Friday, March 01, 2013

I AM A STEAMFUNKATEER! Why I write and read Steamfunk

cover art by Marcellus Shane Jackson

Three years ago, I was all about steampunk. So was the entire science fiction/fantasy genre, it seemed. 

People were writing steampunk novels like they were going out of style. And they might have, had steampunk not become the movement it is. I talked a little about that here.

But as much as I liked steampunk back then, I wasn't ready to write steampunk short stories, yet. I had just barely wrapped my head around writing fantasy, which was a huge leap forward for me and my writing career.

I wrote my first short story when I was 11 years old. I'd always identified myself as a science fiction short story writer.  Writing fantasy felt so alien to me (yeah, I can be punny when I want). Sci-fi and cyberpunk were my comfort zones.

And then, a little over three years ago, Purple Zoe  said she was putting together a black fae anthology. I was intrigued. I'd never heard of black fae, let alone read a story with one as a character. 

To this day, I can't remember how it happened, but somehow I came up with an idea of a coal-dust faery  who granted the poor and downtrodden coal dustthe black gold that moved the gears of my steampunk world

Check that. Steamfunk world. 

Though the term hadn't been coined in 2009 (at least, I don't think it was), my short story was definitely steamfunk. Just look at my worldbuilding:

My protagonist, Bijou LaVoix, is a twelve-year-old Louisiana Creole girl who has just moved to Chicago with her mother. 

My coal-dust faery, Asha, is a beautiful shade of ebony. 

And nearly every child in my steamfunk world has some sort of steam-powered prosthetic or steam-powered enhancement because a polio epidemic has ravaged Chicago. Bijou has a steam clock heart. 

Writing "Bijou LaVoix and the Coal Dust Faery" was one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I hadin a long time. I'd taken a sub-genre I liked, flipped the script, and made it mine. 

My steamfunked Chicago reflected my heritage and my background: 

Like Bijou's mother, my mother was born in Mississippi  moved to Louisiana, and then migrated north to Chicago. Like Bijou, I was a latch-key kid. Like Bijou, I took public transit to school (not a steam locomotive, but look hard enough, and you'll find one in Chicago). And like Bijou, I also had a very small, core group of friends in elementary school.

So it made sense for me to submit a story to the Steamfunk! anthology.

Steamfunk is me. I am steamfunk.

I can't help but write it.

Here are some of the other contributors to the Steamfunk! anthology who share their experiences writing, reading and living steamfunk:

Milton Davis – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: .

Ray Dean – Growing up in Hawaii, Ray Dean had the opportunity to enjoy nearly every culture under the sun. The Steamfunk Anthology was an inspiration she couldn't pass up. Ray can be reached at

Malon Edwards – Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Malon Edwards now lives in the Greater Toronto Area. Much of his speculative fiction features people of color and is set in his hometown. Malon can be reached

Valjeanne Jeffers – Valjeanne Jeffers is the author of Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, The Switch II: Clockwork and Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds Visit her at and

Rebecca M. Kyle – With a birthday on Friday 13, it's only natural that the author is fascinated with myths, legends, and oddities of all kinds. Ms. Kyle lives with her husband, four cats, and more rocks and books than she cares to count between the Smokies and Cumberland mountains. Visit her at

Carole McDonnell – is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. Her writings appear in various anthologies, including So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonialism in Science Fiction, edited by Nalo Hopkinson; Jigsaw Nation; and Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Writings by Mature Women of Color among others. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. Her novels are the Christian speculative fiction, Wind Follower, and The Constant Tower. Her Bible study is called: Seeds of Bible Study.   Her website is

Balogun Ojetade – Author of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steamfunk); “Once Upon A Time in Afrika” (Sword and Soul); “Redeemer” (Urban Fantasy) and the film, “A Single Link” and “Rite of Passage”. Finally, he is Co-Author of “Ki-Khanga: The Anthology” and Co-Editor of “Steamfunk!” Visit him:

Hannibal Tabu – is a writer, a storyteller, and by god, a fan. He has written the novels, “The Crown: Ascenscion” and “Faraway” and the upcoming scifi political thriller “Rogue Nation”. He is currently the co-owner and editor-in-chief of Black geek website Komplicated at the Good Men Project, and uses his Operative Network website ( to publish his poetry, market what he's doing, rant at the world and emit strangled cries for help.

Geoffrey Thorne – Geoffrey Thorne has written a lot of stuff in a lot of venues and will be writing more in more. It's his distinct pleasure to take part in another of these groundbreaking anthologies. Thanks for letting me roll with you folks. For more (and God knows why you'd want more) check out


Anonymous said...

Melvin Carter- reasonably civilized - won't be embarrassing if seen with. Contributed to this great work and the Griots: Anthology. His dog still licks his face, but it's more to tell him to turn over and quit snoring!

Anonymous said...

Melvin Carter- has been known to utter an intelligent statement. Then has one looking for the parrot, when he says something Beyond Dumb! Contributed to this and the Griots: Anthology.

six blocks east of mars said...

Looking forward to seeing if that wit and humor is in this anthology as well.

The Griot said...

And you write it well.

six blocks east of mars said...

Thank you, Griot. My Steanfunk! story, "Mud Holes and Mississipi Mules", was entirely inspired by the anthology. The editorial vision of the anthology is unprecedented and amazing. Truly.