Posted in Books, Books, Lolitas, reviews, Steampunk, Visiting Lolitas, tagged book reviews, Leanna Hieber, OM Grey, steampunk books, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, visiting lolita on June 10, 2010 | 6 Comments »
Today we welcome back O.M. Grey, author of Avalon Revisited. She’s going to review The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker for us.
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber
There are few books that captivate my attention so completely that I’m not only so enthralled with the story that I can’t put the book down, but where I’m also so emotionally wrapped up in the characters that I deeply feel every ounce of their emotions. Where I cry and laugh and even scold them out loud. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber is one of those books.
It’s about a young girl named Percy who is brilliant in mind and rather bizarre in form. She keeps her deathly pale skin and long white hair as covered as possible, always hiding away to avoid ridicule. Although brilliant, she does have trouble with one subject: mathematics. Her professor, Alexi Rychman, begins to tutor her in the subject. He, unbeknownst to her at the time, is the leader of The Guard, a group of people who are possessed by muses and other supernatural creatures giving them the power to keep order between this world and the Whisper World, a Hades-like underworld. This is all based in Greek Mythology which Ms. Hieber brilliantly weaves into her Gothic tale.
Once hooked, I quite literally could not put the book down. I had to keep reading to experience the love between Alexi and Percy unfold. That ever-forbidden love between professor and student. That line that blurs between duty and ethics because of what the heart and soul desire, and in this case, fate demands. Percy, who had lived a live in a convent because of her shocking, ghost-like pale appearance, was so very lonely that she never knew the kind touch of anyone, let alone a man. Her life was one where if someone were to just touch her hand or hold her to dance was just a thrill beyond anything she had ever dared to dream. Then she meets her Alexi, professor and math tutor. Ms. Hieber lyrically describes their unfolding love and Percy’s longing to not only fit in to some small part of society, but to also be loved, body and mind and soul. It was all beyond Percy’s wildest dreams.
There was a particularly poignant scene where Percy, who can see and hear ghosts, watches a ghostly couple meet over their graves and waltz on their wedding anniversary. My heart ached for her as she watched this couple, now long dead, still meet and celebrate their love. A love she was certain she would never know.
This book is the quintessential Gothic Romance. If you are a fan of Gothic Romance, Steampunk, or Gaslight Romance, I strongly suggest you pick up The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and follow immediately with its sequel The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. Leanna Renee Hieber makes it impossible for the reader to do anything but completely fall, head over proverbial heels, into her darkly beautiful world of Gothic Romance, ubiquitous ghosts, and discovered dreams.
~O. M. Grey
Thank you so much for for your review and thank you for coming back to Steamed! and visiting us.
Posted in Brass goggles, Comics, Contest, mad scientist, Steampunk, Steampunkapalooza, Visiting Lolitas, Winners!, tagged Girl Genius, mad science, steampunk comics, Steampunkapalooza, visiting lolita on April 29, 2010 | 18 Comments »
Today we have an amazing guest for you, but first, yes, we have some winners to announce (and who doesn’t like winners?)
First off, I’d like to announced the winner of a copy of Kate Milford’s new book The Boneshaker.
…drum roll please…
Congratulations, Gaida. Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.
Now, for the winner of the amazing gift basket from O.M. Grey.
…drum roll please…
Congratulations, Tamibates! Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.
On to today’s guest. I am pleased and honored to welcome Kaja Foglio. She and her husband Phil produce an amazing gaslamp fantasy web comic called Girl Genius.Who doesn’t love the tagline–adventure, romance, MAD SCIENCE! Kaja will be giving away a Girl Genius Omnibus, a pin assortment, and an original GG sketch by Phil to one lucky poster (and how cool is that??)
Please give her a warm Steampunkapalooza welcome!
Gaslamp Fantasy and a Sort of Love Letter to Steampunk
Sooooo…I have no business being here, but I was invited, so here I am anyway. Muhahahahaha.
Therefore I inflict myself upon you all. Have no fear, it’s only for one day, tomorrow the Chair of Steamcon will be here to talk to you. She is absolutely lovely and throws an incredible convention. Hock your raygun and buy a membership. It’s worth it. We’ll be there too, assuming they’ll let us back in. We did have a lot of fun last year.
And why do I have no business here? Well, mostly because I don’t actually use the word “Steampunk” to describe what I do. In fact, except for my eBay listings, (where I want people to actually FIND my auctions) and the odd review that I quote because they say such nice things about my books, I do my best to resist using the term altogether. Instead, I hide behind the blast shield of “Gaslamp Fantasy,” a term I thought I had read in the introduction to an H. Rider Haggard book, but in fact had cooked up myself out of a muddled memory, with a dash of the San Diego Gaslamp district thrown in. Probably a dash of Cream Sherry as well. Oh, well. Let’s hear it for muddled memory. And Sherry.
Oh. Right. Hello–I’m Kaja Foglio. Along with my husband Phil, I write and produce a story called Girl Genius. You can read it in its comic form at girlgeniusonline.com. We update three times a week, collect the pages into a printed volume every year or so, and were awarded a Hugo Award for it last year. We’ve been nominated for another one this year. Also, the members of American Mensa listed us as one of their top 50 Web sites for 2010. We are very, very lucky. Our readers are smart, kind and funny, they send us lovely presents and photos of themselves in their laboratories reading Girl Genius. They dress up as our characters at conventions. I mean, really now. We have a job where people bring us presents, and we have a huge amount of fun doing what we do. What more could we ask? Life is pretty good.
And it’s been getting better in recent years. We started working on Girl Genius in 1993, and finally brought it into publication in 2000. Since then we’ve watched as the literary genre known as Steampunk has morphed into an…well, actually, I really don’t know what. Certainly a fashion movement, which I know I never expected. And a sort of odd lifestyle thing that is reminding me a lot of my early days in the SCA, but with a lot less arguing about authenticity (and bless you all for that.) And of course, there is the rise in popularity of the actual literary genre. Or sub-genre, really, since it’s all pretty much fantasy/SF with a special, delicious twist. When we started working on Girl Genius, none of this was the crashing force it is now. There was “Steampunk” stuff out there, of course, but nothing like what’s going on at the moment. What’s going on at the moment is incredible.
This brings me back to my Gaslamp Fantasy. When we were first working on Girl Genius, it was going to be modern–sort of Cyberpunk, actually. But at the time, I was going through Phil’s old sketches and finding the most wonderful drawings–airships and cats with pocket watches and a superhero called “Locomotive Lars.” I was working on trying to come up with something involving mad science, since I…um… kind of have a thing for that… and I’ve long been a fan of Lovecraft and Poe and Shelley and Rider-Haggard and Wells and Verne (of course, Verne.) After a while of going through all these wonderful sketches, I said to Phil something along the lines of: “The modern stuff is boring. Let’s do something kind of Lovecraft/Verne-ish. You’ve done hard SF (Buck Godot, zap gun for hire) and Fantasy (MythAdventures) and modern (What’s New with Phil & Dixie), Let’s do something with this style you’ve been drawing but have never used.“ I probably used more words than that, because you really can’t shut me up sometimes, but I didn’t use the word Steampunk, because I didn’t know it then…
Fast forward to the year we actually got around to releasing Girl Genius in print. I knew the word by that time. But when it came time to publish the first comic, I didn’t want to use it. Let me go look at my Wikipedia entry, which I believe has an actual quote of something that I apparently said in print at some point:
–Tic Tic Tic–
AAH! My Wikipedia entry has vanished. I redirect to Girl Genius. Oh well, that sure puts me in MY place. Oh, the existential angst of being deleted from Wikipedia. Ouch. Anyway, I dug up the actual quote. Under “Gaslight Fantasy” no less. What on Earth is THAT? Gaslight? Really? Oh, well, here it is, at any rate:
“I called it Gaslamp Fantasy because, around the time we were bringing Girl Genius out, there was a comic called Steampunk on the shelves and I didn’t want any confusion. Plus, I’ve never liked the term steampunk much for our work, it’s derived from cyberpunk (a term which I think actually fits its genre well) but we have no punk, and we have more than just steam, and using a different name seemed appropriate. I mis-remembered a term that I had come across in the foreword to an H. Rider Haggard book, where the author was talking about Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Rider Haggard and that sort of pre-pulp adventure material, and came up with “Gaslamp Fantasy.” I felt a bit foolish when I discovered that I had made up my own term, but it works and I like it.”
So that’s what I said. Probably in my blog, which I’m pretty bad about writing in these days. At least I’m getting this done. But, yes. I didn’t want to confuse my thing with someone else’s thing. So I stuck something else on it. And that’s all it was. Really.
But these things have a way of getting away from one… and now, during interviews, people are asking me (with totally straight faces! It’s amazing!) how Gaslamp Fantasy differs from Steampunk. And expecting some kind of intelligent answer. From ME. HAHAHAHAHAHA! … I have no idea. Originally, it was a sidestep, a way of avoiding the toes of a noble colleague. These days, it’s my way of avoiding the “But THAT’S not STEAMPUNK!!!!” argument that I see playing out all over the internet. It happens all the time. The snark is unbelievable. Something is too goth, or too modern, or doesn’t have a damn (Ooh. I said “damn” in front of the Victorians. Sorry, folks. It’s the tipple.) steam engine right in the middle of it, and the dogs of the internet are released. You know what? I make my stories to please myself. I’m not interested in making my stories according to someone else’s mold. It’s not Steampunk as others see it? Okay. That’s fine. It’s MINE. I’m not trying to play by someone else’s predefined rules. Having my own goofy home-made label to hide behind has saved me SO MUCH grief. On the other hand, it has bitten me, as well, because…
The downside to being on record as having “dissed” the beloved Steampunk is that people think I don’t like Steampunk! I get people thinking that if they use the term to describe my work, I’ll be offended! Seriously. One simply can’t do anything without getting people all upset.
Let me set the record straight.
Do you know what it’s like to live with a head full of this stuff, and suddenly be able to go off to conventions and see it all? Everyone dressed so beautifully, with the most incredible gadgets… things I would have had to have Phil DRAW for me if I’d wanted to see them? Or worse, to hack away at drawing them myself? Ugh. To have well-wishers daily send me links to things that make my heart skip multiple beats? To see how many people out there are enjoying this, and making amazing things, and working on raising the tone of everything in their daily lives by the application of a healthy dollop of artistic fantasy? To stand on top of the Neverwas Haul: a three-story Victorian house that drives around at Burning Man, and that I’d only seen in pictures until recently? To get my picture taken on a giant brass snail (the Golden Mean) that spits fire, and sit on a giant metal ride-on trilobite that I would KILL for? The art people are making, the dreams they’re dreaming… Well, actually, if you’re reading this, you probably DO know what it’s like, don’t you?
Isn’t it wonderful?
I’ve just turned forty. So far, it’s been a good year. If the second half of my life is going to be filled with things like this, then I can only imagine that I was VERY VERY GOOD in my previous life. And to those of you who are making it thus? Thank you. Whatever it is that I make, (and we won’t get into that any more than necessary, oh dear, no, not after all this “Gaslamp Fantasy” business…) what you make is a true delight. Thank you.
Wow, what a great post. Thank you so much, Kaja, for taking the time to visit us today. To win the amazing prize (a Girl Genius Omnibus, a pin assortment, and an original GG sketch by Phil) all you have to do is post a comment. That’s it! THe contest is open until 11:59 pm PST, Sunday, May 2nd, winner will be announced Monday, May 3rd.
Tune in tomorrow for the last official day of Steampunkapalooza when we’re visited by Diana Vick from Steamcon! After that, please keep visiting us most weekdays and the occasional weekend as my fellow Lolitas and I continue to bring you musings, mayhem, and all things Steampunk. Thanks for making Steampunkapalooza a smashing success!
Posted in culture, Jewelry, Steampunk, Steampunkapalooza, Visiting Lolitas, Winners!, tagged Clockwork Couture, Contest, donna ricci, Gail Carriger, steampunk culture, steampunk jewelry, Steampunkapalooza, visiting lolita, Winners! on April 17, 2010 | 19 Comments »
First off, before we get to today’s visiting Lolita, I’d like to announce the *finalists* of the Clockwork Couture ensemble contest. Thank you so much to everyone who entered, we had 44 entries! I am so glad I wasn’t the judge because there were so many amazing ensembles. Also, thank you to Donna at Clockwork Couture for sponsoring the contest.
The five finalists will each receive a tiara (because I’m all about tiaras, lol). The grand prize winner wins a $150 gift certificate to Clockwork couture. All winners, please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail so you can get your prize. The winner will be announced tomorrow.
The finalists and winner were chosen by our esteemed guest judge Gail Carriger. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to judge our contest.
The finalists are (in no particular order):
Sangu’s Steampunk Outfit:
Mithril Designs’ “Absinthe Afternoon”:
and VBunny’s “Black and White Tea”:
Thank you again to everyone who entered, stay tuned for the winner!
Today let’s give a big Steampunkapalooza welcome to Edanna of EJP Creations, makers of fabulous clockhand jewelry, including my favorite–tiaras. She will also be giving away a beautiful pair of earrings.
Recently, I was at an event that was attended by a horde of Steampunkians. My heart swelled with pride at the diversity, and enthusiasm emanating from it’s handsomely coiffed participants. There were brisk airship captains, elegantly refined Victorian ladies, dapper aristocratic gentlemen, cog-encrusted machinists, noir neo-Victorian mavens, burlesque carnival consorts, rakish goggle-donning scientists, and adventurers aplenty. Upon looking over this entire crowd the only thought that kept running through my head was, “THIS… this was the future I had always dreamed of. And if we can’t have zeppelins taking us to work each day, or adventures under the sea in great diesel-powered mechanized tubs then, by god, we shall make our own reality. Our groupthink will force it to happen, and we shall live as if this existence spans our entire globe!” I make my accessories for a clear and selfish reason. In adorning the coif of that elegant lady, or ornamenting the lapel of that mad scientist , my accessories help to flush out their character and accompany them on their next adventure. Fostering that reality into being by contributing a little of my vision for the world with a tangible, wearable bobble.
Distressed imperial elegance is the main thrust of my current designs. Apocalyptic chic, one might say, containing all the grandeur of toppled gilded empires, of their opulent treasures covered in dust and rubble. Encased for eons in their forgotten tombs only to be unearthed millennia later, shined up, and repurposed by a mad scientist of a woman wielding a hammer, and a pair of pliers. Using design elements from a bygone time, giving them a modern, urban spin. EJPcreations specializes in tiaras, chokers, earrings, necklaces, fascinators, and hair combs with a noir, and gothic flair. Creating body adornments with a hint of vampire elegance, a dash of Steampunk bravado, and plenty of Neo-Victorian sensibilities. Perfect for prowling the streets, haunting the clubs, or adding an aristocratic air to any outfit.
I have been creating unique and obscure items my entire life. Anything my little mind could dream up was instantly put on paper so I could work out the puzzle of making it a reality. Coming from a very creative family, this notion of making artwork in any form has been ingrained in me since birth. As an adult, this has primarily taken the form of wearable art, but I also enjoy creating other kinds of functional and mixed media creations as well. Contained in my artistic arsenal is an AA degree in Visual Presentation, a BFA in Crafts and Metalsmithing, and a BA in Anthropology with a focus in Japanese Urban culture and Primatology (specifically prosimians). In some amazingly mystic and extremely bizarre way all these studies have funneled into the work I produce today.
Thank you so much, Edanna, for visiting us. We really appreciate it. One lucky poster will get a pair of these earrings, which can be converted into clip-ons. I have a pair just like them and they go with everything from jeans to corsets to little black dresses. All you have to do for a chance to win is post a comment.
To get an extra entry, you can join EJP Creation’s Facebook Group and/or the Steamed! facebook group. Please let us know in your posts so we can give you your entry. If you already are a memeber let us know and you’ll still get the entry.
Blogging/posting/tweeting about this post and/or Steampunkapalooza also gets you another entry. Please let us know where and please don’t spam. For a final extra entry, you can subscribe to our blog. If you already are a subscriber, let us know so you get credit, too.
Contest ends Tuesday, April 20th at 11:59 pm PST and the winner will be announced on Thursday, April 22nd when YA rockstar Scott Westerfeld comes to visit. John from Steampunk Tales swings by on Monday, April 19th. Hang onto your fishnets when the Smutketeers join us Tuesday April 20th. Artist Simply Willow will be our guest on Wednesday, April 21st as Steampunkapalooza continues all April long.
Posted in Abney Park, Art work, Steampunk, Steampunkapalooza, Visiting Lolitas, Winners!, tagged Abney Park, Aimee Stewart, Foxfire Art, Steampunk Art, Steampunkapalooza, visiting lolita on April 12, 2010 | 9 Comments »
Before I introduce today’s fantastic visiting lolita, we have some winners to announce.
The winner of the signed print by artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith is…
Congratulations Phil, you’ve won your choice of prints from Jasmine’s steampunk gallery. Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.
We also have another winner to announce, the winner of a copy of SOJOURN by Jana Oliver.
…drum roll please…
Congratulations to you, too, Sandra. Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail
Thanks to everyone who entered, we’ll have more contests coming up for you. Also, the ensemble contest to win a $150 GC to Clockwork Couture is now *closed.* We got some terrific entries. They’re off to our special guest judge, Gail Carriger and I’ll let you know when we have our winner!
Today we welcome artist Aimee Stewart of Foxfire Art. Thank you so much, Aimee, for being part of Steampunkapalooza and dropping by to be today’s visiting Lolita. Don’t forget to check out her webpage and facebook group.
Steampunk Music and Art, Linked at the Gears
by Aimee Stewart
My introduction and arrival into Steampunk happened in one fell swoon. Actually that was a typo. I meant to type ‘swoop’, but ‘swoon’ fits even better. While my Steamlightenment might not have involved chasing a clockwork rabbit down a brass lined tunnel, it certainly felt like being swept away into a sort of Tick Tock Wonderland. A good friend had mentioned the subculture to me on several occasions, but it wasn’t until I was given a link to the Abney Park website that everything clicked into motion. I sat back and listened to music that immediately grabbed me by the boot straps and said “Where have you been all my life?!” I knew at that moment, I was smitten. I was in deep smit.
At that particular moment in time, I had already started forging a name for myself as an artist. I had been featured in a few Advanced Photoshop Magazines, and was well on my way to finding my style. So when I found myself being completely enraptured by Abney Park’s sound and look, I knew immediately what I wanted to do; I wanted to delve into Steampunk artwork. And I just had a feeling that I could actually pull it off, and do right by it.
It seemed like such a natural union! I adored the entire philosophy. The speculative fiction, the era-based styles, the grand adventuresome spirit infusing the whole thing. It took me exactly .2 seconds to recognize that I could already lay claim to a lot of aspects of Steampunk (already being a fan of the classic literature that gives spark to the genre), even if I was missing a few bells and whistles, or gears as it were.
And so I set about creating my first ‘fan art’ for Captain Robert of Abney Park. To me, it made perfect sense to create an amazing clockwork Phonograph for him to stand near. Presumed functionality enabled me to unleash my imagination full throttle. In a flurry of a few days, I had crafted my first official Steampunk work, and promptly emailed it to the Captain himself.
Needless to say, I squealed like a fangirl when he wrote back. Not only did he love the work (‘usually the fan art is of the girls in the band, not the guys!’), but was very interested in seeing more! I was completely delighted to oblige. One by one, I lost myself in my own personal vision of what Steampunk was, with their band photographs as the catalyst. I didn’t have other art to compare it to. I just went with my own inspirations and ideas. The peculiar thing was, looking back now, I realized I had infused far more vibrant color in my pieces than what would normally be attributed to Steam art. But that was ok. While I understand the sensibility behind brown in Steampunk culture (we would all love to walk around looking like living sepia-toned tintypes, no?), the colors are what make my mind spin with possibilities.
I recently attended a panel at Norwescon that was discussing Steampunk art. At one point I made mention that I see myself fitting in to the Steam sensibility as if I were a crow collecting shiny bits and baubles as I go about my lavish adventures. While the root of it all is certainly Victorian England, I have a deep interest in the Raj, the period of British colonial rule in India. The time period in which Queen Victoria took over the rule of the British East India Company. The mere mention of silks, dyes, teas, and all other aspects of the Company immediately make my head spin with color. Couple that with the ability to mod equipment, outfits and styles to suit ‘the future happening in the past’ mentality, and you have a potent engine for creation. So while I might delve into monochromatic sepia toned works at some point, my heart is always going to lead me down a much more vibrant path.
After I presented Abney Park with their band portraits, I was blissed when they decided to use the artwork for posters, promotion, and even their website. It wasn’t long before Advanced Photoshop Magazine hired me to create a number of tutorials, creating Steampunk art for their readers. I suddenly found myself in the heart of the aesthetic I adored. And while I had moments where I didn’t feel quite qualified to be looked upon as any sort of representative, I decided that above all….creativity is king in Steam, and I could certainly provide a ransom’s worth. So I have pushed forward, continuing my love affair with the style, the music, and the possibilities of it all. I am currently working on new artwork for Abney Park, and am about to begin an extensive project with The Clockwork Quartet, who are based in London.
Is my entire life devoted to Steampunk? No. I am quite the eclectic bird. My artwork shifts with my moods, much like the music I listen to. I might very well be found wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt, while playing drums to Ballroom Blitz on Rock Band… or cruising down the interstate singing to The Tragically Hip at the top of my lungs. Or if you peek into my studio, you might find me listening to Enya, and working on something steeped in high fantasy. But it all funnels back to Steam at some point, and for me… that’s all that matters. So while I might not fit into the ideal Steampunk mode, I promise I’ll always create something intriguing to look at. And if it sparks your imagination, then my day is made.
Posted in Art work, Steampunk, Steampunkapalooza, Visiting Lolitas, tagged Jasmine Becket-Griffith, Steampunk, Steampunk Art, steampunk artist, Steampunkapalooza, suzanne lazear, visiting lolita on April 6, 2010 | 19 Comments »
First off, I’d like to announce the winner of the copy of “Changeless” from the amazing Gail Carriger’s kickoff visit.
~*~ Drumroll Please~*~
The winner is
Congratulations! Danielle, please email me at suzannelazear @ hotmail so you can get your prize!
Now I’d like to welcome today’s visiting Lolita — artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith from www.strangeling.com. Visiting Lolita Jasmine will be giving away a signed print from h Steampunk gallery to one lucky poster.
Lolita Suzanne: Jasmine, thank you so much for helping us celebrate our birthday by being part of Steampunkapalooza. Your enchantingly beautiful art crosses into all sorts of genres and mediums, what made you decide to “go Steampunk?” (or was the Steampunk first?) Do you have plans for more Steampunk art? More Steampunk fairies perhaps? Maybe a Steampunk costume or doll?
Jasmine Becket-Griffith: I think I first started exploring steampunk about 4-5 years ago, when I was commissioned to do some illustrations for a rather steampunk-driven story. I’d previously been a fan of the neo-Victorian aesthetic, as well as historical fiction, gaslight, biomechanics, clockwork, adventure & exploration, etc. and I really think Steampunk incorporated a lot of my favourite things rather well! It’s as if I finally discovered a “word” that encompassed a lot of the things I liked!
Oh yes, I definitely plan on more Steampunk in the future. I have a couple of commissioned projects (including book illustrations and some concept art) that have rather a Steampunk flavour to them, so there are already several pieces lined up. I’m also exploring some of the other areas of my artwork (such as figurines, statues, etc.) with my more Steampunk-ish paintings & characters, as well as a possible animation project….
LS: Nice. More Steampunk is always a good thing as far as we’re concerned! On your website, your page “about Jasmine” says you like to read fantasy. We like fantasy, too. What stories and authors are your favorite? Have any particular stories/authors inspired your art? Do you read Urban Fantasy? Steampunk? Have you ever wanted to write fiction?
JBG: I do indeed! Actually since I paint so much of the time, I mostly listen to unabridged audio books. I read a little bit of everything – fantasy, horror, history, art history, hard science, science fiction, classics travelogues, you name it! If I were to name my favourite “Steampunk” author I’d have to go with Jules Verne – does he count? Other authors I really like are Susannah Clarke (hurry up and write more books, please!! I loved Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell!), Haruki Murakami (one of my all-time favourites, a Japanese surrealist), Anne Rice (hands down my favourite Vampire author), Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, oh – so many! I haven’t done much writing myself. Possibly because I have so many writers in my family and they’re all so good at it. I’ve just always been so immersed in the visual arts. I certainly appreciate reading the works of others though!
LS: Yes, Jules Verne counts, he and H.G. Welles are the forefathers of Steampunk. Where else do you get your inspiration? Where did the name “strangeling” come from?
JBG: Oh man, inspiration comes from all over! I travel a lot, and enjoy art history, museums, nature, music, movies, books, etc. – I think all if kind of comes in through my eyes or ears and then gets jumbled in my brain, and voila – inspiration hits! I have never had “artists block” – usually the opposite. I have to write down ideas of paintings all the time – I have this giant folder with between 1000-2000 paintings I have planned out. When it’s time to get out the brushes, I just pick which painting strikes me that day.
The name “Strangeling” was a nickname given to me by my husband Matt, back when I was in high school. He says it’s a combination of the words “strange” and “Changeling”, because back then (well, probably still to this day) I didn’t quite fit comfortably with my surroundings and always seemed like I was a bit odd. Back in 1997 when I was a senior in high school I decided to start a website to show off my paintings, and I decided to call it “Strangeling.com”.
LS: Your website mentions that you use reference photos for your art. Can you give us an insight to your creative process? Are your models in costume or have backgrounds? Also is there any particular reason why all your subjects are female?
JBG: Actually I very rarely use reference photos of people except for commissioned portraits for clients. For my own work, I’ve more given to painting out of my head, and when I need a pose or anything specific nowadays I just use a mirror. I don’t use models. Which could be why a lot of my paintings end up looking like me! I do, however, often take reference photos for non-humanoid things such as plants, flowers, animals, nature (like water, the ocean, etc.), interesting clouds, things like that. I keep a stack of photos I’ve taken that I find inspiring – or good examples of animals, etc. (I have a lot of photos of ferrets, my cats, etc. since I paint them a lot).
Hehe, I get asked that a lot – no, no specific reason. They’re not all female, but the overwhelming majority of them are. Probably some deep-seated psychological problem. Or maybe I just like painting girls (they are awfully pretty, after all!). I think that since while working I tend towards painting large eyes, makeup, swirling hair, elaborate costumes, mermaids, etc. – a lot of those things are more identified as being feminine, so they usually end up being girls. Also, many of them are self-portraits (however stylized or unintentional), and I’m a female, so there you go!
LS: That makes perfect sense to me! What are your favorite subjects? Faeries? Would you ever draw a ninja-faerie? Is there any subjects/genres that you haven’t tried yet that you’d like to? Your art ranges from dolls and costumes to your beautiful artwork–do you have a favorite medium?
JBG: Gosh, my favourite subject…. I’d say it changes so much depending on my mood, it’s hard to pinpoint. I like painting things I think are beautiful, or interesting, or things I’m obsessed/preoccupied with (such as dinosaurs, voodoo, the Rococo time period, Alice in Wonderland, wolves, deep-sea creatures, etc.). Mermaids & Faeries definitely. All of my original work is done in acrylic paints. I love acrylics because they dry fast and are water-soluble, and less toxic than oils. Mostly I paint on wood or masonite panels. I do think about new things a lot — I’d like to do more historically-influenced paintings, more culturally-diverse pieces, also focus more on adding more elements of realism (and surrealism) to my work. Hehe, no ninjas yet – but you never know!
As far as my other artist ventures – like statues, dolls, costumes, etc. – basically for those I do the concept pieces myself with my paintings, and then the companies that license & manufacture those products work with me on the rest. I don’t really sew much, so for example with the costumes they have the fabric people show me swatches and patterns and that type of thing, based on my paintings. I LOVE doing things like that – very much takes me out of my usual element of the 2-dimensional world of painting into the 3-dimensional “real world.”
LS: Could you tell us more about your partnership with Disney? That Tinkerbelle is awfully cute.
JBG: Well, I’m a huge Disney fan (I live right next door to Disney World, in the Disney-built town of Celebration, Florida), so I was very excited one morning to wake up to an email inquiry asking if I could create a Tinker Bell for them in my style! I had a lot of fun doing the concept art – being able to draw my big eyed girls and create an official Disney Tinker Bell! After all, she’s probably the first Fairy I knew by name as a child, and probably the most famous in the world. It was like painting a celebrity! Since then, I’ve got about a dozen co-branded Jasmine Becket-Griffith/Disney Tinker Bells now, and they’re all available as a collection of figurines that are so darling. It was kind of funny working on a specific well-known character like that because I wasn’t sure how far I could go with the design. For example originally I gave her kind of stripey tights & goth-y boots, but I had to re-do it because “Tink has to have slippers with big pom-poms on the toe” – very specific, hehe. I have some other Disney projects in the works now too…..can’t say too much, but it might involve…. Villains!
LS: Oooh, Villians. Now that sounds fun. Your books seem to be mostly “coffee-table” type books – would you ever be interested in doing a children’s book, a story book, a comic book, or graphic novel based on your characters?
JBG: So far I think since I’m just a painter, my books mostly just consist of well, paintings! However that is very much about to change. A graphic novel project is in the early works, as well as a book of short stories and also a novel I’ll be illustrating (which has a very Steampunk flair to it, by the way) – so I’m looking to that! Also I have not just one, but TWO tarot/oracle decks coming out, both by Lucy Cavendish & Blue Angel Publishing. The first is out next month and is called “The Oracle of Shadows and Light”, and the second will focus on my Vampire paintings (including many new vampire paintings commissioned specifically for the deck).
LS: Wow, I can’t wait to see the graphic novel and the book illustrations. Illustrations can add so much to a story. The tarot decks sound fun as well. Thank you so much for stopping by, hopefully you can drop by again sometime to share your latest projects with us. We really appreciate you taking the time.
JBG: By all means! Please do visit my website I have all of my upcoming shows, new art, merchandise stuff, etc. up there. In addition – I have a very active facebook fan page. I post there all day long often with work-in-progress photos of what I’m working on that day, new paintings, chatting with fans, other projects – come join me!
Okay, now for the important stuff…
One lucky poster will a signed print from her Steampunk gallery! (Steampunk Alice anyone?) All you have to do is leave a comment.
To earn an additional entry blog/tweet/facebook/post about Jasmine’s visit and the contest (but please don’t spam). To earn another entry join our facebook group or Jasmine’s facebook group (or two points for both, make sure to tell us — also, if you’re all ready a member let us know, you get points, too). Subscribing to the Steamed! blog also earns you a point (let us know you’ve subscribed, or if you’re all ready a subscriber).
The contest closes Friday, April 9th at 11:59 pm PST. Winner will be announced eventually…I mean on Monday, when we’ll have another fabulous guest, Aimee Stewart of Firefox Art.
On Thursday, April 8, author Jana Oliver will our visiting Lolita. On Saturday, April 10th we’ll be joined by The Royal Ladies’ & Gentle-mens’ Experimental Madness Society’s represented by Joseph CR Vourteque IV. On Sunday, April 11th TotusMel will be dropping by.
Posted in Corsets, costumes, fashion, Steampunk, Steampunkapalooza, Victorian fashion, Visiting Lolitas, tagged Clockwork Couture, donna ricci, Steampunk, steampunk clothing, steampunk fashion, Steampunkapalooza, visiting lolita on April 5, 2010 | 6 Comments »
Today’s visiting Lolita is Donna Ricci, Proprietress, of the super fabulous Steampunk Clothier Clockwork Couture.
Not only do they have amazing clothing (and boots to squee over), but they have a wide variety of accessories (can anyone say octopus parasol?) and men’s stuff. You can win some of their loot for yourself by entering our contest which runs through April 11.
Let’s give visiting Lolita Donna a big steampunkapalooza welcome!
Remember the scene with Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny finding a cave heaped high with gold and jewels? Daffy jumps up squealing, “Mine! Mine! Mine! Back! Back! Back! Down! Down! Down! Mine all mine!” That’s how I feel about getting a week to commandeer this blog. Happy, excited and eager to tell everyone about my entrée into the wonderful world of Steampunk. (And with no Bugs Bunny to get in my way.) Not unlike the newly converted, I’m ready to spread the word of how…well… connected the world of Steampunk is and should be.
I wasn’t always into connections.
I started in the world of Goth…
Long Beach, CA 1996
From the moment I heard of Steampunk 6 years ago, I didn’t entirely know what it was. Partly due to a poor explanation, partly due to my own lack of imagination, I didn’t connect to it. The singular thing I loved most about Gothic fashion was the Victorian aspect–once I found out about Steampunk my world popped open. Not only could I have color, I could have 19th century style and a computer too! This my friends was a match made in heaven. Never were more surrendering words spoken as I shed my funereal garb and set forth for the brave new world…
You might think I’m a “subculture hopper” or “bandwagon jumper”, but the fact is, I had just actually been wandering around in Steampunk waters for more than 20 years. Now with bright eyes, eager wallet and a whole lot of inspiration, I knew the first thing on the agenda was:
The original attraction began with the clothes. A girl can only acquire so many black garments before she realizes that she’s hit a sartorial wall. I mean, black is slimming and all, but I needed a lift. And blood red? Not everyone can carry it off. I wanted color back in my life. Moving from goth to Steampunk was like Dorothy landing in Oz, going from monochrome to big, bustling Technicolor.
The SteamFashion community on Live Journal is still my biggest source for new virtual pals, inspiration, places to shop and a testing ground to show off mine. There are specific yahoo groups for my area, other Live Journal communities, Tribes and Facebook fan pages to find other Steamers. Because everyone from Grandmothers to teens can appreciate the style and beauty of the Victorian era, you can find new comrades of all ages.
This I found, was the easiest part. Years of live-action roleplaying (get your mind out of the gutters), Comic Con, wacky friends and board games all has taught me that having a great persona and even more open-minded attitude is the keys to enjoying this new sub-culture.
This can be hard when something is both new, and attaining rules for itself. Luckily, I’m secretly an immature, gay, black, punk-rock boy stuck inside this pale waif vessel, and nothing gives me more joy than saying “F*ck the rules”. Giving myself the freedom to ignore everyone else’s expectations makes having fun a whole lot easier.
I have since felt myself warmly welcomed into the Steampunk community. I now define myself as within that- happy to be among such like-minded people. The gentility, chivalry and friendliness I have encountered with these new friends has indeed immersed me in a new happy place, and frankly Auntie Em, I’m glad I’m not in Kansas anymore.
I hope we’ll stick together this week to see what my brain comes up with for you, and in turn, would love to hear from you as well. firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in Books, Books, Steampunk, Steampunkapalooza, Writing, tagged blameless, changeless, Gail Carriger, soulless, steampunk books, Steampunkapalooza, suzanne lazear, visiting lolita, Writing on April 1, 2010 | 21 Comments »
Steampunkapalooza is here! Join us all month long for special guests, prizes, and mayhem in celebration of Steamed!’s 1st Birthday.
Today we’d like to welcome Gail Carriger, author of Soulless and Changeless to the Steamed! Blog. She’s graciously agreed to help us kick off our month long Steampunkapalooza in honor of our 1st birthday! Gail will also be giving away a signed copy of Changeless to one lucky commenter.
Lolita Suzanne: Thank you so much for joining us today and kicking off our Steampunkapalooza birthday bash– on behalf of all the Lolitas, welcome to Steamed! Usually we refer to our guests as “visiting Lolitas” but you come across as far too poised and polished to be a Lolita.
LS: I adored Soulless and am looking forward to reading Changeless, which released March 30, 2010. Soulless was so funny that I laughed hysterically through the whole book. I just love the cross section of the propriety of Victorian society and the supernatural world and how Alexia intersects both with dignity, grace, and witty quips. Can you tell us a little about Changless?
GC: Changeless is a kind of spoof of gothic mystery stories (just as Soulless was essentially a spoof of early gothic romances). It involves werewolves in kilts with (gasp!) bare knees.
LS: Oh, not the bare knees! Though, I do have a fondness for men in kilts. Was Changless easier or harder to write than Soulless?
GC: Changeless was easier to write than Soulless, actually. It’s a nice clean story and it went very smoothly. Blameless, on the other hand, was an absolute nightmare. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
LS: What inspired you to not only “go Steampunk” but to go paranormal Steampunk, effectively crossing Steampunk with Urban Fantasy?
GC: Given the tenor of my world the two genres just seemed to mesh really well for me. I love urban fantasy but I’m not wild about the modern setting and generally dark overtones, plus I’ve always wondered: if immortals were mucking about, why didn’t they have any effect on history? I also love steampunk. So having the vampires and werewolves causing an alt-Victorian steampunk past was an organic result of my own preferences.
LS: Well, I have to say, I adore the results. So, given the Steampunkyness of your books, does that mean that you do your signings in costume?
GC: At steampunk conventions, yes. I have had the cover dress of the second book made for me, so I may wear that, but most of the time, no I don’t. I dress up, but not really steampunk. That said, I do wear a lot of steampunk details in my daily life.
LS: Oh, the dress on the cover is spectacular. Now, most Urban fantasies that I’ve read lastly have been in 1st person. Why did you choose to use third?
GC: Honestly? I absolutely loathe writing first person. I’ve managed a few short stories in 1POV but most of the time I just don’t like it. I prefer being the goddess of my universe, all powerful and omnipresent. I also come out of a YA fantasy background, so that has had some effect on my voice.
LS: I know everybody has probably asked you about how you came up with your very unique world and the idea of supernaturals not being soulless but instead having an abundance of soul. But what came first, Alexia or her world?
GC: The idea of weighing the soul came first (21 grams according to a scientist of the day). I loved the fact that they thought of the soul as a measurable entity. After I read about these experiments, and certain other aspects of Victorian scientific theory/practice I knew soullessness was the twist I wanted for my character. All the other concepts flowed from there. Alexia’s voice came after.
LS: Speaking of Alexia, there is so much to love about your heroine. Alexia is a real “can do” gal and no matter the situation always comes off as the most capable person in the room, all the while still maintaining her persona as a proper lady. It really doesn’t seem like she has much further to grow as a character, though some of the other characters seem to have yet to realize exactly how capable she is. Was that your intention all along? Will there be a few surprises/lessons for Alexia to learn along the way?
GC: I like my main characters stroppy, dead-pan, and very practically-minded, luckily Alexia’s soullessness lends itself to this kind of personality. It’s fun to contrast her with a hero who, by his nature, leans towards and excess of emotion. Whether she likes it or not, Alexia has a lot to learn from Conall. That said, in the end, the world has a lot more to learn from Alexia. One of the things that she is always after is more scientific explanation as to her own nature. I think it frustrates her, as a bluestocking, that so little is known about preternaturals. But she has some challenges coming at her, it’s going to be interesting to see if being capable is enough to carry her through.
LS: So far the action/intrigue is set in the United Kingdom–will the series move to other lands (France? Germany? America?) Can you give us a hint as to what other adventures you have in store for Alexia?
GC: Yup. You can see from the cover of Blameless that she is headed to the Continent in Book III. I have no plans to ever send her to the Americas, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going there at some point within this world.
LS: Ivy, Alexia’s best friend is a hoot. Will her role expand in the future? And–what’s up with her challenged fashion sense and her horrible taste in hats? Do you have a friend, or family member, that you’ve based her on?
GC: Ivy has hidden depths, and she’d not going anywhere. She has a key role in the second book, and a brief but vital appearance in the third. In the interest of my own protection, I must say that she bares absolutely no resemblance to any person living or dead (cough cough, Miss K, cough cough).
LS: Alexia loses her parasol in Soulless. Will she get another?
GC: Oh my yes. She will get The Parasol!
LS: Most Urban Fantasy series are about single women. Is it difficult to keep up the excitement and adventure with a married woman? Are there any specific challenges in writing a married character?
GC: Yes there are certainly challenges. Much of the romantic tension vanishes, but there are so many other kinds of tension to play with. I’m lucky in that I’m such a crossover muddle of genres I can solve this problem by leaning further into steampunk, or comedy, rather than urban fantasy. Also, as I’m drawing heavily on Victorian tropes, I can switch around from gothic romance, to mystery, to high adventure. Also married women have far more autonomy in the Victorian world. That said, I’m a opposed to the idea that all nookie ends with a marriage. Rest assured, things stay hot.
LS: Speaking of hot, although Alexia is inexperienced, especially in comparison to the much older Lord Maccon, it quickly becomes apparent that she can match him “tit for tat” or in this case “bite for bite.” Is it because of her preternatural ability to “tame” him with a touch or is it just her nature?
GC: It’s a bit of both.
LS: Sometimes it seems that in matters of passion she almost seems to have him at a disadvantage. She is a refreshingly “lusty” woman which really balances well with her very proper persona. Did you plan for Alexia to be sexual or did she surprise you?
GC: She definitely surprised me. It was one of those cases when the character’s personality naturally steered her in that direction. Her pragmatic nature and lack of religious influence allowed her to be refreshingly un-Victorian about sex. Also there’s her disreputable father to think on. His journals broadened his young daughter’s mind quite extensively, not to mention her friendship with Lord Akeldama.
LS: When Alexia touches a supernatural and makes him human, if she were to get pregnant, would her child be human? supernatural? preturnatural? Something different all together?
GC: I take the fifth.
LS: But of course, lol. Characters really do take on a life of their own when writing. Did any other characters surprise you?
GC: Constantly. Lyall is always a surprise, Lord Akeldama, never. Ivy has a sudden moment of utter revelation in the third book, and I had no idea Felicity would turn out to be so horrible in the second book.
LS: What do you do when a character “refuses” to do what you want them to?
GC: I haven’t really had that happen yet with this series. Mostly, they do what I want. Sometimes one of them will run away with a scene, then I have to be quite strict and reign them in. That said, often they have a better idea of where things are going than I, so I let them run. I can always go back and edit later, and often they drop a cookie or start a thread that I didn’t realize I would need.
LS: Characters can be so smart sometimes. Do you have a favorite character? A least favorite one?
GC: I vacillate. I love Lyall because he is such a sweetheart and he has hidden depths. Lord Akeldama is easy to write. Tunstell, Ivy, and Lord Akeldama’s boys are all scene stealers. Madame Lefoux is a challenge. Alexia always has something snarky to say so she can voice the things others don’t dare to. Lord Maccon can be so endearingly buffoonish. I suppose, I like each one best when they are being the most extreme version of themselves, so it’s situationally dependent. I dislike each one when they are behaving out of character and I can’t figure out why.
LS: There’s just so much to love about your world and characters. How many books do you have planned for the series?
GC: Again, I must take the fifth.
LS: Again? I suppose. Can you tell use when will the third installment come out? Is there anything you can share with us about it?
GC: September, eep! It’s a bit more of a high flying adventure than the other two. You’re going to learn a lot more about what it means to be a preternatural, and there are Italians in nightgowns, and a man with a gun that shoots sea cucumbers.
LS: What’s not to love about that! Another thing I love is the “paper doll” game on the Orbit website. Will we get any additional characters to dress? Perhaps Ivy and her hats? Is there any chance they’ll make it an iPhone app? I’d never get anything done if they did.
GC: I love it too. I want them to do Lord Akeldama. Ivy would be awesome also. I would love it as an iPhone app, but I don’t know if they’ll do it. Would be pretty darn cool.
LS: Do you have any other projects in the works?
GC: I’ve a short non-fiction piece on steampunk fashion out in the VanderMeer’s new anthology, Steampunk Reloaded, this October. A short story in the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance II. Apart from that, nothing I can talk about . . . yet.
LS: Thank you so much for coming on today! It’s been a pleasure having you on and I can’t thank you enough for kicking off our Steampunkapalooza.
Now, on to the important stuff. One lucky poster will win a copy of Gail Carriger’s Changeless. You get one entry for for posting a comment. You also can get an additional entry for Blogging/facebooking/tweeting/posting about Gail’s visit/steampunkapalooza will also earn you an additional entry (but, please, don’t spam. When in doubt, leave it out) Let us know where you posted.
You can also earn an additional entry for joining the Steamed facebook group or the Parasol Protectorate facebook group (or both for two entries). If you’re already a fan let us know as well so you can get your extra entries as well.
Winner will be chosen by random. The contest closes Sunday, April 4th at midnight PST and I’ll post the winner on or around Monday, April 5th. **UPDATED*** I’ll post the winner on Tuesday, April 6th at the beginning of our day’s post–featuring the art of <a href=http://www.strangling.com> Jasmine Becket-Griffith and a chance to win a signed print.
Stay tuned all month long for special guests, prizes, and mayhem. Don’t forget to join us tomorrow, Friday, April 2nd, when Dracula Clothing comes to visit. Saturday, April 3rdfor YA Author Shelley Adina as she blogs about her adventures in making a bustled petticoat. On Sunday, April 4 th we’re announcing a contest where you can win $150 GC to super fab Steampunk clothier Clockwork Couture. Donna from Clockwork Couture will be blogging on Steampunk fashion on Monday, April 5 th.