Thank you so much, for having me, Lucy.
Before I get started on writing steampunk, twisting history and doing research, let me just define steampunk. I like the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrence’s definition best:
Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel—powered by steam and set in the 1800’s.
I write Victorian steampunk primarily set in London, mostly because I lived there for years and love including places I’ve been to into my books, but also because I love the city and its somewhat insane history.
When I set out to create the world in my Victoria’s Secret Agents series, so far there are From Prussia With Love and Dirigibles Are Forever (are you seeing the theme here?;), I asked my favourite question: What if? What if Her Majesty Queen Victoria had utilised her power as a queen and an empress, and shared that power with the women she ruled? What if she gave them the same rights as men had at that time?
I imagined that what happened throughout the 20th century would now happen a century earlier. Women would have to fight for what they wanted, would have to deal with harassment and dismissive attitudes, would have to claw their way to respect. Clara lives in a world that is on the other side of that climb, but the dismissive attitude is still dominant across certain parts of the male dominated areas like espionage and security.
I read a number of articles online and rewatched some of my favourite 80s movies like “9 to 5” and “Working Girl”, not for historical details but to get a feel for the energy surrounding the characters. Because I write alternative history I can build the world I want to build without being bound to accuracy. I tend to maintain some of the core values, but give everything else a good twist until it’s all where I want it to be.
That doesn’t mean I don’t conduct research. I love research and have discovered I can spend hours tracking down that one little thing that will never see the light of day, but is essential for me understanding something. My research is less focused on history and more on technology. For me to invent something steampunk-y I need to understand how the original works, which means I can get bogged down in details and waste hours looking at the engines of the Hindenburg or the way her cabins and passenger areas were laid out.
Even when I’m making stuff up I want it to be at least a little believable, so I try to stick to materials available in my time period and conjure up mechanisms that could have been assembled if they the inventors of that time had the advanced knowledge we have now.
Luckily I write romance—more so—I write erotic romance, so the focus of the story is not the lift mechanism of the Bismarck or the way the flockwork messengers transmit their messages, but the relationship between my characters and the obstacles they have to overcome in order to succeed. I’d like to think my research helps me to make my world a richer, make it into a place you want to spend time in. A backdrop that is alive and vibrant and supports the fast-paced and sexy story that plays out in the forefront.
I’d love to know if you as a reader pay attention to the details and are pulled out of the story if you stumble across inconsistencies? Or are you able to suspend your disbelief for good?
Thanks again for having me and thank you for stopping by!
Clara Redbeck has one goal: to prove to the sods at work—and to herself—that the best man for the job can be a woman. To do that, she must prevent a traitor from blowing London to bits. If only the dashing first mate of the dirigible she’d been tasked to plunder didn’t set her aflame.
Garrett Dewhurst has one goal: to execute the coup of a lifetime. His plans do not include a spanking dalliance with the most intriguing woman he has ever met.
With each encounter, the fire between them burns hotter and their need grows stronger. Finally, the cramped cabin aboard the Bismarck becomes their intimate playground, where Garrett introduces Clara to the pleasure of submission and they explore their passion in every way possible.
Clara and Garrett want a future together, but each holds a secret that if revealed could cost them everything. When danger closes in, they have to choose between protecting themselves or the whole of London.
Skids of boxes and crates were stacked back-to-back with limited space between them, just enough to walk through. A few lamps scattered through the length of the hold offered dim light that barely showed them the back wall. He picked up a steamtorch. With a click and a whirr it came to life in his hand.
“Is it everything you’d expected?”
She moved past him, turning as much as the narrow space permitted. Her gaze roved about the vast hold. “It’s so big.” Her words were a breathy whisper. “It’s huge.” Her eyes sparkled with the mischief he’d come to enjoy during their exchange.
“It is indeed quite large. In fact, the more you…explore, the bigger you’ll find it.”
He bit his tongue to suppress his laughter at the look she threw him, but it became more and more difficult when her lips twitched. “I’m sure you’ll be only too happy to show me.”
Clara Riesenbeck disarmed him like no woman before her.
She ran her hand across a support beam made of a new compound. “It looks soft.” She stroked the slightly yielding surface. “But it’s actually quite hard.” She tossed an arch look over her shoulder at him.
“Yes, it’s vulcanized rubber. It starts out soft and pliant but gets harder under heat and…pressure.”
Her lips curled at the corners despite her obvious efforts to school them into a disapproving frown.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tina Christopher spent her early years flitting across the Channel between Germany and England. After touring the world extensively—from hanging out with elephants in South Africa to hiking through the wilderness in Alaska—she finally laid down roots in Toronto. Although Canada’s winters may be frigid, Tina’s characters are anything but!
Like most writers, Tina often hears voices in her head, but it took the encouragement of an editor friend to have her actually put fingers to keyboard. While those first stories will never see the light of day, she’s subsequently honed her craft and learned to build not just worlds, but entire galaxies. History has always been an area of interest for her, and she’s enjoys few things more than imagining what could happen when history and future meet.
When not imagining far-away worlds and scorching-hot encounters, Tina can be found on her sofa working through her never-ending TBR pile or venturing into the real world—whether to a nearby café or a passport-required destination. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America Toronto chapter and looks forward to where her characters take her next!
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