My special guest today is Cindy Spencer Pape, the author of one of the most fun steampunk series ever, the Gaslight Chronicles. This is the one that got me hooked on steampunk. It has all the cool steampunk gadgets and toys, there is always a marvelous romance, and for that added bit of the fantastic, she included the Knights of the Round Table. I always snap up each new book as soon as it appears, and as today’s review of Ashes & Alchemy demonstrates, Cindy always delivers a marvelous story.
Speaking of stories, here’s Cindy’s take on escapist fiction, and why she loves it.
Why I Adore Escapist Fiction
by Cindy Spencer Pape
Confession time: I absolutely adore escapist fiction. I’m not even too particular about the variety. I like mystery, fantasy, SF, and of course, romance. I read quickly, and I read a lot. I’ve been known to buy or check out the same book twice, because I’ve forgotten the title or cover. Reading is, and has always been, my escape. When I’m reading for fun, I don’t want anything too serious. If I want to be depressed, I’ll read the newspaper or an environmental report. When I read for fun, I want to get away from reality.
I find it funny (and not, at the same time) that romance is blasted as the ultimate example of unrealistic fiction. Come on, in fantasy and SF, they’re openly speculative and mysteries? Do we really believe those same amateur detectives solve so many crimes without ending up dead? It’s all fantasy, really. So pick your flavor and don’t bash the others, that’s my take.
In my Gaslight Chronicles, I’ve kind of taken all the flavors of genre fiction and tossed them into a salad. Each book contains fantasy, science fiction, suspense, horror, adventure, and romantic elements. That’s truly my favorite thing about the steampunk subgenre, is that you get to do that. I may even sneak in a little social commentary, but it’s there in the fiction, not as a smack in the face. (Yes, there’s a gay character in the series and yes, there’s a non-white woman adopted into a noble British family.) But the books aren’t about that. They’re about a bunch of interesting characters doing something in an interesting world. They’re meant to make the reader laugh, maybe cry a little, and mostly to forget about their job or their other problems, and just have a little bit of fun.
The books are all available digitally, which brings up another fun fact. Romance readers buy them for their Nook or Kindle without hesitation. A few SF or other fans will buy the Audible.com version to listen to at the gym or in their car. But for the most part? Fantasy and SF fans—maybe especially steampunk fans—often reject digital books. It’s kind of ironic, really. You’d think science fiction readers would be early adopters of technology. But that’s not my experience. At romance conventions, I’m just another author, albeit with only medium-sized presses. But at SF or steampunk cons, I get this look. And then someone asks, “Do you have any real books?”
I smile. Sadly. “Yes. I have a number of print books. They’re mostly erotic romance, which I wrote for years with another publisher.”
“Oh. Romance.” They nod their heads and walk away.
Yep. Digital steampunk is a tough row to hoe. My steampunk books are all Amazon top 100 sellers in their genre. My romances aren’t. My steampunk books have sold literally thousands more copies than my romances. Library journal has named them as “the ultimate in steampunk romance.” I consider them very real books. I’ve spent years working on them, and the research for writing alternate history is not negligible. My publisher edits them thoroughly, and pays me royalties, just like they do for “real” books. I even have some great covers.
If you’re a person who reads e-books, then thank you! If you’re not, that’s okay too. To each their own—I really believe that. But we live in a changing world. We may not have jet packs yet, but I think we’ve at least reached the point where e-books and audiobooks count as real.
Thanks to Reading Reality for having me here today—this is an awesome site! Thanks to each of you for stopping by, and don’t forget to enter the contest.
Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 18 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.
Winner’s choice of a custom-beaded necklace featuring choice of available hand-painted cameos, or a pocket watch and chain, with choice of available watch fob, from http://www.etsy.com/shop/SpectraNova
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