Interview with the August Steampunk Challenge Winner - SprayonCrayon


SprayonCrayon has long been a heavyweight player in our monthly challenges and his great subs regularly secure him a place in the final six. But all too often the crown has evaded him as he's been pipped to the winner's post by another challenger...

Not this time though!

SprayonCrayon's number-one challenge entry in the August Steampunk ChallengeDarkness Falls, is a great example of his originality; especially his penchant for testing the limits of the brief. This approach to the challenges helps SprayonCrayon push the boundaries of his own writing skills so his stories stand out from the crowd.

Steampunk on the Brain
The genre of Steampunk is slightly off-beat and the Challenge comments revealed that Steampunk was virtually unheard among members, which was an interesting start to the challenge! This left a serious task at hand for those hoping to clinch the winner's title... it was to be a true test of experience vs. ingenuity.

Although Steampunk is still seen as an 'underground' genre, its relative obscurity does not diminish the extreme enthusiasm with which its fans spin their beautiful Steampunk worlds. Steampunk has a huge following and influences of the movement can even be seen in popular literature, such as Philip Pullman's, His Dark Materials.
Alethiometer - His Dark Materials

The term Steampunk originated in the '80s as a tangental, almost sarcastic, reaction to the popularity of Cyberpunk. It has since evolved into a literary and cultural wonder of its own, propelled not by steam, but by the unique inspiration it generates in the minds of others.

Steampunk culture is probably most well known as literary fiction, but it has also released its pistons of influence into art, fashion, music and film, creating an increasingly diverse genre as it evolves.

We had a chat to SprayonCrayon to find out more about how he approached the Steampunk Challenge and what inspired his winning entry. You will probably be surprised to hear that SprayonCrayon had never written in the Steampunk genre before this challenge, which just goes to show how venturing outside your comfort zone can wield some really brilliant results:


Tick-Tock Crabby Clock
WEbook: Congratulations on being crowned the winner of the August Steampunk Challenge! First of all, could you let us know what inspired you to write, Darkness Falls?

Steampunk Samurai 
SprayonCrayon: The first thing that inspired me was the challenge brief, explaining that Steampunk was usually set in Victorian England or America's Wild West, and I thought, "Where else would this stuff be cool; how do I break the rules?" The combination of samurai ethic and this kind of tech seemed a natural fit.

WB: You seem to be very comfortable writing within the genre of Steampunk, is it something that you've tried before? 

SC: I am more familiar with samurai drama, and this was my first foray into the Steampunk genre, but I love participating in the challenges to stretch my writing skills. I don't know when I plan to venture back into Steampunk, as I almost always start with plot then move onto setting.

WB: The character of Mitsuo is very compelling, his story keeps the reader on the edge of their seat throughout, do you see Darkness Falls forming part of a bigger project?

SC: As much as I laid down a lot of plot threads and possibilities, I have too many other things going on right now to try to expand this. That doesn't mean that I won't return to it someday, but not right now.

WB: We are desperate to know, does Mitsuo reunite with his wife in the end?

Steamy Romance
SC: Will Mitsuo and Kamiko be reunited? I don't know. One of my favorite authors experiments with breaking story tropes, and having characters make well-intentioned mistakes. It might be interesting to see Mitsuo and his wife working to reunite, only to find themselves in opposite camps at the end of the war. That would be a very typical samurai ending, to have them come face to face with each other and have to choose between love and honour.

WB: How heartbreaking! But it's your pen, and they're your characters - we do hope to see them cropping up again somewhere soon though... Congratulations again on your win - it's been great chatting with you, and good luck with your future Challenge submissions!


The Steampunk Writing Challenge really brought some great writers out of the woodwork, and we love to see new and old members submitting to the Challenges. As SprayonCrayon says, they're a great place to stretch your writing skills and experiment with genres you've never written in before.

We've just announced LostV as the winner of our September Urban Picture Challenge, with her brilliant entry, Grains of Sand.

Look out for our interview with her coming soon!

Oh, and don't forget that the October Grimm Challenge is currently running - have you got a twisted enough imagination combined with enough literary prowess to be crowned king of the writing Challenge this month?

Good luck and happy writing,

The WEbook Team

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