Me: Welcome to the Steampunk panel!
Me: I’m—wait for it–Heather Massey and I’ll be moderating this session. We’ll kick off with a fun and festive discussion about all things steampunk.
Me: After 40 minutes or so, we’ll open the panel for a Q&A.
Me: Please put your virtual hands together for my co-panelist, author Ciara Knight. Ciara, please tell us a little about yourself.
Ciara Knight: I write to ‘Defy the Dark’ with my young adult paranormal, fantasy, and Steampunk books. I enjoys anything ‘not of this world’ and genre blending. My books are published through various publishers and I’ve begun my journey as an indie author. I’m the Associate Acquisitions Editor for a new Steampunk line at Turquoise Morning Press. I also teach writing related classes on various online venues, schools, conferences, and serve on panels at reader events.
Me: As for me, I run a science fiction romance blog called The Galaxy Express. My goal is to help readers connect with all kinds of sci-fi romance adventures. I’m also an author in the subgenre. My ebooks can be found at Red Sage, Lyrical Press, and L&L Dreamspell.
Me: We have giveaways for you today!
Me: Here’s what’s up for grabs:
Me: Prize #1: $20.00 e-gift card (winner’s choice B&N or Amazon)
Me: Prize #2: Two of Heather Massey’s backlist steampunk titles (digital; winner’s choice)
Me: Prize #3: One digital copy each of Ciara Knight’s RISE FROM DARKNESS, FALL FROM GRACE, ASCENSION OF EVIL, and WEIGHTED
Me: We’ll pick the winners at random toward the end of the chat.
Me: Folks, please let me know if I’m going too fast or too slow!
Me: Ready for some steampunk action? Let’s roll!
Me: I’m going to start things off with a description of the steampunk genre—a little Steampunk 101.
Me: The simplest way to describe steampunk is Victorian-era science fiction. You’ll also hear steampunk defined as a retro-futuristic setting filled with fantastical inventions and anachronistic technology.
Me: For example, one example of a technology ahead of its time is a “difference engine,” which is a steampunk version of a computer. Philip Reeve’s LARKLIGHT features a steampunk style space station that the main characters call home.
Me: One big hallmark of steampunk is the use of steam-powered technology. You’ll frequently encounter steam powered airships, automatons, locomotives, carriages, and various gadgets. Many authors also mix clockwork elements with steampunk (e.g.,JayLake’s MAINSPRING).
Me: Steampunk is a great multitasker. While stories are generally set during Earth’s industrialized Victorian era, authors have told steampunk tales in a variety of settings, including alternate fantasy worlds, the American Old West, space, andAfrica.
Me: Steampunk also plays well with mystery, romance, horror, and action-adventure.
Me: Historically, steampunk as a literary genre gained notice starting in the 1980s. It’s a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy.
Me: SF author W.K. Jeter is generally credited with coining the term “steampunk.” He applied it to the stories of himself and other authors that were inspired by the conventions of Victorian fantasy tales (e.g., those written by Jules Verne).
Ciara Knight: Heather, while the steampunk settings are fun, it’s the characters that really make the stories come alive. What type of characters will readers encounter in steampunk?
Me: Excellent point. There are quite a lot, but I’ll touch upon some of the most popular:
Me: Airship captain, inventor, spy, pirate/privateer, automaton, evil scientist villain, explorer, private investigator, government agent, physician, and scholar.
Me: I must say, just listing them all gets me excited, LOL!
Me: Then there are various steampunk cyborgs, which is basically any person/animal/creature with a steampunk prosthetic.
Me: Meljean Brook’sIronSeas series, for example, features many characters with prosthetics. S.M. Peters’ WHITECHAPEL GODS has a character whose heart was replaced by a boiler. Wild stuff!
Me: One thing I love about steampunk is that it allows for subversion of gender roles. Heroines can be airship captains, inventors, or spies, for example.
Me: Authors can use steampunk settings to provide social commentary on gender roles and related issues.
Me: Ciara, now that we’ve covered the basics, what are some of the things that makes steampunk unique?
Ciara Knight: In my humble opinion, it is the bravery and versatility. Steampunks is visual and exciting. There can be anything from science fiction to alternate history. Yes, there are some defined rules according to the powers that be, but I’ve never been much of a rule follower.
Ciara Knight: The genre stretches the boundaries. What I mean is that most movie goers wouldn’t know the difference between post-apocalyptic punk, cyber punk, or biopunk. Yet, they are die-hard fans of the punk elements, and might refer to it as Steampunk. This has led to a grouping of the genres in the public. Take Firefly, a space western, or Mad Max a post-apocalyptic punk.
Ciara Knight: The genre is fresh and young, so the storylines are open to such creativity. Take Scot Westerfield’s book, Leviathan. It is an alternate history of World War II. In this novel Charles Darwin made discoveries into evolution, biology, DNA and genetics. Manipulating each of these created the fabricated creatures into airships. There were also the more traditional aspects of Steampunk with the Clankers (mechanized war machines).
Ciara Knight: Also, what other genre has people obsessed with the gadgets and clothes. Who spend exuberant money and time to attend Cons, conventions, and parties. I haven’t seen this kind of fandom since star Trek, and it is still growing. There are websites for clothing, gadgets, science, and so much more.
Ciara Knight: To sum up this appeal I think the attraction to any punk genre is the meshing of the mundane with the exotic
Me: Exactly. Steampunk is so wonderfully versatile.
Me: The aesthetic factor is particularly amazing. Steampunk has a unique look and style which is often fantastical in nature.
Me: Think oversized gears, brass goggles, clockwork inventions, automatons, massive airships, steam carriages, etc.
Me: It’s a very visual genre, which is why so many people love doing steampunk cosplay or creating steampunk gadgets.
Me: For example, steampunk keyboards, Nerf guns, masks/goggles, prosthetic arms, clocks, and even sewing tables. You name it, someone has probably steampunk’d it!
Me: Steampunk lends itself incredibly well to visual mediums such as graphic novels (e.g., GIRL GENIUS) and films (e.g, STEAMBOY, THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, WILD WILD WEST).
Me: It’s a shame there aren’t more steampunk films out there, but maybe that will change. In the meantime, here’s what’s happening now:
Me: Currently in theaters (limitedU.S. release) is TAI CHI 0, a kung fu steampunk mashup!
Me: Also, ABC is developing a steampunk show called GASLIGHT. I’m keen to see what they do with this show.
Me: You can read more about it here:
Me: Ciara, what do you think is the most fun about writing steampunk? The most challenging?
Ciara Knight: The freedom to imagine. Any genre that allows me to invent gadgets, build amazing new worlds, and create vibrant characters is a win for me.
The most challenging thing is making sure the science remains constant and is supported by the world’s resources. There is nothing worse than picking up a book that is set on a world with teleporters, communication devices, advanced medicine, yet they ride around on steam trains. No mention of how or why they have such primitive transportation. A book isn’t made into Steampunk by slapping some Victorian wear on the characters and having them ride in Steam powered trains on a planet that is full of Uranium that the people utilize for reactors to power their cities.
Ciara Knight: To create a truly masterful novel with Steampunk elements the science, characters, and world should seamlessly weave with the plot.
Me: I particularly love steampunk’s fantastical and sometimes outrageous nature. The more larger-than-life, the better.
Me: I also enjoy delving into steampunk’s dark side. Mixing steampunk with horror elements or horrific creatures is a fun way to slip in some social commentary as well.
Me: I agree with you that one of the challenging aspects of writing steampunk is keeping the scientific elements consistent, grounded, and plausible even if they are on the wild side.
Me: The world can be fantastic in nature, but should still have internal consistency. Throwing in gadgets just for the sake of gadgets doesn’t serve the story.
Me: Speaking of commentary, Ciara, what kinds of themes do you enjoy reading/writing about in a steampunk story?
Ciara Knight: Anything that is edgy, dark, and has a fresh take on the genre that pulls a reader outside the box of normal. I LOVE a story that bends, folds, cuts, and joins boxes to make the story truly special. As I said, I’m a lover of genre blends. It just shouldn’t be taken too far. There is a fine line between intriguing world building and over the top fiction that yanks the reader from the story. I don’t want to read something that loses me with pages of technical jargon.
Me: Ciara, tell us about your current/forthcoming steampunk story(ies).
Ciara Knight: The Neumarain Chronicles launched in August with a prequel novelette, Weighted.
Ciara Knight: The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.
Ciara Knight: Book I, Escapement will be released in February. This is the series of my heart. I’m super excited about the incredible reviews Weighted has received so far.
Me: Sounds like a fun saga!
Me: I also have a forthcoming title that will release in Winter 2013. It’s a Western steampunk romance that will be coming out from Lyrical Press.
Me: Here’s the premise:
Me: TRUE GRIT gets steampunk’d when Violet Whitcomb, an inventor’s daughter, joins forces with dangerous outlaw Logan McCoy and an automaton gunslinger to rescue her father from the clutches of an evil overlord known as the Iron Scorpion.
Me: I packed this novella with romance, action-adventure, and many elements that fans of weird west steampunk will enjoy.
Me: Ciara, you’re involved with Romfest 2013. Tell us about your Steamy West party.
Ciara Knight: I’m super excited about the Steamy West event at Romfest. It will be two hours of fun with games, desserts, great prizes and lots of laughter!
Ciara Knight: BYOBC (Bring Your Own Beverage and Corset) Come dressed in your best Steampunk or Western wear. Feast on gourmet treats and mingle with people from ships to saloons. Saddle up to the steamy fun with an interactive scavenger hunt. A Steampunk horn sounds to announce the reader feud game. Do you think you know what sexual position is overused? What is the most annoying plot line? Still have your scavenger hunt sheet? Great, listen for clues to win that grand prize.
Me: Cool beans! It just goes to show that steampunk is more than just a genre—it’s a way of life.
Me: I’d like to share a handy list of steampunk/steampunk romances:
Me: THE AFFINITY BRIDGE by George Mann
CLOCKWORK HEART by Dru Pagliassotti
WHITE CHAPEL GODS by S.M. Peters
HER SKY COWBOY by Beth Ciotta
MORTAL ENGINES by Philip Reeve
FULL STEAM AHEAD by Nathalie Gray
PERDIDO STREET STATION by China Miéville
RIVETED by Meljean Brook
THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK by Mark Hodder
CLOCKWORK AND CORSETS by Regina Riley
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF STEAMPUNK ROMANCE, edited by Sean Wallace
STEAM-POWERED: LESBIAN STEAMPUNK STORIES, edited by Joselle Vanderhooft
STEAMPUNK, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer
Me: There’re lots more, so if you’d like other recommendations, email me at email@example.com
Me: And here are some fun steampunk links:
Steampunk – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Me: oops. Well, those are the names, anyway!
Me: I’d like to go ahead and open this up for a Q&A/discussion.
Me: Is there anyone here who has written a steampunk/steampunk romance, and if so, would you like to tell us about it?
Me: Go ahead, Stacey!
StaceyTurner: I’m the publisher at Angelic Knight Press and my acquisitions editor has sent me a steampunk sub that she likes. I’ve never read a steampunk before.
StaceyTurner: What qualities should I look for?
StaceyTurner: Besides the ones I look for in any sub.
StaceyTurner: Are there elements particular to the genre that must be present?
Ciara Knight: Like I mentioned earlier, a reader doesn’t want information to be spoon fed to them. The gadgets/technology should blend well.
StaceyTurner: Are any historical associations meant to be true or are they all able to be played with?
Ciara Knight: I’m not a purist on that, so Heather what do you think?
Me: Great question. The technology should be steam/clockwork powered, or maybe the author comes up with other ideas, like aether powered machinery. IIRC Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso’s new steampunk series involves aether.
Me: Steampunk is wide open for alternate history spins.
Me: It also depends on how much of a learning curve you want.
StaceyTurner: Awesome. Thanks, ladies. I’m looking forward to reading some things in the genre. It sounds exciting.
Me: Some steampunk stories can be very dense and rich with worldbuilding, likeJayLake’s MAINSPRING or Mark Hodder’s Spring Heeled Jack
Me: But then you can have steampunk stories that are more action-adventure oriented, with just a sprinkling of gadgets.
Me: Welcome, Kait!
Ciara Knight: Heather, what is your favorite Steampunk book?
Ciara Knight: Hi, Kait!
Kim Knox: hi kait
Kait_Gamble: Just thought I’d drop in
Me: On the traditional steampunk side, I love George Mann’s THE AFFINITY BRIDGE.
Me: It’s like a steampunk version of the X-Files!
Me: BRIDGE is fairly accessible and a good place to start if you’ve never read steampunk before.
Me: It has airships, automatons, and steam carriages!
Me: Plus, the heroine is highly capable.
Ciara Knight: Leviathan is also a great one for new Steampunk fans. It is a young adult.
Kim Knox: You asked about writing steampunk. I have a trilogy coming out with Carina last next summer. It’s sort of The Scarlet Pimpernel meets Sherlock Holmes. With aliens.
Me: Leviathan, definitely. And Philip Reeve’s LARKLIGHT would be a fun place to start also.
Kim Knox: *late <–eating lunch lol
Me: Go ahead, Stacey!
StaceyTurner: Would you consider Wild Wild West, the movie with Will Smith steampunk? It seems like it came out before the steampunk genre really got going.
Me: Kim, that sound exciting!
Me: Yes, WWW is definitely steampunk. Unfortunately, not the best movie in other ways but it’s totally entrenched in the genre.
Ciara Knight: I agree, Heather.
Me: I think WWW madeHollywood averse to steampunk since it didn’t do very well. Ahead of its time.
Ayla: I really liked that movie. It was the first time i’d come across steampunk
Kim Knox: Thanks – though the research is so time comsuming ! I think that’s the most difficult part for me, and the fear that I could make a really obvious slip lol
Me: Steampunk films pose a challenge because they’d need a high budget. Period piece and all that.
StaceyTurner: My kids loved it so I’ve seen it a million times.
Ciara Knight: I thought it was fun.
Ciara Knight: I’d just like to see a better Steampunk movie.
Me: I loved seeing the steampunk elements unfold. They did do a good job with those.
Ciara Knight: Something to Strengthen the genre.
Ayla: i think the latest Sherlock movies with Robert Downey Jr have that hint of steampunk about them
Me: Kim, yes, the research is fierce because there’s genre research and also historical if that’s the setting
StaceyTurner: With the movement really catching on, I think we will start to see some movies. I agree about the Sherlock Holmes ones.
Ciara Knight: I thought the same thing when I saw it, Ayla.
Ciara Knight: Great movie!
Kim Knox: hi RL
Me: Hi R.L.! We are doing a Q&A/discussion. Stay tuned for the giveaways!
Ciara Knight: Welcome, RL!
Ayla: hey RL
J.R. Woods: same for the Hugh Jackman ‘Van Helsing’ movie
R.L. Naquin: Hi!
Me: It’s really helpful to read as widely as possible in the steampunk genre.
Ciara Knight: I’d love to ask a tough question of anyone here who reads Steampunk.
Me: You can get great inspirations from other authors.
Me: Go for it, Ciara!
Kim Knox: I also went back to primary material for inspiration
Ciara Knight: As Turquoise Morning Press defines the parameters of their new Steampunk line. I’d love to bend, alter, and go as far to the edge as possible with the genre.
Me: Like Jules Verne or something else?
Me: sorry, my question was for Kim.
Ciara Knight: Do you believe their are lines that should never be crossed. If so, what are they? Or do you think the genre is open to new and edgy books.
Ayla: the thing that confuses me is the different kinds of steampunk. Like i’ve heard of cyberpunk and stitchpunk and various other ones. Are they all steampunk or are they sub genres?
Guest 34499: Hi
Ciara Knight: Hi Guest 3499!
Me: Ayla, great question. They are all subgenres of SF/fantasy. The differences are basically along the lines of technology.
elladrake: I’d say that the other punks are all a class of genre but not under steampunk
Kim Knox: HG wells more, Heather also wilde and sherlock holmes stories. And a lot of history books – and maps and wandering around buildings lol
Me: For example, clockpunk stories feature clockwork-based tech.
elladrake: Ciara, I’m a fan of pushing the genre and genre blending
elladrake: I personally think the only hard line in steampunk is it must include steam (or aether)
Me: three cheers for wandering around buildings!
Ciara Knight: Elladrake, so do you believe you can run a line with ‘Steampunk Elements’ and dip into other punks, action adventure, historical, etc…
Me: What ella said.
Me: Steampunk stories also mix in clockwork *a lot*
elladrake: I have a “steampunk” that’s space opera that is half set on a steam age world
elladrake: so, I think mix away!
Me: There’s also dieselpunk, which is post-Victorian. Would love to read a good dieselpunk.
elladrake: they do, Heather. I love the clockwork mixes. and dieselpunk! I’d love to see that, too
Ciara Knight: I think of Mad Max when you say that.
Me: Ella Drake’s MetalMark, ladies and gents! Looking forward to it.
Kim Knox: Yep, I’m been pondering this, as I don’t really have steam… *looks guilty*
elladrake: steam age works for me, too
Me: What would be cool also is Egyptian punk–stories using tech the Egyptians had. You can go anywhere you want and draw upon the technology of that time.
Ciara Knight: That sounds awesome, Heather. That’s the type of story I could get behind.
Me: Steampunk has also been paired with romance more recently.
Ayla: is steampunk always an alt history?
Me: Meljean Brook’sIronSeas has a mix of romance and rich worldbuilding.
Ciara Knight: Ayla, no. There are SF books, off world books, etc…
elladrake: Heather mentioned CLOCKWORK HEART by Dru Pagliassotti. It’s not alt history. It’s another world
Me: Ayla, not necessarily, although one could argue that by featuring technology ahead of its time a story becomes alt history. Depends on how grounded the tech is in actual history. I hope that makes sense!
Me: Great point, Ella. Quite a few steampunk stories have a fantasy based setting.
Me: Is anyone reading steampunk/steampunk right now? Which title?
Kim Knox: brb
Me: I’m in the middle of STEAM-POWERED: LESBIAN STEAMPUNK STORIES and the stories are really fun.
Ciara Knight: I’m picking up four new ones today. I call it research. I love my job.
Ayla: i’ve not read much steampunk but i am really interested in the genre. i’m hoping to pick up MetalMark soon
Me: Sherlock Holmes was mentioned upthread. I really hope the success of those films lead to more steampunk films. But it might also take a wildly successful steampunk forHollywood to take a chance.
Me: Ayla, HER SKY COWBOY, which comes out in early November, is getting good buzz. I like the premise of that one.
Me: I’m going to start picking giveaway winners in about two minutes.
Me: I really love how epubs have embraced steampunk romance. Authors are putting out creative stuff. And you can get super hot/erotic steampunk, too!
Ayla: maybe i’ll pitch one to ciara
Ciara Knight: TMP will be opening up for submissions soon. I look forward to it, Ayla.
Me: Hi Rob! you’re just in time for the giveaway. Picking names now…
Ayla: just figured it would be funny to pitch my author with a story, makes a nice change
Ciara Knight: I figured that was you. LOL
Ciara Knight: You didn’t have a last name so I learned never to assume.
Ayla: not many people named Ayla
Ciara Knight: True.
Me: Okay, the winner of the egift card is…ella drake!
Me: The winner of two of my backlist titles is…Ayla!
Ayla: woot go ella
Ayla: oh yay!
Me: The winner of Ciara’s books is…Kim Knox!
Ciara Knight: Congrats to the winners!!
Me: Could you ladies please either post your emails here or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can arrange to send you your prizes? thanks!
elladrake: I think Kim stepped away
Rob Miller: Wonderful. Congrats.\
Me: Hi Jaleta! We are wrapping up the steampunk chat.
Ayla: well done guys
Ciara Knight: Let me know if anyone knows how to reach Kim.
Me: @Ella, well, I know how to get in touch with her, LOL!
Ayla: i do
Ciara Knight: Cool
Me: You can find Ciara Knight at
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/…T6UL2
elladrake: thank you guys for the wonderful panel!
Me: Connect with Heather Massey at http://heathermassey.com/ http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/ https://twitter.com/thgalaxyexpress http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Massey-Science-Fiction-Romance-Author/145415055515942?v=wall
Me: Thank you all so much for coming!!