Let me preface this by mentioning I’n a bit of a history nerd. When I started to write a short dieselpunk story a few years ago, I knew the overall background for my tale. I also knew I needed a realistic setting.
The first step was to create a sub-folder under the folder I have my Work-In-Progress and call it research.
A central part of the tale takes place on the coast of south east Australia. Here are some of the steps my research led me over the next few months.
- I started with Google Earth and carefully examined the current cities, seaports, and terrain of SE Australia.
- I chose an area from the city of Albany, up to Waychinicup National Park, and Bald Island.
- My characters needed a fictional community so I had them develop it on the shore of Two Peoples Bay. That was the easy part.
- Next, came research on the history of that area from the turn of the 19th century up until WWII. This part of the project turned into more than 26 pages of URLs, notes, and dozens of photographs in my research folder.
- Beside humans, my tale also features a dozen or so machines as characters. Two of these are fictional, but based on existing devices. The rest actually existed in that timeframe. Here’s a partial list:
- Zeppelins – High technology airships between the two world wars.
- Schnellboot – German coastal warcraft, similar to the US PT boats.
- Cloud Dancer – Littoral Combat Ship with a trimaran steel hull, two seaplane catapults, and heavily weaponed.
- Cloud Singer – A huge and well-armed airship
- Kingfisher seaplanes – Use a lot during WWII
- The next item was a detailed timeline of the events. At this point, I planned to cover two generations of the families involved. I didn’t want my readers to be confused by any logic bombs. This was actually a two part process. In the first part, I created a timeline of real events, along with quotes from historicaly figures that would play background roles in the story.
- A list of Australian mineral resources was added to my research notes.
- A page of notes on the Aboriginal peoples of Australia prior to and during WWII.
- Notes on the Indian Empire (British Raj) at the turn of the century.
The first short story was released in both ebook and print format by Captiva Press as “Crazy Taylor”. I immediately realized there needed to be a sequel. Unfortunately, Captiva Press closed shop due to family and health issues, a few months later. “Crazy Taylor is not available at this time.
Crazy Taylor languished on the shelf while I was writing other tales over the next couple of years.
When I decided to setup this website, I worked with an editor to rewrite some of my previous works. A few of them had been previously published and a few have never seen the light of day before.
One day, I reread a gothic horror short tale I had written as a halloween project more than seven years ago. It dawned on me that it was actually the first chapter of a much longer steampunk tale. As soon as I started working on that, I realized it was the steampunk preguel to Crazy Taylor. The die had been cast and I got to work.
The dieselpunk short story has grown into a crossover work-in-progress of more than eighty thousand words. The new title is Airship Legacy and I expect it will be published third quarter of 2015.
The images below are part of my research notes. At this point, I’m looking for some beta readers for Airship Legacy. Drop me a line if you would like a preview.
These images are the original cover for Crazy Taylor, a promotional postcard showing the Cloud Dancer, and my original design for the Cloud Singer littoral warship.