Trying to explain what I do
I have a lot of friends locally who know I'm a writer, but they aren't genre people. This is something I've faced since I was back in North Carolina. That first book I mentioned, the ill-named Elf Wars? I still remember my parent's describing it as being about "UFOs and stuff." So it's nothing new. But I think about it. This is what I say:
Fantasy. But when I say fantasy, you think of swords and wizards and dragons, right? That kind of fantasy is based on the medieval era. What I write is fantasy that's based on the Victorians.
And that's more or less right. It doesn't do much to help my non-genre friends, but it gives them something to chew over in their heads. I still insist that what I do isn't steampunk in the strictest sense. Steampunk to me is a form of alternate history. Retro-futurism. It's a convenient marketing term, but it's not really what I do. Plus, as soon as you apply a label like that, people start parsing conventions and forming expectations. What happens to The Summer Girl in chapter two? Steampunk doesn't account for that.