Thursday, April 14, 2011
I just got back from the Romantic Times Convention held this year in Los Angeles. My purpose was to meet some online friends, network and get a better understanding of where the publishing industry is going.
A huge component of this convention for me was steampunk. At the convention last year, I had barely heard of steampunk, just enough to be dangerous. This year there was a focussed effort by the convention organizers and publishers to develop an understanding and following for this genre. There were several steampunk workshops, a steampunk social and lots of costumes, including my own steampunk fairy outfit.
During a discussion with an editor, she indicated that readership for steampunk is still in the early stages. The genre is not yet well understood and even when people read the book and enjoy it, they are not necessarily aware that it’s part of a specific subgenre. Even though the readership may not be equivalent to paranormal or historical fiction, the potential is still huge. Every editor at the very well attended editor’s panel indicated that they were interested in steampunk, or at least it seemed that way. They know that it is on the brink of breaking through and we are seeing more and more fiction with steampunk undertones. It also doesn’t hurt that steampunk fashion is appearing around every corner.
So how does one even get started?
Steampunk for me is taking the ordinary and making alterations that are consistent to how we think objects would be used by the Victorians (or people in another point in time) if they had the right technology. “The path not taken” is an excellent phrase that is just one way to describe steampunk. What if?
The picture above is author Mary Wine at the RT convention. She is a first class costume maker, which is obvious from her gorgeous Victorian outfit, complete with a fabulous bustle, lace gloves, corset and mini top hat. Although this outfit isn’t steampunk, it’s a place to start. This might be a typical Victorian outfit, but how can we change it to make it steampunk?
It’s not just a matter of making the outfit edgy or adding goggles, but making changes that are relevant to your world. There is no point adding goggles unless there is a reason for them. Maybe the atmosphere is thick with pollution and the goggles help clear the air, or the goggles are used to detect demonic auras.
Perhaps the bustle is not just fashionable, but serves another purpose. Maybe that skirt just needs to be shorter, so she can ride her steam powered penny farthing bicycle and a long skirt would surely get in the way.
Starting with something familiar will help you get to where you are going. Based on this picture, what changes would you make and why?
Posted by Stacie VanE at 11:15 AM