xerinmichellex: (misc: SciFi + Historical Fiction)
[personal profile] xerinmichellex
It occurred to me after doing that WiP Meme that I've never explained where my self-descriptor of being an "anachronistic writer" came from. So, I'll let you in on the secret: Of the books I pulled quotes from--The Watchmaker Series, The Corvis Chronicles, and the Nutcracker Retelling--they were all originally set in modern time*. Yes, every single one.

First, in case it's not in your vernacular:

anachronism > noun 1. a thing belonging to a period other than the one in which it exists. 2 the placing of something in the wrong historical period.

It began with The Watchmaker Series. Here's another secret: I completed both the first and the second book in the original conception of the series. (I queried the first one to disappointing success.) This was in 2009. Flash forward to March 2011 and I dusted off the series to take another look at it. Two things happened in the midst of dusting it off: 1. I was very much a fan of Doctor Who and 2. I had recently watched The Young Victoria and was deep into a Queen Victoria/Prince Albert obsession. In the original idea, TWS was more akin to X-Men: Dozens of people running around with various abilities. Once I came back to it 2 years later, I realized I wanted to streamline the abilities.

Because of Doctor Who, I zoned in on time travel and, eventually, onto the idea of alternate timelines. (This bit is probably due to my reading list at the time, which included Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate Series, Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century Series, and Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan Series--all of which are, you guessed it, set in alternate universes and steampunk-ish.) Because the Victorian Era fits so neatly into the idea of the "old" ways clashing with the explosive expansion of the sciences, industry, and major turning points in history, it made sense that that era would be ripe to muck around with. (Okay, and maybe it's because I've always loved the Victorian aesthetic.)

A month before I started re-imagining The Watchmaker Series, I had started working on The Corvis Chronicles. It ended up going nowhere. I fussed with different plotlines, and adding and deleting, then re-adding characters to no avail. Jump forward to September 2011, and because I was having so much fun researching the Victorian Era and seeing how that setting impacted and shaped the story of The Watchmaker Series, I wondered if I could do the same with The Corvis Chronicles. So, I thought about which time period would aesthetically fit with a deep, dark horror story. Naturally, the Great Depression came to mind: with the downtrodden people, empty buildings, and all around fear and confusion of what happens next in our American history.

The Nutcracker retelling was the last of the "moderns" to get a time period shift. After throwing out the contemporary setting, I went for more of a fantasy, other-world setting that echoed the early 1910's. It did not pan-out, in part because I realized I cannot write a fantasy novel to save my ass. (One of these worlds, however, became the impetus of The Book**.) Right now, I'm keeping the real world versus the "Nutcracker world" of the original idea. I've just, once again, shifted the time period of Clara's world to early World War I.

This is the long way of describing my anachronistic tendencies, by which I take a story originally conceived to be set in the modern times, but then shift it to a bygone era where it takes on a whole, new identity. Honestly, my first question I ask myself after getting a Shiny Idea (other than, "Okay, where does the ~twisty element come in?") is "What time period can I put this story in?" I also prefer writing in alternate timelines. I was the kid in History that was like, "But what if [insert important historical event here] never happened?" I have the extreme "What If" of The Watchmaker Series, which is all about purposefully screwing with history, to The Book that is set within its own alternate time period. Both The Corvis Chronicles and the Nutcracker retelling are the only ones set in the closest proximity of our established history--that is, if monsters ran amok in 1933 New York City and there was a "mirror world" certain people could access during World War I.

So, there you go.

*The side effect of moving all my WiP's into a past era, is now I only think about setting books in the past. I have 3 other ideas in total, with one being a 100% historical fiction set in 1926, one set in 1893 Chicago (+ werewolves, or something like werewolves), and one that I've somewhat discussed before set in the early 20th Century. Clearly you can tell which eras I'm partial to.

**The Book, for the record, has always been set in 1911.
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August 2015


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