The Old Shelter

Dieselpunk Roaring Twenties. Sarah Zama's Author Blog

Archive for the category “Guest Posts”

John Paul Catton – Why I Write Dieselpunk – Guest Post

91t9Sx50cJL._SL1500_One of my earliest memories is when my parents took me to the London Transport Museum – and among the trains and buses, I was enchanted by a series of Art Deco underground posters along the walls.

Perhaps that’s where my interest in Dieselpunk started. Before the genre existed, it was present inside me, as an answer that hadn’t heard the question yet. Now the question has been asked, and people around the world are aware of the genre and are creating art associated with it; but trying to find logical reasons for a gut reaction and an aesthetic admiration has, for me, been unexpectedly difficult.

Still, here goes!

One … At the time of writing, Dieselpunk is a genre almost within living memory. For my parents, those Art Deco posters were memories of childhood. Theirs was the war generation, because I was born when my father was forty-seven, and my mother was thirty-eight. Dad’s earliest memory was watching the troops arriving at the local train station, coming home from the war. The First World War. In contrast, Steampunk, for all its charm and inventiveness, seems sometimes like fantasy adventures set on a distant planet, with a race of people inscrutable and eccentric.

Two – the optimism. Let’s not forget we’re discussing Dieselpunk, and what sets it apart from Steampunk is – the internal combustion engine, the skyscraper, the airship, the huge sealiners – with emphasis on scale and speed. Upward, and ever faster, faster. Before pollution, before global warming, before food allergies, there was the glowing sense that the progress of science would lead us into a brave tomorrow. It now seems almost childish in its innocence, despite the image of two-fisted masculinity.

Three – the visual element. Damn, Dieselpunk looks good! Not only do you have Art Deco and Art Nouveaux as stylistic inspirations, but you also have the art world exploding in the early 20th Century. Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism and Suprematism … all of them can be employed in the creation of striking, unforgettable images today, to grace a book cover, gallery wall, or film screen.

Four – the concepts. Victorian England might have ridden a wave of invention that has never been surpassed, such as the steam engine, the locomotive, man-powered flight, the telegraph and electricity, but the early 20th Century gave us abstract concepts that revolutionized not the physical landscape, but the mental one. Freud broke the ice with ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’. Einstein and the other scientists extended this fascinating instability to the entire structure of space and time, exploding the mechanical Victorian paradigm, and making the Universe a fascinating, baffling place to live in. This gave us the cultural milestones of “The Waste Land” and “Mrs. Dalloway” – and carrying this to extremes led to the realms of cosmic horror envisioned by H. P. Lovecraft, where “the most merciful thing in the world … is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”

Holy Moses! Just writing this article has clarified my thoughts and made me appreciate what a remarkable genre I’m working in. Say it loud, I’m Dieselpunk and I’m proud …

Er, no. That’s not a good sentence to conclude with. In fact, I shall never write that above sentence again. Instead, I shall mosey on over to Goodreads, and go through the ‘Best Dieselpunk Books’ list again to remind myself how lucky I am.


Well, there’s a lot to share with John’s feelings about the genre… at least on my side..
If you enjoyed John Catton’s article, there’s a few things you may want to do

  1. Check my review on one of his dieselpunk story here and/or read an excerpt from the same story here
  2. Have a look to the collection of his dieselpunk stories which is just out, Tales from Beyond Tomorrow
  3. And after all, why not leave a comment in the comment box below? It’s easy and it doesn’t hart

AJ Sikes – Guest Post

After my review of his dieselpunk novel Gods of Chicago, Aaron Sikes was so kind as to write a follow up article about how this sotry was born and what his plans for hte future of the series are.



71xH8bKBFdL._SL1500_Thank you, Sarah, for offering me a spot in The Old Shelter today. Gotta admit, I love the name of your blog.

You’d asked for my thoughts on the story world in Gods of Chicago, and I’m more than happy you did. The setting was the first and most compelling piece of the novel for me, until I got inside a few of my characters’ heads anyway.

A while back, I blogged on The Undercover Soundtrack about how the story world occurred to me. Like a lot of my crazy ideas, it started with an instrumental number by Joe Satriani. The story world that evolved from listening to his song, Time Machine, felt necessarily mechanical, and gritty, oily, smokey, full of grime and rust but also sleek machines and airborne vehicles. There’s a loftiness to Satriani’s melodies, something that suggests flight and speed and freedom.

With all those details, it might be tempting to say I should have written Gods of Chicago into a Steampunk ‘verse, but my sensibilities and tastes run more to the tune of 20s-40s era jazz, swing, and especially crime noir. I love a good horn section blowing loud and clear with a piano behind it. I prefer the clean, spare, and flashy style of Zoot suits and wingtips over the ornamented leather and lace that shows up in a lot of Steampunk. And what’s better than a murder in a dark alley and coppers and mobsters who have their own agendas?

The moods and manners of the interbellum years also hold more fascination for me than do those of the Victorian age. I get to write and explore characters with an eye for hard life and easy money, and everyone gets a chance to play their hand at subtlety. More than anything, it’s what goes unsaid in a noir story that I find truly fascinating, and I tried my best to have my characters employ subtlety at every opportunity.

Gods of Chicago is the first in a planned trilogy, though I’m writing shorts in the story world as well. These shorts go out to my newsletter subscribers, and a few of them are slated for publication in the coming months, the first of which is the backstory for a youth in Gods of Chicago, a guy named Peter “Digs” Gordon.

For the trilogy, I have a rough aim for the series. Whereas Gods of Chicago was all about conspiracies and what goes on behind the scenes, the next book, Gods of New Orleans, is about what it means to belong: to a group, a community, a family, or a society. I’m working on the book now with a planned release date of Memorial Day Weekend 2015.


Author Bio: Aaron Sikes has been writing and editing full-time since 2011. Gods of Chicago is his first full-length novel and he has previously had three stories published in anthologies by independent presses. Find him on Twitter @SikesAaron or visit his website


Thanks so much for this insight into your world, Aaron. It sounds very interesting. I can’t wait to read the new instalment in the trilogy.

Hey, dear reader, if you liked this article as well there’s a few things you might want to do

  1. leave a message to Aaron in the comment box below, just to say hello and how much you liked the story
  2. pay a visit to Aaron’s site, you’ll find the link above
  3. tweet an appreciation to Aaron, again link is above
  4. have a look at his book



Rae Lori – Guest Post

I posted a review of Rae’s dieselpunk story The Hot Dry Spell a while ago. She was so kind as to write a guest post about her future plans for the series.

Here she goes.


61sD+UAFGxL._SL1280_Thanks so much Sarah for letting me hop into your world!

The world of books and publishing is such an amazing thing. I wouldn’t have met Sarah if she didn’t review my story and if I didn’t publish it beforehand. Now I consider her a friend a dieselpunk buddy for whenever I need a good read.

I’ve always been into the 20s, 30s and 40s styles (more so the 40s when I was younger) and being a sci-fi fan, I loved it whenever the two fused together to form a neo-noir Blade Runner type of story. I got the idea for The Hot Dry Spell when I saw submissions call for an urban fantasy set in the past. I can’t remember the exact guidelines, but I loved the idea of an underground society of paranormals who lived during that time. I didn’t see it much in other media so I took it upon myself to explore it. Thanks to Sarah’s review input, it’s only the beginning.

This isn’t the first time where I explored an underground world. I also do so in my Ashen Twilight series which features different houses of Lycans, nightwalkers (vampires) and shifters all who work together to stay alive through the centuries. My Ashen Twilight series is a historical one as well as a contemporary. Although each series are pretty much in separate worlds, I’ve been thinking about connecting them by having a certain character wander into the world of the Hot Dry Spell from my AT series. It won’t be a continuation per se, but a nod to the readers who like seeing crossovers.

512xtd4+dWLI’m planning on having The Hot Dry Spell be its own world. I love writing short stories, especially ones that deal with detectives and crime solving. Romance isn’t as open to shorter fiction, but I notice the speculative genres are which is a big plus for me. Chatting with Sarah, I got a whole bunch of ideas to make the world its own expanded universe through a series of interconnected stories kinda like Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. With the interest in dieselpunk, pulp has made a comeback with the digital revolution and I couldn’t be happier. The fae king and his workers will definitely make appearances later one, but I would like to showcase other characters in the background who may have passed by or had a few sentences. The club itself is a central hub where all my characters meet and there are a lot of possibilities to make it the cotton club for the paranormals. I’d like to expand on the war between the kingdoms and put it in perspective of what was going on at the time. Who knows, I may do a crossover and have a character here pop up later in my Ashen Twilight series. 😉
Eventually, I’d like to put all of these in one anthology. For now, I’m focusing on expanding the universe with more stories which I hope to run by Sarah to get her thoughts before they go live (if it’s okay with her). I’m excited about the prospects and plan to slip it into my writing schedule as soon as I can. One thing I’m looking forward to, more binge listening to Radio Dismuke as I dive back into the world of the urban fantasy jazz age.

Stay tuned 😉

Rae Lori

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