Hello everyone! My name is Amanda and I write under two pseudonyms: Quinn Templeton, (who is visiting you today) and A.L. Davroe who is visiting you March 3! Both Quinn and A.L. write in the same City Steam universe and we borrow characters from each other. However, the content each of us works with is quite different. What’s the dividing line? Steam heat! Basically, Quinn writes the hot stuff and A.L. writes everything else…Including the unsettling, sometimes squicky stuff. Quinn’s series is City Steam X and A.L.’s is City Steam. Make sure you don’t get them mixed up, otherwise you’ll be getting a Tale from the Heart of Dormorn that you weren’t expecting! Some of the answers for these questions are the same between the two, but I tried to look at each set through the lens of the specific genre each of my pseudonyms writes.
1. What does Steampunk mean to you?
Well, I’m a huge advocate of the “punk” aspect of steampunk. What that means is that I like to go against the grain of the social and political normative for the Victorian era. In my case, I like to rock the gender and sexuality boat. The world of City Steam X takes place in a world where the Windward Empire is making a strong expansion. The throne is being held by an ambitious, brutal EMPRESS who has sanctioned certain social changes. Many of the ladies in this society are attempting to utilize these new rights, but societal gender norms often make that difficult for my characters. And I also believe in maintaining a certain set of boundaries around the Victorian aesthetic, so my ladies are still wearing things that are available to them in a Victorian world.
2. What is your favorite thing about steampunk or writing about steampunk?
Personally, I love the fashion. My favorite part about going to Steampunk conventions or events is to people watch. What I like about writing Steampunk, at least my particular brand of it (which is admittedly the easy way out cause it’s alternate world) is the ability to say, “What if?” I can drag anything I want into my world (because it’s not this one) and I can glam it up with Victoriana.
3. What is your favorite steampunk accessory?
Gloves. Obviously. I don’t think a picture of me in Steampunk exists without me wearing gloves. I’ve got over 15 different pairs. Word of advice? Don’t wear antique gloves, the fabric is too old and will die after a couple of wears. I ruined my favorite pair of gloves that way…
4. What turned you on to steampunk?
Honestly? I’m too blond to remember that far back? >.< I can imagine it was the fashion at first. I have always loved Victorian fashion and when it started coming back into style I totally hoped on the wagon. As for writing it? I had already been experimenting with the City Steam series as A.L. Davroe when my agent asked me to try an erotic piece for an anthology she was trying to put together. I had never written erotic before, so I figured I give it a try. Obviously, I decided to stick with the world I knew and loved already, which is why Quinn and A.L. stare the same world. I thought it would be fun to see some of the characters in a different light. A number of shorts came out of that effort because I couldn’t get the word-count to the right length and that’s when I decided to start putting some of them out.
5. Do you have any upcoming Steampunk stories you can tell us about?
Yeah, funny story about that. The publisher that all my Quinn Templeton work was tied up with just recently went out of business and I’m trying to find a new home for that work. So currently, I don’t have any of that work up for sale and I don’t know when it’s coming back. *sad face* However, my A.L. Davroe work is currently being self published. I’m going to have another short story in the City Steam series, called The Krie Seekers, releasing early in March. It will be a “light” horror with some romantic elements, so it might appeal to certain romance readers.
6. Who is your favorite character of all from one of your Steampunk stories?
Well, in my Quinn Tenpleton stories, I really love Kate Coldwater from Engineers of the Heart. She’s the daughter of what would be the steampunk equivalent of Donald Trump. She’s the head engineer for her father’s company and she has a lot of trouble finding good assistants because a lot of the men her father hires don’t respect her intellect. Not only is she smart, but she’s got a sharp tongue and isn’t afraid to brain a guy with a hammer for touching her inappropriately. While this story isn’t for sale at the moment, I’ve included a little excerpt at the bottom.
7. What’s the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?
I think a hard part about writing Steampunk erotic is trying to maintain the “gadget” aspect without necessarily creating all sorts of “toys.” Whenever people think of erotic Steampunk, they think of all the weird, kinky steam powered instruments and while those are certainly present, I’m reticent to make that all that Steampunk erotic is about. Steampunk is about embracing a punk ideology in ALL of the aspects of Victoriana. You can have gadgets that aren’t sex-toys! Steampunk erotic is an excellent place to not only explore the “toys” but also such rich subjects as sexuality, gender roles, and class gaps.
8. What’s the easiest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?
The easiest thing for me is the fact that I chose to make my series Alternate World instead of Alternate History. What this means is that I don’t have to adhere to a timeline or make sense. My world is simply a Victorianesque world, not a variation on what was. Given that, I can pull certain technologies and mentalities from any aspect of history that I want, though I try not to do it too liberally because I still want to maintain my Victorian aesthetic. Another easy part is embracing the “punk” mentality. The Victorian era, for all its grandeur has a lot of socio-political problems with it. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of things to re-vamp.
9. What does steampunk allow you to do as a writer that no other genres can?
I kind of feel like this is a mean question? Haha! To be honest, you can’t necessarily say that any subgenre offers something over another. We have to keep in mind that Steampunk is technically a subgenre of Science Fiction and Science Fiction is technically a subgenre of Fantasy and Fantasy is a subgenre of Fiction. So really, there’s nothing in Steampunk that any other piece of fiction can’t offer you. There’s intrigue and adventure, romance and horror. The only thing that makes the Steampunk genre different from any other is the fascination with the Victorian era and the need to re-explore the many possibilities of what was, what could be, and what will be (because yes, there is futuristic Steampunk too). Really, what it offers is a facet for those obsessed with the Victorian era to re-live it in all the high definition excitement that other subgenres offer for other time periods.
10. What are the challenges and advantages to writing a steampunk story?
The challenges are entirely up to the author, I think. If you choose to write alternate history, you’ll have to figure out how your timeline fits into the grand scheme of time and how it deviates and why. If you’re using real historical figures, you’ll have to research them. It has to make sense. Also, if you’re doing a more sci-fi or adventure based book, you might have to do more research. Readers in these genres are looking for true technical writing, they want your gadgets and gizmos to work on legitimate laws of mechanics and physics.
11. How much research does it take and how much imagination.
In my case, because I write alternate world instead of alternate history, I don’t worry too much about the research aspect. I’m an aesthetic writer, not a technical one, so most of my scenes will show you what something might look like, but not how it functions. For Quinn stories, I focus on things that a female reader might be more interested in: the clothing, the decorations, the emotion of the character, how hot the male lead is in his cravat and vest, etc… I do focus a lot on the female liberation aspect in these stories, so some basic knowledge of the women’s rights movements at that time, the social spheres, and the human rights issues at the time is a plus.
Excerpt from Engineers of the Heart:
Her father reached out and grabbed the newcomer by the sleeve, practically tossing him at Kate like some kind of offering. He stumbled into the desk with an oomph, then righted himself, brushing off his stained, company issued coveralls with an oil veined hand.
“Well?” her father asked. This time his tone indicated his impatience with her. She’d gone through far too many assistants lately.
Kate blinked at the newcomer, he blinked at her. He really was quite handsome, especially with the soot stain on his forehead. But, alas, he was like all the rest. Staring at her in that odd manner all the newcomers got. Kate figured she might as well get the lecture over with.
“Yes, I’m a woman. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Katherine!” her father breathed. He turned to the newcomer. “I’m sorry, she’s a little free spirited and outspok-”
She held up a hand, silencing him, then fixed the newcomer with a penetrating stare. It wasn’t her goal to be prickly or to be rude; she simply had to lay down the law. She took a deep breath before speaking.
“Yes, I’m the K. Coldwater you have read about in The Daily. Yes, I invented the Servile Company’s scatterbombs. Yes, I am the heir to Coldwater Steam. Yes, I am the chief engineer of the heart. No, I do not wear corsets or bustles, nor do I carry a parasol, conduct social hours, or powder my nose. I do not look like a lady, I do not walk like a lady, and I most certainly do not give a damn what people think of my complexion.”
She paused, waiting for a reaction, but she got none. She continued. “I’m on a first name basis with the empress and I am quite clearly a staunch advocate for women’s rights in the Windward Empire. You had best come to accept that because I can not work with someone who does not trust me to do my job because I am a woman. I am an excellent engineer and know the heart better than anyone. What I do is important and I will not let someone’s prejudice jeopardize the integrity of Dormorn’s most valuable piece of equipment. I want you to understand that I am your employer and you are here on a trial basis. If you question my authority, if you slip up and drop a wrench into the heart’s inner chamber because you are too distracted, if you so much as breathe on me the wrong way, then I will let you go. You are to treat me like you would a man of a much higher rank than you. Do you have a problem with that?”
The newcomer continued to stare at her, his own grey-green eyes calculating. For a moment, she thought he might turn around and stomp out the door. He wouldn’t be the first she’d frightened off with this speech.
Eventually, the tiniest crease curled around the corner of his mouth and he said, “No. I have no problem working with women. I am a suffragist myself.” He had a lovely voice, one that purred like a finely tuned engine. “In fact, I am quite in awe of your achievements Miss Coldwater. I think you might be my hero.”