So, I’d begun writing this series because I was influenced by steampunk, specifically the steampunk I had explored since first moving to Denver and becoming acquainted with AnomalyCon. It’s an interesting aesthetic due to its ability to look at the past to create new and original concepts, both artistically and philosophically. As a highly suggestible creative person, I couldn’t wait to develop an idea sound enough to join in this playground, and while The Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay permitted me to do so, I’ve found that the path to participation in the broad sub-genre can be pretty tricky.
From the very first short story, it’s been established that chronologically this all takes place around the turn of the century. In that first printing, I said the year was 1898. Since then, I’ve changed it so that original story, and all the stories currently on the website take place in 1890. The date of Thaddeus and Mary Jane’s wedding was during New Year’s Eve, January 31st, 1889, and the original story begins a few months after Thaddeus moves in with Mary Jane, creating a continuity in which their marriage is still pretty new, even though Thaddeus has had the opportunity to tangle with Silas Monstrosity several times before the original story.
The first pair of Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay stories don’t have anything especially “steampunk” about them, other than perhaps The Derby’s use of various inventions. My understanding of steampunk itself was still being developed at the time. I assumed I was fulfilling the prerequisite of bringing a modern idea into the antique age merely by writing about superheroes, who didn’t reach their appropriate level of mainstream recognition until around the 1930s.
I knew around the time I began writing the third short story, I would need to delete one significant event from the history of this universe in order to cement the series as an alternate history. I decided that in the world of The Scarlet Derby and Midnight Jay, petroleum had yet to be discovered and the internal combustion engine had yet to be invented. This was a significant change in that, while the characters are living in the enlightened and industrial age, they’re doing so with the mindset that steam is still the energy standard, even using coal to power electricity. They are on the cusp of this significant discovery, though, the only drawback of which is that the progenitors of the discovery are often people that The Derby and Jay consider to be villains. More on that in another update.