One of the neatest things for me, as a writer, is working with other writers. I belong to an active writing group full of wonderful people, such as my friend Ali Abbas. Last June, I had the pleasure of beta reading one of Ali’s novellas, “Like Clockwork,” which Transmundane Press released in February, 2017. I hope you enjoy Ali’s guest post and consider buying his book. It’s a great read,
From Sense and Sensibility to Steampunk
We are distant and different from the Victorian era, and yet oddly close to it. The entire 1900s lie between us, but the Victorians had a lifestyle and culture that we think we understand, an emerging social consciousness that we can identify with and they were beginning to seed technology into everyday life.
As a writer, this is a goldmine. Any period of change provides a wealth of dramas and conflicts, and this is one the reader can be easily transported to. The Victorian era is close enough and so well documented that we can all mentally time-hop into a story, and far back enough that it can be changed without offending the living.
I grew up in a family with a deep love of literature, and with a brother more than six years older. From him, my early reading was loaded with Austen, Hardy, and the Brontes (and yes, I know Austen is marginally pre-Victorian), also Turgenev and Maupassant. I feel like I have read more of that time than of the modern day, and my experience is not unique.
It feels natural to slip into that era, and then with the storytelling instinct, to twist it. Therein lies the essence of Steampunk. There was a riot of innovation happening: steam, electricity, gas, metal taking the place of wood, machines taking the place of people. Humans began to impose themselves on the world as never before, taking control of their environment. With all that potential, making the world morph into a new shape feels almost as true to that time as telling its actual history.
The steampunk elements of Like Clockwork open a door, allowing me to take a Victorian romance and mystery, and nudge them somewhere darker and more disturbing. The theme of taking the chaotic and unpredictable, and bringing it under control runs through the story, weaving around a dance that is a hat-tip to Pride and Prejudice, a lonely stately home that hints at Jane Eyre, and an idealistic lead character that may evoke memories of Spring Torrents.
I hope that the melange of my influences and my own instincts provides something that is new, gripping and leaves you just a little uncomfortable.