Want to know a little secret? It’s all about the corsets; lace, leather, bristling with brass studs… No, seriously. Although I have severe corset-lust, steampunk is a little bit more to me.

There’s a simple little equation I use that defines steampunk – at least for my own writing:

Historical romance + sci-fi + fantasy/paranormal = Kiss of Steel

All of my favourite genres in one delicious mash-up. I feel like a kid in a toyshop. I don’t have to just restrict myself to one genre, I get to play in them all.

When I first set out to write Kiss of Steel, I knew I wanted to write an alternative world set roughly in the Victorian era – only minus Queen Victoria. In my world, history diverges with one simple cataclysmic event; a foreign traveller in the Orient is infected with the craving virus that makes a man more than human and spreads it throughout Europe, most particularly the aristocracy. The virus makes a man stronger, faster, almost invincible… and immune to disease and injury. There’s just one side effect. The craving for blood.

My world was coming together. I had the British aristocracy, with their stranglehold on London and the British Empire. Humans were considered little more than cattle, until they rose up in France and guillotined their masters during the French Revolution. This set off a chain of thinking; how could my British aristocracy, my blue bloods, keep power? Sure, they were stronger, but they were outnumbered a hundred to one.

And that was the light-bulb moment for me. The setting was around the Industrial Revolution. So my blue bloods took technology and created an automaton army that patrols the streets of London. Humans still grumbled, but how could they ever overcome such enormous iron monsters?

That’s where the fun bit comes in. After all, the best way to fight fire is with fire, or so my main characters may think. And that required weapons. Crazy, entirely made-up-with-some-base-in-fact weapons.

So what are my favourite things about writing in this genre (besides the corsets)? I love the freedom to explore, the very openness of possibility. Steampunk is limited only by the fact that it must have steam-driven technology in it and a certain punkish, bucking the system style. It’s adventure, pure and simple, and its fun.

You can take crazy scientists, imaginary inventions, monsters skulking in the shadowy streets and twist it all into your own mad world. It’s also a style that I quite enjoy, with gorgeous jewellery, sexy boots, corsets and hats. Alas, I’m a writer. I’m more often found in ugg boots and dressing gown. Until someone works out how to steampunk-up a dressing gown, I’ll simply wear mine with tea stains as I research fabulous outfits online for my heroine to wear.

If you’ve been hearing about steampunk and you want to give it a try, why not dive right in? Fancy historical romance? Why not try it with a dash of sci-fi, a la the Sherlock Holmes movie or Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke? Or are you into paranormal novels? Gail Carriger’s Soulless may appeal, or even my own Kiss of Steel. Historical mystery and sci-fi? Look out for Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Just remember to strap yourself in, pull your goggles down and get ready for the ride of your life.

KISS OF STEEL BY BEC MCMASTER – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2012

A brilliantly creative debut where vampires, werewolves, and clockwork creatures roam the mist–shrouded streets of London…

When Nowhere is Safe
Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.

 

 

Bec McMasterABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. For more information, please visit http://www.becmcmaster.com/ or follow her on Twitter, @BecMcMaster.

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