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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | The World of Steampunk: A guest post by Eden Unger Bowditch

The World of Steampunk: A guest post by Eden Unger Bowditch

Today Eden Unger Bowditch is here as my guest to share her discovery of the wonderful — and eccentrically fashionable — world of Steampunk, as well as her experience at the Steampunk World Fair. (I want to go!!!!)  Eden is the author of The Young Inventors Guild series:

Before Eden’s post, a word about her books …

It is 1903. Thirteen year old Faye from India is passionate about science and afraid of showing weakness; ten year old Wallace from Long Island is fearful, but an expert with magnets; twelve year old Noah from Toronto loves food and practical jokes; and siblings Jasper and Lucy round out the group with Jasper serving as the protector and Lucy shining with her knack for language and a photographic memory.

In The Atomic Weight of Secrets, the children are whisked away from their homes to Sole Manner Farm, an abandoned farmhouse outside Dayton, Ohio, and put to work on an invention that will change the word forever and that challenges their very distinct talents and personalities. In The Ravens of Solemano, the children embark on a journey to Solemano, Italy, where they gradually learn more about the origin of the mysterious men in black.

YIG books

Now, I’ll turn over the blog to Eden:

***

I discovered the world of STEAMPUNK by accident. It was like wandering into a party where everyone is wearing your style of clothes! Before starting the Young Inventors Guild books, I had never heard of ‘steampunk’ or the likes. Yet the Young Inventors Guild books take place around 1903/1904 and, well, they clearly have a lot to do with invention. Steampunk was a place my books could call home.

It was artist, Steve Parke, who first said the word to me. He was working on the cover of The Atomic Weight of Secrets… and said how ‘steampunk’ the book was. I had to look it up. Yep. It certainly seemed like a fit. As soon as the book came out, various steampunk publications (not YA or kids, even, just steampunk) contacted my publisher, wrote reviews, offered giveaways of the new ‘steampunk’ novel. I was invited to be a panelist at the Baltimore Book Festival with Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, and Matt Kirby. Kelly and Gavin had published the Steampunk Anthology so they were in the know. Matt and I were still not so clear on what steampunk was but had been told our books fit into that genre. In September, I was speaking at a National Women’s Book Association event in LA with authors Maria Lennon and Cecil Castellucci. Cecil gave me an excellent description of Steampunk. She basically said that it was Victorian Sci-Fi. And it is.

edeng steampunk 1

 Armed with a clear understanding, I felt much more at ease in Morristown, NJ at the International Steampunk Convention in October of last year. There were inventors and blacksmiths and wonderful performers. Everyone said this was a small version of what was to come- The Steampunk World’s Fair. That event is what most of the serious steampunk community folks look forward to all year. I was thrilled to be invited! By May, I was ready for the Steampunk World’s Fair in Piscataway, NJ.

eden steampunk 2

The Steampunk World’s Fair was an incredible spectacle! There were two hotels connected by a large parking lot. The entire place was turned into a turn-of-the-century (I mean the last one!) invention party! There were over eight thousand people at the event! There was a robot made out of a train! I kid you not! There were automatons aplenty, goggles galore, and fabulous feats of physics. There were lots of science professors and lovers of science, as well as artists with a Victorian flare. The ground floors of both hotels were turned into marketplaces where one might find top hats, corsets, goggles, automatons, spyglasses, handmade games, and antique items from old science labs. There were fashions shows and music concerts and pieces of theatre. I was on a panel of Steampunk authors and I brought inventions from both books to share with visitors. It was wonderful to see people from the International Steampunk City event and meet tons of new readers, too! My own kids all had a blast. There were maker stations, science labs, and games everywhere.

Eden steampunk 3

From what I have learned, there are Steampunk events around the country. What a fun way to get some history and make some of your own!

***

Eden, thanks so much for sharing your experience and these gorgeous photos! Yes, there are Steampunk events all around the country, including Dorian’s Parlor, a bi-monthly ball in Philadelphia which I once attended as a guest reader. HERE’S my post about that.

You can find the wonderful Young Inventors Guild books on Amazon and B&N and your favorite indie stores. You can also learn more at the YIG Facebook page.

17 Responses to The World of Steampunk: A guest post by Eden Unger Bowditch

  1. Awesome. My hubby and I were talking through genres the other day, and he pointed out that there is a futuristic-historical genre: steampunk. =)

  2. It’s awesome when a genre feels like coming home. 😉

  3. Johanna says:

    I discovered Steampunk through a writer friend and even though it didn’t feel like coming home to me, I was intrigued by what a whole sensory experience it is for so many people and what a cool way that is to get lots of kids entrenched in reading novels they might have otherwise passed over. Thanks for sharing both experiences and photos!!

    • I guess it might not be exactly ‘coming home’ and might be more like ‘feeling at home and liking the surroundings’! There are many genres I enjoy, but there is something about the elegance of the era and the brilliance of the physics and invention that create a wonderful whole.

  4. How fun. I love that definition of steampunk. So simple and elegant!

  5. I knew steampunk was really popular, but didn’t realize there were so many events. Some of us might not know our genre when we begin, but we’re sure happy when we find out. Congratulations, Eden.

    • Thanks, Alex. AS I said to Johannna, I do love steampunk for the elegance and brilliance of invention. There are other wonderful genres that I enjoy, as well. The Young Inventors Guild books have certainly found a home in Steampunk!

  6. ChemistKen says:

    As a chemist, I find the title “The Atomic Weight of Secrets” quite intriguing.

    I haven’t read much Steampunk, but lately I’ve picked up a few of them and plan to read them soon. The local used bookstore has a selection of Steampunk dresses in the back room.

    • As a chemist, you may find you really enjoy Steampunk. At Steampunk events there are hosts of scientists engaging in the fun. I met a fellow who teaches (or at least taught) Steampunk Physics at Sarah Lawrence College.

  7. Julie Dao says:

    You know, for the longest time, I had NO understanding of steampunk. I just didn’t get it and I felt so dumb! My friend’s explanation didn’t help: “It’s an aesthetic.” But now that I have read several books in the genre, and now that I have seen pictures of awesome costumes and conventions, I totally love it and wonder why it was so hard to grasp! Thank you for sharing these great pictures! And the books are going right on my Goodreads list.

    • Thanks so much, Julie! I’m sure your friends found it hard to explain from the inside. So glad that you, like me, get it now!! I’m thrilled that the Young Inventors Guild will find a home on your shelf!

  8. It looks like it’s worth writing and reading Steampunk just to go to the events. They seem like so much fun!

  9. I bought a steampunk novel, but still haven’t read it. I’ll have to remedy that in the near future. To tell the truth, I bought it to support a fellow blogger, but didn’t really think the genre would be “for me.”

    Hmmm, time to reconsider. This post makes it sound like a good fit for a science and history nerd like me. And those conventions! Almost makes me want to write something in that genre just so I could attend!

    • You never know, Susan! Clearly, every book is read differently, no matter the genre, depending on who is reading and when. State of mind has a lot to do with enjoying a book. Maybe you’re more open to it now. DEFINITELY try steampunk if you’re a science and history nerd (like me!)You don’t have to be a writer or inventor to enjoy steampunk events. Keep an eye on things nearby!