Tag Archives: Australian Steampunk Author

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 Those unrealistic ambitions are now superseded by a better understanding of the publishing industry.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

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!


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

Is it worth it?

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


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.”


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/


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

Ged Maybury: Southeast Queensland Steampunk Icon

Photo: Ged Maybury: Steampunk Icon and today's eye candy.

Ged Maybury

I have been an active member of the Australian writing community for over ten years. However, It has only been in the past six years that I have been a Steampunk Enthusiast. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the genre; I just didn’t know it had a name. The person who introduced me to the Steampunk Literary genre was Ged Maybury.

I count myself as extremely lucky that Ged moved from New Zealand, where he was a well-respected, award-winning YA and Children’s author, to Southeast Queensland. He has made a lively contribution to the Steampunk community though his writing, his creative cosplay, and his gadgets – which he designs and makes himself. I can’t think of anyone else who better fits the theme for this year’s Steampunk Hands Around The World: Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop. Ged Maybury has certainly shone in the playgrounds, the classrooms, and the workshops of the SE Queensland Steampunk community.

Ged the Writer:

Into the Storm’s Domain; Across the Stonewind Sky Book One is Ged Maybury’s Steampunk Airship Opera. It is firmly in the Steampunk Literary genre by characterization, setting and plot. It started out as a setting for a computer game, but took on a life of its own. Ged immerses himself in his creation, to the book that he also composes music and lyrics. If you want to see a clip of music acted by Ged himself and members of the Southeast Queensland S.T.E.A.M.  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRQ29QkfKNE

Ged the Tinkerer:


A small selection of Ged Maybury’s Steampunk creations.

Ged at the Logan City Writer's Festival

Ged at the Logan City Writer’s Festival

Ged makes his own Steampunk costumes and gadgets. His real skill is seeing the possibility in items that wouldn’t normally been classified as Steampunk, but Ged can turn anything into a useful Raygun or item of clothing. His imagination and enthusiasm come through in his creations. They all have a unique sense of fun that is all Ged’s own.

Ged the Public Speaker:

Ged gives seminars to educate the general populace about the Steampunk Literary genre, alternative lifestyle and the Aesthetic. He is also very supportive of those writers who would like to investigate the Steampunk genre; you only need to look at me for your proof.

Ged's and my portrait by James Niland; taken at Capalaba Library. I'm fluffing the muttonchops.

Ged’s and my portrait by James Niland; taken at Capalaba Library. I’m fluffing the muttonchops.

Ged the Cosplayer:

A picture saves a thousand words.

GedGed having a lark in a bustle


This is just a small selection of Ged’s outfits and creations.

So, as you can see, Ged Maybury is a unique character in a community of unique characters. His personal charisma and sense of fun make him an authentic Icon!

A link to the Ged’s author’s page on Satalyte Publishing: http://satalyte.com.au/authors-2/ged-maybury/

Steampunk Hands Around the World: https://airshipambassador.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/steampunk-hands-welcome/

SHATW Facebook Site: https://www.facebook.com/events/228910473961760/?fref=ts


Filed under Alternative Subculture, Australian Steampunk Author, Steampunk

Richard Harland: Australian Steampunk Author

With Richard Harland 2012 Supanova Gold Coast

Richard Harland wrote the first Australian Steampunk novel I recognised as being part of the Steampunk genre: The Black Crusade. We met at a Freecon in Sydney, where I was enchanted by both Richard and his book. Since then, he has gone on to write the Worldshaker series, also in the Steampunk genre. We meet up once in a while at various conferences, usually Supanova. Richard has two of my favourite Steampunk accessories, his hat and his guitar. Like Michael Pryor, he is very approachable and a charming man.

The Black Crusade is both a comedy and a horror story, as well as having the best Steampunk gadgets. It certainly has Absurdist overtones, with some really lurid, technicolour adventures. One of the main characters in the book is Volusia, aka ‘the Australian Songbird’, so there is a strong Australian connection. Though an Englishman by birth, Mr Harland has lived in Australia since 1970.

His website is at: http://www.richardharland.net/

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Steampunk, Steampunk Genre

Australian Steampunk Authors: Michael Pryor

Michael Pryor Supanova Gold Coast 2012Supanova Gold Coast 2014 074

For the next few weeks, I thought I would share around a few Steampunk Authors from Australia. Australian authors are among the best in the world, and often their books are cutting edge in genre fiction. Okay … this might make me sound like I’m a tad patriotic, but it is completely true. I hold up as my first example Michael Pryor.

Michael Pryor has written quite a few Steampunk genre books. I first came across his work when judging for the Australian Aurealis Awards, when I read his book ‘Heart of Gold’, the second in his The Laws of Magic series. I was immediately hooked. This series has an Edwardian setting, and his protagonist, Aubrey Fitzwilliam, has both a rational, curious, scientific turn of mind and is able to use magic. There are six books in the series, and every one of them is  a winner. Then he went on to write The Extraordinaires,which is so far two books about Kingsley Ward, (an alternative world Mowgli) magician & hero, and Evadne Stephens, a brilliant and talented inventor, juggler, and a driven woman.

I have to admit, if I hadn’t already fallen in love with Michael’s writing, Evadne would have won me over. She is flawed, physically and emotionally, but at no point do her flaws turn her into a damsel in distress. She is the  brains of the duo, and Kingsley is quite happy with that arrangement, because he is remarkable for both his common sense and his understanding above and beyond the rules of British Edwardian society. Evadne is also the one taking charge in their developing romantic relationship. She loves to invent weapons and give them playful names, and she is an expert in all her inventions. She is beautiful, but it isn’t her looks that define her, it is her intellect!

I would recommend any of Michael Pryor’s books, because they are beautifully written, beautifully told, and his Steampunk books are full of unexpected puzzles and solutions.

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Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Personal experience, Steampunk, Steampunk Genre