Steampunk vs Historical

I just finished the first round of edits on The Fruitcake Bride.

Tomorrow, I start a second type of edit. The kind where I go through and make sure I’ve kept consistent with the the little details I’ve gone and added to make it historical and “steam punk.”

I make a list. It helps me as I’m writing, chapter by chapter, to keep my facts straight. And, yes, sometimes those facts are “made up” but they still must remain consistent the whole way through the story.

Here are some of the elements I’ve added to the story that sets it apart from your usual western historical to a western steam punk novel.

1. A brass oven with copper hot water tubes that “Steam heats” what’s inside.

2. A brass boiler to heat the company store, complete with copper hot water pipes and radiators.

3. Adam Keller wears a boilercap with goggles for going down into the mines.

4. Kati cherishes her mother’s clock pendant she wears on a chain around her neck.

5. Mrs. Simmons and her wire spectacles. (She’s a little scary to Kati, you’ll see why in the book)

So what is steam punk? I’ve been asked this a few times and a fellow author summed it up in a why I think explains it best.

Steampunk is generally set in time periods such as futuristic (cyber stuff), old west, and the Victorian era.  It’s taking things like gears, clocks, metal inventions that work with steam and placing them in these settings. However, those “steam” inventions have to be created with elements you could find during that time period. For example: brass, copper, iron, wood, leather, are all things you’ll see a lot of in the steam punk creations.

If you ask Wikipedia, it will tell you this about steam punk:

a sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century, often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild-West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during with steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Recognizably features anachronistic technologies and retro-futuristic inventions.

OK, so maybe that was too much of a definition. Smith, or even Jules Verne ( who happens to get mentioned in Back to The Future 3. )

So with all that swimming in your mind now, here are some of the things, which, while present in the old west during those days, help compliment the steampunk feel to my upcoming novella, The Fruitcake Bride.

1. Steam Engines

2. Slouch and wide-brimmed hats

3. Adam lives at Mrs. Bradford’s Boarding House

4. Iron, Leather, and horses

5. An old coal mining town

6. South Dakota


So then what makes it historical beyond all this?

1. Restaurants instead of diners

2. Women’s movement for rights

3. Young women waiting to be courted

4. Calico prints and hand sewn gowns

5. The Company Store (or General Stores)

6. Telegraphs and horse delivered mail.

7. Leather gun belts and saloons

8. Ship yards and train stations


Welcome to western steam punk.

I hope you like, I am completely falling for this genre, and on Friday I’ll tell you why.

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