DeadSteam: Interview with Editor Bryce Raffle

DeadSteam

DeadSteam is a collection of steampunk short stories that explore the darker side of steampunk. Featuring ghosts, zombies and vampires, it has a Twilight Zone-meets-steampunk feel. DeadSteam is a very good addition to the steampunk universe and well worth reading.

Unlike the majority of steampunk anthologies, DeadSteam has a very consistent feel and all of the stories felt they were written specifically for this book.

DeadSteam author Bryce Raffle:

Is your story “Burke Street Station” in DeadSteam a precursor to your coming novel Dead London?

Yes, “Burke Street Station” takes place several years before the events of Dead London, and the short story includes a few of the same characters and themes as the novel. The events of “Burke Street Station” are also referenced in the novel.

How far along in the process is Dead London?

Quite far, actually. I’ve gone through a few rounds of revisions with my beta readers and have followed up with an edit from Manuscript Detective Andrea Hintz, as well as a content edit from The Manuscript Dr. I’m now making my way through those edits and will follow up with a line edit after that. I’m a bit of an over-editor, so it’s a bit difficult to predict which round of edits will be the last, but I should be done writing some time next year. I’ve already started on the sequel as well; I expect it to be a series.

Can you say anything about what the story will be about?

Dead London is a story about a man on the hunt for answers about his father’s mysterious death. All that questioning leads him to an unsettling truth: a group of scientists, known as Resurrectionists, has been experimenting with bringing the dead back to life, as zombies. Along the way, he meets Annabel, a woman who’s been experimenting on by the Resurrectionists herself, and who is hell-bent on revenge.

How did come to be a fan of steampunk novels? What was the first steampunk novel you ever read?

I’ve been a fan of steampunk for a long time (I used to be in a band, and our visual aesthetic was very influenced by Neo-Victorianism), but I only fell in love with the literary genre about eight years ago. I saw a poster for Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker in a bookstore. I thought it looked very cool, and very steampunk, so I bought it on a whim, and I was not disappointed.

What are your favorite steampunk novels?

Naturally, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker makes the top of the list, and I enjoyed the other novels in the series. I was also a huge fan of Gail Carriger’s lighter entries in steampunk, the Parasol Protectorate series. I also loved The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. I have a pretty long list, but a few others I’ve really enjoyed were Johannes Cabal by Jonathan L, Howard (the steampunk is a bit light, but the writing is excellent), The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton and Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre. I’ll mention just one more. It’s not a novel, but a short story collection from a single author: Beyond the Rails by Jack Tyler.

Most steampunk short story compilations seem include to include stories that aren’t steampunk and are just there to fill space. DeadSteam, on the other hand, has a very consistent theme throughout all of the short stories and all of the stories feel like they were written specifically for the anthology. What was the process in gathering these stories?

Thank you. I’ve been a member of a writing group, called the Scribblers’ Den, for a long time now, so my first step was to invite those members to contribute stories. They’re all steampunk writers, and I knew they’d be a great starting point. After that, I opened up to public submissions, using Ralan to solicit entries. I made a point of writing out strict guidelines, and I rejected quite a few stories that didn’t fit the bill. A lot of the stories submitted were indeed written just for the anthology, while there were that were not (including a few reprints that just happened to fit perfectly with DeadSteam‘s theme).

I’ll be honest, there are a few gaps that I wish had been filled with the anthology. I’d hoped I’d get at least one werewolf story (to round out the monster canon) and perhaps one with a mummy, but the one werewolf story submission I got just wasn’t as strong as the other stories submitted. And I didn’t get any mummy stories at all. Perhaps I’ll have to be even clearer on the guidelines for the next anthology.

This story is part of the archive of Steampunk Books, Kevin Steeleā€™s website of hackneyed steampunk book reviews and lists (2016-20). Click here for the full archive.

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