First things first. Can you give us a quick overview of the Steampunk genre and tell us what you love about it, what makes it unique?
Z: The short definition is: Victorian science fiction. Though it isn't always set in the 19th century, it's heavily influenced by Victorian ideas and aesthetics, and imagines technology through a 19th century lens. As a genre, it has a huge range and can span everything from books to to film to art to costume. I love steampunk because it's like the peanut butter cup of genres. "You got your history in my sci-fi fantasy!" "You got your sci-fi fantasy in my history!" It has something for everyone.
N: I like steampunk because it allows for an easier transition into the world. Because it is based in a historical era, there is a foundation to build up from. Some of the fun is finding elements and technology to change, while it's also interesting to find what parts of the history remain the same, keeping us grounded. What I love about the technology is that it's analog. it forces me to really think through the inventions because I can't fall back on a computer chip to do the rest.
So, basically, you are creating an alternate world, with parts that are familiar and some that are not. Whew! That is a lot of work! But when it's done right, like with Skies of Fire, it really pulls you in. Have you always wanted to write steampunk, and do you still write in other genres?
Z: The idea of writing straight steampunk came to me gradually. My Blades of the Rose series included James Bond-like gadgets that utilized 19th century technology, which led to some to label the series as steampunk. As I learned more about steampunk, especially its combination of history and sci-fi technology, I became more intrigued. What I find most appealing about steampunk (aside from the boots!) is that my heroines can be active and strong within a historical context, but without having to come up with complicated reason as to why they're able to be that way.
N: Like Zoë, I approached steampunk slowly, mostly from working on the inventions for Blades of the Rose. Seeing all the possibilities in that world, along with the historical nature of the stories, started building the appeal. I work in sci fi romance as well (the Limit War series), but steampunk seemed like a way to bring that inventiveness to a story without scaring people away who think they'd need a family tree or glossary.
That's interesting, how it gradually just came together for you both. How did the idea to write a series jointly come about?
Z: Nico has always been integral in all my books. We work very closely in the plotting stages, plus he's my critique partner. he thought up all the gadgets that were used in the Blades of the Rose series. So the entire world of the Ether Chronicles was something we developed together.
N: Once Zoë got the Ether Chronicles up and running, I got to thinking about taking that world to the Old West, where I could play those great archetypes in the steampunk setting. We developed that idea, pitched it to Avon Impulse, and luckily, they said yes.
And do you find that being married makes it easier or harder to work together?
Z: I think we were drawn together for the very reasons that we can write together. And writing has always been a common language and pursuit, so we don’t get blank looks from the other when something in the process is frustrating or exciting. You’ll often find us discussing stories over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Or we’ll be sitting at the table together, but staring off into space as we think about plot elements. I’ll bet that someone looking at us might think we’re giving each otherthe silent treatment!
N: Definitely easier. We’re very good about communicating with each other and have developed many methods of shorthand on everything ranging from plotting stories to making shopping lists. It also helps to have someone else there to help choreograph fight scenes.
Coming from two different genres, do you find there a significant difference in your writing styles?
Z: I tend to use more ornate language and sentence structure than Nico, I think. But we both write very action-intensive stories.
N: Yes, my language tends to be simpler. Also, I have a tendency to kill more people in my stories than Zoë does.
Funny! I wonder why that is? Is it a guy thing or a Nico thing? ;) Can you tell us a little about what to expect from the both of you inthe future?
Z: Demon’s Bride, thesecond book in my Hellraisers paranormal historical series comes out on May 1. I’m also writing more Ether Chronicles books, and, beginning April 2013,I start a new historical romance series for St. Martin’s Press. That series is called Nemesis Unlimited, and I’ve been describing it as Burn Notice in Victorian England. It’s dark and gritty, and so, so much fun to write.
N: Other than the steampunk westerns of the Ether Chronicles, I have a superhero romance titled Ironheart coming as part of an anthology later this year from.
Wow, you guys are busy. So many great books coming out! I know when I write, I find certain songs or pictures can help push me into the world I'm creating. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Z: Honestly, I findinspiration everywhere, but I find history especially inspiring. There’s always an interesting story to be told about the past.
N: Inspiration can comefrom a title, a typo, a soap bubble in the shower or the way a chopped onion’s rings look. Anywhere and everywhere.
I found the Man O'Wars to be so intriguing, from Skies of Fire. I would love to see that in our world! What steampunk contraption would you like to see in real life?
Z: Maybe an automaton to do the housework. Things tend to get messy around here when I’m on a deadline.
N: I’d love to have the ether born mechanical horse my cavalry officer flies in Night of Fire.
Oh, I'm on board with that housework automaton. Someone get on that! One last question, about working as a team. What do y'all do when you each see the story going off in a different direction? (Thumb wars?)
Z: That really doesn’t happen very much! But if we ever feel it needs to go in a particular direction, we talk about the reasons why, and get the other onboard.
N: Going back to the question about communication, we’re always able to work our way around any disagreements by getting down to the why of what we’re thinking, then going from there in creating a compromise.
Great interview, guys! Thank you so much for stopping by Lady Scribes and helping to introduce our readers to steampunk. Good luck with the Ether Chronicles...can't wait for the next book!
You can find Zoë and Nico on the web at www.zoearcherbooks.com and www.nicorosso.com.
Twitter: @Zoe_Archer and @Nico_Rosso
Now it’s our turn! Are you familiar with steampunk? Or is it a new genre for you? What elements of steampunk do you (or might you) find appealing?
Leave a comment, and we’ll pick one winner to receive a digital copy of SKIES OF FIRE!