R.S. Hunter

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author

Tag: steampunk (page 2 of 2)

The Exile’s Violin Cover Art Teaser

If you like steampunk, then here’s a little bit of a treat: a rough draft version of the cover art for my upcoming novel The Exile’s Violin. The talented Enggar Adirasa is handling the art for this one. You might recognize his work from Gwen Perkins’ The Universal Mirror. That’s where I first saw Enggar’s art, and I knew the style would be perfect for my book.

So far I’m really happy with how this is turning out. The only big change that’s going to happen between this draft and the final copy is that Jacquie (my main character) is going to turn around and “face the camera.” She’s a standout character, and I think the reader will benefit from getting to see her face. So what do you guys think? Is this steampunk enough? Would it catch your eye on a Barnes & Noble shelf? The Exile’s Violin will be published by Hydra Publications this September.

The Exile's Violin cover draft

Creating the Right Voice in Fantasy Novels

I think we’re all a little sick of feudal, semi-medieval fantasy settings based loosely on Western Europe, right? I am. But I’m also on a big sword and sorcery kick right now, so I’ll read almost anything in the genre, even if it has a semi-medieval standard fantasy setting.

Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCThe Sword-Edged Blonde cover artrosse novels came highly recommended, so I gave the first one, The Sword-Edged Blonde, a try. I’m about a third of the way through the book, and already the book is both entertaining me and rubbing me the wrong way.

I can’t get around the very modern, very anachronistic voice in this book. The book is billed as a mash up of a hard-boiled detective story and a fantasy universe. Sounds cool so far. But then I see characters called Mike and King Phil and little warning signs start to go up in my mind. Then I read a sentence where the main character mentions that he “didn’t have time to comparison shop.” I almost stopped reading there. (But I didn’t!)

In a blog post about keeping a series fresh, Bledsoe specifically mentions the LaCrosse novels’ anachronistic tone as being a staple of the series. So obviously the things that are bothering me about the tone and voice in The Sword-Edged Blonde are intentional.

So that means this comes down to a matter of taste–something that is completely subjective. I find the modern slang and terms incongruous with a sword and sorcery fantasy setting, but others might really enjoy them. I can’t fault Bledsoe for his language choices though. This is a made up fantasy world. There’s no reason for the characters to speak like they’re in Medieval Britain or something because they’re not there. I recognize that, but at the same time, if this is a feudal society then based on the socio-economic model of the land, would terms like “comparison shop” even exist? I have to think that might be stretch, no matter how fictional the setting might be.

Steampunk watch

Something similar happened when I was subbing my steampunk novel, The Exile’s Violin. It’s set in the made up world of Tethys that doesn’t correspond to Victorian England. In my mind, if I had characters that didn’t necessarily speak like they belonged in the late 19th Century then it didn’t matter. They weren’t part of that century. It’s all a matter of taste. One publisher told me that they liked my submission but it wasn’t “steampunk” enough because the language and tone were too modern for them. They had similar quibbles with my book that I’m having with The Sword-Edged Blonde. It’s all very subjective stuff.

I guess the lesson is: if you have a made up setting, write it how you want. There’s no reason to cling to “historical accuracy” if the setting isn’t based real history. Some people might like your word choice and the slang your characters use, others might not. Don’t let that stop you from creating though.

PS: Aside from the modern tone, I’m enjoying Bledsoe’s book! It definitely feels like a noir fantasy mash up.

New Acceptance! The Exile’s Violin Contracted by Hydra Publications

Good news, bad news time. Bad news is I got a flat tire on my way to work this morning (Mondays…amirite?) and have to buy some new tire(s). But the good news definitely outweighs that: I get to officially announce that my steampunk, fantasy novel The Exile’s Violin has been accepted by Hydra Publications! Here’s a little description about the novel:

The Exile’s Violin is a steampunk novel set in the fictional world of Tethys. Jacquie Renairre’s life is ordinary up until the night her parents are murdered and two of their prized possessions are stolen: a pair of black and white revolvers and a black key. After spending six years trying to track down the murderers, all she uncovers is a mystery that will take her around the globe in order to stop a war from breaking out. The Exile’s Violin is a story of loss, action, airships, gunfights, and long-buried magic.

So I’ve known about this acceptance for a couple of weeks, but I got the official green light to announce it today. I had to wait until the ink was dry on the publishing contract and all that. Right now The Exile’s Violin is slated for a Summer/Fall 2012 release in electronic and paperback formats. It’s funny up until now I didn’t feel like this was really happening…but it is!

That’s all the information I have for now, but I’ll post updates on the revisions, samples (if I can), cover art (when I see it), and a firm release date (when it’s set). I’m also going to blog about my experiences getting a novel published for the first time. I have a feeling it’s a whole different ballgame than being included in an anthology.

Please contact me if you have more questions or want to set up an author interview or guest post or something! Now I have to go celebrate! (aka get back to my day job)

How Do You Define Steampunk?

Steampunk. It’s everywhere right? But how do you define steampunk–as a literary genre. I’m more interested in it as a genre rather than steampunk culture, DIY projects, and the like. There are dozens of definitions and websites dedicated to the celebration of steampunk literature.

Personally, my definition of steampunk doesn’t get bogged down in the Victorian era or 19th century settings. I also tend to focus more on the -punk part of the word. To me steampunk is still linked to cyberpunk, just with different aesthetic touches: challenging authority, oppressive regimes, etc. To me the -punk suffix is perfect for writing things that challenge the romantic notions of the 19th century, a time where European imperialism was at its height.

At the same time I love worldbuilding. I’d much rather create my own setting than use even a fictionalized version of Earth. It’s fun for me, and at the same time I don’t have to worry so much about factual accuracy. If it’s my setting I can make it how I want. But can a work be steampunk if it’s set in a completely made up setting?

I ask because my novel just got rejected by a certain SF/F publisher. While the acquisitions dept. said it had potential and was tightly written, “The steam punk feel came through strongly enough […] It was very modern in language and dress.”

They remarked that this was a subjective view, and I agree. I don’t fault them at all. It’s their prerogative to accept whatever books they want. But I can’t help but wonder, were they working off a different definition of steampunk than me? I think absolutely. According to this publisher, steampunk needs to have an older–read: 19th century–feel to it. On that note I have to disagree.

Just because a book isn’t set in England and doesn’t have people riding pennyfarthings and speaking with faux old-timey accents and diction, doesn’t mean it’s not steampunk. I had airship battles, clockwork automatons, corrupt governments, violence, and other things that I feel fall perfectly within the realm of steampunk. I put this question up on Twitter and according to the responses I got (from a small sample size) people seemed to agree with my view.

Oh well. It is what it is. I’ll continue to describe my book as science fiction/steampunk. This particular rejection didn’t hurt too much. At least they took the time to offer up something more than just a generic rejection, plus it had a little positive something something in the middle. But the best part is that it sparked this little thought experiment.

What do you think? How do you define steampunk? Does it need to have 19th century trappings, even when the piece is set in a completely fictional, non-Earth setting? Let me know.

Small Problem–What to Do Next?

I just finished putting the finishing touches on the rough draft of my sci-fi/steampunk novel Terraviathan. I had a 7 page document full of all the names I needed to implement into manuscript. I just finished doing that. Man my hands hurt from typing ctrl+b to unbold all my placeholder names.

Of course now that I finished, I realize I have a small problem. Terraviathan is a sequel. While I tried to make it as standalone-y as possible, it helps a lot if you’ve read The Exile’s Violin. And this is where things get complicated. The Exile’s Violin is unpublished. It won’t stay that way forever, but I don’t think I’d be able to get this book accepted anywhere without TEV getting accepted first. Now if a publisher does show interest in TEV, I can tell them I have a sequel ready to go, but until that happens, Terraviathan is forced to sit on the sidelines.

So what do I do next? I have outlines for two more novels ready to go. Remember The Swarm? Yeah, I have that one. I also have an outline for a novel set in the same universe as “Runner.” It’s called The Price of Loyalty and it’s straight up sci-fi/borderline space opera. I want to work on it, but my brain’s a little worn out right now. So here’s what I think I’m going to do. I’m going to write some short stories for a couple of weeks; there are publications and anthologies out there I want to submit to. Then when I’ve had a little bit of time to decompress, I’ll start work on The Price of Loyalty. The funny thing is, I already have 6 chapters finished. I’ll probably rewrite most of them, but it won’t be like starting from absolute scratch.

I also have a vague, vague idea for a 3rd book in the TEV/Terraviathan universe set after Terraviathan. That’s always on the table. I also started thinking about a spin-off standalone novel featuring some of the characters from Terraviathan. It’d be more military oriented. That could be fun too. The possibilities are endless!

I’m interested to know what other writers do once they finish working on a novel? It’s in that phase where it needs to sit and marinate before any revisions are made. What do you work on next? Dive right into another novel? Short stories? Or do you just take some time off from writing altogether? I want to know.

Current Project: None!

Deadline: None!

Word count: 0

Terraviathan is Born!

I did it! Last night I finished the first (very) rough draft of my new science fiction/steampunk novel Terraviathan. I spent almost all of yesterday writing the last two chapters. I only took two breaks: one to watch the end of the Arizona game and one after finishing the penultimate chapter. My brain was just too tired. I went upstairs to play some videogames, but my brain couldn’t handle Killzone 3, so I played Donkey Kong Country Returns instead.

Sidebar: DKCR is a joy. The controls are a little different from the SNES iterations of Donkey Kong, but it’s still a joy to play. Definitely helped me unwind and prepare for the last writing sprint of the night.

It’s almost like giving birth. Okay not really. I’ve never experienced, and never will (being a male) experience the process of childbirth. But maybe the comparison works. You spend all this time putting all your blood, sweat, and tears into the process and then all of a sudden it’s done. There’s your manuscript screaming and kicking on its own in the big wide world. Welcome baby Terraviathan into the world, weighing in at 112k. Now comes the process of actually raising it and making sure it grows up properly so I can send it off to college–I submit it places.

I plan on spending most of today going through the thing and cleaning it up a bit. First thing on my list: come up with names for people and places. I leave notes to myself in all my manuscripts and highlight things with certain colors. I need to go through and address all the little highlighted parts.

But the important thing is it’s done. Well that’s kind of a lie, but one I’ll gladly tell myself. The editing and revising process can be just as long and arduous as the writing process. I’ll be ready for it.

Project: Terraviathan

Deadline: N/A (maybe 5/1/11)

Word count: 15,835 (since 3/24)

Writing Updates: 2/24/11

Not much is new right now. I’m still collaborating with Michael Bacon on the outline/script for Tweekers. I’m waiting for more information/official release dates for Growing Dread and In Situ. And I’m still working on The Exile’s Violin 2–this might be the last steampunk thing I write for a while. Man I hate typing that title. I need to come up with a new one soon.

I wrote an outline for a new short story the other day. I might work on it this weekend. I’ve also been itching for some space opera recently. I might have to do a little bit more work on The Price of Loyalty — my sci-fi/space opera novel that’s been stalled for a while. It’s set in the same universe as but before my short story “Runner.”

So here’s the updates for TEV 2.

Project: The Exile’s Violin 2 (working title)

Deadline: N/A (5/1/11 maybe)

Word Count: 23,376

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