Monday, September 17, 2012

Steampunk--Grafting Genres

by Kaitlin Nichols, @TheAtheleSeries I like genre blending. I'll just come right out and say it. I mean, this isn't anything against purity - a straight horror or a straight sword and sorcery fantasy is cool, but horror with ghosts and sword and sorcery in space just takes cool and then combines it with awesome to get this Awe-ool Co-some thing.

That metaphor didn't quite work out like I intended. Anyway.

Some genres are more easily blendable than others. It's sort of like how a banana is a much better part of a smoothie than, say, spinach. Don't get me wrong, you can make a killer spinach smoothie with the right ingredients and spicing, but in general it's just not the first choice. Any person can toss a banana and ice in a blender and get something pleasant. It takes a deft hand to correctly execute a smoothie with vegetables.

Now, my name is Kailtin, and I am a Steampunk author. I'm here to tell you why Steampunk is much more akin to a Banana than it is to Spinach. In other words, I'm here to tell you a couple reasons why genre blending with Steampunk is something you should try.

#1 Steampunk is flexible. Wherever you fancy going, Steampunk is all over it. A story by sea? Ship or submarine? A story by air? Dirigible or other flying machine. A story by land? Buggy, horseless wagon, gigantic manors with trap doors. In a way, Steampunk is a lot like fantasy or sci-fi (it's often considered a sub genre of them, if a very distinct one) in that it is what you make of it. The show Firefly is often named as a Steampunk show, and it takes place in outer space. Steampunk has been found blended with Romance, Adventure, Horror, and Fantasy (Legend of Korra, anyone?).

Now, some might make the argument that Steampunk is merely a sub-genre, and that in many stories if you dropped all steampunk elements, you wouldn't have anything fundamentally different than what you started out with.

#2 Steampunk is new, exciting, and unbearably cool. A piece of advice which is given over and over to writers is to 'Write what you want to write, not what the market demands'. Now, I will never argue that you should write something you dislike. However, I will argue that just because the market demands it doesn't mean it's bad. I'm one of those people that's slow to try new things. We were on book three of Harry Potter before I got into it. Avatar the Last Airbender was on its third season before I finally watched the pilot episode (and proceeded to watch the first and second season in 2 days). Game of Thrones is coming up on its third season and I just now fell completely in love with it. Sometimes, guys, the market is completely right. And the great thing about being a writer is that every word you put down stretches your creative muscles. Sometimes, in fact, a new genre is just what you need.

So go ahead, try it out. If you need some reference or research material, I'll help you out with

this, this, and this over here! If you're still curious by November 5th, go ahead and pick up my upcoming Steampunk Romance, Valeria, from Lyrical Press. Kaitlin is from Omaha, Nebraska. She enjoys things such as running, dancing, singing, writing, and Patrick Stewart pontificating about the letter 'B'. Her first e-book, Valeria, comes out November 5th, 2012 from Lyrical Press. You can find her (and her husband) at on facebook at "The Athele Series" or on twitter, @theatheleseries.