New Project Reveal – Part 5: Genre

Hello gentle reader,

this week again I’m taking part in the Tursday’s Children meme hosted by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez. It is “a weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them.”


In these posts, I share a little bit more about what I’ve been working on, a YA Historical Fantasy entitled LILY IN THE SHADOWS. Today’s theme was inspired by a Twitter chat hosted by Tor Publishing yesterday under the hashtag #torchat

Inspired by a genre: Gaslamp Fantasy

M.LIN Lights

 So until now, and in order to make these posts as accessible as possible, I have been saying my Work In Progress is a “Young Adult Historical Fantasy set in Victorian London”. And it isn’t wrong, except there is an actual name for this genre, coined in 2006 by webcomic artist Kaja Foglio to differentiate her work from steampunk fiction. It is the “Gaslamp Fantasy” genre.

What is “Gaslamp Fantasy”?

Gaslamp Fantasy (also known as Gaslight Fantasy or Victorian Fantasy) designates stories set during the 19th Century, from the Regency to the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. It is a sub-genre of both Fantasy and Historical fiction, and it comprises elements from both genres.

How is it different from Steampunk?

The main difference between Gaslamp and Steampunk is that Steampunk is technology-focused and Gaslamp is magic-focused. Also Steampunk will often favour adventure when Gaslamp will focus on a mystery.

What books are examples of Gaslamp Fantasy?


The classic example is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004). Other examples include The Magic Most Foul series by Leanna Renee Hieber (2011-now), The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (2012) or Temeraire (aka His Majesty’s Dragon in the US) by Naomi Novik (2006).

How is LILY IN THE SHADOWS Gaslamp Fantasy?

LILY takes place in London during Queen Victoria’s reign. It is a Historical novel, because I have been very careful to re-create 1862’s London and to double-check every historical detail. But it is also a Fantasy, because magic infiltrates every part of the novel. I want this story to combine this magic with an industrial age that was changing England, its people and the world along with it. 19th Century England was an era of scientific discoveries, of exploration, changes, where common people sought and found answers and explanations for the first time in centuries. But it was also the time pollution, poverty and crime got out of hand.

Writing Gaslamp Fantasy allows me to explore all these interesting aspects of that moment in time.

So are you ever inspired by a genre? Or do you write your novel first, then find which genre it belongs to? Feel free to leave me a comment below, and to visit the other Thursday’s Children posts here.

17 thoughts on “New Project Reveal – Part 5: Genre

  1. beckireads says:

    I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of Glaslamp Fantasy before, but it makes perfect sense.

  2. Mia Celeste says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You’ve given me another way to describe the Gothic romance I’ve written. It’s also a gaslamp fantasy.

    By the way, I want to read your story, please keep me posted on it’s progress getting to my bookshelf. 🙂

  3. Stephen Alix says:

    You learn something new every day! I’ve learned ahead of time to know what my genre and audience are going to be before I spend a year writing a novel. What helps me figure this out is to write a query for the book as I write it. Big kudos to historical fiction writers, I can’t imagine how much research and attention to detail this requires. Good luck with the WIP! Great post.

  4. It sounds so great! Yay for magic and mystery!

  5. Vickie Hamilton says:

    A gaslamp fantasy? AWESOME! It sounds really cool…Keep up the great work! Love your site…

  6. Veronica says:

    You are awesome. I am excited.

  7. Very cool! I like the story idea!

    As for genres, in order to build a world, I need to have an idea of what it is first. So, yes, deciding genre is important.

  8. sugaropal says:

    Consider me firmly in the Gaslamp (as opposed to Steampunk) camp – much as I like some of Steampunk fashion, my iPhone and my computer, magic fascinates me far more than technology. I love that whole fog/smog-shrouded vice-ridden underbelly of London vibe. Glad you found your niche!

  9. kathils says:

    Okay, that’s a genre I don’t think I’ve ever heard of. 🙂 Intriguing.

  10. Pat Esden says:

    Here’s another vote for Gaslamp over Steampunk.

    I like to know the genre before I start. It makes revision a lot easier–or at least for me.

  11. Kate Michael says:

    LOVE. I’ve never heard of this. Gaslamp is such a romantic word. I love your WIP 🙂

  12. Ha! I have learned something new — that story idea I’ve been kicking around for a while actually has a specific genre! Thanks for spelling this out.

    As a general rule, I write first and then try to figure out what the heck it is. Which is how I have historical paranormal Asian mystery. 🙂

  13. VERY cool. I’ve never heard of Gaslamp Fantasy, but I love how descriptive it is. I love Genre labels that evoke specific images — they can definitely be inspiring. I particularly like “Cyberpunk” and “Planet Opera”.

    I’m so tired of labelling my work “Sci-fi/fantasy”! Maybe I’ll make up a genre label………

  14. Ah, the difficulties of category. I looked up “punk” on Wikipedia and found about twenty subgenres. My current WIP I think fits the definition of “mythpunk”––kind of alt-history with some fantasy and tech thrown in!

  15. I haven’t heard of it either. I prefer magic to technology, so I look forward to reading!

  16. christineallenriley says:

    I love me some Gaslamp Fantasy – and yours just sounds more excitin every time you post! 😀 And I love Leanna – she’s a wonderful writer and such a great person. I’ll be seeing her in a few months! 🙂

  17. Wow I love the sound of it – gaslamp & steampunk & whatever John’s mythpunk is sounds intriguing too. The research element to this sounds interesting too. I’ve really enjoyed this series of posts!

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