interviews, Writing

Discovering steampunk

When my writing friend Anne Van told me she was publishing a steampunk story, I had to admit I had never read anything in that genre before, I wasn’t even sure I knew exactly what it was. Anne kindly sent me her story and I was immediately hooked especially when I knew she had been influenced by Jane Austen, my favourite author. I asked Anne to join me on a post to talk more about steampunk and why she wrote her short story so please welcome Anne!

Me: How would you describe the steampunk genre?

Anne: Here is the classic definition from the Urban Dictionary:

Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.

Me: What drew you to write a steampunk story?

I absolutely love the Victorian era. I live in a Victorian home in a historic landmark district filled with beautiful Queen Anne, Neo Classical, and Romanesque houses. My home is loaded down with Victoriana. Some I inherited from my family, and others that I’ve collected since high school. The artist side of me admires all the over the top detail that was so popular in the late 1800’s. I also love fantasy. My passion for traveling to worlds of the imagination began in junior high school and never stopped. Steampunk is the perfect genre for both my passions.

Me: What are the challenges of writing a short story? What do you like / dislike?  

Anne: I think what many writers dislike about short stories are the challenge of a limited amount of pages to tell their tale. To go from 300 pages down to 15 is a huge downsize. Yet you still have to have all the elements that make a successful book. A well developed storyline and characters the reader cares about. Those are the very things I love about writing short stories. The economy of pages forces me to distill down the story I want to tell. To focus in on the moment in my characters lives I want to explore. The Unseen Wonder is about the Worthington family’s big preparation for the mother’s birthday “Gift”. The birthday present that would top the Toasterator, last years gift that changed their lives from ridicule to riches.

 Me: What were your inspirations / influences for this story? 

Anne: I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. When I began to think about my inventors’ family, I kept seeing the frenetic Bennet’s from Pride and Prejudice. The Worthington family in The Unseen Wonder is composed of four daughters, a flibbertigibbet mother and a crazy inventor father. I also really enjoyed Gail Carriger’s Souless. The voice of Alexia is so distinctive and her world completely sucked me in. I wanted my lead character Georgina to have a strong voice as well. I also wanted my readers to be more than happy to follow the Worthington’s through the preparation and construction of the most wondrous birthday gift ever.

 Me: What advice do you have for anyone looking to write steampunk?

Anne: This advice holds true for all genres, read the best sellers to get an idea of what works. I’ve read quite a few steampunk books. In fact I’m reading one now, Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina. I wanted to write my own take on steampunk but in order to do that I had to read enough of the genre to know how to make my story different. Also you have to love fantasy. World building plays a huge part in steampunk and you need to enjoy coming up with your own unique setting for your story.

 Me: Where can we purchase The Unseen Wonder?

Anne: The Unseen Wonder is out as its own mini ebook by Chamberton Publishing. Find it here

It is available on Amazon and soon on Barnes and Nobel. The story is also included in Gaslight: The Golden Light Anthology.

Victoria, thank you so much for having me as a guest on your fantastic blog.

Me: Thanks for taking part Anne! Here’s some more information on Anne who I know is sure to be a huge hit in the writing world!

 Anne Van is an artist, fashionista, turned writer. She has a Masters Degree in Fine Art and attended Waseda University in Tokyo Japan on a scholarship. She has exhibited her artwork all over the United States and one of her works was displayed in a museum in Picasso’s hometown of Malaga, Spain. After several years toiling as a fine artist, she switched gears to pursue another passion, fashion. Anne went to FIDM in Los Angeles and designed sportswear for major retailers. All the while she heard stories in her head. So one day she quit fashion and finally put her stories on paper. Since then Anne has published an article in Victorian Homes Magazine (another passion) and a non-fiction story in The Best Women’s Travel Writing of 2011 about her time living in Tokyo, Japan. Going Underground won the gold Sola award for best cultural travel story. Anne also writes fiction and her steampunk story, The Unseen Wonder, is published in the historical anthology, Gaslight: A Golden Light Anthology and also as a stand-alone mini-ebook in the Chimera Series. Anne continues to write the stories that fill her head. She lives in a Victorian home in a historic landmark district in Pasadena, California along with three rescue cats, including blue tabby that has six toes, and her TV composer husband who thankfully doesn’t.       

Have you read steampunk before?




22 thoughts on “Discovering steampunk”

  1. Steampunk sounds like an exciting new genre that I’ll definitely have to try! And I’m so glad that I read through the author’s bio and saw that she had a short story published in Best of Women’s Travel Writing! I’ve never heard of that anthology or the publishing group that prints it, and it sounds like exactly the kind of thing that I would like to read and/or submit a story to! Thanks Victoria! 😀

  2. Fun interview! I wish you’d included pictures of your house cause I wanted to see your prize Victorian possessions. How cool! A blogging friend of mine won a costume contest this year dressed as a Steampunk Cowboy. It was ridiculously splendid!

    By the by, Vicky, this week at my blog I’m doing an interview with a local indie band about what they’re doing to drive results similar to what writers do to boost publishing. Check it out if you have time! You could win a free cd – and I know you like music! 🙂

  3. Steampunk is great, not only as an amazing community but also the whole fashion / writing aspects. Mr B and I have watched a good few SP films and he’s read Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathon ( which he really enjoyed ). Sadly we’re that geeky that we are even playing a role play game set in a steampunk setting…. I might have to get him the Gas Light book…

      1. Well recently we watched Sucker Punch which has just about every form of fantasy subject covered – not the best film in the world but I quite enjoyed it.
        Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus…..

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