Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What is This Steampunk Everyone is Talking About?

I’d like to thank Ginger for inviting me to her blog today and I’m looking forward to hosting her on my blog. 

As the release month (Dec. 2010) approaches for my Steampunk/Science Fiction romance novella, Tangled in Time, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions that are variations of: what is this Steampunk? 

Wikipedia tells us that “steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy.” Think Wild Wild West or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen if you’re still having trouble with the concept. On my website I have a lot of links to additional information: http://www.paulinebjones.com/steampunklinks.htm

At its heart, steam is what puts the steam in Steampunk, but the imaginative use of other anachronistic and/or impossible elements is what makes it fun to write and read. NCIS Los Angeles dipped a toe into the Steampunk pool on an episode last year, but they focused more on the “punk,” (thinking its counter culture when it’s not) and offended a lot of Steampunk enthusiasts. 

At its heart, Steampunk is the basic “what if” but grounded in (with some exceptions) the Victorian time period. (Since there are no rules, authors are already pushing the “boundaries” in a lot of interesting directions.) If you’ve been following publishing trends at all, or looking at publisher wish lists, you’ll see requests for Steampunk popping up more and more. 

In fiction—which is my main interest though the jewelry and clothes are very fun—the genre covers a lot of ground, from dark, dystopian works to whimsy and humor. I like to laugh, so mine comes in on the whimsy/humor end of the Steampunk scale. 

While I’m happy to be on the front end of a trend, I will confess that I wandered into it accidentally. I’d read a fun Steampunk novel and thought, “Oh, that was fun. I’d like to do something like that.” And that’s pretty much all I did until…
…I was asked to write a short story for our chapter anthology, an anthology based on Texas landmarks (which should have ruled out Steampunk, but somehow didn’t). Tangled in Time quickly burst the short story bounds and ended up as novella (my editor was thankful it was a “mere” 28,000 words, since I usually produce what we “fondly” call the BABs–big a** books). 

Its roots as a short story, and the Texas landmarks requirement, are the reason for the local: Big Bend National Park. I also wanted to tie it into my science fiction romance novels, so I picked my hero from the supporting cast of The Key and Girl Gone Nova. Colonel Carey was a favorite of mine and I’d been waiting to give him star billing and a girl. I will admit even I didn’t see his “right” girl coming until she arrived. 

Olivia Carstairs is an 1890’s geek, a girl willing to push the boundaries of her own time. But she is still a creature of her time. I learned a lot about the origin of words and 1890’s slang during the writing of this book, not to mention a ton of other stuff, such as that the El, the elevated train, ran during Olivia’s time. You can see actual video of it and read about how Olivia got her job by going here: 

Of course, the biggest challenge I faced was bringing such disparate characters together and giving them a story that readers could dive into with suspended disbelief (because both the science and the Steampunk are fiction). 

Here’s the blurb:

Colonel Carey (from The Key and Girl Gone Nova) takes a test "flight" through the Garradian time-space portal, but an unexpected impact lands him somewhere and some when. As he attempts to get to Area 51, he crosses paths with Miss Olivia Carstairs, who could be Mary Poppins' twin sister. Or maybe her cousin. Olivia's got a transmogrification machine powered by steam and something else that looks really dangerous, and a mouth he'd like to kiss like it was his job. Can he get them both to safety before the buzzard eats them or she shoots him with her derringer?

Review quotes:

"I read this Sci Fi/Steampunk Romance Novella ARC for the author and I couldn't put it down. It was wonderful with great gentle humor!" Reviews by Martha
"Jones packs a wallop of a story in Tangled in Time. Humor and suspense abound in a tale filled with action and suspense. The diversity between Carey and Olivia in manner and speaking is portrayed with engaging wit and the chemistry between the two is fun and highly entertaining. Fans of Jones will recognize favorite characters from The Key and Girl Gone Nova, an added bonus. This novella will appeal to readers across genres, offering romance, suspense, and mystery all wrapped up in an intriguing Sci-Fi plot that grabs the reader from beginning to end." Midwest Book Review
"I can’t thank Pauline enough for exposing me to a new genre. I absolutely recommend reading Tangled In Time to science geeks and non-nerds alike. Pauline has the art of subtle romance down, which is something I can now say that I have been missing on my reading list. Tangled In Time is perfectly executed and an absolutely satisfying read!" Http://FirePages.wordpress.com

Link to excerpt
Link to book page 


Melissa Bradley said...

This sounds very intriguing. Congrats on the new release. I wish you tons of success. I'm actually glad you were here because I am working on a steampunk story myself. Your post helped me to explain steampunk to some friends who looked at me with absolute blankness when I attempted to explain my latest WIP to them.

Pauline B Jones said...

Thanks, Melissa and good luck with that steampunk story! (Did you see Castle last night, btw? The episode took him to a very cool steampunk club!)

Melissa Bradley said...

I did see Castle, Pauline. That was a very cool club. I love Nathan Fillion and could easily imagine him as an airship captain.

Pauline B Jones said...

I know! I DVR'd the episode, so I could study the steampunk details. Oh, to have that budget to get a costume!

Robert Appleton said...

I like that premise a lot, Pauline. Steampunk and time travel are a perfect match. And Area 51? I'm in.

Pauline B Jones said...

LOl! I love some Area 51, too. thanks, Robert. Believe it or not, my hair dresser has flown over Area 51 (sort of, at the legal edges) and he said he's seen some weird stuff!

Sloane Taylor said...

You've sure cleared up things for me, Pauline. Steampunk books sound like creative fun reads.

Pauline B Jones said...

There is a lot of diversity in the books, Sloane, but glad I helped! I obviously like the ones with romantic elements, but there really is a nice range of them. :-D

Phyllis Campbell said...

What an interesting story. I'll have to get it and read it. I started a Steampunk romance last year. Only got two chapters done before something came up. I had originally started writing this story with another author, so maybe that's why it was put aside - because we're both working on other stories of our own. lol Anyway, it sure makes me want to pick it back up and give it another shot by myself.

Loved the video of the El. Gads, I love historical stuff! Anything historical! lol

Congrats on your new story and may the sales be with you!


Pauline B Jones said...

thanks, Phyllis! Excited for the story to release! Waiting is the hardest. LOL!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Pauline,
Wow this steam punk sounds really interesting. Thanks for explaining what it was, I didn't have a clue until now. Congratulations on the latesst release. Mega sales I hope.



Pauline B Jones said...

Thanks, Margaret! It was fun to write and so far been fun to read. :-)

Margaret West said...

I've never heard of steam punk lol now I've been enlightened it's a facinating topic.

Pauline B Jones said...

Hello, Margaret! Yes, steampunk is quite fascinating and fun to write and talk about. LOL!

Cate Masters said...

Loved both those movies. Congrats on your upcoming release! Sounds like a fun read.

Pauline B Jones said...

Many thanks, Cate! They were fun, weren't they? (the movies. LOL!)

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