I first came across Steampunk in the form of the band Abney Park. Looking at the way they dress and listening to their song Airship Pirates made me want to read a good story about Airship Pirates. So I did the most satisfying thing that a writer can do, I wrote one. It was an interesting experience, one that will be repeated soon.
The next step was to seek out other Steampunk books to try to find similar fun adventures. This took me into a world of flexible definitions of what Steampunk literature is meant to be. I’m not in a position to pontificate on what counts as Steampunk or not, but I quickly decided that Romance stories with vampires and zombies aren’t what I’m looking for. So far, the genre hasn’t split into enough sub-genres to make it easy to weed these out from the sort of stories that I want to find.
In the course of my quest I’ve discussed many popular Steampunk books by recent authors in reader’s groups and am slowing trying many of them care of the library and free promotion days, as well as occasional cheap acquisitions from Amazon.
It’s a quest that will take some time to weed what I think of as Steampunk as well as the better authors. Sometimes a new author has the right idea but hasn’t developed their writing skills sufficiently, sometimes an author with a flair for words writes a Romance story with a passing mention of an airship and calls it Steampunk. Never mind, the cream will rise to the top over time.
Meanwhile I released my own Steampunk novel, The Wake of the Dragon. Unlike previous books, I had no idea whether it would be received well or not. I had no basis of comparison with similar books. My friends who are into Steampunk are primarily interested in the fashion and music aspects of the phenomenon. My reader friends are as new to this as I am.
It’s early days yet, but it seems to be doing well. I didn’t write it for commercial reasons but it’s interesting to sit back and watch reactions. In the meantime, some of the characters have demanded a sequel so that’s in early stages and will develop slowly along with a Khempunk story that also begged to be written. It will be interesting to see how much interest they draw in a relatively new genre with a spectrum of ideas among readers as to what it should entail.
I made a book trailer for it, which is at http://vimeo.com/45130118.
As far as anyone can tell, book trailers don’t enhance sales really but they’re fun to make and this one posed a challenge. How to depict airship travel without spending any money? The cover art provided the airship, some photos I took from the London eye for another reason provided aerial views. [Note to my stalker: Yes, that's a comma splice. It's part of my writing voice, get over it.]
As for the vampire Romance story brigade, I do have a vampire story on the cards that might appeal to them even if it isn’t actually a Romance story. I’m not going to make it Steampunk. To me, Steampunk is about adventure and alternative history. I have no idea how vampires got into it. They’ve always been horror.
The quest goes on for the stories with a touch of Fantasy and a touch of science fiction, but most of all a touch of alternative technology and the feel good factor that goes with a good airship pirate story. Hopefully I’ll find enough of them to form a healthy shelf in my own library.