Sunday, November 15, 2009

History Repeating

It is very difficult to ignore one's past since our experiences in life tend to shape who we are. I have found that my past, my personality quirks, and even my likes and dislikes, seem to weasel their way into my manuscripts and into my characters.

I tend to write what I know and feel comfortable with, and think this is often the case with most writers. Not that we don't stray off the beaten path! But there is a reason my characters drink whiskey and tea, are slightly claustrophobic, more than a little stubborn, know how to ride a horse and are a half decent shot with a bow and arrow. There will often be something Gaelic, a hint of something pagan, and more than a little mischief and romance to be had. And you guessed it, those are all a part of my history and who I am.

I also find that when adding in something I've actually experienced, the details tend to be more intricate and crisp, and therefore the scene tends to come alive with those details-- details you would not necessarily add or think of if you had not experienced them.

In the next month or two, I'll be sitting down to write a new story, and as I figure it all out in my head, it seems like more than ever, my past is playing a greater influence. In some ways it's a very comfortable feeling, like putting on a favorite comfy sweater. And though my story will still be a completely new world and experience, I take comfort in knowing there will still be a bit of the familiar.

What about you? Do you draw from your own experiences in life? From your own personality? Your likes and dislikes? Do these things influence your writing? Do you find it easier to write what you know or do you feel like you're exposing a part of yourself? Inquiring minds want to know.

And in case anyone is indeed wondering... yes, that is a picture of me and my past. I'm sure it all makes a little more sense now. No?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Introduction to Steampunk

My apologies since this is LONG overdue. I have found that though steampunk has experienced a recent explosion in popularity, there are still plenty of people who are not familiar with what steampunk is, though they may have heard the term before.

There is a bit of difficulty in explaining steampunk as a genre, since it really is quite adaptable and flexible, and extends well beyond a genre of fiction to an aesthetic in clothing, art, and everyday items. As a result this is just a brief overview of steampunk as I see it.

Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative science fiction, that usually takes place during the Victorian time period, or in a world where Victorian aesthetics and ideologies are dominant. However there is the very important addition of technological advances- often steam driven- that did not necessarily exist during the time period and may be far more advanced than even our current technologies, but are always in keeping with the aesthetics of the time period. The technology is often used to try and better the lives of the people and erase the inequalities of society that were so dominant during that time period.

Steampunk, at its earliest, was influenced by writers like H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Mary Shelley, since their works included many fictional technological inventions and prominent elements of science fiction. Though steampunk is often set in Victorian England, you can easily find many stories set in other countries and areas, some settings altogether fictional.

Because there is so much more to steampunk than what I've covered, I encourage you to check out Wikipedia and Tor for more information. Also check out the great postings Tor put up for steampunk month in addition to a great source of all things steampunk via NaNo WriMo.