Never have your event on the sunniest and balmiest evening of the year! We were a small, but select, group that met in Bristol Foyles to talk about ‘Writing Alternatively’.
We had the most fascinating conversations about steampunk, alternative history, constructing a completely artificial world and enticing the reader into it.
After a glass of wine, and some chatting with readers and colleagues including Helen and Emily from SilverWood Books, we got down to business!
Both steampunk and alternative history stories are reversals of standard ideas; Roma Nova is essentially Roman which in the ancient world was strongly patriarchal, but by the 21st century developed an ‘egalitarian plus’ society. Steampunk mirrors the late Victorian/Edwardian world, but where technology and engineering are steam-powered and society still based on traditional values. Readers enjoy following characters acting out the story rather than wading through long descriptions; this is the challenge for authors today, particularly for authors being extra inventive or even alternative.
Liesel and I stressed the need to weave our ‘world building’ into our books; setting must be reflected by the characters, their actions and the effect they have on that world, and vice versa. We need to remember to keep the stories and their world plausible and consistent and do this by making the characters’ lives natural within that world.
Then we passed on to strong women characters whom we had given multiple problems – personal conflict, professional struggles and inner flaws and sometimes severe lack of judgement, but women who drove the plot forward and toughed it out. Historical and background research was essential for writing in steampunk and alternative history genres. You have to get your facts and historical logic a hundred per cent correct to maintain plausibility.
We were finished with mentioning our latest books (*coughs*). Liesel’s Sky Pirates ins now out in paperback. I expect you’d expect me to say this but I will anyway – it’s a rattling good read! It’s the third in the Chronicles of Light and Shadow and features, of course, a strong female protagonist.
And the Roma Nova thrillers were on display with the newest addition, AURELIA, published only a few days ago.
More about Liesel here:
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