by Kirsten Weiss
Step 1: Define steampunk. The easiest way is to say it’s a subgenre of science fiction based in the Victorian era. Instead of oil and the combustion engine, steam and sometimes magic powers technology. However, steampunk goes well beyond books and film. It’s become an aesthetic, with people wearing steampunk-style accessories, attending conventions, and decorating their homes in steampunk style.
But literary genres are complex things. For example, it’s rare to find a mystery novel without at least a hint of romance. Or an action-adventure story without some comedy. Genres tend to mix, overlap. Steampunk suspense mixes the classic elements of the steampunk genre – steam and clockwork technology, outrageous characters, 19th century settings – with a classic suspense novel. It answers the question: what sort of adventures will the heroes experience on their steampunk journey? Answer: a suspenseful one.
Step 2: Define a story of suspense. Most stories have some elements of suspense – it’s what drives the reader forward. But in a suspense novel, the tension ratchets up over time. The hero faces deceit and threats to his or her safety. There are twists, turns, and clues. Done right, the suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat, frantically turning the pages to find out what happens next.
In a typical suspense novel, a bad guy is lurking. The reader may know what the villain is up to, but the hero does not. And herein lies the crux of many a suspense novel. Will the hero figure things out in time to escape the villain’s dastardly plot? (The answer is probably yes, unless you’re reading a steampunk horror story – another sub-subgenre that’s growing in popularity).
One of the beauties of the steampunk genre, is you can really take it in any direction you want it. Steampunk action? Check. Steampunk romance? It’s been done. Steampunk erotica? It’s out there. Steampunk western? Definitely! Though steampunk is set in the Victorian era, it doesn’t have to be set in Victorian England. There are some very successful steampunk novels set in China. And my Sensibility Grey series of steampunk suspense are sort of steampunk westerns, set in the California gold rush. Bottom line: you can’t leave the “punk” out of steampunk, and that means you can do pretty much what you want with it. As long as there’s steam.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes steampunk suspense and paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem. Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine.
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Kirsten's Newest Release: A Midsummer Night's Mechanical
The California Territory, 1849
Blamed for burning down the San Francisco wharf, clockwork inventor, Sensibility Grey has spent the last three months in hiding. Now all she wants is to depart the gold-crazy boomtown for a new life in the East. So when the owner of a traveling theater offers her work embellishing his mechanical stage, she turns him down. Then he turns up dead on her doorstep along with his enigmatic stage.
An explorer of the mysteries of aether, Sensibility has her own secrets to keep, and adversaries who’ll stop at nothing to learn them. Is the mechanical stage a part of a bigger game? Or the key to unlocking her true, magical potential?
A Midsummer Night’s Mechanical is book three in the Sensibility Grey series of steampunk suspense.
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