Welcome another Pirate, Mateys! I love hearing how other writers get their ideas, don’t you? You can catch him at his website, www.authorjeffreycook.com or his Facebook Page or on twitter at @jeffreycook74.
When approaching new projects, in whatever genre, I tend to start with the characters, and then build the world around them. When writing the Dawn of Steam series, my first venture into Steampunk, I hadn’t specifically intended to write a Steampunk series. Instead, I woke up one morning from a waking dream with two of the characters almost fully fleshed out. I wrote down the ideas before I lost them, and then started to research a world where both of them would fit.
A few friends introduced me to the Steampunk genre. The Victorian Age wasn’t quite right for my characters, but had a lot of the right elements. I researched further back in time as my story took shape, its timeline mostly following history, but including a few points where specific events happened that allowed for an Earth that was moving towards a Steampunk reality. Because of the two characters who showed up first, the story became “Emergent Steampunk” — at least one potential story explaining where reality may have shifted to make a lot of common Steampunk tropes “true.” From that focus came the title of the overall series.
Katherine Perkins and I followed a similar process for some short stories. When we were presented with an anthology looking for stories, looking to reach a wider Steampunk audience in general, we worked together on two characters, Luca and Emily. They fit into a more standard Victorian Steampunk reality. Most of their stories involve a real world event and occasionally real historical figures of the 1880’s and 1890’s. Our Avast submission, “Maiden Voyage,” ended up a little different for lack of real-world airships — but it’s still first and foremost about the characters and how they ended up shaped by and shaping the technology and social mores of their time.