I’ve always loved things dark and Gothic. Long before Stephenie Meyers was dreaming up sparkly vampires, I was devouring Ann Rice books. Diana Wynn-Jones and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. I’ve always had a soft spot for zombies, werewolves and the occult. Witchcraft, secret societies and dark rituals filled my teenage day dreams.
And I like history. Especially Victoriana. I mean, a girl wouldn’t love a nice bustle dress or a good corset?
And what happens when all of this is combined ? Indeed… You get steampunk!
But I am a romantic steampunk fan. The first steampunk I read such as the likes of Moorcock, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s difference engine, was hard masculine and machiney. But I wanted more and so I started hunting. And in the time of this search, girl-steampunk was born. Steampunk written for women, by women.
Girl steampunk nods its head at 19th Century Gothic liteature. It’s Wuthering Heights and Dracula, reimagined in a steam-powered world. Jules Verne and Wilkie Collins. Elizabeth Gaskell and Jane Austin.
But most of all, steampunk is FUN. It’s fun to read. It’s fun to take part in and for me, most of all, it’s fun to write.
This doesn’t mean that writing good steampunk is easy. In fact, it presents the double challenge of the research associated with historical novels in tandem with the world building that fantasy and sci-fi writers have to do. Not easy, but fantastic if you get it right.
And steampunk doesn’t end with literature. For many, it is a way of life. It is reflected in almost all aspects of life. People dress like steampunks, they do up their houses. Steampunk conferences are popping up all over the world. More and more it is gaining mainstream recognition.
And why the appeal? Personally, I think it is a yearning for a time past. A time when the world wasn’t completely broken. Steampunk is the ultimate what if? And it is a what-if that rocks with giant steam-powered bells on.