Already I’m seeing a small divide in the reviewers of For Steam And Country, and it has to do with the naming conventions. It’s a small thing, but it could lead to be a big thing if all goes well. I figured it’d be fun to talk about before the release (9 days to go!).
Most Steampunk literature is solidly Victorian to being set in the late 1890s or whatnot, so you’ll get a lot of names like Edwin Smith. George Buckley III. Etc. For a fantasy world, I wanted something different, and I wanted it to be different than normal fantasy too, since the fantasy genres are littered with interchangeable nonsense names like Frodo, Bilbo, Drizzt types.
I wanted really to make a blend of the two. You’ll get commoners in the book that have very simple names like James Gentry, but the nobility stand out in Rislandia. I developed a naming system for nobles, granted by the king, that actually highlights their steampunkness. I have a whole short story in mind that I may write later, explaining how it came to pass, but the main concept is that at one point, nobility were put in charge of higher works of art and goods production, and they had a title to match that. They come across sounding a bit silly, but that’s also an element that helps the king keep any noble from gaining too much power — as it’s pretty hard to start a rebellion if you sound a bit silly. That’s why you’ll get:
Zaira Von Monocle
Talyen Von Cravat
Mathias Du Gearsmith
as names of nobles in the book. On the out-of-character side, it has a bigger purpose: you’ll be more likely to remember it. Since there’s no other books that really have a naming convention like this, it’ll make everything that happens in For Steam and Country more memorable. I do have a little bit of a marketing and branding background, believe it or not.
So far, what I’ve found is that those more prone to reading YA type books love the names, and I’ve gotten some big compliments on that front. The more Science Fiction-style reader tends to look on it a bit more skeptically. But that’s the fun background of it for your future reading enjoyment. I do think some of these things out (perhaps a little too hard). Maybe I’ll start a trend in future Steampunk works? 🙂