Pauline Baird Jones Guest Post: Defining the Indefinable

Novel Reaction is excited to welcome Pauline Baird Jones, here to tell us more about Steampunk.

Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of eleven novels of science fiction romance, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. Her latest release is a steampunk/science fiction romance called Steamrolled. She’s written two non-fiction books, Adapting Your Novel for Film and Made-up Mayhem, and she co-wrote Managing Your Book Writing Business with Jamie Engle. Her seventh novel, Out of Time, an action-adventure romance set in World War II, is an EPPIE 2007 winner. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. Girl Gone Nova, her ninth novel, won the EPIC Book Award, a Single Titles Reviewer’s Choice award and was nominated for a Romantic Times Best Books award. She also has short stories in several anthologies. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina.

Photo, copyright notice © 2011 Gregory L. Jones

STEAMPUNK: Defining the Indefinable


“STEAMPUNK = Mad Scientist Inventor [invention (steam x airship or metal man/baroque stylings) x (pseudo) Victorian setting] + progressive or reactionary politics x adventure plot.” (Steampunk Bible, Jeff Vandermeer)


A hero is implied in the equation, but for those of us who love our romance, we also need to: + a heroine who refuses to be limited by her circumstances (or her corset) = a burgeoning panoply of books and stories that bust out of the familiar genre boundaries with airships and automatons and steam-based ray guns.


Author Robert Appleton had this to say about steampunk: “From westerns to pirates to magicians to automatons, we’re stretching the genre every which way. The commonalities—Victorian era mis-en-scene, hyper-advanced steam technology, a fun reimagining of history—are the main draws as always, but the genre’s such a Rorschach for authors (and readers) right now, it’s a case of pretty much anything goes.” (The Way It Should Have Been, Carina Press Blog)


That means the author can take the reader through alternate realities, on a trip through time, or even out of this world. It ranges from the fun and whimsical to dark and dystopian. All we ask is that you a) don’t judge the books only by their covers (though some are smoking fun!) and b) don’t judge all steampunk books by any one book.


So how does the reader find the right steampunk fit? Real world steampunk aficionados create a persona –a steamsona they call it—when putting together their steampunk outfit. May I suggest that a reader can do something similar—though figuring out your reader steamsona will be a lot less work than putting together a steampunk outfit for a local convention. No sewing machine or smithy required.


Let’s start by looking at what you read now.


  1. Do you read historical novels?
  2. Historical romances novels? (Even if you don’t, don’t stop the test yet!)
  3. Do you like humor?
  4. Romance?
  5. Dark or light stories?
  6. Do you like adventure stories?
  7. Urban fantasy perhaps?
  8. Dystopia?
  9. Does your reading list feature a lot of romantic suspense?
  10. Are you mainlining vampires and/or other mythical shape-shifting creatures?


If you answered yes to any of the questions, then there is a high probability you’ll like you some steampunk fiction, possibly even love it.

Think about it. Steampunk is history reimagined. Some authors like to mix in paranormal creatures, but there are also automatons and amazing clockwork inventions to read about. You’ll find within some pages your urban fantasy mixed with Victorian sensibilities, and there is even some dystopia steampunk floating around out there.


In others you’ll discover humor, romance—mild to smoking hot—and remember that at the heart of any romantic suspense is an adventure or a challenge to over come. Steampunk heroines just do their adventures in airships and defeat mad inventors who may or may not be serial killers (corset and goggles optional, derringer and parasol not so much). The heroes can range from dark and tortured (literally) to geeky-cute guys who use their smarts to smack down bad guys and wit to win the girl.


So you’ve found your reading steamsona, right? Now what? How do you find your perfect steampunk novel? You can start by searching Amazon, or your favorite reseller. Just add “steampunk” to your favorite genre, i.e. steampunk romance, etc. And don’t forget to go beyond the first few pages of search results. While steampunk is trickling onto major publishing lists, it is exploding in the indie presses.


Another place to find out about steampunk releases is The Galaxy Express blog. List owner, Heather Massey tracks more than science fiction romance releases.


Hope you’ll don your goggles (virtual or not, doesn’t matter!) and dive into this exciting and fun new genre. Your inner steamsona will thank you.


Have you tried any steampunk? Feel the urge? Which books are tempting you? Share your steamsona score? Comment and be entered in a drawing for a pdf copy of one of Pauline’s anthologies: Dead and Breakfast; A Death in Texas; Ghostly Dreamspell; The Mystery of the Green Mist; or Romance of my Dreams 2.


Pauline Baird Jones’ steamsona loves romantic peril mixed into her steampunk. She also likes to mash it together with some science fiction romance, which is why her latest release, Steamrolled, is called a science fiction/steampunk mash up. Because she mashed stuff together, not to mention steamrolls her characters before delivering a happy ever after. You can find out more about her and her books at:


Thank you Pauline for stopping by and sharing some great information on the steampunk genre with us. I have enjoyed the “light” steampunk books that I have read. Pauline shared with me this steampunkish music video by Sugarland. Carlos Rodon Authentic Jersey

17 Replies to “Pauline Baird Jones Guest Post: Defining the Indefinable”

  1. Many thanks for letting me visit today! For more steampunk type pictures, stop by flickr and do a search for the hubs: wyojones. Then search again for steampunk. He’s got some really fun stuff posted.

  2. Hi, Pauline,

    Wonderful explanation of steampunk. This particular sci-fi has really caught on lately. I know it requires historical research and a keen imagination to balance these elements.

  3. Wow…thanks for that! Now I know, and now I don’t feel like a complete dufus. I’ve always wondered what exactly steampunk meant. Great post, by the way. And keep doing what you do, I always enjoy your books!!

  4. Way to spoil us with the steampunk eye candy, Pauline! And thanks for the linky. (No need to enter me in the contest–I’ve got STEAMROLLED on my Kindle, yay!).

    I’ve read many of the steampunk romances currently available, and am working my way through more of them. I can’t get enough.

    For interested readers, here’s a list of the steampunk romances (those based on science rather than magic) currently available to the best of my knowledge:

    CLOCKWORK HEART (Dru Pagliassotti)
    FULL STEAM AHEAD (Nathalie Gray)
    MECHANICAL ROSE (Nathalie Gray)
    WILD CARDS AND IRON HORSES (the only western steampunk romance I’ve come across so far)
    HERE THERE BE MONSTERS (Meljean Brook, from the BURNING UP anthology)
    THE IRON DUKE (Meljean Brook)
    SKY RAT (Angelia Sparrow)
    STEAMED (Katie MacAlister)
    ISLAND OF ICARUS (Christine Danse)
    THE MIRACULOUS LADY LAW (Robert Appleton; steampunk mystery w/ romantic elements)
    SILK, STEELE AND STEAM (steampunk romance anthology from Samhain)
    LIKE CLOCKWORK (Bonnie Dee)
    TANGLED IN TIME; STEAMROLLED (Pauline Baird Jones, part of her KEY series)

    DAW Books will release a steampunk romance anthology in 2011. Titled HOT AND STEAMY: TALES OF STEAMPUNK ROMANCE, it’s edited by Jean Rabe and contains stories by authors such as Tobias Buckell.

    Some of my favorite non-romantic steampunks are:

    THE AFFINITY BRIDGE and its sequel, THE OSIRIS RITUAL by George Mann (both contain very understated romantic elements that I’m hoping will develop more as the series continues. THE AFFINITY BRIDGE is also a great intro to steampunk if you’ve never read it before—lots of mystery, fun action-adventure, and a *great* heroine).
    MAINSPRING (Jay Lake
    THE NARROWS (Alexander Irvine)
    MORTAL ENGINES (Philip Reeve)

    You can also read the immensely popular GIRL GENIUS online for free:

    Also, Luc Besson’s Les Aventures Extraordinaires D’Adèle Blanc-Sec is a film with steampunk elements (see trailer here:

    LOL–yes, my steampunk genie is out of the bottle!

  5. Lots of great information here (in fact, I’m printing it out). I haven’t ventured too far into steampunk land, but looks like I might be ready to take the leap. Thanks, Pauline!

  6. I’ve been hearing about steampunk and this is a great explanation – and lure for me. But Pauline, I’ve been following your various posts since your Sister in Crime days. I still have a copy of one of those! (And, believe it or not, I “presented” your EPIC award this year at the conference. Would have loved to meet you in person.)

  7. @ Heather – a great list! Thanks for posting it!
    @ Ericka – I hope you will! It is a very fun leap!

    @ Norma – I’m SO sorry I missed you! I was at my son’s wedding and couldn’t go to EPIC-Con this year. Otherwise, I would have been there! That’s so nice of you to say! I wish we’d met, too.

    I keep hoping that SFR and steampunk both will reach the same tipping point that urban fantasy/paranormal hit. Be nice to see the genres break out like they, IMHO, deserve!

    Many thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi Pauline, yes, I enjoyed the photographs along with the explanation/examples. And the hat looks very nice as well. 😉

  9. Pauline, you’re so fortunate to have talented and supportive family helping you with swag for your giveaways. Love the items. Best of luck with your steampunk novel.

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