I had the great pleasure of attending some of Shelley Adina’s lectures on creative writing. In addition to being a phenomenal teacher, Shelley is an extraordinarily kind woman who will let weirdos with websites interview her. I didn’t even have to take any chickens hostage (though apparently, “The Silkie Mafia” comes armed with lightning pistols, so…)
Shelley Adina is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. She writes steampunk, contemporary romance, and young adult fiction, and as Adina Senft, writes women’s fiction set among the Amish and other plain communities. She won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, was a finalist in 2006, and in 2009 was a Christy Award finalist.
When she’s not writing, Shelley is usually quilting, sewing historical costumes, or enjoying the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.
Her latest Magnificent Devices story comes out on the 19th and it looks like this:
Here’s my full interview with Ms. Shelley Adina:
L.J.: What brought you to Steampunk?
S.A.: Would you believe the Wild Wild West TV show back in the 1960s?
L.J.: YouTube says it’s like James Bond on horseback. I can believe it.
S.A.: I loved the adventure in the Wild West, the trick gadgets, the derring-do of it all. Because I was the oldest, when we recreated the episodes after school, I always had to be James West. But I wanted to be Artemus Gordon because he got to invent the cool stuff. Carry that forward several decades, and I’m inventing cool stuff in my imagination now.
L.J.: I’ve been making people define Steampunk all month, but you’ve actually defined it in the past really succinctly as “high technology in the Victorian age,” but you write in the Regency as well. Does the era matter?
S.A.: Since the steam engine was invented by Richard Trevithick in 1807 or thereabouts, the age of steam falls both in the Regency and in the Victorian age. For writers focusing on both eras, steam matters. But what also matters is the punk element—the element of subversion of authority and fighting for independence, especially among women. While it may be easy to imagine Victorian ladies getting up to subversive activities in a time that saw the likes of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Viscountess Amberley, the Regency had its share, too, like Ada Lovelace (born 1815), the first computer programmer. Steampunks know this, and celebrate it in the characters and art we create for ourselves.
L.J.: What do you think caused the Steampunk movement?
S.A.: In a world that’s so high-tech, where you can have relationships with people you never meet in person, the hands-on, “I made this” aspect of steampunk is very appealing. The maker communities are large and active, sharing a community build of a steam-powered motorcycle or a particularly attractive bustle design for a dress. The art of it brings like-minded people together, and there’s a real appeal in sharing a common weirdness 🙂 That speaks to me as a writer, too, because I’m building a community around characters who embody that brave, punk aspect of the movement.
L.J.: As a reader, do you think Steampunk leans more dystopian or utopian? As a writer which way do your books tend to swing and why?
S.A.: I’ve read steampunk in both flavors. Being an optimist at heart, I prefer the utopian. My heroines get what they want because they’re clever, brave, and compassionate. My worlds, while they might be broken in some ways, still have room for happiness if one is brave enough to create it. Maybe that’s a bit of my life philosophy, too.
L.J.: I really like that as a life philosophy. Can you tell us more about your books?
S.A.: The Magnificent Devices series numbers 12 books, followed by four “manor house” novellas that continue the adventures in a much smaller, more domestic way. Because, you know, the adventures don’t stop after the wedding 🙂
Then there is my spinoff steampunk mystery series, Mysterious Devices, which follows the adventures of Daisy and Freddie Linden, two young ladies from Bath who are searching for their father. He went missing in Book 11 of the larger series. Along the way they solve murders, missing persons cases, and espionage cases. As one does, in steampunk.
L.J.: Last thing, because I don’t want your chickens to get out and start robbing banks without their mom keeping an eye on them, what are your top five Steampunk favs?
- The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
- The Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest
- The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
- The Baskerville Affair series by Emma Jane Holloway
- And a delightful French movie called Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec that is based on a comic book series
You can find Shelley’s work here.
The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.
And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!