Guest Post: J.L. Mulvihill

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Young Adult Readers and the Steampunk Genre

Thank you, Armand for having me here today.  I would like to talk a little about the steampunk genre and my book The Boxcar Baby and teenage readers.

A teenager reader was something of a myth until J K Rolling brought them back to us with her epic Harry Potter series.  What I hope to do with the Steel Roots series is to keep them reading.  However, as we all know teenagers are fickle and it’s very hard to keep up with their likes; one day it’s wizards and witches the next it’s vampires and shape shifters, so I decided I would go with an old/new trend. 

Of course steampunk is an old genre; it’s been around since Jules Vern, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and the like.  The phrase steampunk coined by K. W. Jeter, has been around since 1987 when Mr. Jeter sent a letter to Locus magazine describing the type of genre he was writing along with his friends James P. Blaylock and Tim Powers.  Over the years the cog has slowly turned spinning the wheels and setting the steampunk genre in motion.  Now steampunk is not only a genre but a movement.

Everywhere you look now you can see steampunk sneaking into our style of clothing, or media, our music, and of course our literature, but then that was always there.  There are some people who will still argue that steampunk is merely a subgenre of either science fiction or fantasy.  I suppose I could agree that there is a rough distinction.  I would like to describe the steampunk genre as a type of spice one would add to their recipe of writing because that is what I feel it adds to literature, spice. Steampunk is the feel of adventure and invention. 

The fun part about steampunk is not only the literature, the movies, and even the music, but the cosplay.  So many people get into the cosplay of steampunk and there does not seem to be an age distinction on this genre.  What is so fun about steampunk cosplay is that people get so creative and inventive with their clothing and their weapons, I think because there is no restriction.  They can create their own character in steampunk and go from there.  I find it so refreshing to see the whole recycle thing going on because people take old junk that would end up in the dump and use it to make a weapon or jewelry or part of their costume.  This to me is one of the positives of steampunk.

So does this mean the genre intrigues the young readers?  Only time can tell.  I can only hope that this is the flavor of the day.  I have no vampires or shape shifters, not even a witch, but that doesn’t mean I have not planted something else interesting in my storyline.  There are other monsters that are a bit different than the norm.  Since my story takes place in America I thought to stay within my own countries legends and folklore.  Keep in mind though, that steampunk is not real history but an alternative history which gives me carte blanche in my own little world.

The Boxcar Baby takes place in an America ruled by a government called the System and they make the rules, not the people.  One day a simple little girl happy with her simple little life finds out the hard way what her world is really about.  In per passion to put her family back together and her life in order this fifteen-year-old-girl, sets out on the biggest adventure of her life and finds not only a corrupt world around her, and that nothing is as it seems but instead shrouded in secrets and mysteries, but that monsters come in all shapes and forms.   

I thank you for allowing me this time to share with you my thoughts on steampunk and information about my book The Boxcar Baby and the Steel Roots series.  I hope that you will check my book out through seventhstarpress.com and then let me know what you think by friending me on Facebook on Steel Roots page.  If you are interested in obtaining a signed copy of the book my next event will be taking place in Louisville, MS at the Backwoods Comic Festival.  After that event I am scheduled for CONtraflow in New Orleans October 18-20 and then November 15-17 I will be attending the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention.

Until next time remember, remember to ‘Dream in Steam.’

J L Mulvihill

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