Monday Meet: Layla

I am pleased to host Layla…right her on my humble little blog!


Thank you so much to Brynn for having me today!


Today I’m here to talk about my story “Untouchable” in Steamed Up, Dreamspinner Press’s steampunk anthology, hot off the presses Oct. 21! Actually, I’ll be talking about the world-building behind the story, since I’m currently working on a novel set in the same world, so I’ve been thinking about the details of the world quite a lot lately. I hope you’ll enjoy this peek behind the curtain.


I started this story with the idea that I wanted to write steampunk set somewhere other than Victorian England, to help my story stand out from the crowd a bit. I quickly settled on the between-wars period in the U.S., because I find that time period interesting and have researched it for other projects. I thought about doing the Roaring Twenties, but then I decided to play with a different idea: a 1930s detective pastiche. I’d recently read Eliot Ness’s semi-fictional biography The Untouchables and I thought it might be fun to do a story set during a steampunk version of Prohibition. The title of my story in the anthology, “Untouchable”, is an obvious nod to Ness, in addition to having a certain specific meaning for the characters as well!


“Untouchable” is set in an alternate history in which the internal combustion engine never took off. This isn’t as much of a change from our world as you might think! In the early years of automobile manufacturing, a variety of different technologies were developed, and none had a clear advantage over the rest. There were cars that ran on electricity, gas, and steam, as well as some really bizarre variants such as the Pyréolophore engine that ran on coal dust and the spores of club moss!


There were several factors that led to the gasoline engine coming to dominate the world as we know it, with one of the most critical being Henry Ford’s development of a truly affordable, mass-produced gasoline-powered automobile, thus causing the electric car to die out until its revival at the end of the 20th century. But it could easily have gone another way. (My husband suggested that in this world, Thomas Edison bought out Ford and then squashed his patents in order to sell Edison’s own electric cars. I absolutely love this idea, because Edison had a history of doing this kind of thing in other fields.)


In any case, theirs is a world of electric cars, trains, and steam-powered dirigibles. And of course it wouldn’t be steampunk without gears, right? This is one area where I leave behind the plausible and delve into the fantastic, because their world has clockwork prostheses integrated with human flesh, cyborg-style. Remember this is prior to the development of antibiotics, and while X-ray technology did exist, it was dangerous and unreliable. Agamemnon Rawson’s ticking clockwork heart in the story is pure fantasy — but a little flutter of fantasy is part of the fun of steampunk.


Besides “Untouchable”, there are ten other stories in Steamed Up, for all your M/M steampunk pleasure.


Steamed Up

Inventors, pilots, tinkers, and soldiers; magical metals to replace an aging heart or a ruined limb; steam-powered fantasy worlds of clockwork nightingales, automatons, dirigibles, and men. The stories in this anthology visit diverse times in the history of modern man, and the men who populate these tales face war and cruelty, masters and autocrats, illness and poverty and greed. Yet the heat of romance outmatches even the steam engines, and time and again, the gears of love rule the day.






Barnes & Noble:


Past Guest Interviews:

October 21 – Jessica Skye Davies

October 14 – JoAnne Soper-Cook

October 7 – Garrett Leigh

September 30 – Andrew Gordon

September 23 – Lane Hayes

September 16 – Nicole Forcine

September 9 – Jacob Florez

September 2 – JP Barnaby

August 26 – Posy Roberts

August 19 – Charley Descoteaux (my very first blog guest)




  1. Pingback: Steamed Up | Layla M. Wier

  2. Pingback: Monday Meet: Sophie Bonaste | Brynn Stein

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