Guest Blog – EC Jarvis – How to approach writing/reading your first steampunk novel – a guide for the uninitiated.

ProfileToday, I’m pleased to welcome another guest blogger. You may remember E.C. Jarvis as the writer of The Machine, a book I reviewed recently. Quick recap: loved it! So you’ll understand why I’m thrilled to have her as my guest.

The MachineE.C. Jarvis is a British author working mainly in speculative and fantasy fiction genres. For the last thirteen years, Jarvis has been working her way through the ranks of the accountancy profession in various industries. During ten of those years she has also been writing.

 

And now, I leave my blog in Jarvis’s capable hands.

 

How to approach writing/reading your first steampunk novel – a guide for the uninitiated.

EC Jarvis

Steampunk – it’s a weird word. It’s a word I don’t much like. The ‘steam’ part is ok, but if you say the word ‘punk’ to me, it conjures up a very specific image of punk rock – that aggressive movement of music that originated in the 1970’s, with loud shouting and extreme haircuts. It was a sort of rebellion against the stuffed shirts of Britain, a way of sticking it to “the man.” I suppose some aspects of that image are relevant, but generally (in my opinion) the “punk” part of the word is not indicative of the genre. Especially not in the case of books.

To anyone who has never read a steampunk book, I can understand some apprehension you may feel towards it. When I first saw a writing prompt in a small online competition in the genre of steampunk, I knew I felt inspired to write, but I was uneasy about the style and the world. I’d never read anything in the genre and really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Now I’m almost at the end of writing a four book steampunk series, I think I can safely say – I’m hooked.

Really, steampunk – as a literary genre – is just an offshoot of both science fiction and fantasy genres, with some specific elements.

The PirateIt is generally set in a version of Victorian times, the style of dress that characters wear includes corsets, top hats, and googles. There could be airships, steam locomotives, or dragons. The range of stories available is too large to number, but there is almost always some form of adventure, within the pages of a steampunk book.

The War v2So if you’ve never read one, then don’t worry. There is no prerequisite required besides a healthy imagination and a love of the fantastical. Once you find a great steampunk book, you’ll find yourself shopping for more and you’ll wonder why you hadn’t started reading them sooner.

And never mind the odd title…us steampunk people are a little odd by nature, so I suppose the strange moniker makes sense in that respect.

Read on!

 

To learn more about E.C. Jarvis, visit

www.ecjarvis.com

Amazon Author Page

facebook.com/E.C.JarvisAuthor

twitter.com/EC_Jarvis

 

Guest Blog: Steve Moore: Living Dead London

My latest guest in my guest blog series is none other than Steve Moore. Moore is a genuine Londoner and, well, a somewhat quirky individual – but I repeat myself. Like my previous guest, he is also a Denizen of the Steampunk Empire’s Scribblers Den and will be featured in our upcoming anthology (more on that later). He is also the author of Royal America and a member of Bellack Productions.

Steve was also kind enough to give Dead London a read, and promised to share his thoughts. I was eager to hear his opinions, because – in case the title wasn’t a dead giveaway – Dead London takes place in Steve’s hometown. And while I visited and researched London as much as I could afford to, that’s not the same as living there. I really needed to hear from a genuine Londoner, and I was lucky to have found a friend in Steve Moore, who also provided me with a list of sites to see in London.

Without further ado, I’ll step back and let Mr. Moore be your guide.

Living Dead London

Steve Moore

“Penny for your thoughts. Penny for your dreadful thoughts.” said Mr. Raffle raffishly, slowly sipping his green absinthe with a smile on his face.

He deserves to smile because as a Beta reader of Dead London, I can confirm and testify that this Book is a wonderful action packed read. It is not for the faint-hearted or squeamish and is truly brilliant. Bryce has a hit on his hands and the movie or TV series will be awesome (if a Brit uses this word it means something).

And so, as a Londoner I am thrilled that a lot of the locations Bryce has used, are so well known to me. I recently retired, but my first job in London was as a Solicitor’s Clerk delivering legal documents all over London and Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the home of the legal profession was one of the places I started my working life 40 years ago. Later I worked in Soho Square and so another Dead London location is well known to me. In fact, in this post, I am going to do two things:

Promote Dead London

Andimage1 enjoy visiting the places the zombies – ahh, used the Zee word (Zed Word) – swarm. So dip in, as we now tour London and live the adventure. My Daughter Sian (pronounce Sharn) has helped me with photographs and together we set to:

Cover London in chalk

This idea came from our mutual friend and fellow Scribblers’ Den member, Kate Philbrick, better known to us as Mrs. Emeline Warren. The idea was to draw chalk body outlines, like in CSI Miami or CSI New York. What better way to generate curiosity and hits on the website! It is though the ideal way to promote Dead London and here’s a thing. What if we all do a body outline right now? And all include dead-london.net.

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Could we share the news of Dead London all over the world and take social networking and book promotion to the next level?

Yes, that crazy Brit is at it again.

The other brilliant idea was my own and a logical extension of living DEAD LONDON and that is the:

DEAD LONDON pub crawl…

image5When Bryce started doing some research for Dead London, I volunteered some Victorian locations that Bryce might like.

Funny old thing was he thoroughly recce’d (time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted) the pubs on the list.

There are some amazing Victorian pubs preserved in London and one of them, The Cittie of York in High Holborn, reminds me that I should have met with Bryce when he visited on recce last year. Bryce’s visit coincided with my return home from a family vacation in the Wild West of Wales. I could have made the rendezvous if I did not have a tyre (tire) blowout on the M4 motorway and need assistance to change the spare wheel (Thank you, Kia – Not). I was hours adrift, stressed and too pooped to travel up into central London that night. A lost opportunity to meet a fellow Denizen of Scribblers’ Den that I regret to this day. That is why I owe Bryce big time and why Sian and myself did what follows in the big zombie footsteps of Dead London.

There are no rules on covering the streets in chalk as far as I can tell. We shall have to see what happens!


We started in Old Soho…

We started in Old Soho and Soho Square in particular. We then headed for the Princess Louise in Holborn and thence in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Thence to the Cittie of Yorke.

We then found our way to the Old Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street and finally over Blackfriar’s bridge via the Blackfriar’s Pub to the Southbank and Borough market.

We then jumped on a Southbound train for Crystal Palace which is where we live.


I do hope you have enjoyed this craziness.

God Save the Queen and Rule Britannia !

Steve Moore

www.royal-america.co.uk

Remembering Datamancer

Recently, one of my friends sent me a link to this website. The website belongs (or belonged) to Richard “Doc” Nagy, otherwise known as datamancer, and features a number of beautiful, functional, steampunk keyboards and computer mods.

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My friend knew of my interest in steampunk and probably figured I hadn’t seen the keyboards before. I had seen them before, about 10-12 years ago. In fact, datamancer’s keyboards were a part of what drew me in to steampunk in the first place. At the time, I’d never seen anything quite like them, and certainly nothing like datamancer’s laptop. After that, I began seeking out any and all things steampunk. I was hooked.

Visiting the site brought back memories. I was curious to see how and why the site was still active. After all, just a few years ago, Richard Nagy, the man behind datamancer.net, died in a car crash. With that in mind, seeing his wonderful work again was somewhat of an emotional experience. And his work truly was wonderful.

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A few google searches led me to discover that Nagy had trained a number of individuals and they were working to keep the datamancer website(s) active.

Hello Everyone,

My name is Rabiah Al-Sibai. I was a very close friend of Richard’s and I worked very closely with him at Datamancer. In order to preserve his art and legacy I will be continuing his work and business.

The replies on this Facebook page were heartbreaking. People were partly grateful to those keeping the site active, thanking them for the love and respect they obviously have for Richard and his work, and partly sad, because how could the world take away someone like that? Someone who only ever inspired others, who took the time to share his passions and interests with others, who created some of the most iconic designs in the steampunk movement, and who helped inspire an entire generation of steampunks.

His work is too amazing to be lost. They are big shoes to fill, but if he trusted you, so do I. Thank you for honoring his legacy.

Very good to hear, glad you are carrying on. Richard would have loved that.

I didn’t know him personally, but I did reach out to him at one point to ask about his work. He was kind enough to send me a reply and answered my questions in detail. Not only was he immensely talented, he was also gracious, humble, and generous. I’m happy to know his work will live on.

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Guest Blog: David Lee Summers – Seeking Relevance through Steampunk

Today I’m starting a new series of blog posts, where each month (or so), I introduce a new guest, and step back while they take the wheel.

David-Steampunk-400x400

My first guest is David Lee Summers, a fellow steampunk writer and Scribblers’ Den member. His novels include Owl Dance, a steampunk adventure set in the wild west, and the Scarlet Order Vampires series. He has written for numerous magazines and anthologies, including Denizens of Steam and another upcoming Scribblers’ Den anthology, which I’ll be announcing here soon.

When he’s not writing, David operates telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory.

You can learn more about David at davidleesummers.com

Seeking Relevance through Steampunk

David Lee Summers

A criticism often leveled at steampunk is that it glorifies the fashion, science, and manners of the Victorian era while turning a blind eye to the very real racism, colonialism, and repression of the period. While I feel the criticism is valid, I also think it presents a challenge and an opportunity to use the genre as a way to explore these issues, especially those which are still relevant today.

My introduction to steampunk came before the term was even coined, via the television series The Wild Wild West starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. The show basically imagined a spy much like James Bond with sophisticated gadgets battling opponents seeking world domination but set in nineteenth century America. I loved the idea of futuristic gadgets appearing in the past and how they might or might not have changed history if they really existed.

As someone who lives in the Southwestern United States and loves the history of the region, I was excited when I learned there was a market for stories like those in The Wild Wild West and leapt at the opportunity to try my hand at them. Because I grew up in the region and because my great-grandparents were early settlers, I wanted to portray the people as I knew them to be. So, when I created a sheriff, I modeled him on real life lawmen like Elfego Baca and Mariano Barela.

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In Owl Dance, my character, Ramon Morales struggles with racism and people thinking he’s a foreigner, even though his father, like many historical Latinos in New Mexico Territory, fought for the Union Army in the American Civil War.

People from around the world settled in the west and I wanted to introduce a character who would at once learn from Ramon and inspire him. I researched real-life women who lived around the time of my story, but didn’t limit myself to women who lived in the United States. I came across the story of Táhirih, an influential poet and early proponent of Bábism in Iran. She inspired Fatemeh Karimi, a healer who fled Persia to find a new life in America.

Ramon and Fatemeh have allowed me to explore the serious and relevant issues of race, religion, and colonialism while still telling an entertaining story. Joining Ramon and Fatemeh in these tales is an alien called Legion. Once an organic lifeform, Legion uploaded himself into a computer. Over several millennia of upgrades, he now exists as a swarm of microscopic computers. On the surface, Legion pushes humans forward, giving rise to some of the steampunk technologies in my novels. However, Legion serves an even more important role. He is an impartial observer who sees all humans as one species during a time when few humans saw themselves that way.

A friend of mine is fond of saying, “the nineteenth century didn’t just happen in England.” The Clockwork Legion series, which starts with Owl Dance, imagines that Russians invade the United States in 1877. Because such an event would have ramifications as history progressed, I wondered what would happen to the Russo-Japanese conflict and decided to explore that in the third novel of the series, The Brazen Shark.

Brazen Shark-600x900This allowed me to imagine what Japan could be like in this new world as it struggled to overthrow a feudal system in favor of a more parliamentary government. In the process, I introduce a woman who fears this could actually create fewer opportunities for women and her fight to prevent that from happening.

The fashion, gadgets, and manners of the upper class in the nineteenth century are fun to write about. They provide a backdrop that has captivated many creators, but it doesn’t mean the darker and more nuanced sides of the period can’t and shouldn’t be explored in steampunk. In fact, taking a look at history that wasn’t, but could have been, can provide an opportunity to talk about issues that are just as relevant to us in the modern world as they were in the past.

You can learn more about David’s Clockwork Legion novels by visiting http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion