The January issue of Marie Claire will, hopefully, feature an article I’ve written on steampunk romance. Steampunk romance is being hailed as the successor to the paranormal romance boom, and I discuss a bit (very little bit! 300 words!) of what it is.

Steampunk combines mechanical innovation (the steam) with subversive Victorian drama (the punk). It’s rich in alternate history, innovation, delicious fashion, repression and open expression and all kinds of cool literary types.

It has its foundation in the Victorian period, but as I discovered, its roots are firmly planted in the Regency: See, one of the first and best examples of steampunk (sans the romance part) was first written by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling in The Difference Engine. The Difference Engine describes what would have happened if inventor Charles Babbage had succeeded in building a mechanical computer, which he did work on in real life. With–wait for the Regency connection!–Lord Byron‘s daugher, the Hon. Augusta Ada Byron (known as Ada), later the Countess of Lovelace.

The first steampunk commercial fiction is just being released, most notably Gail Carriger‘s Soulless, which has vampires, parasols, Queen Victoria, murder and tea-drinking (I am so excited to read this!). Coming at the end of this year is my friend Liz Maverick‘s Crimson & Steam, while Meljean Brook‘s first Iron Seas book comes out in Fall 2010.

But since we’re talking Regency over here, what would you twist to make a Regency-set steampunk romance? Does the period suit what I’ve described? What alternate histories are your favorites?