A few years ago (okay, MANY years ago) I studied Australian social history at university. It was part of a combined History and Sociology degree. Life got in the way, and I never did get around to that Honours degree, but I remember my research into the early colonial years of Western Australia, especially the letters and diaries of the women of that time. They were strong women.
Fast forward to 2012 and you’ll see I’ve found a way both to celebrate the strength of those colonial women — and to correct some of the mistakes history made.
Did you know history makes mistakes?
One of the biggest here in Western Australia is the way we’ve ignored our geographic realities. Sure, we’re pretty isolated *understatement alert* Our main city, Perth, has been called the most remote city on Earth. But we’re also relatively close to India.
In the colonial years, one of the first exports from Perth was horses to India — the British Empire connection. And sandalwood. In fact, the sandalwood industry is big business even today. Big enough that we have sandalwood smugglers!
But back to India. History missed a huge opportunity by not developing the Australian-Indian connection. Fortunately, Steampunk lets me fix these sort of errors.
Courting Trouble is the second story in The Bustlepunk Chronicles. The Bustlepunk Chronicles are set in Western Australia, in the 1890s, and they’re Wild West with an Aussie twist. In Courting Trouble, I take the idea of Bombaytown (introduced in Wanted: One Scoundrel) and really explore it.
Bombaytown never existed — but I really wish it did. I can picture it so clearly. It is like San Francisco’s Chinatown, but Indian. In Courting Trouble, Bombaytown is preparing for Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Diwali is a joyous festival, with flowers and firecrackers and overflowing friendliness — which makes the evil threatening it all the more terrifying.
Swan River Colony, Australia, 1895
All suffragette Esme Smith wants is respect. Her beau, American inventor Jed Reeve, may be more enlightened than most men, but lately his need to protect her is at odds with her need for independence. Esme begins to wonder if a modern woman can share her life with a man without losing some of herself.
With his courtship of Esme stalled, the last thing Jed needs is the pressure of saving the Prince of Wales. But when blueprints for a sonic destroyer fall into his hands, he uncovers an anarchist plot that could have deadly consequences.
While investigating the threats, Jed is determined to keep Esme out of harm’s way, despite her protests. But when the terrorists capture Jed and demand a priceless emerald in exchange for his life, it’s Esme who must draw on all her strength to save the day.
Jenny Schwartz is an Australian author in love with living in the suburbs. What could be nicer than chatting to your neighbour over the back fence? She’s currently mis-using her history degree to write steampunk and can be bribed with TimTams. You can catch up with Jenny at her website, on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblring about steampunk.