Steampunk Paranormal author Bec McMaster is at Book Savvy Babe today with a guest post and giveaway of her new release, Kiss of Steel. I loved the book, you can find my review HERE. Help me welcome Bec McMaster to the blog:
What kind of research did I do for Kiss of Steel?
My debut steampunk romance, Kiss of Steel, is set in an alternate version of the Victorian era. Hence I needed to know the rules and social mores of the time before I could corrupt them.
The Victorian era was a time of great change and development, with scientific curiosity going a long way toward revolutionising the world. Coal and its by-product of steam-power were at the forefront of Victorian industry, which is where steampunk takes off. Instead of electricity, what if steam-power remained the dominant technology? What if all the inventions that Victorian scientists ever dreamed of became possible?
There’s so much I could go into, but since this is only one blog post I’ll restrain myself with a list of ten curious facts about the era – some of which made it into Kiss of Steel, and some of which are still dwelling in my mind, just waiting for the right story:
1. Post-mortem photography became very popular in the Victorian era, when sitting still for hours on end was the only way to create a photograph. For some people the only photo ever taken of them was after death and relatives often posed with the dead body (sometimes with eyes propped open and positioned so that they looked like they were sitting and still alive).
2. The ‘pea souper’ fogs that smothered London in those days were a combination of fog and smoke from coal-burning fires and could be used to hide all manner of deviousness. It was also rather detrimental to the health.
3. Some of the more colourful terms of the East End added an interesting flavour to Kiss of Steel, as my hero Blade has a sexy cockney accent. A few of the more interesting ones include ‘the sheriff’s hotel’ or prison, a ‘dollymop’ or whore and to ‘cry hue’, which is to raise the alarm. Of course, there’s nothing quite like a hero calling you, “Luv.”
4. In the mid-nineteenth century, there were around 80,000 prostitutes and their ‘fancy men’ or pimps. To indicate their business, they tucked up part of their skirts and often wore ’pubic wigs’ to hide any diseases they may have had.
5. One of the more interesting inventions of the Victorian age was the first ‘vibrator’, which was used to treat women for hysteria. Before its invention, doctors used to use manual manipulation to relieve this malady of the nerves and 1859 it was claimed that nearly a quarter of all women suffered from it.
6. Disease and accidents were rife amongst the working class, with workers often losing limbs or worse to the machines that dominated the factories. Until the discovery that red phosphorus was safer, girls working in the match factories often contracted a disease known as ‘phossy jaw’, which literally corroded their jaws from the white phosphorus they worked with. Affected bones would actually glow in the dark. In my alternate world, a cripple can gain back the use of a limb by a bio-mechanical enhancement, though the cost is often greater than they can afford. These ‘mechs’ as they are called, are often forced into enormous enclaves where they are forced to work steel for the ruling aristocracy until they have paid off their debt. And even then, they’re considered less than human, with fewer rights.
7. The railway engine changed the face of industrial transport, and the first tunnels were deep beneath London. These of course, were the precursors of the London Underground and a collapsing Eastern-link line (at least, in Kiss of Steel) became home to all manner of poor and the slasher gangs that preyed on east-enders in order to sell their blood to the draining factories.
8. Jack the Ripper haunted the Whitechapel rookeries and is responsible for five—though maybe more—murders. I loved the idea of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, a group of volunteers dissatisfied with the official investigation who patrolled the streets and hired their own private detectives to capture the killer. Though the Ripper doesn’t exist in my world, there is a murderous creature stalking the rookeries and my hero Blade is forced to work with the Guild of Nighthawks; those responsible for thief-taking in the city. Though he’s not averse to taking matters into his own hands if need be.
9. Some of the more interesting – and dangerous – beauty treatments were in fashion. Taking belladonna helped to brighten the eyes and arsenic and lead-based products were used for a girl’s complexion.
10. And then of course there is the fashion, which is no great difficulty to research. I particularly love some of the more intricate corsets, and found it interesting that some people thought that a corset moulded a woman’s personality as well as her figure. Piercing a woman’s nipples so she could display breast jewellery was also considered fashionable in a niche group, though historians doubt it was widespread.
There you have it! Ten random facts about the Victorian Era. Anything that might have surprised you?
A brilliantly creative debut where vampires, werewolves, and clockwork creatures roam the mist–shrouded streets of London…
When Nowhere is Safe
Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?
Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.
When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.
Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. For more information, please visit http://www.becmcmaster.com/ or follow her on Twitter, @BecMcMaster.
Sourcebooks Publishing is offering a print copy of Kiss of Steel to 1 lucky winner! To be eligible for the contest, you must live in the US or Canada. To Enter: leave a comment on this post and fill out the rafflecopter below. Contest is open through Midnight September 12.