Thursday, June 18, 2015

Seven Reasons to Read (and Write) Steampunk by Beth Cato

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The Clockwork Crown 
Title: The Clockwork Crown
Author: Beth Cato
Publisher: Harper Voyage Impulse
Pages: 352
Genre: Steampunk
Format: Kindle

 Rich in atmosphere, imagination, and fun, the action-packed, magic-filled sequel to The Clockwork Dagger is an enchanting steampunk fantasy, evocative of the works of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

 Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

 The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.

 Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.

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Seven Reasons to Read (and Write) Steampunk by Beth Cato 

 I'm Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger and the brand new sequel, The Clockwork Crown. The series is steampunk fantasy. I get to explain what steampunk IS to a lot of people, but I also like to explain why it's such a blast to write. I'm a reader foremost, so I was inhaling Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate and Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century books before I tried writing the genre myself.

 Without further ado, I present to you... seven reasons why I read (and write) steampunk.

 1) Mix Up History. Steampunk uses a Victorian or Edwardian world as inspiration but twists that every which way. London, with its fog-shrouded streets, acts as a setting for many books. Queen Victoria may be a character or under threat. However, this is historical fiction that takes great liberties. Lavie Tidhar's The Bookman adds aliens and airships. Cherie Priest's series beginning with Boneshaker re-imagines 19th century America with an extended Civil War--and a zombie problem.

 2) Subvert that History! Steampunk doesn't glorify upper-crust Victorian life... it usually does quite the opposite. Let's face it, that period of history involved a lot of misery for women, the colonized, the enslaved, the workers of new industry. Steampunk as a community--not simply a literary genre--is accepting of all ages, colors, and creeds. My own books are based on post-World War I Europe but do not take place on Earth. The cast is diverse. My hero, Alonzo Garret, is dark-skinned and missing half a leg.

 3) Technology with a Twist. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are considered to be fathers of steampunk with their visions of submarines, space travel, and time machines. The airship is considered the most prominent symbol of the genre, but science fiction elements abound in weaponry, transportation, and mad scientist-type laboratories. Some draw directly on 19th century inspirations, such as Viola Carr's The Diabolical Miss Hyde with its fresh take on Robert Louis Stevenson's infamous story.

 4) Mix in Magic. This setting is just as friendly to fantasy elements. Gail Carriger's series beginning with Soulless adds vampires and werewolves to Victorian London. My books feature a healer with magical powers drawn from a world tree--elements usually seen in epic fantasy.

 5) The Clothes! Ah, the clothes. Corsets may have been agony to wear (and they still are, even with modern aids) but they look amazing on most any figure. And men! Those fitted suits and hats add class to any scenario. These elements make for fabulous book covers, and are incredibly fun to describe on the page.

 6) A Spirit of Adventure. As somber as the real Victorian era was, there was also a great sense of possibility and exploration, whether in geographic expeditions or scientific achievements. Likewise, many steampunk books are adventure romps akin to the Indiana Jones movies--constant action, drama, and betrayals, often with a dash of romance mixed in. Anything is possible!

 7) Clothes Aren't Just for Book Characters. Steampunk exists in the real world. Local groups offer opportunities to dress up in fabulous clothes and sip tea with like-minded peers. As an author of steampunk books, I often dress up for conventions or signings. For me, corsets are a work expense and a tax deduction! That's certainly not a perk I ever expected when I first sat down to write The Clockwork Dagger.

Beth Cato   Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham. She's the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. The newest book, THE CLOCKWORK CROWN, comes out on June 9th, 2015. Follow her at www.BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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