Steampunk is getting more popular recently in YA fiction and Suzanne Lazear is adding to the genre this summer. Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS sounds incredible and I can’t wait to read it. Today, Suzanne is here to talk a little bit about her take on summer camps and answer a few questions about her book. Also, don’t miss the book giveaway her publisher is offering at the end of the post!
Camps originated in America in the 1880s part of a back-to-nature trend. They were an attempt to give children from the city a chance to experience “country life.” Around that time we started seeing the long summer vacations we all know and love. “Country kids” had chores to do. But upper-and middle class children, especially, had long summers of idleness. Where part of the camp movement sought to take urban kids, especially the poorer ones, out of the city and give them a childhood and a chance to experience nature, another part sought to save children from a summer of loafing and getting into trouble.
Camps back then were often more rustic than they are now – often campers had to dig their own latrines. Also, many camps were sponsored by religious organizations. They were also mostly for boys in the early years. Yeah, unfair. Why should they have all the fun?
In INNOCENT DARKNESS, Noli, being a girl of “gentle” breeding, with a very old-fashioned mother, was never sent to camp when she was young—even if there had been a suitable camp meeting her mother’s approval. Instead, she, her brother, and her mother would spend much of their summers with Noli’s maternal grandparents at their “summer house.” Many wealthy people had cottages and houses, both large and small, in the country—a place to escape the grime and pollution of the city for the weekend or the summer.
Noli still experienced the outdoors, going on hikes, boating, and other summerly pursuits. Though as she got older they’d be more ladylike – like painting the forest instead of hiking it in. Not that Noli would let propriety keep her from doing what she wanted.
Her grandparents had a grand summer home, and an actual “summer house” – which was more like a gazebo, where Noli could spend lazy summer days, sewing, reading, and playing on the grass with her brother. The experience was probably more like family camp in a mansion with a gourmet cook than staying in a cabin and eating in a dining hall.
As Noli got older and her family’s financial situation changed, she’d spend summers helping out at home while her mother worked, tinkering on her flying car, hoverboarding, getting into mischief with V and James, and doing odd jobs for money when her mother wasn’t looking.
Steampunk seems to be gaining some popularity lately, especially in YA novels. Did you always plan to write a Steampunk book/series? What other genre would you associate your book with?
I call INNOCENT DARKNESS “fairytale Steampunk” since it blend faery lore, classic fairytale elements, and steampunk. I didn’t set out originally wanting to write Steampunk, but once I discovered it as a genre, I really wanted to write a Steampunk YA – and that story became INNOCENT DARKNESS.
Who is your favorite character in INNOCENT DARKNESS? When writing, with whom did you have most fun with?
I love James, because he is so “devil may care” to his brother V’s “fussy old bodger” nature.
Your book is set in two very different worlds than ours (an alternate Los Angeles and the Otherworld). Did you have any difficulties writing about these worlds? What are some of your favorite aspects about them?
Yes. The mortal realm is very steampunk – flying cars, hoverboards, air pirates, and the like. And we see this when we’re in Los Angeles and San Francisco with Noli. However, the Otherworld is not as steampunk, though the High Queen and her palace is a bit Clockpunk. She has a penchant for clockwork animals and other such amusements, but how much is magic and how much mechanics, we don’t know. Trying to get the balance right between the faeries and steampunk was difficult, especially since we don’t spend much time in book 1 in the mortal realm. I had a lot of fun researching things and using history as a springboard for creating the things in my world.
Because of INNOCENT DARKNESS, we have a couple new words to add to our vocabulary, like dollymop, hoyden and aether. Why was it necessary for you to add this vocabulary in your book?
I wanted to add a little Victorian color while still making the book accessible. Hoyden is the best word to describe Noli. She’s a Victorian tomboy in a society that disproves. Dollymop, well, Noli uses it more colloquially than its true definition of “amateur prostitute.” She uses it more like we might use “skank,” “ho,” or “hoochie mama.” (And I’ve just dated myself because I’m pretty sure no one says any other those any more. Aether is one of those things that sneaks into many steampunk books, though I’ve given it my own twist. The idea of Aether as an element actually goes all the way back to Greek mythology.
According to you, what makes the best scary camp stories? Vampires, werewolves, ghosts or “insert monster here”?
I always was more scared by the realistic stories – like ones about killer dolls and lawn gnomes. Vampires, well, they’re probably not real. But dolls? How do we *actually* know they don’t get up and walk around when we’re not looking? ~shudders~
What is your favorite summer treat and/or drink ?
I like chocolate malts! (with whipped cream and a cherry)
Thanks for visiting us today, Suzanne!
Thank you so much for having me on!
More about INNOCENT DARKNESS, which was released, August 8th, 2012!
Noli Braddock and her best friend V’s incident with a flying auto have landed them in a heap of trouble. And when Noli is sent to a spirit-squelching reform school in San Francisco, she’s sure that her rebellious adventures are over.
Meanwhile, Kevighn Silver has been ordered by the Faerie Queen to bring a mortal girl back to the Otherworld. The magic requires a blood sacrifice every seven years, and only a mortal girl who shines with the Spark—a girl like Noli—will keep the Otherworld from complete destruction.
When an ill-timed wish sends Noli tumbling into the Otherworld, she’s more homesick than ever . . . until V arrives to save her from an untimely demise. But who exactly is V? And if he helps Noli escape, who will save the realm of Faerie from utter annihilation?
Flux is offering a copy of Innocent Darkness to one (1) lucky winner!
To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Open to US and Canada only
Ends Wednesday, August 5th, 2012
(like all of our Paranormal Summer Camp giveaways)
Suzanne Lazear’s young adult Steampunk dark fairytale, chronicling the adventures of Noli Braddock, INNOCENT DARKNESS, Book 1 of The Aether Chronicles, will be released from Flux in August 8, 2012. Visit her website at www.suzannelazear.com or the series site www.aetherchronicles.com. She’s also part of the Steampunk group blog Steamed http://wwww.ageofsteam.wordpress.com.