I’m happy to be a part of the The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl tour today! I’ve got Leigh here to talk to us about what it’s like to write steampunk, and you can also enter to win before you go! First, let’s see what this book is all about:
Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except she suspects she may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family's steam forge.
When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. But the trip proves more harrowing than she had anticipated, revealing secrets and testing her strength as well as her heart. Love, adventure and restitution await her in Canada, but only if she can survive the voyage.
Guest post by Leigh Statham
The Perils of Writing Steampunk
Steampunk is one of the most exciting and freeing genres to write. If you are a history buff, it’s great because you get to research to your heart’s content. But the creative types get to embellish and change all the things they don’t like. However, like any other speculative fiction genre, it still holds its challenges.
For example, I was up to my armpits in researching 17th century French party food (not an easy topic to uncover) when I realized that even though I wanted to stay true to the period, I could fudge a bit and get really creative. After all, I already wrote in mechanical farm workers and a robot lady’s maid, why not keep going with experimental orchestral instruments, exotic food, and serving trays that serve themselves. The tricky part of writing like this is hanging on to your readers. If you get too carried away, your story won’t be believable.
I recently read a steampunk novel set in London (which most are) that I was enjoying immensely. It had great characters, a really fun murder mystery premise, and magical elements to explain the alternate history. Unfortunately, about halfway through I realized not only were there all these great details, but a large part of the plot now also revolved around time travel and different dimensions as well. For me, that was the point where I gave up enjoying the book. It was just too much for me to swallow. Other people might really enjoy a complicated plot like that, but I think the majority of readers deserve a smart plot with good writing and well developed characters. The more complicated it gets, the harder it will be to appeal to a large fan base.
For my book, I decided to base it on my French-Canadian ancestors. I’d been doing a lot of genealogy research and found that part of my family tree very fascinating. Since most steampunk books are set in London or old west America, I thought it would be a fun new twist to write about France under Louis the XIV.
Next I decided that I didn’t want to use a different dimension or magic to explain the advanced technology in my book. I am a big fan of science. I’m always excited to hear what the latest discoveries are in our world and beyond. So I decided to make my own great discovery – a new element that could be used to harness the power of the sun. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure my book is the only steam-powered story run on solar power.
Next, I decided to stay true to my time period. As I mentioned above, it’s easy to get carried away, but I wanted to make sure I included as many true details as possible. I think that’s what makes Steampunk so rewarding to read and write. Not only is if fun and exciting, keeping an eye out for the nuggets of actual truth makes you feel like you’re actually learning something while you spend hours curled up on the couch under a blanket reading the day away.
Once I had my rules in place, it was just a matter of writing a decent plot with real characters – and that’s the job of any writer.
The next time you read or write any type of fantasy, keep an eye on the world and how it’s built. What are the rules? Do they stay consistent? Do they make sense? Do they support or hinder the plot? Are they original and exciting? If you can answer these questions, you’re well on your way to understanding speculative fiction and you’ll be able to write better stories yourself.
Cheers loves! And happy reading!
About the Author
Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.
This post is part of the Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl blog tour.
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Thanks to Month9Books, you can enter to win yourself a copy of this book! Up for grabs:
–Three (3) winners will receive a physical copy of The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham
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