Michelle L. Levigne has returned to talk about her steampunk story in Christmas fiction off the beaten path. Welcome back, Michelle!
What inspired you to write “Crystal Christmas”, a steampunk story set in Cleveland, 1878?
Spend enough time with characters and they feel like friends. I want their story to keep going. “Crystal Christmas” is the next step in the storyline. I want readers know that several relationships hinted at in the Guardians novel, “Music in the Night,” have progressed. Not going to say any more, because that would give away too much of the story!
You’ve written many novels. What are the challenges when writing a short story as compared to a novel?
Short stories have fewer plot threads and characters. They are usually harder for me to write because I have to weed out so many sub-plots and secondary characters and history and settings that are begging (sometimes nagging) to be told. Perhaps a better way of saying it is they are demanding their moment on the stage.
Think of short stories versus novels as half-hour TV episodes versus feature films. You still have to cram the storyline requirements of “send your hero up a tree, throw rocks at him, get him out of the tree” into that limited number of minutes. Yet thousands of episodes are written every year that do just that. Same for short stories – without the benefit of all the character development that is done over the course of a season, like in TV shows
What excited you the most about this story?
Playing with my “dolls” again, and moving their story forward. And yes, I confess, this is a blatant attempt to get people interested in Guardians …
Tell us more about the series, The Guardians of the Timestream.
Guardians deals with a millennia-long contest between two groups of people, descendants of time travelers who went from our distant future into the distant past. One group went to stop certain historical events, and the other group followed them to protect the time stream. Set in Post-Civil War USA, the story starts with Ess Fremont, who escapes her stultifying boarding school to find her missing brother. Disguised as a boy, she has many adventures along the way. In the course of the four books she meets allies of her missing grandparents, learns her heritage, and reunites her family, while striking serious blows to the enemy’s cause. In the 4thbook, readers meet Carmen and Brogan, the main characters in “Crystal Christmas,” and learn about their underground community. If you see similarities to “Phantom of the Opera,” you wouldn’t be wrong!
Note: I’m playing with plans (someday, don’t ask when) to continue the storyline started with Guardians of the Time Stream, but focus on the underground community. The tentative title for the series is called Hidden Mountain.
Since we’re in a holiday mood, what’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Or what’s your favorite Christmas story?
Operation Christmas Child, which is part of Samaritan’s Purse. I really love putting together the boxes for kids in other countries – trying to fit as much into a shoe box-sized plastic box as possible. Hygiene supplies, school supplies, toys, socks and hats and gloves, whatever I can find.
My kids and I put together boxes with the other kids at church. It’s a wonderful tradition! Thanks again for stopping by.
Carmen and Brogan are still learning the possibilities and uses of crystal, the key to their ancestors’ time machines. As Christmas approaches, a brutal winter descends on Cleveland. Brogan is trying to help Mr. Wallace create the perfect Christmas gift for Ess Fremont – an engagement ring of crystal. Carmen helps, because her talent includes “singing” the crystal into pliability. She can’t help wishing for a ring of her own from Brogan. They have other concerns that take precedence, however. Illness brought on an airship threatens the city and reaches the underground community. They wait anxiously for the arrival of the Fremont family on the airship Golden Nile, and try to give the children a joyful Christmas.
Everything comes together at a snowy Christmas Eve service.
On the road to publication, Michelle fell into fandom in college (she is a recovering Trekker, and adores “Warehouse 13,” “Stargate SG-1,” “The Dresden Files,” and “The Librarians.”), and has 40+ stories in various SF and fantasy universes. She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA focused on film and writing from Regent University. She has published 80+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, and sub-genres of romance. Her official launch into publishing came with winning first place in the Writers of the Future contest in 1990. She has been a finalist in the EPIC Awards competition multiple times, winning with Lorien in 2006 and The Meruk Episodes, I-V, in 2010. Her most recent claim to fame is being named a finalist in the SF category of the 2018 Realm Award competition, in conjunction with the Realm Makers conference. Her training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature; proofreading at an advertising agency; and working at a community newspaper. She is a tea snob and freelance edits for a living (MichelleLevigne@gmail.com for info/rates), but only enough to give her time to write.