02 November, 2012

Guest Post: Cindy Spencer Pape On Victorians and Steampunk

Whee! Cindy Spencer Pape has a guest post at Read My Mind today to promote her newest steampunk romance, MOONLIGHT AND MECHANICALS. This series is a great one to read if you love romance, but aren't sure yet if you want to dip your toes in the steampunk pool. Trust me, you'll fall in love with Wink, the other ragtag Hadrian orphans, and Liam, Wink's love interest. You'll love the "mechanicals" as much as the "moonlight".

About The Author:
Award-winning author of over forty popular books and novellas in paranormal, historical, and erotic romance, Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader. According to The Romance Studio, her plots are “full of twist and turns that keep the reader poised at the edge of their seat.” Joyfully Reviewed said, her “colorful characters and plot building surprises kept me spellbound,” and Romantic Times Magazine says her “characters are appealing, and passionate sex leads to a satisfying romance.”

Cindy firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty-five years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him and two college-age sons, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets. Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her household.

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It’s The Little Things

One of the oddities of writing steampunk is that even though it has elements of science fiction and fantasy, it also requires historical research. My world is alternate history, meaning that the timeline differs from the real one in some ways but does maintain a lot of similarities. With each thing that comes up for my characters, I have to decide if something is the same as it really was in the 1850s, or if it’s different. Then I have to think about how and why those differences occur, and what their effect is on the rest of the world surrounding the story.

One fascinating tidbit made me realize that even the tiniest details of everyday life have changed beyond recognition in the last hundred and sixty years. One of my invaluable resources for daily life is a book called Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Originally published in segments between 1859 and 1861, this brick of a tome quickly became the housewife’s bible, and it gives menus as well as careful instructions about how many things should be dealt with in a well-run household.

Like making toast.

Seriously. I did a double-take too. There are not just one, but TWO recipes in the book for making toast. (Dry and buttered.) For any of us alive today, unless we’re camping or the power is out, making toast is something any 4-year old can do. Put the bread in the toaster and push the button.

According to Mrs. Beeton, however, making toast is a delicate procedure. She starts with telling us to use a loaf of household bread (different than cottage bread, though I’m not sure how) that is a couple of days old, since stale bread makes better toast than fresh. Then you cut it about ¼ inch thick (remember, it didn’t come sliced) and trim the crusts. Finally, you put it on a long-handled toasting fork and hold it in front of “a very clear fire.” You move it back and forth to get an even color, and toast it slowly to avoid blackening. Then you turn it on the fork and do the other side.

So there you have it. What takes us a minute of waiting, took a Victorian housewife or cook several minutes of work in front of a hot fire. Somehow it’s always the little things that remind me how much life has changed. (Mind you, in my steampunk books, I’m quite certain Wink would have devised an automated toaster by 1859.)

Thank you, Cindy! I've really grown to like the steampunk sub-genre over the last couple of years, and one thing that keeps me coming back is the fact that every author has a different way to tweak and incorporate the steampunk tech with the Victorian lifestyle.


London, 1859

Engineer Winifred "Wink" Hadrian has been in love with Inspector Liam McCullough for years, but is beginning to lose hope when he swears to be a lifelong bachelor. Faced with a proposal from a Knight of the Round Table and one of her closest friends, Wink reluctantly agrees to consider him instead.

Because of his dark werewolf past, Liam tries to keep his distance, but can't say no when Wink asks him to help find her friend's missing son. They soon discover that London's poorest are disappearing at an alarming rate, after encounters with mysterious "mechanical" men. Even more alarming is the connection the missing people may have with a conspiracy against the Queen.

Fighting against time—and their escalating feelings for each other—Wink and Liam must work together to find the missing people and save the monarchy before it's too late...

NookBook | Carina Press | Kindle

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me! I was away from my computer most of yesterday, but I do appreciate all the nice things you had to say!


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