Monday, November 9, 2015

The Quays of Lac-Carge: Steampunk and Gaslamp Intersect

How Can One Explain a Novel? I'm Not Sure One Can!

My latest opus, in all its glory!

How To Pigeonhole Classify Quays

I wrote Quays 5 years ago. It was when Steampunk and Gaslamp fantasy (the two genres which I waffle between classifying it as... Steampunk usually wins out) were much more fringe than they are now.

It was also when self-publishing was not as common as it is now.

Thematic Veins Running Through the Narrative


This novel features themes and tropes common to other pieces of my fiction: parents missing or dead; a childless main character; a personal goal or vendetta intersecting with a grand, world-shattering event; a totem or animal choosing the main character, and a sense that things don't always progress linearly in life.


A Male Main Character
Quays has differences, though. It is the only one of my novels with a male main character. I don't know why I wanted to write about him, but I just did. I felt like this character was male. In other words, there wasn't anything I could do about it after he first strolled into my head.

Science Fiction? Fantasy? Why Not Both!
Also, there is an intersection of science fiction and fantasy. My other works fall more into one side or the other. That is just how it came about. To be strict Steampunk, I believe many readers would say that a piece of fiction should not contain any fantasy. However, I have never been much for following rules (especially in my fiction), and so the novel contains elements of both genres.

Winter: A Character Unto Itself
A third thing that this novel contains is winter. It's a winter that has nothing to do with spells or evil Winter Witches, but it adds a plot element that becomes almost a character unto itself. Winter, for anyone that has lived in a cold climate, certainly can be just as deadly as a mortal enemy.

Compressed Timeframe
A fourth thing is that the novel takes place in just a few weeks, aside from the epilogue. My other novels tend to have much more of a grand sweep. The passage of time takes the place of winter in these other novels, again, until time itself becomes another character.

Humor and Light

Given the constraint of genre and time, plus the added stranglehold of bitter cold, Quays is filled with moments of true friendship, adventure, delight, beauty and love. It also has humor, a time or two almost as much as I could stand to give it without turning a scene into a farce. The dark, despairing, disgusting and desperate parts of this novel cried out for laughter to balance them out.

A Denouement and a Treatise on Friendship

I love Quays. Of course I would love it, I hope, having written it and published it.... And yet I can attest that some of the moments in this novel feature the kindest hearts and truest friendships I have ever written about. The main characters would die for each other, but would of course all much rather go on living together instead. This great-heartedness is a central point of the novel, and the characters' friendships go beyond family or master-servant, or even that of lovers, or any other easily classified relationship.

When a character saves the life of the person who has wronged him almost to death... well, that is the epitome of great-heartedness.

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