jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
I've been having some really interesting discussion with a fellow writer who stumbled upon a post I had made about a future project - the steampunk AU set in Sengoku era Japan that I've been poking at for a while. It's made me think - and rethink - a lot of what I'm doing.

I have to admit that historical fantasy is a subgenre that I've only lightly explored. For a long time, I wasn't interested, but over the last 5 years I've become a fan of several writers in the genre. I'm not up on all that the subgenre has to offer, though I've thoroughly enjoyed what I have read, enough that I want to try my hand at it.

So I have a question or two to toss out there, and I'm going to start with this one:

When making changes to create the alternate universe, how far do you need to go in following the changes you make? How far back do you go? How many countries should you trace the changes back? How permissible is it to handwave, fudge, and pick an arbitrary point at which "everything is the same" and then follow it forward?

The world is pretty interconnected, not just now in the internet age. Changes in one country, specially big changes, will affect the history of any country they traded with, bordered on, or conquered. As a writer, do you need to follow the changes through all the linkages, even if those countries aren't going to appear in your series?
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
Today I realized that there's a distinct chance that I could do research and planning for my steampunk historical fantasy series set in Japan for the next decade before feeling confident enough to actually begin writing.

I'm overall okay with it.

Good thing I've got a lot to do in the meantime.
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
The last week or so, I've been in a bit of a research mood - which is a pretty rare thing. Though research is a necessary part of my job (law) and my evening career (writing) I generally don't enjoy much of the process. I don't always enjoy learning about the things that I have to slog through to get to the end of my goal, and the detail-orientation required to really dig into a subject is sort of beyond me. I have a tendency to want to learn enough to understand the basics and then I get bored.

But sometimes I get a wild hair and can't get enough of researching something.

One of the projects I've got waiting in the wings for some year when I have time, is a series of historical fantasy steampunk novels set in Japan. The amount of research I have to do just to plan these novels is staggering, and has sent me from library to library and across the internet, and I still feel like I've only scratched the surface.

I do enjoy much of what I learn, though. And I wanted to share a little tidbit of what I uncovered this week, because it's almost certainly going to make it into my novels.

Back in the 1560s or 1570s, a warlord brokered a peace with Oda Nobunaga, one of the most famous warlords in Japanese history, and one of those instrumental in ultimately unifying the country. As part of this peace, the warlord gave Nobunaga a haunted, living tea set called Tsukumogami. The stories about this tea set have spawned an entire subset of Japanese myths around inanimate objects that have come to life after reaching 100 years of age.

I'm still teasing out more information about Tsukumogami, but I think I'm going to have fun with this.

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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