Robinette Waterson is the author of Steam Geared, a series of short stories set in an alternative historical world of the Victorian time period. In this book, the technology runs on steam and the inhabitants run on “steamy.”
Q: How did you come up with the idea for ‘Steam Geared’?
A: I was reading books in the genres of historical erotica and steampunk erotica. When I ran out of books to read, I put the two together and made my own.
Q: For your book, did you do lots of research into the history of the Victorian era? The details and the language are so vivid!
A: Oh yes, scads of research. I studied not only histories of the times, but also first-hand accounts of events, newspapers, and novels popular at the time. I read, and then re-read Dickens, Verne, the Brontes, and Wells, and in addition, I searched out and read some of the popular novels of the day, by authors such as Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell and Fanny Burney, as well as the Victorian Gothics of Mary Shelley and Anne Radcliffe.
Furthermore, I swatted up on some basic mechanics and clock mechanisms, but more for color than plot. I don’t think Isambard Brunel would have been impressed, but Jules Verne might have approved.
Q: Is that where you found some of the language of the times? And the curse words?
A: I tried to emulate the phrasing, the long (and sometimes convoluted) sentence structure, and the overly flowery descriptions. For the curse words, it is amazing what you find written in letters to the editor and missives sent to public personages of the times! However my favorite sources for gutter talk were dictionaries published during the 1800s.
Q: Do you hide any secrets in your book that only a few people will find?
A: Not secrets really. I hope the stories will keep all readers riveted by dint of the intriguing characters and their actions, but a working knowledge of Victorian literature, culture, and history would suggest some more esoteric aspects and juxtapositions.
Q: Do you recall the first-ever book you read?
A: I do remember a story that only used the words “oh” and “look.” I was amazed at how many pictures those two words could describe! In my latest work, with deference to the style and substance of the time period, I have steered away from any kind of verbal economy.
Q: What comes first, the plot or the characters?
A: For me, they tend to arrive as part and parcel of each other. I usually see a character doing something, which becomes the plot, and the way the plot progresses further defines the character.
Q: What are your three most favorite books of all times, and what three books would you say most influenced your writing?
A: Only three books? I need three bookcases at least! Very well then, I will name Ficciones by Borges, The Name of the Rose by Eco, and Shakespeare. More specific? Bejabbers, what a harsh taskmaster/mistress you are! King Lear. No, wait, The Tempest.
And for three books that influenced my writing, I will choose Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, and A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
eBooks by Robinette Waterson can be found at:
Paperback also available.