Sunday, July 21, 2013

What The @#%& Is Steampunk Anyway?

Despite the genre in which writers find their comfort zone, most authors are always open to new ideas and new types of fiction to explore. One of the genres I find intriguing, and confounding, is steampunk. I understand it in principle, but never could quite grasp how to craft a story line that melded the Victorian era with modern day. Who better to turn to for help than someone who is published in the genre. February Grace's debut, Godspeed, is steampunk at its best. I asked her to explain the genre to me, and to all of you. She's generously offered to give away two copies of her e-book to those of you who leave a comment. So, without further ado, here's February!

Glorious Gadgets and Ingenious Devices:
The Golden Thread That Ties All Steampunk Together by February Grace

Ask a thousand people to give you a definition of “Steampunk” and you will probably get a thousand different answers.

For some, the term speaks specifically of a sub-genre of science fiction: stories set in a specific era (the 1800s) that include technology that would not have existed in that steam-powered time.

Some would say it’s all about the airships, ray guns and goggles. Others may cite names of the many Steampunk musical acts and clothing designers/costumers/jewelers and say that it is these artisans which help to create an entire lifestyle; one carried out with not only a specific outlook on life, but by attendance at conventions and other events where costume play is one of the major features.

If you ask me the question, I would reply that Steampunk is all of those things and many more; and to me specifically it is something yet again. For me it was a way to put a man in the middle of a serious moral dilemma, when his own genius exceeded the lawful limitations society placed upon the practice of his profession.

In the end, to my mind, though, there is one main thing that ties all of Steampunk together with a golden thread (or perhaps, I should say, a set of copper gears) and that is the gadgetry. 

All Steampunk has it, whether it may also have vampires, zombies, other fantastical creatures or, in the case of my book GODSPEED, none of those fantastical creatures.

Inventive spins on devices that we have today and take for granted are written into these stories, and go back to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, authors hailed as the forefathers of Steampunk.

When my Doctor Quinn Godspeed is confronted with a young woman who is dying right before his eyes and is convinced that he has a chance to save her, he cannot help but take that chance, even if it means breaking the law. The consequences for himself and his patient could be devastating, yet he cannot resist using his knowledge to build machines that could help prolong her life.

That’s how I work the amazing gadgetry of Steampunk into GODSPEED: in the form of medical devices and advancements that are ahead of their time. Abigail’s ‘clockwork pacemaker’ (as I referred to it in my notes while writing the book) is but one of Quinn’s creations. The moment when he gives her the final apparatus is one of my favorite in the book:

He returned to the workbench behind the surgical table, where I now sat with my legs hanging over the side.
He opened the top drawer, procured a small wooden box, and held it up on display.
“A gift.”
My eyes widened when I saw what at first appeared to be a brilliant silver-tone locket; antique, and fashioned in the arcing shape of a heart.
“This, like most things in life, is more than it first appears.” He removed it with one hand and set aside the box with the other before moving within reach. “This is the means by which we will free you from the torment of harsher treatments.”
I watched with absolute amazement as he unlatched the clasp on the charm and revealed its complicated interior. Gear upon gear, lever upon lever, all churning and clicking away in musical, clockwork time. He leaned in so close now that I could feel the warmth of his cheek against mine.
“Here.” He dangled the necklace in front of me, where it danced and flickered in the light. “This is your new heart. It’s rare, and young, and made of pure white gold.” For an instant he looked upon me with an expression I could not possibly put emotion to. “Exactly, I am certain, like the one it will repair.”
He lowered the chain around my neck, and as he did so, tears I could not deny wound their way down my cheeks and onto his gifted, powerful hands.

I hope you will join me for a little while inside of Doctor Godspeed's clockwork world, and that you will enjoy my own personal take on this expansive, and greatly varying, genre.

Thank you, February, for your revealing explanation of what steampunk it. I can't wait to read  your book. 

Intrigued? You betcha. Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Godspeed. Or, you can purchase a copy today at one of the following locations: 

Author Bio:
February Grace is a writer, artist, and poet who lives in Southeastern Michigan. She sings on key, plays by ear, and is more than mildly obsessed with colors, clocks, and meteor showers. GODSPEED is her debut novel.
You can learn more about Bru by visiting her website:
Twitter: @FebruaryGrace


  1. What a great explanation of an intriguing genre. Thanks for sharing. Dr. Godspeed sounds like a very interesting character, can't wait to give it a read.

  2. Loved the excerpt and the definition of steampunk. It's one genre I don't think I could venture to write about, but... it could happen. To me Steampunk is weird gadgets and strange apparatuses. I love the movie "Time machine" since there were so many inventions in this era we'll never know what were the inventors up to, maybe they even invented a machine that could travel through time, but they didn't know how to return and therefore forever stuck in some distant future.

  3. Thank you so much for hosting me, it is such an honor to be here! :~)

  4. February--It's my pleasure to host you today. Your guest post is already sparking people's creativity! Just started reading your book and haven't gotten to the steampunky part yet, but it's a great read so far. I hope you have many sales.

  5. Loved this interview, ladies. Congratulations, February Grace! I have your novel on my Kindle already (I can't wait to read it), so please take my name out of the drawing. I want some other lucky soul to win a copy of GODSPEED. Much success and many sales!

  6. Thank you so much for explaining Steampunk. The genre has been so confusing. As a nurse, I love the idea of the medical side of Steampunk. I put medical in my novels but never thought of this genre. It might be a lot of fun to try. Best wishes with your sales.
    Bev Irwin / Kendra James

    1. Bev--Congratulations! You've just won a copy of Godspeed by February Grace. Please send me your email address and I'll get it over to February's publicist to arrange for your copy to be delivered. My email is

      And again, congratulations!

  7. Your excerpt mesmerized me! Fascinating characters and intriguing technology-- an irresistible combination :-)

    Thank you sooooo much for explaining Steampunk!

    Kate Collier / Katie O'Boyle

  8. As Kate said, your excerpt was riveting. I can't wait to sink into this book. And thanks for discussing Steampunk for me; it's exact definition has always eluded me.

    1. Lesleigh--Congratulations! You've just won a copy of Godspeed by February Grace. Please send me your email address and I'll get it over to February's publicist to arrange for your copy to be delivered. My email is

      And again, congratulations!