With each anthology we release at Sirens Call Publications, we enjoy sharing the inspiration behind the stories contained within them. Our recent release, Bellows of the Bone Box is a combination of two fantastic genres – Steampunk and Horror. The authors have decided to share their inspirations of their story or talk about what Steampunk means to them. Now let’s take a moment to see what Steampunk means to Kate Monroe, who contributed Into the Ether in Bellows of the Bone Box…
Kate Monroe is a red-headed author and editor who lives in a quiet and inspirational corner of southern England. She has penchants for chocolate, horror and loud guitars, and a fatal weakness for red wine. Her interests in writing range from horror to erotica, taking in historical romance and tales of the paranormal on the way; whatever she has dreamed about the night before is liable to find its way onto the page in some form or another… Kate can be found online on Facebook or on her website: http://kateserenmonroe.com.
What Steampunk Means To Me
It’s really very simple. To me, steampunk is freedom.
It’s a genre without constraints, in its very essence a call for liberation. Steampunk strips away boundaries and opens up new worlds to both its characters and the reader drawn into their journey. That’s what had me hooked before I even really understood what it was I so admired, and it’s also what has me returning to the genre time and time again, no matter what else I dabble in. The thriving, worldwide steampunk community that’s sprung up over the last decade is further testament to its universal appeal, and of late interest in the genre seems to be growing exponentially.
Ask one of those newcomers to the genre which objects they think define it, and I’d bet at least nine out of ten would hold up the dirigible as a prime example of everything steampunk stands for. It’s iconic, a symbol of steampunk’s ability to transport you anywhere your imagination can go, and for me that imagination was fostered by one unknowing pioneer of the genre.
Even as a child I held Jules Verne in awe, in thrall to the pictures he painted in such intricate detail. It isn’t for nothing that he’s known to many as the godfather of steampunk. The way he strove to describe every tiny technicality might have alienated some readers, but his evident passion for science combined with that glorious vision he possessed captivated me entirely, and even now after devouring each story a dozen times over I can still curl up with one and find myself as fascinated by them as I ever was.
It was with Verne’s stories in mind that I sat down to write Into The Ether, and the steadfast airship captained by my protagonist was the first element that fell into place. One of the elements of steampunk I love the most is how inclusionary it is. There’s a place for everyone, and so it was that the captain of the airship is a woman; something that never would have been entertained in the historical Victorian era in which much of steampunk is set, but when liberated by this genre anything is possible. The rest of the tale fell seamlessly into place around her, everything from the history and name of the ship to its eventual fate upon the seas as easy to craft as if I was merely telling a tale I’d known all my life.
Looking back over this it seems to me that what I’ve written is a love letter to steampunk, and do you know what? I don’t want to change a word of it. Steampunk is a genre I identify with more strongly than any other, and watching it come to the fore these past few years has thrilled me. If you enjoy Bellows of the Bone Box – and I hope you do! – then please, I can’t urge you strongly enough to take a little time to delve further into the world of steampunk. The real and enduring beauty of it is that there’s something to tempt every taste, for the ethos of it is so ubiquitous that every subgenre of literature can be played with and twisted until steampunk is at its heart. Take a chance, and maybe you’ll find yourself falling in love with steampunk just as much as I did all those years ago.
The Steampunk and Horror genres are masterfully combined in the twelve stories contained within Bellows of the Bone Box. Each of the authors has transported you to an age where steam is the dominate means of power and has woven a tale that will fascinate, or possibly scandalize you.
In this volume, you will find clockworks, pneumatic tubes, airships, and leather worn out of necessity – not vanity. Can an engine be powered by human blood; should it be? What about body modification; what happens when the mechanical meets the biological and goes awry? Does the heart rule the machine, or does the machine consume the humanity that once existed within it? What of airships, regeneration, or hallucination; is it safe to trifle with such things? Should technology that can rift time and dimensions be researched; and if that research proves fruitful, should it ever see the light of day?
Packed full of intrigue, imagination, and horror, lovers of Steampunk will have a hard time deciding which of the twelve is their favorite!
Featuring the talents of:
Brad Bass, Paul Boulet, Laura Brown, Vivian Caethe, Alex Chase, Megan Dorei, O.M. Grey, Tarl Hoch, Gavin Ireland, Kirk Jones, Kate Monroe and Christofer Nigro
Here is a snippet from the beginning of Kate’s Into the Ether in Bellows of the Bone Box –
The Aether lurched dangerously to the starboard side as her captain wrenched at the wheel now spinning wildly through her calloused hands. Matilda Mathers swore loudly and shook the driving rain out of her face as the reality of the situation whirled through her mind.
It seemed that the race they had embarked upon would be the end of them. She had never known a storm like this one, not in all the fifteen years she had been sailing the seas. Her airship’s vast, steam-powered engines were helpless in the face of the churning waves assaulting them. They had descended onto the sea to escape the vicious gale that had erupted from nowhere to devour them, but even the water held no respite.
The race was over, and Matilda and her ship’s crew would pay the ultimate price for failure.
It had been hailed as the greatest race of all time. Traversing across land and sea alike to speed from London to New York, it was described in the papers as the perfect analogy for the progression from the old and tired world to the glorious new. The revolution in society that had freed a woman like her to take up position on an airship and roam the world had been symbolized by those very airships, and their inventor had laid down the challenge.
One hundred airships. Three and a half thousand miles. One winner, and a hundred dollars for every mile they flew; $350,000 for the sole victor.
She never had been able to resist a challenge, especially one that came with such a fortune attached. As the only female captain in the tavern when the telegrammed announcement had come through, the thought of refusing the race had been unpalatable. Without even a second thought Matilda had gambled her life and those of her crew upon their success, eager to match their skill against the newer and more advanced airships that had filled the seas since the Aether and her ilk had led the way at the forefront of the steam revolution. The airships had been the flag bearers for the new world, and now it was time to see which of them would come to the fore.
The Aether had come so agonizingly close. Though they had never held the lead, they had constantly been part of the chasing pack and with little more than five hundred miles until they reached the coast of New York State, Matilda had been readying the crew and ship for the final push when the storm had struck.
Tossed around like nothing more than a toy in a bathtub, they had been blown badly off course in a matter of minutes. The storm had swelled out of nowhere, showing no regard for the bulk and imperiousness of the Aether. The smaller ships flying alongside them had been torn to pieces before their disbelieving eyes, but to try to help them would have been folly. Their priority had to be ensuring their own survival, even though the odds seemed to worsen with each passing second.
For now, though, they were still alive; and whilst there was life, there was hope…
Check back tomorrow for another post from one of the authors in Bellows of the Bone Box!