Tag Archives: shades of aether

Steampunk Firsts

Some say Steampunk started with KW Jeter in 1979 with Morlock Nights.  But did it?

Now I’ve read Jeter, Morlock Nights and Infernal Devices.  They are readable, but as often with books that are considered the first in their genres, not the very best.  I’d give them 3 out 5, which isn’t the recommendation it should be.

When I was at a convention in October, I was introduced to Pavane by Keith Roberts. This was first published in 1966, it was a teenager before Morlock Nights hit the scene.  And it is definitely steampunk.

But is that even the first?

I think there’s an argument that it’s not.

Back on 1st January 1818, Frankenstein was published.  Mary Shelley wrote about a man who used technology to control life.  This is often quoted as the first science fiction book, but was it also the first steampunk book? Okay, this isn’t Victoriana, but Steampunk is a broad church.  Frankenstein could be classed as Powderpunk, if only because of the setting.

So what of the elements of steampunk?

  1. A story set within a world using a real or imagined version of the technology of the 19th century

Well Frankenstein is set in a real world, and the technology used to bring the ‘monster’ to life is not a hundred percent different from a mix of modern technology, think limb transplant, defibrillator, iron lung.  You’d need all these to sustain a body, bring it back to life.

  1. Victorian-era class and economic structures

Well, it’s Georgian class and economic structures, but what else would the Victorian-era class and economic structures be built on.

  1. Implicit or explicit social critique

Oh definitely.  The way Shelley portrays the role of women in society is actually quite shocking to this modern reader.  Then there is the way that society condemns the monster on nothing more than his looks

  1. An adventure-oriented plotline

Well, what more adventure do you want than an outcast running from the society that shuns him through no fault of his own.  There’s running and hiding and travel to inhospitable regions. That sounds like an adventure to me.

  1. An emphasis on the empowerment of individuals in the face of industrial standardization and the advance of modern bureaucratic government

If the monster is anything, he’s an individual and he does find his way to empowerment in the end.  Though even I have to admit that this is possibly the one Frankenstein doesn’t fit.

This is a definitive statement, just a personal opinion, feel free to disagree.  If you’ve never read the books I’ve mentioned, they are all worthy of a try.  But so is Shades of Aether, and that’s a good introduction to the genre too.

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Seven In One

Yesterday was the first time I ever attended a convention as a trader, and it was quite an experience.

This was BristolCon ninth year, and another writer friend of mine, Will MacMillian Jones, had suggested it would be a good place to promote my steampunk stuff.  Well, I’m always up for that kind of thing, especially something that it’s a million miles away from home.

So I contacted the organisers and booked half a table, got to the venue and set up – which took all of ten minutes.  Well, it was never going to take long, I only have one steampunk book written!

Of course, I didn’t want to look like a complete newbie, as well as Shades of Aether, I took copies of two other books to sell; Locked Up, my contemporary crime novel; and Cthulhu Cymreag 2, the anthology I have a story in.  I wasn’t entirely sure that these were appropriate, but one should never miss an opportunity.

Turns out having additional books was a great idea, table would have looked bare without, especially when it turned out that the person how had the other half of the table dropped out at the last minute, and I got to spread across the whole table.

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So I was there, copies of three different books to sell, all I had to do was wait was customers.

Sounds easy, but it never is.  Engaging with people is actually rather difficult.  It was easy to engage with other traders, with them we are all in the same boat, stuck together for however long the day lasts.  Potential customers, however are much harder to catch, especially when you have three books to glance at their covers and your sandwiched between the Oxfam Book Shop with tonnes of second hand books and Grimbold Books, with their many and varied new titles, their cute mascots, and their award – all very impressive.

Still, I engaged enough to sell, though I was a little surprised to find that at a Sci-Fi convention the first thing to sell was Locked Up. By the end of the day I’d sold two Locked Up, two Cthulhu Cymreag and three Shades of Aether. Seven books in one day is not much, but it’s good for what I had to sell.  It also means that I sold enough to cover the cost of the table, which is what you need to do at these things because it’s really about exposure.  I made some good contacts and booked another table for next year, I might even be on a panel or two.

So I will be at the 10th Anniversary BristolCon next year, and hopefully, I’ll have more titles to sell.

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Stories from the Fringe

As unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…

Yes well, I am unused to it, but I’m getting there.  I need to.  While writing is a solitary activity, writers survive by the words of others.  The words of reviews, and more importantly, word of mouth sells our books, and that is what we all need.

So when there is an opportunity to promote a book by doing a reading, then a writer has to take that chance.

The truth of the matter is – I don’t like public speaking.  Getting up in front of a crowd is one of the most frightening things I do.  But I did a read in London a few months ago and today I’ve been in Swansea to do another.

This weekend is the Swansea Fringe and there are many and varied activities going on.  So when Cthulhu Cymraeg 2: Off the Page event came up, of course, I had to agree to do a reading, after all, one of my short stories is in the anthology “Cthulhu Cymraeg 2.”

I arrived early (a bad habit of mine), meet Mark Howard Jones, the editor of the volume and other writers and was given slot three to read.

Picking a middle section of the story, “Confluence of Graves”, I read of how the main characters had found tunnels under an abandoned house, and the terrible things that they started to find there.

It wasn’t the world’s largest audience, but I didn’t dare look up from the page in case they looked bored.  I was still near the start when I was put off by the arrival of a woman at the top of the stairs to the room we were using.  I paused and invited her in, but she was just there to take photos.  Now that is another thing I am not comfortable with.  So there I was already uncomfortable reading to an audience, made more uncomfortable by the photographer doing what she’s supposed to do.  Thank God I’d had the sense to put on green base to counter the blushing!

I got through the reading and was applauded (there’s a strange experience), but after, one lady from the audience came up and told me that after the reading she couldn’t wait to read my story and find out what happened.  Now that’s praise!  It may not sound like much to other people, but it matters to me.  I write because I write, I am truly driven to write.  Now I could easily just keep my writing to myself, but I don’t, I want to share it, to show what I really am.  So to have a reader say how much they enjoyed my work means so much to me that I don’t know how to properly explain it.

Then came the other weird experience – being asked to sign books.  That’s never happened before, but I must have signed about ten today, and to add to the piquancy of this experience, I’d cheekily taken copies of two of my other books – “Locked Up” and “Shades of Aether”.  I sold copies of each!

DSCN2085Not a bad days work at all.

Thanks then to Mark for including me in the anthology, thanks for Swansea Fringe for offering us all a spot, thanks to Gamers Emporium for hosting the event, and thanks to those wonderful people who turned up and listened, and a special thanks to those who dug deep and bought a copy of a book, any book.

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3 in 4

3 in 4Life is what happens when you are making other plans. That’s why my blogging is getting a bit sporadic at the moment. Thankfully it is also a sign of some good things happening too.

In my previous blogs I have told you about various publishing deals I have been fortunate enough to get this year. So for those who don’t know I have sold a short erotica story, a contemporary crime novel and I’m self-publishing a steampunk novel. These are exciting times.

Specifically, this is an exciting month. All three novels are coming out within the next 4 weeks!

This wasn’t my plan it just happened, but I have to admit that this is also silly season first conventions and coming up I have The Asylum (25th August) and Bloody Scotland (8th September). Both are weekend deals, one in Lincoln and one in Stirling, so long distances and overnight stays involved.

3d render whiteSo my plan was for “Shades of Aether” to be ready for Asylum, which is why I have a Facebook banner saying out on the 25th August.

 

And when I spoke with Bloodhound Books about publishing “Locked Up” in September I did ask if it could be ready in time for Bloody Scotland and those lovely people agreed – thank you, Betsy!

Sinful Pleasures book

With the erotica it is going into an anthology – “Sinful Pleasures” – being published by Sinful Press, I have absolutely no say in it at all. So its publishing date of 20th August is what I was given and grateful for it I am too. I really am; thank you, Lisa, for including me.

 

So that’s three very different books coming out in close proximity.  And I want to actively help market them all. After all, that is part of the author’s job.

So I am blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting.   Why does only Twitter get a verb?

Anyway – mindless wondering over – It does occur to me that with such different genres I might be sending out mixed messages, but the real message is “Hey I’m a professional writer, come read my good stuff.”

And that’s the truth, I write in different genres because like all human beings I have facets, different sides to me, diverse interests.

So over the next few weeks, you will see different sides of me, a mix of steampunk, crime, and eroticism.  Admission – I am typing this up in the car as we head for Bristol – obviously I’m not driving, but I forgot to punctuate that last sentence which gave me steampunk crime eroticism. Now that oddly is a good round up of “Shades of Aether”, though there’s not exactly any eroticism in there, there are explorations of forbidden loves.

Now here is another admission – I am much better at being a writer than I am a publisher. So, the plan was put “Shades of Aether” on CreateSpace, order some copies for me then bung it up on Amazon to release on the 25th. Turns out that by getting to a state that I can order copies the site automatically lists the book on Amazon, so unwittingly, I actually released the book last night.

Publishing is definitely a steep learning curve! And thanks to Lisa and Will for being so helpful when I have ‘questions from the stupid’ about how to self-publish. And yes those questions will be shared in a later blog in the hope others can learn from my mistakes. But that’s for another month, August and September are for the 3 in 4.

Oh and if you are wondering about the cover for “Locked Up” – that I will reveal on Monday the 14th August.

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