Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Rise of YA Steampunk (and Book Giveaway!)

I am working currently on a novel with a lot of steampunk elements. Yet, when I tell people this, most ask, “What’s steampunk?” Since steampunk is rising in popularity and has been consistently present in the market for the past several years, with books such as Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare, 2010), The Girl in the Steel Corset (Kady Cross, 2011), Incarceron (Catherine Fisher, 2010), and Boneshaker (Cherie Priest, 2009), I thought it would make sense to answer that question for YA Fusioners.

I usually tell people steampunk is written as if the Victorian world were thrust into the future. H.G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Jules Verne were the original science fiction writers, and their works about fantastic adventures to other worlds and times have inspired modern-day steampunk, which is filled with airships, mad scientists, corsets, brass goggles, air pirates, and lots of gears and cogs. Steampunk worlds tend to be darker, and as an off-shoot of science fiction, they are filled with amazing gadgets and gizmos that use Victorian materials and resources. Often, there is a paranormal or fantastical element to these stories, as well.

What attracts writers to this genre is its versatility. Steampunk can be set in the future, in the past, all over the globe or even on another planet. Because of this, the characters may have extremely Victorian traits or they may seem more contemporary than their Victorian-like surroundings. Whatever weapons, vehicles, or machines they use can be wildly creative and fantastic as long as they are gear-, steam-, or natural gas-driven.

Suzanne Lazear

Suzanne Lazear is an up-and-coming YA steampunk author whose book, Innocent Darkness, Book 1 of The Aether Chronicles, was released in August of 2012. The Aether Chronicles Series mixes the airships, weapons and wardrobe of steampunk with the paranormal darkness of faeries. Suzanne is also a part of the steampunk group blog, Steamed!, at, which has tons of information about writing steampunk and immersing yourself in the very cool elements of the steampunk world.

Suzanne has been kind enough to answer some questions about YA steampunk and share a bit about her own work. Thank you, Suzanne, for talking to us on YA Fusion!

How did you get into steampunk?

I have liked steampunk books for quite awhile, but I didn't know that it had a specific name until I discovered steampunk clothing.

You are currently working with Flux for The Aether Chronicles series. When you began pitching your first book in this series, did you find steampunk was a tough sell?

Yes, when I first started pitching steampunk, I spent more time explaining steampunk than pitching the book. I got rejections because people "just didn't understand this steampunk stuff." I also got some pushback because I'm not just writing steampunk, but steampunk faeries, and some people didn't understand why I needed to have both in the same book. Fortunately, my editor at Flux liked the idea just fine.

What are your favorite YA steampunk books?

My favorite YA steampunk book is Kady Cross' The Girl in the Steel Corset.

What do you see as steampunk’s future in YA?

Steampunk is such an incredibly diverse genre and there are so many places it can go. Like YA, steampunk is often about grey areas and pushing limits. I think not only is YA steampunk here to stay, but we're going to see a lot more steampunk mash-ups as authors continue to get creative and push boundries of their own.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book in The Aether Chronicles?

Yes! Charmed Vengeance continues to follow Noli, V, Kevighn, and James. I love this book even more than Innocent Darkness -- there were a lot of scenes that were super fun to write. Also, most of this book takes place on an airship. There's plenty of adventure -- and air pirates. (Yes, one of them is Noli's brother). I can't wait for you all to read it when it comes out next summer.


To find out more about Suzanne’s The Aether Chronicles series, visit


Leave a comment below with the title of a YA steampunk book you’ve read that we haven’t mentioned in this post or with an explanation of what you think readers love about steampunk. Leave your email in the post so I can contact you if you win. A winner will be randomly drawn and announced on YA Fusion on Saturday, November 17. Good Luck!!

I am happy to annouce that YA Fusion reader Nuzaifa has won the drawing for Suzanne's book, Innocent Darkness.
Congratulations, Nuzaifa!!


Christine said...

I think people love steampunk so much because it's such an interesting mix of genres. A bit of science fiction, a bit of fantasy, some historical fiction. It's always great to be able to escape into another world, and steampunk offers a unique type of world to do so in. In a world of innovation and inventions, it capitalizes on our fascination with creating new objects. Plus, steampunk is just visually appealing--clockwork, gears, pulleys, steam, leather, brass, corsets, carriages, etc.. Overall, it appeals both to our sense of nostalgia and novelty. I love it!

Christine said...

Oh, and my email is:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love the combination of steampunk with other genres. It sounds like it'd be fun to mix with fantasy.

Thanks for the giveaway. I'd love to win.

Heather Smith Meloche said...

Well said, Christine! Steampunk is truly escapism at its best! Thanks for posting!

ephrielle said...

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Those are some of the steampunk I have come across in my reading travels.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Steampunk faeries seems kind of cool. :)

I'll admit the only steampunk books I've read are Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince. And that's because I love Cassie's books. :D

Thanks, Suzanne, for the explanation!

Kristin Lenz said...

Great idea for a post, Heather! I don't think I read any steampunk until very recently. Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution had some steampunk elements and then I read Bethany's Masque of the Red Death. Looking forward to your finished manuscript!

The Jammie Girl said...

My son got me started on YA Steampunk. It's his favorite genre, and I'm quickly developing a taste for it. For me it's fantasy, but with rules. I'm currently reading Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve and loving it!

Diane T said...

Kenneth Oppel's "Airborn" won the Governor General's Award in 2004 and a Printz Honor in 2005, and it's a great example of the genre.

Eden Jean said...

I love Nick James' "SkyShip Academy" series! They have male protagonists and a futuristic setting, which I absolutely love! There are also aliens, sibling rivalry, a bit of a love story, and lots of interesting techy steampunky gadgets. If you haven't read the first book: "Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars" you should definitely check it out!

Alyssa Susanna said...

Oooo, Suzanne, your second book looks awesome!!! I used to be hesitant with steampunk, but then I read Incarceron, and then Saffique, and I LOVED both. I read The Girl in the Steel Corset, and then The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, and both were pretty great. The Infernal Devices series is another awesome one, as you mentioned.

One that you didn't mention was The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kitredge. I liked that book a lot. It was a good example of steampunk. Unfortunately, I have not read the second book (The Nightmare Garden). Worldshaker by Richard Harland and its sequel Liberator are good ones. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is supposed to be a good start of the series (I have not read them).

Thanks for the informative post and giveaway!


Nuzaifa said...

I haven't read any steam punk books.YET!But I'd love to-the steam punk genre sounds like quite an interesting combo of other genres.
I've got the Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin in my Kindle and am planning to read it soon though!

Thank you for this cool post and giveaway!


Heather Smith Meloche said...

Thanks so much to all the wonderful steampunk book recommendations coming in! My reading queue is filling up VERY quickly!