Please join me in welcoming Philippa Ballantine to Dark Faerie Tales today! Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris co-write the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series together. The first book in the series Phoenix Rising was released last year. The Janus Affair was recently released in May. This series is also included in our Steampunk Reading Challenge 2012.
Philippa Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order series with Ace- Geist and Spectyr out now, and Wrayth (2012) and Harbinger to follow. She is also the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series with Tee Morris. Phoenix Rising debuted in May 2011 and The Janus Affair will be out in May 2012. She also has the Shifted World series with Pyr Books, with the first book Hunter and Fox coming in June 2012.
Want to read more from Philippa Ballantine?
A World of Steam
By Pip Ballantine
Most authors love world building (sometimes to the detriment of actually writing their novel—but that’s another post!), but there is a particular joy to doing it in the steampunk genre. In my opinion, it is one of the most fun genres to write, and worldbuilding is one of the reasons as an author I am addicted to it.
As my co-author Tee Morris and I found when writing the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, steampunk combines the best of adventure, history and fun.
I’ve written a couple of novels with historical setting before, and I have been a history buff from back in my college days. However, steampunk is more than just Victorian era. It is the Victorian era with a huge twist of imagination. Think of giant robots, airships traversing the world, and gadgets powered by steam that were never built. It has a beautiful aesthetic that provides buckets of inspiration. So powered by history and steam, an author might be tempted to dive right in.
Like all worldbuilding, you have to take a moment. Before powering up your giant robots and heading out into the Victorian era, you must first decide on the historical foundations for your steampunkery. History is full of wonderful stories, fascinating characters, and world-shaking events—but how close do you want to stick to that?
In the Janus Affair, the second book in the Ministry series, we delved into the world of the suffrage movement. Our heroine, Eliza D Braun is from New Zealand, and so there was plenty of space for us to bring in her fellow suffragists. One of the pre-eminent ones (who is actually on the New Zealand ten dollar bill) is Kate Sheppard; a determined, and rather lovely lady with a spine of steel in the real world. In our world we gave her a steampunk make-over and changed her history; a nasty accident gave her a steam powered arm and jaw. It is unbelievably fun taking historical characters and giving them that steampunk twist.
Steampunk takes the technology that exists only in the minds of the author and examines how those changes might have influenced history. If people could actually travel by airship how would that effect, trade, politics, or even personal relationships. Certain events in history may well have speed up, others might never have happened.
In addition there is the punk aspect of steampunk. Some have argued it isn’t an important factor, but when you look at the industrial revolution, people were trying to sort out their relationship with technology. That sort of conflict in the world, gives life to many plot threads. Centuries of life were changing, and some people fought it, some people embraced it. Steampunk is often about people going against the grain—fighting the system. In the Ministry series Eliza is out punk, and our steam is represented by the tinker and Archivist Wellington Books.
It’s a heady mix for an author. Combine Victorian history, beautiful aesthetics, crazy gadgets and rebellion and you have your world. Now just set your characters loose on it, and watch the steam and sparks fly.
Available May 29, 2012 from Harper Voyager
About this Book:
Evildoers beware! Retribution is at hand, thanks to Britain’s best-kept secret agents!!
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain’s latest hypersteam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance . . . with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown.
The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books . . . and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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