and could not pick a ‘favourite of favourites’ from his creations because each ‘towne setting scene’ felt so wicked real it was hard to determine how he etched such a portrait of ‘life’ without any of it taking place in real-time! Even the airships and the train – they merge so eloquently into the back-drop, you defy your own knowledge and start to dream about how it would be to live in those scenes! Talk about an inspiring find for any writer!

I hadn’t come across the terminology distinguishing the separate timescapes of inspiration until you mentioned it – which is why I linked the Wikipedia article about it and cleverly found that it was originally coined quite recently; within the last six years! Reminds me of how I started to coin my own variant of interest inside ‘Horror’ by adding ‘Cosy Horror’ to the collective community of readers and writers who love a specific type of psychological suspense without the gruesome additives! I love finding new ways of expressing a specific type of story which hints towards it’s identity, so thank you!

Regards to Ms Carriger – she found me on Twitter and I enjoy her tweeting presence, but as far as digging inside her stories – they are readily available at my local library if I dared to read them, yet I hesitated. I wasn’t quite sure if I could appreciate them as a reader who likes a gentler side of Steampunk but occasionally doesn’t mind if it’s a bit edgier. I do commend her for what she’s given the Steampunk community in regards to connectiveness and outreach of fusing together those of us who have a Steampunk sensibility!

Your debut novel Grigory’s Gadget was conceived during the 2010 Nanowrimo challenge and re-invented during the 2014 Nanowrimo challenge; how did you approach re-attempting a story four years after it was first created? Did you find it a personal challenge to grab a hold of a world you had put down for so long or was it like walking back in through a door you’ve left open?

Hennessy responds: Grigory’s Gadget actually has a long, somewhat complicated history. The first draft of the story that would become Grigory’s Gadget was one I wrote over ten years ago. Back then, it was called “The Necklace of Time”. Instead of taking place in a fictional world, it took place in the modern world and involved time travel.

Before overhauling the story in 2010, I did away with the time travel for plot reasons, and began introducing the Russian/Soviet and Steampunk aesthetics into the story. After successfully completing NaNoWriMo in 2010, I became very frustrated while trying to edit Grigory’s Gadget.

Writing a novel in 30 days is a lot of fun, but it creates a very raw draft! I put it aside, and got swallowed up by the business of college. As I was finishing my Master’s degree, and my time started to become more flexible, I decided to pick up my writing again. I used my draft from 2010 to create a detailed outline of my story, then wrote a complete overhaul for NaNoWriMo 2014. It was a lot of fun to rediscover my story and my characters. Having the detailed outline helped prevent writers block, and allowed me to delve deeper into the story. The draft that came out of that month was much more manageable!

I participated in Nanowrimo 2008 as a complete larkspur suggestion of a creative friend of mine who felt it might be a good way for me to re-affirm my writerly path as she knew I was rutted a bit inside a writers vacuum of inactivity. I did not just win the challenge but like you, I had a solid layer of groundwork completed on a story which emerged out of the ethers – one I one day will continue forward on my (new) vintage Royal typewriter!

I am fascinated by the process you took to re-examine the story, the additions you felt were plausibly concurrent to your ideas and the re-entrance into the challenge which created it originally gave you the final dash of creative synergy to pull it all together! Quite a brilliant story, not disjointed nor complicated at all! In fact, it’s a mirrored reflection of how you became passionate about Steampunk – you followed your instincts!

How many books will be inside the Gaslight Frontier series? Do you think long-term in regards of the stories coming up next in line or outside of this series; or rather do you like to focus on the current story and go from there?

Hennessy responds: As of right now, I’m predicting that the Gaslight Frontier Series will be a trilogy. It’s funny: I’m definitely a planner when it comes to individual stories/novels, but I’m pantsing the series! I have a broad idea of how the series will go, but the specifics will be developed with each individual novel.

This doesn’t surprise me – sometimes I think we surprise ourselves moreso than our readers and/or fellow creatives. I think it speaks to how you organise your thoughts and how you work through the craft – your approach is how everything becomes a catalyst towards inking out the words onto the pages which knit your stories together. I wouldn’t alter your approach but rather appreciate it as your own unique writerly intuition!

What drew you to focus on the Dystopian angle which on the offset starts the Gaslight Frontier series?

Hennessy responds: In the 2010 version of Grigory’s Gadget, there were hardly any Dystopian elements. As I overhauled it in 2014, I felt like something was missing. The Dystopian elements raised the stakes and inspired me to deepen the world in which the story takes place.

I love how adding the Dystopian elements broadened the baseline of the story and yielded itself to a deeper state of being! Sometimes I think the greatest surprises in literature are the ones experienced by the writers whose stories not only enchant us but they get us to think outside the corridors we’ve already traversed to entertain worlds wholly different and new! Rock on!

On a personal note, as ‘Grigory’s Gadget’ is a story I one day want to read myself, this might be one of the ‘selective few’ Dystopian stories that meet my own inclinations within it’s scope!

What classical elements and neo-modern elements would you say might surprise readers to find inside Grigory’s Gadget? How did you go about researching the technology you used inside the story?

Hennessy responds: I mostly relied on Google to research technologies! There were also a few things that my wonderful editors at Writership caught. One piece of technology that I struggled with was radio. A majority of the story takes place at sea, but I didn’t want my characters completely alienated from the rest of the world. However, radio as we know it wasn’t widely used until the 20th century. I ultimately settled for wireless telegraphy, which felt more genuine.

I do find it curiously interesting how technology can place a great importance on the realism inside a specific time of reference and era. I have a particular interest in finding how writers root us as readers to the hour of time they choose to write about, giving only certain liberties for things outside that particular choice (i.e. I’m limited in what I’ll tolerant in other words); but for me, getting curled inside a story where all the technology is clearly more analog driven or even clearly distinctive in it’s ‘slow progression of arrival or completion of it’s tasks’ makes me giddy!

There is so much to run with inside the historical past and I think the use of telegraphs was a smart choice! Radio does have it’s limitations but telegraph communication can become intricate and complex; even easily able to manipulate and alter from it’s original origin of messages; yes, I can surely see why you picked it!

I also agree there is a heap of research on the internet – outside my mainstay of using libraries for digging into subject searches and queuing up a stack of lovelies in non-fiction!

Did you find your Environmental Engineer background a benefit to writing a Steampunk story or is the genre a bit out of the box from your own experiences and studies?

Hennessy responds: The main character of my story is herself an engineer, though she’s more of a mechanical engineer. While environmental and mechanical engineering are very different, there’s a solid basis upon which most engineering disciplines are built. But really, since most of the technology in the story is archaic, it all came back to doing research.

I am not as familiar with Engineering as a whole, and this is why I wanted to ask you to break it down a bit to make it easier to understand – not only for my benefit but for our readers, who might have wondered if there was enough of similarity to use as a cross-reference or only in theory, where your novel’s research would carry more of the weight. Champion response!

What went into your decision to be an Indie Author and to take a route outside the traditional method of publishing? What do you feel is the best benefit of this choice?

Hennessy responds: There are several reasons I chose to go the Indie route. First and foremost, I wanted complete creative control over my book: the editing, the design, the cover, etc. I also know that the traditional publishing process can be frustratingly long. It can take a long time to find an agent who likes you book, and for that agent to find a publisher for it. There’s also the fact that traditional publishers have been providing less and less marketing support for their authors, unless those authors are already established. Ultimately, I felt that it made more sense to put my time and effort into self-publishing.

I whole-heartedly agreed with your sentiments – which is one reason I love seeking out stories writ by Indie Authors (i.e. I showcase a heap of Indies, Self-Pub and Hybrid writers on #JLASblog!) as they are passionately pursuing a niche in the Industry which fetches my own eye of interest! The only time I have found myself a bit surprised by a few differences are with select Hybrid and/or Indie publishers who are re-setting the norm of what a non-Major Trade publisher can provide their authors.

However, like you – every writer has to decide how much ‘creative control’ and ‘residual return’ they want to personally have the ability to green-light; thus why there will continuously be many avenues to explore in this new era of publishing!

As Grigory’s Gadget grew in audience and awareness through a crowd-funding campaign. What did you take away from this experience as being a unique tool for self-generating the start of your career? Was there a downside?

Hennessy responds: The crowdfunding campaign really helped bring some excitement to the publication process. It made my novel feel like a real thing, not just a story in my head anymore. I wound up raising more than half of the money I needed for editing and cover design. I would say the only downside is that it was more work than I was expecting, but it was worth it!

I thought for sure I had released the post, wherein I had composed a special shout-out to my readers to help you with your campaign but sadly, it hasn’t yet surfaced! I wanted to help others’ find your novel but also, to find your Twitter feeds and sites! It’s such a wonderful community (on Twitter) for both readers and writers but also for book bloggers – the whole of book world is on there! It’s just wicked sweet we get to break down barriers and be each others cheerleader at any given point in time!

I definitely celebrated reading how you raised half of what you needed and that the campaign itself helped strengthen your presence in the Steampunk community where new readers could find you!

How did you source the artist for your book’s cover but also for your series overall look and familiarity? What were you looking for when you found an artist who could take your vision to reality?

Hennessy responds: I researched a lot of artists to find one that a) I could afford and b) had consistently high-quality covers for books in the Steampunk genre. For I while, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and discouraged. I thought I was going to settle for a pre-made cover. It wasn’t an ideal choice, but it was affordable and better than anything I could create on my own. Then I found Deranged Doctor Designs. Their prices are very fair, and I loved working with them. They have great artists, and you really feel that they’re invested in your book.

I took a gander at the collective portfolio of Deranged Doctor Designs (now that’s a creative name for a company!) not expecting what I found as the name alone was quite ‘unique’. I love the vibe they are creating with the black background on their site against the eye-pop of their colours (via the book cover designs) in combination with their typography and graphic overlays to create the ‘first look’ of each of their projects. I even liked their philosophy of designing book covers and blessedly loved how they create individually unique covers without relying on a repetitive release of ‘known covers’ which I think is saturating the market too much.

I *love!* the cover for “Grigory’s Gadget” because it’s as if they brought to light what you might lay an impression on finding inside it’s chapters. This is always something I am most critical about when it comes to covers – does it match the concept of a story or is it so off the wall disconnected it’s hard to understand the cover’s motivation? Truly. You did a wicked brilliant job in finding them! I hope they get to do the trilogy (and/or the continuations) as they would look so impressive as a triptych!

As Steampunk has the tendency to have strong ties to the historical past, what do you feel are the best attributes with a genre which is self-evolving per each person who enters its field?

Hennessy responds: I think a lot of people are intrigued by history, but most of the time that history is static (until we invent a time machine!). In Steampunk, you can play around with and rearrange history. You can pick and choose what aspects you like about history, and change other aspects. There’s a lot of room for pure fun, as well as for political and social commentary.

Oh, my dear ghouls – did you hit the nail on the proverbial head with this response! I love how Steampunk keeps bending it’s will towards each writer’s personal interpretation of the genre but also, gives the genre a re-developing evolution with each way their creative influences contributes to the whole of what is being presented! I never thought I’d appreciate ‘Alternative History’ in fiction but when it comes to Steampunk I never even blink twice! Ironic? Now, it took me half a moon’s age to try a proper Alt Hist novel late last year, but sometimes I think I overthink such things; definitely gave me something to chew on!

As Steampunk fits within the umbrella of Speculative Fiction, how did you first emerge into its depths and how did you find yourself led to explore its many avenues of curious thought?

Hennessy responds: I found Steampunk very organically. I’ve always loved Speculative Fiction, especially Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Steampunk is like a blend of those two genres. It’s rooted in Science Fiction, but makes room for Fantasy.

I think it’s the only route to take when it comes to Steampunk! There are new deviants of the genre now (i.e. Diselpunk, Cyberpunk, etc) whilst one of my favourite finds is “Clockpunk” as it deals with automations! Even Weird West has a particular allure as I read a heap of lovelies set in the Wild West, Americana or early Colonial periods of history. The open frontier and all-points West truly shaped most of the offerings, so Weird West definitely has my interest! Especially if you take into account “Rango” voiced so brilliantly by Depp!

Any which way you can dabble with Fantasy and insert it into Science Fiction is going to be a winner for me! This is one reason I adore ‘Sci-Fantasy’ where traditional stories of SF are re-defined with Fantasy attributes!

What do you think is the most misconstrued perception about people who love Steampunk? And how does this apply to you personally as well?

Hennessy responds: I think a lot of perceptions about people who love Steampunk are generally the same as those about any other group of “nerds” or “geeks”. People who are not familiar with or not interested in the genre might see Steampunks as strange or eccentric. I don’t see a problem with that, though. Weird eccentric people are my favorite!

Definitely concur with your final assessment! I am the passionate bookishly geeky girl who has embraced Steampunk culture & the genre of stories which give us a new dimension to explore ‘possibilities’ as the good Doctor in Who keeps addressing as the best way to go forward with curiously curious hope.

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E.A. Hennessy

E. A. Hennessy is an author of fantasy and science fiction novels. Since childhood, whenever she happened upon a wishing well or other wish-granting object her wish would be the same: she wanted to go on an adventure. And so, she wrote the types of adventures on which she’d like to embark. E. A. Hennessy lives in Buffalo, NY where she works as an environmental engineer. When she isn’t writing or working, she can be found dancing and making nerdy-themed candles.

Site | Blog | @ea_hennessy | Facebook | Tumblr

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I’d like to take a moment to give a note of gratitude to Ms Hennessy for pushing forward her interview to this Thursday, as we originally were working towards a later date; her enthused response and openness to set a shorter deadline truly moved me as it was such a special treat to be able to run this showcase ‘early’!

I am hoping as your making your way through a ‘Steampunk’ blogosphere route, your stay with us today has been one that inspires seeking out a new author but also, new creatives across mediums you might not have stumbled across until Ms Hennessy broached their names and gave a small nod towards their creative styles.

Kindly leave your comments, thoughts and musings in our comment threads, as I am quite sure Ms Hennessy will be positively delighted to hear what you have to share!

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In closing, I’d like to give a s/o to our dedicated new readers of whom are happily providing us wicked sweet feedback via our Intro to the Cavaliers post and/or are interacting with us on Twitter! Bless you! Also, if you’ve enjoyed this convo between Ms Hennessy and I, kindly know I listed a bit about what I’m seeking during my interview features on our Policies page.

We thank you for taking this journey with us and hope you will continue to be a part of our growing story here on The Steampunk Cavaliers where we are striving to create community and interaction within the Steampunk tribe!

If you would like me to interview you about your steampunk sensibility and why this is a wicked favourite genre of yours, kindly contact me via #JLASblog!

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{SOURCES: Book Cover for “Grigory’s Gadet”, book synopsis, author biography and author photograph of E.A. Hennessy were provided by the author E.A. Hennessy and used with permission. Conversations of Steampunk banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Pierre Rougier. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com.}

Copyright © Jorie Story of Jorie Loves A Story as a contributor piece on behalf of The Steampunk Cavaliers, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Book Review: The Earl and the Artificer

Review Photo
Conceptual Artwork by Chris Pavesic. Photo Credits: Dreamstime and Chris Pavesic.

Author: Kara Jorgensen
Release: January 30, 2016
Series: The Ingenious Mechanical Devices
Genre: Steampunk | Mystery
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 302
Publisher: Fox Collie Publishing
Buy it here: Amazon

 

Blurb

What mysteries lay buried beneath weeds and dust?

Following their wedding, Eilian and Hadley Sorrell journey to Brasshurst Hall, his family’s abandoned ancestral home. As Eilian struggles to reconcile his new roles as husband and earl, he finds the house and the surrounding town of Folkesbury are not as they first appear.

Behind a mask of good manners and gentle breeding lurks a darker side of Folkesbury. As the Sorrells struggle to fit in with the village’s genteel society, they find their new friends are at the mercy of Randall Nash, a man who collects secrets.

Soon, Eilian and Hadley become entangled in a web of murder, theft, and intrigue that they may never escape, with the manor at the heart of it all. Something long thought lost and buried within Brasshurst’s history has been found—something worth killing for.

Review

For my first post on the Steampunk Cavaliers I wanted to review an author whose work I know I enjoy. As with any genre, steampunk novels vary in quality and in style. Finding an author whose work you enjoy, whose story worlds you like to visit again and again, is something to be treasured and shared.

The first time I read one of Jorgensen’s Ingenious Mechanical Devices novels, The Winter Garden, my area was under a tornado warning. The TV was on in the background spouting alerts and I started reading on my iPad to keep my mind off the storm. The fact that it held my attention speaks volumes.

Jorgensen’s new novel, The Earl and the Artificer, is book three in her Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, but works just as well as a stand-alone novel. The novel continues the story of the two main characters, Eilian and Hadley, from Earl of Brass. The characters have married and moved on with their lives as the new Earl and Countess of Dorset, but their personalities remain on track. It is not too big of a spoiler to tell you that the first chapter opens with Hadley elbow-deep in steamer engine innards, covered in grease, trying to fix their burned-out vehicle:

Leaning into the front of the cab, she brought her face close to the boiler as the heat of the kettle stung her cheeks. The metal coils of the heating element had melted into a blackened cake that smelled of burnt hair. Using the sides of the hood for leverage, she pivoted back until her satin boots met the road’s white gravel. Staring down at her cream dress, already streaked with soot and grease, she sighed and wiped her hands across it before smoothing a lock of henna hair behind her ear.

Of course her new white dress becomes filthy and in this state she has to meet their new neighbors and their cousin, Randall Nash, who seems to judge her appearance rather harshly.

Both Eilian and Hadley are having a hard time adjusting to so many changes in their lives, and part of the novel revolves around the new dimensions in their relationship as husband and wife and, of course, setting up their household in a Gothic-style mansion reminiscent of the BBC’s Downton Abbey. Add to this a mixture of steampunk devices and somewhat magical-seeming elements that are not simply thrown-in for effect but are actually integral to the story.

There is a treasure at Brasshurst Hall hidden in the ruins, but to discover it Eilian and Hadley have to brave physical threats and overcome the emotional debris of his tragic family history.  Suspense builds as the story continues, as does the sense of impeding danger.  Without giving away too much, I will just say that the resolution will not be something most readers will expect, but it fits perfectly with the story world and the characters.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 12.42.15 AMI recommend The Earl and the Artificer for anyone who enjoys a Victorian-style steampunk novel filled with intriguing characters, mystery, suspense, and danger.

 

The Story of the Steampunk Cavaliers

musalogo-2-300x229Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a place called Musa Publishing. It existed only online but the writers, editors and artists who gathered there were closer than many families. They worked hard to bring a shared dream of great ebooks to the world. It was in this virtual land that the Steampunk Cavaliers first met, brought together by a magical series called The Darkside Codex.

All too soon the day came when Musa had to close its doors, leaving The Darkside Codex without a home. Yet the Cavaliers stayed connected. We continued supporting each other, cheering for accomplishments and offering hugs for failures.

Today we open the doors to our own virtual space, a space for exploring all things steampunk, for conversations both serious and silly, but most of all for sharing great stories. We hope you’ll come in, say hello and maybe share a few stories of your own.

For now, I’d like to introduce you to my fellow Cavaliers:

ChrisPavesicIconChris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, and writing speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.  She became a Steampunk Cavalier thanks to her involvement in The Darkside Codex blog and Musa Publishing.

imageDaniel Ausema’s work has spanned the drudgery of food mines and the heights of the rigging of airships. As an educator, he has tutored both the peers and paupers of the realm, in matters of language and physical exertion. His writings have appeared, in many print and aether-based publications, including such august journals as Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fictiom, and the Journal of Unlikely Stories. And he is the creator of the steampunk-fantasy serial fiction project, Spire City. Daniel was also one of the bloggers on The Darkside Codex.

 

HeadshotLondonDianna Gunn(that’s me!) is a freelance writer, social media specialist and book fanatic who enjoys both reading and writing fantastical adventures of all sorts. She was the Promotions Specialist behind The Darkside Codex and decided to bring her favorite steampunk authors back together to create this blog. She hopes to interview steampunk authors, scriptwriters and artists as well as discussing different steampunk influences in mainstream media.

Dianna is actively seeking authors and artists to interview in the coming months. Email diannalgunn@gmail.com with a short bio & blurb about your work.

 

Jorie Story author badge created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Florian Klauer.
Sources: Jorie Story author badge created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Florian Klauer.

Jorie Story is a book blogger, Joyful Tweeter and a writer whose season of publishing has not yet arrived. Happily spending her hours seeking out wicked sweet stories conceived with a dedicated passion by their writers, she dances across time and genre seeking her favourite next reads. Entering her third year as a book blogger she is expanding her readerly contributions to The Steampunk Cavaliers as a contributor for book reviews wherein she is seeking a particular kind of ‘Steampunk’ which will whet her palette of interest. Inasmuch as seeking out intrepid artisans of the genre who are creating how the foundation of Steampunk culture, art, music, fashion and the craft of story will be defined as I feature their conversations and creative voice.

Her first vintage typewriter is a Royal wherein her future collective works will be composed and created. She has a knitty heart for charity and is eclectically geeky by nature. Photography is a medium of art she has developed through self-discipline and exploration of wildlife habitats and natural landscapes. Steampunk caught her creative eye for it’s visual clarity of self and how it’s uniquely re-envisioned by each person who claims it as their voice of expression.

 

Jorie met the other Steampunk Cavaliers thanks to her adventures on Twitter.

What would you like to see the Steampunk Cavaliers talk about?

Let us know in the comments below!