I absolutely love writing erotic romance set in the Victorian era. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking steampunk or not, it’s my favorite. If I could only write one time period for the rest of my writing career, it would be Victorian. Why? Because in Victorian England, people were seriously twisted, and that is an awful lot of fun to play with as a writer.
People talk a lot about how prim and proper the Victorian era was, which makes me laugh. I actually did get into it once with a steampunk journal editor who insisted that sex had no place in steampunk because of how prim and proper the Victorians were. To which I asked “Have you ever seen a copy of The Pearl? Or Man with a Maid?” Or any of the other gems of pornography that were written during the late 1800s? Are you even aware of Dante Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite artists and writers who followed him who had widely open sexual relationships? How about the explorer Richard Burton and his erotic writings — including the first translation of the Kama Sutra — and his orgies held by his Cannibal Club?” This went over about as well as you might think.
Guess who is never getting published in that journal.
But that’s what I mean by twisted — the Victorians were very prim and proper, except for where they weren’t. Propriety was paramount, yet pornography of all types ran rampant during the Victorian era. Brothels specializing in sadomasochism flourished, and vibrators were invented as a cure for female hysteria. And there were sex toys — beautifully, handcrafted sex toys.
Which brings me to why I wrote Infernal Machine.
In 2010, I came across a news stories about an auction being held in England, for a pair of three hundred year old wooden dildos. They were believed to be from France, and dated to the 1800s, and they are absolutely gorgeous — hand turned dark wood, wonderfully detailed pieces. You can see them here: http://metro.co.uk/2010/03/25/wooden-dildos-from-the-18th-century-worth-3600-191797/ Now, I know that these particular samples date from about a hundred years before the Victorian age, but this is typical of the kind of work you might find in Victorian sex toys — turned wood, carved ivory, inlay and enamel. Rubber or leather, or chased silver. Even an early form of the Sybian (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v255/blinkytreefrog/ca_0002.jpg)
These pretty things got me started thinking, and the ugliest chair in all of Paris was born. When Elijah makes his discovery of just what his Carstairs Machine actually does, you now know what he is seeing. And if you don’t know what that refers to, then you have to go read Infernal Machine.
Anthologies which include this story: