Are you writing a Steampunk?


Just wondering, cause there are a lot of tweets and whatnots going around. Evidently a few RWAers chatted amongst themselves about Steampunk being the next big thing, and I have heard that Meljean Brook has a contracted series coming soon.

So raise your hand, if you dare! Are you writing a steampunk romance? What’s it about? Is it hard steampunk, as I’ll call the sort that is immersed in the details of alternative technologies? Or Softsteam, as I’ll dub the book I just wrote (and am reworking for my very, very patient editor)–meaning that it’s not heavy on technology but does have a Victorian alternate universe?

I’d love to start a group of like-minded struggling pulling our freaking hair out this is so freaking hard but exciting to write authors. What do you think? You in? You giving up? Or do you lay awake deciding what your cover will look like?


47 thoughts on “Are you writing a Steampunk?

  1. I’m writing a steampunk that’s hard technology but non-victorian. Think alternate reality and Steampunk meets The Mummy πŸ™‚

    – Maura

  2. ciarcullen says:

    Oooh, Maura, first I’ve heard you describe it. Sounds absofreakinglutely scrumptious. And the exact opposite of mine, which can’t be a bad thing, right?

  3. Never a bad thing πŸ™‚ I’m in love with mine and need to go agent hunting as soon as the partial is done.

    Can’t wait to read yours !!!

  4. Ella Drake says:

    Not really writing one, but I do have a Lady Space Pirate story with what I call “steam-punk” elements.

    I did hear chatter at RWA about steampunk & still a bit of confusion about what it actually *is*. I think it’s exciting, cause I’d love to read more!

  5. Ella – I wrote a blog post a while back on my own view of what the various “punk” genres are. Though only my own view as a long-time reader and newer writer of them.

  6. Ooooh! I just came back from RWA with the enthusiasm to write one. Since I write historicals in the Victorian era and also dabble in fantasy and scifi, I loved this idea of blending them.

    I’m so new into the story, I can’t even describe it here. Still hammering out characters and plot. I’d love to keep up with other writing it and, of course, read what else is out there!

  7. ciarcullen says:

    Ah, Leslie, after reading Beauty, I can imagine that you’d write just the atmospheric kind of book that will fit the genre perfectly!

  8. ciarcullen says:

    And I meant to say, please link to any posts you’ve written on this topic if you’d like…

  9. Valerie says:

    I’d love to see more Steampunk novels.

    I read a good one by Marie Treanor recently.


  10. And, hey, if anyone likes brainstorming, I’d love to connect and have some help bouncing ideas around. πŸ™‚

  11. ciarcullen says:

    Hey Val, what did Marie write? I love her writing…

  12. I’ve planned a second, possibly third follow up to my steampunk-ish Sleight of Hand. Seems everywhere I look lately, someone has a call out for steampunk romance!

  13. ciarcullen says:

    And you know I’m waiting for that one, Katrina. That’s a good example of what I’d call Softsteam. It has that, well, sleight-of-hand feel (duh), dark and atmospheric, strains of creepy carnival music in the background thing going on. Loved that book, as you well know.

  14. I like your term “Softsteam”. It embraces more of the aesthetic, which makes for wonderful atmosphere. (And hot leading men in frock coats…)

  15. Sonja Foust says:

    So glad this is going to be a thing! I’m working on one now.

  16. Katrina,
    Just bought your story “Sleight of Hand.” Will hopefully be reading it tonight! Ok, who else shall I buy to immerse myself in the genre?? Hmm!

  17. I am not writing a steampunk, but the concept intrigues me. I have played in a steampunk-esque roleplaying setting of D&D entitled Iron Kingdoms that was OMGSOMUCHFUN. lol

    Basically, all the technology in that world was powered by magic. It was really cool.

    What type of “research” do you do for these kinds of books? Do you actually research the Victorian age or do you kind of use it as a “template” and make your own world from it?

    As you can see, I’d have no idea how to go about even writing one of these. πŸ˜›


  18. Ciar Cullen says:

    Hey Becks, I didn’t have you pegged for a D&D girl. My setting is 1890 NY, with an alternate dimension. So 1890 is research, alternate is me doing fantasy basically.

    Katrina’s Sleight of Hand is more mystical in tone I would say, but really an historical with magic–is that what you’d say, Katrina?

    Sonja, tell us what you’re writing if you’d like?

  19. I did a lot of research on technology and science common in the Victorian era, then used my science background to extrapolate that into an alternate modern-ish era.

    I also did a lot of research to combine with my Egyptian mythology knowledge for some of the magic.

  20. Sonja Foust says:

    All of these sound really cool!

    I’m working on an adventure/time travel where the time travelers are Victorian. So it’s steampunky in a classic The Time Machine sort of way.

  21. Jet Mykles says:

    I wrote one. Sursein Judgment came out earlier this year, set in what I’ve so far called a “steampunkish” world. Probably along the lines of what you’ve dubbed softsteam.

    it’s good fun. I’d love to write more in that genre.

  22. Katrina’s Sleight of Hand is more mystical in tone I would say, but really an historical with magic–is that what you’d say, Katrina?

    I’d say it’s paranormal romance set in a historical AU with steampunk-ish elements. (What a mouthful! LOL Gotta love cross-genre!) I researched everthing from men’s nightshirts to cork bottles to train travel for that one.

  23. Jet, we could all collaborate on an antho and call it…. “Ish”. Sounds very Dr. Seuss, no? πŸ˜€

  24. anny cook says:

    Huh. That’s one genre I haven’t even thought about. I certainly has the advantage of being new and fresh. It sounds like you’ve found something you can more or less invent for yourself. Best wishes with it!

  25. ciarcullen says:

    I’m in Katrina. Would love to do a steam anthology…

  26. Stella Price says:

    Aud and I have a novel in the pipes, lots of research going on for it but if you know us and our writing it will be a steampunk but not in the traditional sense, and will employ a TON of paranormal and all.

    On the side, as Dagmar, Im writing a shorty that is slow going. Its a post apoc. where the society that is tucked under a world reclaimed by ice is neo victorian , and very steampunky. Still working out the details though…

  27. ciarcullen says:

    So, except for Maura, it sounds like most of us are writing romantic steampunk that is probably not “real” steampunk, ie., not centered around technology per se. That indicates to me that perhaps because the romance will be the driving force of the story, most “hardcore” steampunk will be written as fantasy? Will be interesting to see how it shakes out. Fantasy/time travel/para/magic/romance/Victorian… The good news is, we can write what we want. I would imagine that purists (and yes, they are out there), would not call what I’m writing a steampunk. Dunno.

  28. Stella Price says:

    YOu might be right Ciar. Because its a short story Im doing, Im not sure HOW much Im getting into the tech side of it, but theres a lot of the fantasy aspects in it, and i havent figured out the “romance” part of it yet. Its all very raw but its taking shape.

  29. I initially planned to insert anachronistic technology into Sleight of Hand. As the first draft evolved, I decided I had enough going on as was, and that airships and steam-powered laptops would only detract from the story. So in that case, I opted for more of that steampunk-y vibe or atmosphere.

    I do have a neo-western brewing on the backburner that will incorporate more technology, but I admit I’m intimidated by the world-building on that one.

  30. I plan on using more technology in mine, some clockwork ideas and yet still highlighting the social class distinctions of the Victorian era. I’m also thinking of throwing in a murderer and some mystery. It’s gonna be fun!

    If there’s an antho in the works, I’m in! πŸ™‚

    By the way, almost done with Sleight of Hand! Great, quick read with really sexy man-love!

  31. Mine is definitely more urban fantasy than romance – at least the one I’m working on. I have a cyberpunk that’s more romance.

    I have to be the problem child, you know….

  32. Valerie says:

    Back again,

    I enjoyed all the posts. This could be the new big genre, I mean you could add all kinds of paranormal elements into it too, the regular shapeshifter and vampire ideas could have a fresh new twist on them in a steampunk world.

    Anyways, Ciar, Marie’s book is Steamy Nights and it’s at Changeling. Check it out! πŸ™‚

  33. […] written Slight of Hand. I know both of us are looking to do more steampunk or — as Ciar Cullen recently dubbed the softer side of steampunk — “softsteam”. Maybe sometime in the future the stars will align and we can be in […]

  34. ciarcullen says:

    okay, ladies and germs. anyone who posted here and is writing steampunk and would like to join me on a blog as a group, please email me at terrybrucemac at and please help me get the word out. Pubbed authors as the owners of the blog, but anyone writing in the genre can participate and ultimately be an “owner.”

  35. So… I know the “purists” as Ciar calls it might scream in agony, *lol*, but would it be possible to do a steampunk story set in the Wild West ala the ending scene of Back to the Future III with the time-traveling steam engine train?

    Steampunk intrigues me, but writing in England, not so much. Now, if it was a Western… Perhaps. πŸ˜›


  36. Hey, that Wild Wild West movie with Will Smith… Could that be considered a western Steampunk? It kinda sucked, but that might be one example. πŸ˜›


  37. Wild Wild West is considered Western Steampunk.

  38. Awesome post, and I will link to this soon.

    but would it be possible to do a steampunk story set in the Wild West ala the ending scene of Back to the Future III with the time-traveling steam engine train?

    Oh pleasespleasepleaseplease someone write that! I am so there.

    If anyone sells a steampunk romance anytime soon I’d love to blog about it. Feel free to email me at sfrgalaxy “at”

    I have two steampunk romance-related blog events coming up in the beginning of September–the first if everything goes as planned– so I invite anyone who’s interested to visit me at The Galaxy Express.

  39. I have a steampunk romance I’m in the process of editing with my agent, and hope to start shopping to publishers this fall.

    It’s not terribly heavy on the technology, but does touch upon the issue of inequality amongst the classes, which also tends to be a strong steampunk theme.

    And of course, I have an airship captain, that’s way too yummy. Throw in murder, theft, and a heavy dose of sex, and you’ll have a good idea what my story’s about.

  40. @Calista Thanks! I made a note of your info. Fingers crossed for you.

  41. @Heather Massey Thanks so much!! I’ll tweet when I have some news.

  42. BlaqueSaber says:

    Wikipedia has (or at least had ) a list of Steampunk Sub-Genres and Diesel Punk intrigued me the most..a bit more advanced on the tech side. I’ve got lots of ideas…

  43. I just began a blog, so it’s not worth much, but I am in the middle of writing two series, each steampunk. Hopefully these stories will end my dry spell. I’ve been waiting for steampunk to become popular again. One series is about a lost city, the other about ghosts.

  44. I currently have one steampunk story out, “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.” Two more are coming this month in Ellora’s Cavemen and Circlet’s Like a Corset Undone.

    Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch is the tale of widows Cat and Amanda who are having trouble on their joint Oklahoma homestead. After the War, the slaveholders couldn’t give up free labor, so they killed their slaves and started having them raised as zombies. Now the zombies are loose and Cat has to see if her late husband’s inventions can save her wife and kids.

    “Cherry Tart” is coming Ellora’s Cavemen. It’s a classic stagecoach romance, set on the ship to Jupiter. Chastity Millwood has been sent off in disgrace to help her Aunt Prudence emigrate to the Io colony. She’s expecting a quick marriage to a stranger, until she meets junior officer, Ulysses Carter.

    And “Skyway Robbery” in Like a Corset Undone is a steampunk Robin Hood, with a direct line descendent of Robin of Locksley working as an airship pirate, while coping with the jealousy between his new lover, Marion the navigator and his old lover, Will O’Hara, former Fenian sapper.

    I’ve got a couple more percolating.

  45. Xandra says:

    I have two WIPs in steampunk settings. One is an airship adventure romance and the other is more Dieselpunk, but character focused.

    One of the difficulties in writing in the genre is that because it’s still emerging, the conventions and expectations that are there are still quite soft. Paranormal elements, world rules, tone, etc., are not really set.

  46. ciarcullen says:

    Wow, and now we are at 45 comments. I have created a wordpress blog called Romantic Steam and I’ll be opening it up for you all in the coming days. If you want to be included in that venture, please email me at I’m keeping a list and will open it up to all writing in the ROMANTIC steampunk genre. From unpublished to very published. A society of equals :o) My first interview will be with Meljean Brook! Woot!

  47. Mae Pen says:

    I am writing a softsteam that will eventually go to hardsteam series of fifteen. I have the last polishing on the first ms before sending it out and am starting on the next with NANO. Thanks for giving me the term, “softsteam”. It so fits my first novel. Meljean Brook is great! The Iron Duke is definately hardsteam, but very much worth the money and the time to read it. She draws you into the world as if you had lived there the whole time. I’d love to be a part of your blog. I have a small one, I just started on my website, but can always use more.

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