Friday, September 30, 2011

Steam-Powered II Roundtable! Jeannelle Fereira

Jeannelle Fereira has been published most recently in Not One Of Us #44 and Stone Telling #4, and wrote “A Thousand Mills Lofts Gray” in this anthology.

A two-sentence summary: 
Polly Clarke can buy anything she wants; Rachel Isaacson must work for everything she gets. The abstracts—optimism, hope, romance—they have to create for themselves.

How did your characters come to be? 
Rachel and Polly’s names—and the names of Rachel's parents and siblings, and their neighborhood—came from a 1910 census. I thought about Rachel first: what kind of young woman would live in this building, with her parents and younger siblings, unmarried at about 23? I was fairly sure what sort of job she would have and how she would fill her scant leisure time; then I just needed a love interest who was a near-polar opposite.

Why this setting? 
1910 in New York had very clearly delineated haves and have-nots. Introducing subtly advanced tech to the time period let me play with class issues, immigration, workers' rights, and extremely intricate costuming. 

You’re in an antho of lesbian steampunk stories. Obviously you are writing about lesbians. How does lesbianism fit in your setting? 
Well, Polly Clarke is from Boston, home of the Boston Marriage! And the lower east side of New York was a strange combination of tradition-bound immigrants with tightly stratified paths in life, and the “anything goes!” world of the populist Yiddish-language theatres. Both of my main characters have been exposed to underground gay culture, and Polly, who’s older, has had a long-term relationship.

What was the funnest, or most hair-tearingly frustrating thing about writing this story? 
The most fun/challenging aspect was deciding what kind of tech would find a home in what parts of Steampunk New York. Everything comes to New York first, right? But what advancements are experienced by a community who can’t really afford them, even when the innovations are taking center stage a few blocks away?

(If ya'll didn't know what a Boston Marriage was, I didn't either until I read her answers and looked it up. The more you know! See, steampunk can be so educational!)

(Don't forget to pre-order!)

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