Category Archives: Australian Steampunk Author

Karen Carlisle Blog Tour!

1.         Who inspired the character of Aunt Enid? Is she based on a real person?
Aunt Enid is an amalgam of my own Great Aunt Enid and my grandmother. . I have fond memories of them; both were strong, independent women.  When I was at uni, I shared a granny flat with my grandmother. She wore trousers and rode a motorbike when she was young. I used to help my great aunt make lemon butter on her big, old, metal wood-burning stove with a multitude of doors (back in the 1970s). She lived in an old Queenslander house, with large hydrangea bushes at the bottom of the front stairs; one on each side.

2.         The Protectors are such a great concept. What inspired them?

I’ve had the idea for a fantasy series – called The Otherworlds – whirling around in my head for over thirty years. It will happen one day… I decided to write The Aunt Enid Mysteries as a ‘fantasy’ mystery on this side of the portal to that fantasy world – with the advantage of less world building.

Having hit the big five-oh a little while ago, I realised/was frustrated/annoyed/dismayed TK at the lack of older female protagonists, let alone ‘women of a certain age’. The hero/heroine in fantasy stories were usually the ‘chosen one’ fated to save the world (ie. protect it), so I thought: why can’t they be a group (usually three, isn’t it?) sworn to protect our world from the hordes of Darkness and magical creatures invading from the Otherworlds.

Hence, the ‘Protectors’: (Great) Aunt Enid and her friends. But, of course, they aren’t just little old ladies…

3.         Why is it important to you that you use Adelaide as a setting? (As I like to use Brisbane because I can research the settings personally.)

Adelaide is my adopted home, having moved here in 1988. It’s a city rich in history. I find out more interesting snippets with each round of research. Many don’t know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited here in 1920, for a lecture tour. We were the first state in Australia (and second place in the world) to give women the vote.

There are many stories set in England, or the US, but not nearly enough stories set in Australia. I wanted to add a local Adelaide flavour to my stories – and the research is easier. I love walking around the local area and finding historical places and stories. And the Adelaide Hills are a perfect setting for a cosy mystery.

4.         I enjoy the fact that Enid is ‘a feminist’ thinker in an era when it was a scandal to be an independent woman. Was that always your goal?

Yes, it was. I wanted to channel my great aunt Enid and my grandmother. Little old ladies (or not so old in A Fey Tale), aren’t always frail and withering.

5.         You have an excellent use of humour in this novel – do you find it hard or easy to write humour?

Yes, and no – and thank you!

Humour is subjective and is suited to everyone. I read to escape, as many of us have over the past couple of years. I read a lot of stories with whimsy and love Gail Carriger’s ‘etiquette of humour’. A bit of light-heartedness is always a good foil for darker, ‘Australian’ cosies.

I know other readers plan the humorous beats to their stories. I can’t force the humour. It feels stifled. I do look for potential ‘situational humour’ opportunities when I plan scenes. When a cheeky idea pops into my head, I let my imagination run with it to see if it will work. If not, I rewrite.

6.         How much research do you do for your historical references?

A lot.

I’m a research geek! I devour documentaries, often ending up with several ideas for stories. I usually am working on a few stories when in the research phase. I love speculating and twisting history. I’m always asking ‘what if?’. But you need to know something well to be able to play with it convincingly. I spend months (sometimes several) researching before I start work on a story.

I collect old books and facsimiles of books written at the time I’m researching. I have a couple of bookcases and several stacks of books, dedicated to history, especially sixteenth century Florence, and 19th century society in general. I also love Ancient Egypt. I’m fascinated by eras when science was emerging, and folklore was still ingrained in society. Science, art and legend create an interesting mix.

7.         How does writing these fantasies contrast to how you write your Steampunk novels?

My steampunk is set in an alternate ‘real’ world, so a lot of my world building is already done. I just need to work out how technology has changed and how this has affected society. In fantasy, there is a lot of world building: maps (I love maps!), climate, cultures, society, economy, history, etc – the reason why I’ve delayed writing my fantasy series. I haven’t got all the ducks in row, as it were. The Aunt Enid Mysteries is a ‘suburban’ fantasy (not quite an urban fantasy), set in the ‘real’ world with fantasy elements hidden all around us. We’re just not aware of it.

It’s much easier and quicker to build on existing worlds and not have to start from scratch.

8.         Who are your writing ‘heroes’? What do you read for fun?

There are so many. I’ll give you the short list:

Classics such as:

  • JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings  for world building and setting
  • Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh for mysteries/detective stories.
  • HG Wells, Mary Shelley, Jules Verne – for early science fiction

Then there’s:

  • Gail Carriger for whimsical steampunk, humour and voice.
  • Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams for quirky narrator (so jealous), humour and voice
  • Jim Butcher for fun, urban fantasy, and use of first person that doesn’t grate on me

And so many more, for many reasons; some have great ideas, some a wonderful writing style, and some for description.

9.         Where can people source this book and your backlog?

If you’re in Australia, you can buy original music and print books direct from my website shop (and get them signed) – www.karenjcarlisle.com/shop

With less events this year, I’ve got my first Victorian mystery series, The Adventures of Viola Stewart, on sale til new year (or while stocks last). https://karenjcarlisle.com/product-category/books/

eBooks and print books are also available at many online book shops. Check out Books2Read for listings. https://books2read.com/ap/nmAy7z/Karen-J-Carlisle

Book blog specials: A Fey Tale

And don’t forget Viola Stewart’s Christmas story, Tomorrow, When I Die (eBook only): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/742528

10.       Are there more Enid novels in the works?

Oh, yes, until I run out of ideas. They’re novels I write between others. The third book already has a dedicated ideas box, with a few scenes and lots of notes. It’s set back in current-day Adelaide, and will be next in line after the second book of The Department of Curiosities is finished.

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Blog Tour, Karen Carlisle, Magic, Women Authors In Science Fiction

A Measure Of Success

I am going to be brave and declare that I am a successful writer. I’m not rich. I’m not famous. But I’ve had my first solo book published and another one is on the way. I’ve been published in Daily Science Fiction THREE TIMES. I’ve had several other stories accepted for publication this year. I’ve just had a Steampunk story accepted for an anthology.

This isn’t what I imagined success would be when I was in my teens. Those unrealistic ambitions are now superseded by a better understanding of the publishing industry. I still would like to be rich and a little bit famous – famous enough that people will buy my books simply because they know they will enjoy them. Rich enough to not have to fret about growing old and being too poor to enjoy my retirement (do writers ever really retire?).

So, I’ve changed my definition of what success means for me. I am successful right now! This doesn’t mean I have no goals. I aim to have stories accepted by Uncanny magazine and Clarkesworld magazine; I broke into Daily Science Fiction with persistence. The Aurealis magazine has published an article by me, but I want very much to place a fiction story with them. Winning an award or a grant would be kind of nice. And I want to be published as an speculative fiction author with an audience of adult readers.

Goals mean you are still hungry. But I am not starving to death.

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Iron Bridge Publishing, Personal experience, The Writing Life, Writing Career

My most recent publication!

https://antisf.com.au/the-stories/the-wager

 

Emily&Anthony-373

 

Steampunk, and proud of it!

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Short Story, Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Themes, Steampunk Writer, The Writing Life, Writing Career

What Books Should You be Buying? part 1

Image result for Blackbirds sing

Where to find ‘Blackbirds Sing’.

What books should you be purchasing with your hard-earned cash? Well, come closer, beloved reader, and I will give you some excellent recommendations. This is the first of three posts about recommended readings. You can give them as gifts, buy them for your summer holiday reading, or just as a treat.

Blackbirds Sing, by Aiki Flinthart, is going to be considered a classic in future years. It is a series of interlocked tales, embroidering a story arch into a rich tapestry. It is set in an alternative past. Flinthart has quite a few successful novels under her belt, but this is a new venture for her. There is still plenty of action, but the intricate interweaving – of the characters and settings – is rich, deep, and wonderful. The illustrations by Caitlyn McPherson are glorious.

Pamela Jeff’s Five Dragons is an anthology of dragon stories, including a Steampunk dragon tale. Yes… she had me at Steampunk dragon. If I say anything else, you will just think I’m gushing.

 

Five Dragons: A Dragons of Eridan Collection by [Jeffs, Pamela]

Where to find ‘Five Dragons’

Gillian Polack is one of the best writers in Australia (and the world), using her academic background to strengthen her narratives, making them compelling reading. I can recommend all her books, but I have a particular fondness for The Wizardry of Jewish Women, with its haunted lemon tree. The Year of the Fruitcake is her latest book. I think. I haven’t read her books in order of publication, because you don’t need too. They stand on their own merit.

The Year Of The Fruit Cake Front Cover With Text

Where to find ‘The Year of the Fruit Cake’

 

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Filed under Aiki Flinthart, Australian Author, Australian Steampunk Author, Book Review, Books & reading, Caitlyn McPherson, Gillian Polack, Pamela Jeffs, Recommended Reading, Steampunk

News of my latest Steampunk story

Harvey Duckman Presents Volume 2

Harvey Duckman Presents... Volume 2: (A Collection of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Steampunk and Horror Short Stories) by [Hayes, Mark, McQueeney, Ben, Hallam, Craig, Collyer, J.S., Buxton, A.L., Martin, Peter James, Watts, A.D., Hartless, Jon, Darqueling, Phoebe, Green, Lynne Lumsden]

I have a Steampunk story in this anthology. The link is above.  As a teaser, let me tell you that the story was inspired by Shakespeare.

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Filed under Anthology, Australian Steampunk Author, Steampunk, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Writer, The Writing Life, Writing Career

Anthology Kickstarter for ‘Once Upon a Future Time’

Link to ‘Once Upon a Future Time’Once Upon a Future Time

Want to see a fabulous anthology with me in it? Want to get in on the ground floor for discovering a new publisher? Here you go!

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Filed under Anthology, Australian Author, Australian Steampunk Author, Kickstarter, Neo-Victorian Retrofuturism, Steampunk, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Feminist, Steampunk Genre, Writing Career

Photos from the Launch of ‘Return’

Launch night 03

Most of the authors with Councillor David Morrison of Ipswich (our local member). Missing is Jo Sparrow (who was working) and Susan Ruth (ill health).

LAUNCH NIGHT

A better picture of Jo Seysener without my head in the way.

Readings

Reading a paragraph from the anthology from my Steampunk Story. What you can’t see are the pterodactyls dancing in my stomach.

Authors are: Aiki Flintheart (also editor in charge), Megan Badger, Ted Johnson, DA Kelly, Caitlyn McPherson, Jo Seysener, Belinda Messer, Geogia Willis, Melanie Sienkiewicz, Susan Ruth, Jo Sparrow, and yours truly.

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Filed under Anthology, Australian Steampunk Author, Book Launch, Bookface, Personal Appearance, Personal experience, Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Genre, Steampunk Themes, Steampunk Writer, Uncategorized

Tag, I’m it!

Steampunk Author, Karen Carlilse tagged me into answering a series of  questions about time travel and books.

karen

See her original post at:

http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/10/30/tag-im-it-that-bookish-time-travel-blog-post-2/

What is your favourite historical setting for a book?

This is a bit like being asked who your favourite child is. At the moment, I would have to say 1871, in England and Australia, since that is the setting for my current work-in-progress. However, I would have to say my next favourites would be Edo-period Japan and Medieval China. I love the religion and mythology underlying these cultures.

What writers would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Oh, can I make a comprehensive list?

Isaac Asimov straight up. Mary Shelley. Mary Somerville. Charles Dickens. Kipling. H G Wells. Jules Verne. J M Barrie. Diana Wynne Jones. Terry Pratchett (though I have met him). I could go on and on.

What books would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

So, what age is my younger self? Can I give twelve year old me my entire library I have now? If I have to pick just a few: The Willow Tree’s Daughter by Pamela Freeman, all of Barry Hughart’s books, The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, everything Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman ever wrote, everything by Angela Slatter, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and a list of recommendations for future purchases.

What book would you travel forward in time and give your older self?

Dear me. I’d rather my older self travel back and give me her list of reading recommendations.

What is your favourite futuristic setting for a book?

Pern, created by Anne McCaffrey.

What is your favourite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

I will never be limited to just one book. Dodger, by Terry Pratchett, set in Victorian England, or any of the Barry Hughart  books set in historical China.

Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book to see what happens?

Sometimes. Mainly if the book is a little dull or confusing, and I need to see if the journey is worth it. Infrequently, because I am too terrified and I need to see if the book has a happy ending.

If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

I would go back to meet the Three Marys: Mary Somerville, Mary Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft, and Ada Lovelace/Charles Babbage.

Favourite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods.

The Time Machine by H G Wells is original and best! Though I am also a big fan of Doctor Who books. (Well, Doctor Who anything really. I run Osgood LIVES on Facebook).

 

What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (because that would mean Terry Pratchett would be still alive).

 

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Books & reading, Personal experience, Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Victorian Era

Is it worth it?

This post is dedicated to a writing friend of mine, Ged Maybury. I recently read this post on his blog:

https://steamedup.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/not-another-inspirational-blog-about-writing/

Ged and me by James Niland at Capalaba Library 19th 10 2013 - fluffing the chops.

Ged and me; photo by James Niland, taken at the Capalaba Library 19th of October, 2013 – I am fluffing Ged’s mutton chops.

Ged is one of the most talented men I know. He writes, is an artist, has been an architect, and is a genius designer and maker of Steampunk cosplay outfits and gadgets. And yet his post was a bucket of cold reality for writers, newbies or otherwise.

Writing rarely pays a living wage. This is what happens when you work in creative industries in Australia in the Twentyteens. You often have to make the choice between surviving and writing. Or have a spouse who is prepared to support you, which is unfair pressure on them even when they have faith in you. You have become used to budgeting and doing without.

And yet … writing has allowed me to become friends with some of the most interesting and talented people in the world. Most of the rewarding moments in my life – apart from time spent with my family – are due to my writing obsession. I am not living a beige life. Fewer regrets. Greater joys. Brighter colours. I wouldn’t have that if I wasn’t writing.

I know there are a LOT of writing-related blogs. But I see this blog, my cheery, cheeky little blog, as a way of paying it forward. So many greater writers than I – Ged among them – have shown me great kindness and encouragement. I want to emulate them. This blog also lets me feel more connected to the worldwide writing community, and the the worldwide Steampunk community. I hope people read it to be entertained and educated.

Ged is correct. A writing career isn’t for everyone. But I will persist in calling myself a writer,and trying to get published. And I hope most of you will too. Because – as Neil Gaiman said:

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Ged Maybury, Personal experience, Writing Career

An Interview with Karen J. Carlisle, Steampunk Author.

What was your introduction to the Steampunk genre?

My introduction to steampunk was a slow process. The seeds were planted early on, after re- reading a few classic Victorian science fiction stories and new ‘alternate history’ science fiction books, intertwining two of my passions – historical fantasy and science fiction. A run of steampunk inspired movies followed, in the early 2000s, fed a growing curiosity and intrigued my inner costumer. I started collecting bits to assemble my own costume. By 2006, my obsession had bloomed with my first steampunk costume – an explorer. I literally had a ball (at the annual Australian Costumers’ Guild Ball). I could indulge in my love of research, creating accurate period costumes, and let my imagination run wild with the fantasy elements.

What inspires you to write in the Steampunk genre?

I could never decide which genre I preferred – in costuming or reading. Now I get to mash them all up – fantasy, science fiction and history – in one fell swoop. How exciting! I can play with a familiar setting, create my own alternate world and posit what if with historical events. What is there not to love?

Did you set out to write Steampunk, or did it just happen?

I started out writing a fantasy story and got side tracked by several other (steampunk) ideas. My first series, The Adventures of Viola Stewart, is more gaslamp fantasy, than pure steampunk. The original fantasy story is just biding its time…

Do you write in other genres? If so, what attracted you to those genres?

I also write fantasy and gaslamp. There is even a science fiction-comedy manuscript hidden away somewhere…

How did you come to choose your protagonist and antagonist?

They found me.

In 2013, I was having issues with work stress. I decided to rekindle my dream of writing, and use it as a cathartic exercise. I got told: ‘Write what you know’. Viola became a nineteenth century optician, frustrated with being unable to follow her chosen career path. My latest antagonist, Doctor Jack, was inspired by a documentary. I disagreed with some of the reasoning behind their suspect choice. I researched other options and thought:
What if it was all planned? Who would have planned it? Who would they get to perpetrate such deeds, and why would someone agree to such an undertaking? Doctor Jack was born

Do you write backstories for your characters?

Yes. Some are detailed, with family trees and detailed major events in their lives. Other character backgrounds start out with just the basics required for the plot. It is organic. It grows as the characters introduce themselves – sometimes becoming epic. (Not that you get to see all of it)

Are you a ‘planner’ or a ‘winger’ when it comes to plotting your narratives?

I am mostly a ‘winger’ (or ‘pantser’) – at least at the start. As the story unfolds, I need to start planning. Initially, I used to plan the ending (or a major turning point) and only one or two chapters ahead. I recently did a writing course on plot and writing. I plan a lot more now. My costume cupboard door is sometimes covered in sticky notes. But, whether I plan or not, the stories always change. They are fluid, always changing as my imagination and characters take over. So really, I am still winging it really, but I now I often have a contingency plan for when I get sidetracked.

If you are a planner, do you stick strictly to your plan?

Heck, no! I am always being side-tracked.

What is more important to you: that the characters conform to your plot, or that the plot grows naturally out of the characters?

Technically characters are more important in any story. They need to be believable. But in reality, which comes first will depend on my muse. Sometimes I have an idea for a story, often a scene; sometimes just a feeling. Characters then introduce themselves, but not always when I want nor who I want. At other times, the characters present me with their story and challenge me to write it. They can be wilful.

Do you set time aside to write every day?

Yes. When I started on this journey, I fell back on my training and did the scientific thing. I researched what I needed to do to give myself the best chance of success. Early on, I read some advice: Read or write 1500 words a day. It has served me well.

I try to write at least five days a week. For the first twelve months, I entered competitions regularly. The deadlines helped create a habit of regular writing. Now I have set writing times, usually between 10am-2.30pm. Sometimes the muse attacks me late at night, so I keep a notebook by the bed.

Do you set yourself a word length to write every day?

If I have a deadline, yes. I have found NaNoWriMo to be helpful in pushing me to increase my daily word count. I have an ideal but find 1000 words a day is a comfortable stretch.

However, as a general rule, I try to complete a set writing task – a specific scene or solve a specific problem.

Do you write with a word length in mind, or do you let the story dictate the length?

The story dictates it. Doctor Jack was supposed to be a short story of about 10,000 words. As I developed the characters, I found the story demanded more and ended up at 36,000 words. The Department of Curiosities was originally projected to be roughly 80,000 words but will most likely end up being possibly 85,000. If I was a better planner, I could possibly control word count more accurately. Or so I am told.

How important is research to you and your Steampunk Narratives?

I am a research fiend. I research historical events, characters, science, costume. And not just for the sake of constructive procrastination. I love learning new things. It gives me ideas (and is great for quiz nights). I have maps of 19th century London, photos of houses and portraits of people. I have found original period scientific papers presented to the Royal Society (of Science). I have at least one box of notes per story/series.

For The Adventures of Viola Stewart, I have researched dirigibles, the colour of gases under electricity, colours of smoke produced by various explosives and optograms. I attended a museum lecture on Daguerreotypes and Victorian Post-Mortem Photography, and have delved into the world of Jack the Ripper, and even walked the virtual streets of London via Google Earth.

Did I mention I love research?

Do you use online resources to help you write and research? Can you make recommendations of any websites you find particularly helpful?

Here are just a few:

Do you have any favourite Steampunk authors?

 Gail Carriger. I am also waiting (not so patiently) for Jim Butcher’s upcoming Steampunk novel.

Do you have any favourite Steampunk movies?

Movie? Hard decision. I do love the television series Murdoch Mysteries. It has a Steampunk flavour in many of its stories.

Are you part of a Steampunk community? If so, do they inspire your writing in any way?

Steampunk SA – costumers, some of who have given their time and enthusiasm as beta readers, cover and book trailer models and loaned out their costumes. Steampunk Empire: There is a writers group in SE- all very supportive denizens.

I know you cosplay Steampunk outfits. Was this a conscious decision or did it grow out of your enthusiasm for the Steampunk Literary Genre?

I was cosplaying Steampunk-inspired outfits before I really knew it was called Steampunk. Next the house redecorated with the Steampunk Aesthetic, and then – finally – there came the Steampunk genre writing.

Tell us about your current Steampunk Book.
My first novella, Doctor Jack, is coming out as ebook, following after three short stories. A compilation paperback is due out at the end of the month. The Adventures of Viola Stewart Journal #1: Doctor Jack and Other Tales.

I am just finishing up the first draft of my first novel-length story, The Department of Curiosities, hopefully out at end of the year. Just in time for Christmas!

Do you have an online presence? 

  • website and blog: htt://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net

mirror website on WordPress: https://karenjcarlisle.wordpress.com/blog/

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Books & reading, Interview, Steampunk, Steampunk Feminist