Have you been enjoying the samplings featured throughout the Geek Feast Blog Hop? If not, go check them out! The Geeky Chef Cookbook bundle giveaway will end Friday at 11:59.
Today we have a special guest joining us. Evangeline Denmark. Her debut novel, Curio, will be releasing next month. A story I am devouring at the moment. A story filled with porcelain and clockwork people, chemists and alchemists, and adventure all wrapped up in a genre catching a lot of attention: Steampunk. Several years ago, I didn’t even know what that was, but Ms. Denmark is here to share her thoughts on it. And yes, I did think of Wild, Wild West. Ha!
So without further ado, please welcome Evangeline Denmark!
I cringe when I get the question, “What is Steampunk?” I can’t really answer with any degree of clarity. Usually I say something like, “Well, the short answer is “Victorian Science Fiction’ and the long answer is ‘Google it.’” Then I mumble about steam-powered devices, clockwork, and a Victorian aesthetic. And then if the poor person who asked the question (and now clearly regrets it) still doesn’t understand, I say, “Do you remember the movie Wild, Wild West?” For some reason everyone remembers this crazy movie, and it provides a touchstone for the complex genre I blundered into when I wrote CURIO.
I was a fan of Steampunk elements in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, but I didn’t intend to write it. And then suddenly I was. Steam power and clockwork fit into the world I created inside an enchanted curio cabinet, and I built on the idea of wind-up toys and living porcelain creatures operating on steam. My publisher wanted even more Steampunk elements and so Mercury City, Grey’s home, received a makeover that included a time period change and some far-fetched touches like chug boats, hydraulic mining suits, and gauntlet writers—the equivalent of an early 20th Century tablet.
But along the way I figured out what appeals to me about the genre and that’s the punk aspect. The term punk usually refers to someone considered undesirable or to some iteration of a countercultural movement that includes outlandish clothing, behavior, and ideology. But here’s the thing, as we look at history we can easily pick out the accepted societal norms that were harmful, even devastating, to individuals who fell outside that society’s measure of value. Class systems and slavery are perfect examples. Anyone rebelling against those social orders could be termed a punk, and yet, with hindsight, we want to say, “Why didn’t you listen to the revolutionaries speaking the truth?”
Steampunk works of fiction often contain strong themes of social injustice. There’s a sharp contrast between those in power and those struggling to get by, often with ingenious, makeshift tools and a fierce drive to survive or protect. They include characters on the fringes of society who see things a different way and succeed because of it. Underdogs, oddballs, misfits, and the disenfranchised are the heroes of these stories.
Are you onboard yet?
We’ve all been there—on the outside. It doesn’t matter how popular someone was in high school or how easy it may seem for her to do that thing that makes you tremble. We have all been in a situation where we were the odd duck. And it’s that shared experience that makes the Steampunk genre for everyone. You don’t have to be fascinated by Victorian England. You don’t have to be techy. You don’t have to have a working knowledge of steam locomotives. I don’t.
You just have to bring yourself to the story. Your experiences and your wounds and your desire for justice. I know it’s there.
Instead of answering, “What is Steampunk?” I like to ask, “What is Steampunk to you?” This genre, this community is open for everyone. So bring your interests, your hobbies, and your viewpoint, the more off-kilter the better.
Evangeline Denmark cannot sing. The tragic discovery of this truth led to bouts of angst-ridden poetry writing in her teens, several ill-advised relationships with literary characters, and the compulsive creation of her own fictional worlds. Having found her true voice, Evangeline now writes fiction with hints of whimsy, glimmers of fantasy, and strokes of the supernatural.
Her debut novel, Curio, a young adult steampunk fantasy, releases January 2016. She has also co-authored two children’s books, The Dragon and the Turtle and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari (Waterbrook Press.)
Evangeline lives in Colorado in a house stuffed full of animals and creative people that would surely go to ruin were it not for the watchful eye of a cattle dog named Willie.
Curio releases January 5th, 2016!
Right now, her publisher is running a special pre-order promotion this month. If you pre-order Curio, you will receive these beautiful charms. >>>
How cool is that? For more information, click through to Evangeline Denmark’s website.
Have a great rest of the week!