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Posts Tagged ‘interviews’

Today we have guest blogger Ramon Fagan.

Ramon Fagan, LCSW (aka “Admiral” Ramon Leon del Mar) writes articles and reviews for Convention Fans Blog Magazine and for 6 different online Steampunk magazines as well as for his own personal blog at http://artofsteampunk.blogspot.com

Interview With Airship Isabella: Their Past, Present, and Future

by Ramon Fagan

Airship Isabella has become quite a sensation as a Steampunk Performance Art Airship in Texas, the surrounding states, and at many conventions throughout the country. This has happened in an amazingly short amount of time through hard work and consistent effort to perform and spend time with fans at all the conventions. They also are willing to go to conventions too remote to generally receive a visit from say, “The League of Steam”. Airship Isabella has built a great fan base and has risen to the point where they can expect to be welcomed as one of the Guest Celebrity Groups at any convention or event they choose to attend in little over a year. They state in a “You tube” video their intention to help others that want to break out of the chains on people’s minds and lives that are imposed by large corporations set to make a profit at any cost. In spite of how well known and popular they have become there are still many questions that remain unanswered about where they came from and where they are headed, so this blogger set about to put before them a rather lengthy list of questions that focus heavily on the character acting aspects of their work. Most groups would simply use such a list as an unusually guest friendly situation where there were enough questions to answer the ones that were most comfortable and ignore the rest, but in their usual fashion, Captain Whittaker and his other half Amelia answered every question put before them quite candidly. I learned that they gathered many or most of the Airship family about them, (including Captain Delacru and the crew of their sister ship the Neo Dulcimer) to read the list of questions and get general feedback and suggestions before writing an answer to each. The list is long enough that it will be offered to several Steampunk Magazines as smaller topographical groups of interview questions with answers, but the interview will appear in it’s entirety only on the Convention Fans Blog Magazine website.

 1. What was your first exposure to Steampunk as an actual subculture. (as opposed to say Steampunk movies or fiction books)

Ikkicon IV, officially. But even then we didn’t necessarily see it as a subculture, but more as an aesthetic movement. Events of that weekend did, however, cement in our minds that there was a definite attitude about steampunk, specifically that it was a snobby, elitist white movement that we wanted nothing to do with. We also realized that weekend that there were many people in the steampunk movement that wanted to see that change. As we started talking to people, we made it our personal mission to change that attitude and belief. A lot of our personal philosophies of what the steampunk subculture is and should be developed out of that convention and grew as we realized there were many other groups with the same ideas.

2. When did you first encounter people in steampunk attire that was distinctive enough to really draw attention and what effect did it have on you?

In the Summer of 2008, we had a friend who called us and said “I found your people!” She told us to look up steampunk on the internet, and we were immediately enthralled. I had been wearing the Victorian “goth” style since the 80’s and hadn’t really given it up. Steampunk was a natural evolution and was beautiful. We were members of the Burning Flipside community at the time, and decided to do a steampunk-based theme camp, specifically, we decided to build a two story “airship” dance camp. It eventually wound up in my front yard as a 50’ X 20’ two story structure that appeared at Flipside 2009, and we called it Airship Isabella.

3. When did you first decide to develop a fictional Steampunk Character Personae, and what do you think motivated you to do so.

We first decided to build characters after Flipside 2009. Originally, it was just and extension of the inspiration that the steampunk aesthetic had infused within us. Then it developed into who we would be within the crew, and grew from there.

4. What prompted your choices in development of your personal character?

We based most of our characters on the people portraying them. It’s always easier to act as someone you truly understand. So most of the characters are bigger than life versions of ourselves. We have our vampires and a clockwork doll, but mostly it’s just us on steroids.

5. At what point did this Steampunk Personae become more than just a guide for wardrobe development and begin to be a character you acted out or used as a personality pattern to guide your responses or behaviors in a public setting.

From the very beginning. The personae were developed specifically for crowd interaction and performance, so it’s always been our goal to have them be dynamic characters. Before we started the circuit we had about two months of twice a week character building and acting classes. It wasn’t enough. But the characters are always growing. It was last summer that they started having a life of their own.

6. As you and your crew are best known for expertise in the creation of fabulous Steampunk Ensembles, accessories, and weapons, and for running panels/teaching classes about these skills, what would you like to share about background or previous experiences that you think helped you to develop these talents in steampunk design and fabrication?

Captain Whittaker apprenticed as a leather worker and chainmailler as a teenager and young adult in the SCA. Most of the skills he uses in building his armor come from there. He just recently began apprenticing again with an armorer. Amelia started sewing doll clothes at 4 and it has been a lifelong passion. We have quite a few incredibly talented artists. Amarante, Lulu, Captain Delacru and of course, Jonsey, have backgrounds in art. Mostly, though, all it takes is a desire to learn and create, and a willingness to practice and keep trying.

7. When and with what basic plan did you decide to make character acting in a public setting a significant part of your steampunk existence? Or if you do not do character acting much at this point, what other roles do you most often perform in the crew.

We have always wanted to have character play an important part in our crew. The biggest issue you are going to have, and we did have, in performing original characters is that it takes time for people to get to know your characters. We generally don’t have an hour or two with people in seats to build character and storyline. So, you have to do the leg work in advance and have distinctive appearance cues to help people enter that suspended reality.

The full article can be found at http://conventionfansblog.com

Learn more about Airship Isabella. 

–Ramon Fagan, http://artofsteampunk.blogspot.com

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First off, there’s still time to register for my writing YA class, which starts Feb. 14th. Details here.

Second off, I have the winners of the two copies of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1. The winners are…

Alden Ash and Heather Hiestand

Alden and Heather please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize. Winners of Anya Bast’s Raven’s Quest will be anounced Monday.

Today we welcome Middle Grade Author David Burton who’s going to tell us about his new steampunk adventure for kids, Scourge (and giveaway some copies, too.)

ScourgeFirst, can you tell us a little about yourself and your latest steampunk creation?

Gladly! I was born in Windsor, Ontario (just across the river from Detroit) to parents who encouraged me to read from a very young age. I graduated from the University of Toronto with a major in Biology and a minor in Classical Civilization. I currently live near Toronto with my same-sex partner and our three boys (we adopted three brothers three years ago). And we have one basset hound that keeps us all in check. 🙂

Scourge is a middle-grade (ages 9-12) novel that is the first in a series. It centers around a young boy and his family that travel to the world of Verne. Naturally, there are dirigibles, goggles (my favorite part!), and absinth.

Here’s the blurb and the book trailer:

Two dads, five siblings, and goggles!

Grim Doyle has always known his life was not exactly “normal”, and things get even more curious when he discovers a set of stones that sweep him and his family to the fantasy, steampunk world of Verne – a place they had escaped from years ago. Now that they’ve returned, Grim and his siblings hide from the evil Lord Victor and his minions. And while learning about Jinns, Mystics, and the power of absinth they try to discover who is trying to kill them with the deadly Scourge.

Why did you choose steampunk as a genre?

For most of my life I would have considered myself more of a fantasy reader/writer. But looking back, prior to adopting our children I was a Final Fantasy addict for two decades, so a steampunk influence has been in my life a long time. In fact, that’s probably the greatest influence when it comes to this book (other than my boys, that is!). When we adopted our boys I watched what really got them hooked and that’s when I realized that I should go back to my roots and not focus solely on fantasy as a genre. Incorporating steampunk with fantasy was the perfect mix and it really allowed me to stretch my imagination for this series.

Why did you write it for middle grade?

There are great works out there in the YA category: Boneshaker, The Windup Girl, Leviathan, Soulless (and thankfully because of these, I think the steampunk genre is really taking off), but there isn’t as much in the middle-grade arena. Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is wonderful, but I thought there needed to be more. Fortunately, the voice of the narrative seemed to come out in a middle-grade format when I started writing it, so it worked out well.

Can you share with us a scene from Scourge?

Here’s a scene when Grim takes it upon himself to try to find a cure for the Scourge:

The streets were bare. The lampposts gave off a bluish-white light that reflected off the slickened streets. The moisture in the air settled into Grim’s bones. There were no moons or stars in the sky. The thick cloud cover had taken care of that. Yet despite the lack of life on the street, Grim couldn’t help but feel that there was something there, watching him. He looked for the strange bird that he had seen across the street, or the cloaked man.

There was nothing.

He stopped. A couple of sewer rats scampered across the road behind him. An alley cat, or maybe it was Pringles, was perched upon a steel railing. It paid him no heed, more interested in the rats.

Grim moved on, determined to make haste. He pulled his jacket about him to ward off the night’s chill. Three small dirigibles sped overhead.

He looked at the street signs, one at a time, yet none were Absolution Street. And none of the buildings had signs that read The Green Fairy.

Grim ducked into an alley at the sound of something coming up the street. One pair of boots and a walking stick that tapped the ground at a hurried pace. He stuffed himself between some old crates that smelled like bad cabbage and waited.

The footsteps turned into the alley towards him, and Grim shuffled back, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever was coming. All he could see were shiny boots and a pointed walking stick.

Grim turned and ran, twisting and winding through alleys. The footsteps continued behind him.

The passageways funneled Grim between large buildings, yet never seemed to lead him anywhere, or at least not to any street. It became a maze of darkened laneways and slippery cobblestone corridors. He tried various doors.

All locked.

The footsteps quickened. Grim ran, his feet sliding.

Until finally he came upon a door. On it was a metal emblem of a girl with emerald wings.

He yanked on it, and it opened.

Then a large, meaty hand reached out and tugged Grimwald Doyle inside.

Billy BonesSo what’s next for you?

Currently, I’m working on another children’s novel that I’m posting live at my blog as I write it called Billy Bones: Beyond the Grave. I’m also releasing a paranormal romance novel in the spring titled Broken, and I have a dark fantasy novel I released last year called The Second Coming. Naturally, I’m trying to work in the next of the Grim Doyle series as well. 🙂

You’re offering to do a giveaway. Can you tell us about that?

At my site, I offer an electronic version (ebook) of my novels with a dedication page, addressed to the purchaser, that is autographed by me. I also substitute the name of one of the minor characters in the book with the name of the purchaser. It makes for a unique version of the book for those that want it. So I’ll be giving away 3 of these for Scourge. I’ll let you handle the rules for the giveaway. 🙂
Good luck to those that enter, and thanks so much for having me here!!

Cheers!

David
http://davidhburton.com

Want to win one of three of these unique ebooks (for you or someone else)? Just comment here and three lucky people will be chosen at random. Open internationally. Contest closes Sunday, Feb 20th. 2011 at midnight PST. Good luck!

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I had the opportunity to interview Ben Winters, author of such mashup novels from Quirk such as Android Karenina and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Here’s the book trailer for “Android Karenina.” In case you missed our recent book review, it’s a “mashup” where Ben has taken the text of Tolstoy’s classic and Steampunked it.

Q&A with Author Ben Winters

Lolita Suzanne: Hi Ben! Thank you so much for agreeing to visit us.

Ben Winters: Oh, my pleasure! Thanks for having me!

LS: So, Ben, have you always wanted to be a writer?

BW: Oh, sure, although my original ambitions were mostly geared writing for performance. I was always in bands, writing lyrics, and after college I spent some time doing mostly mediocre standup comedy; eventually I ended up as a journalist, and spent half a decade or so writing for the theater. These days my primary focus is on fiction.

LS: How did you get into writing mash-ups? What are the unique challenges to this particular genre that you wouldn’t find in say…urban fantasy?

BW: I got into mash-ups by the most wonderful serendipity imaginable. I was living in Philadelphia for one year, about four years ago, for reasons having to do with my wife’s career. Our little apartment in Old City, on Church Street, was across the street from a small publisher called Quirk Books.

I pitched one thing they didn’t take; edited a book for them that never got published, and finally ended up writing a bunch of the Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide books for them. So when Quirk needed a writer to follow up on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they brought me in to do Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. It was such a blast to write, I was delighted when they were interested in having me do another.

LS: But Steampunk Tolstoy? Really? How did you come up with that? They seem to be worlds apart. What came first–the Steampunk or the Tolstoy?

BW: Actually, Tolstoy is more steampunk than you might think. At least, his work is obsessed with the ways the new technologies of his time were changing the landscape of society. Interestingly, at one point in Anna Karenina, Anna refers to her cold, uncaring husband as “a machine.” So all I did was amplify an existing theme of the book: how technology is this powerful, violent force, which can make our lives vastly easier and/or destroy us all.

LS: Are you a Steampunk fan? A Tolstoy fan? What research did you have to do in writing this book?

BW: Oh, I’ve always loved Tolstoy. I first read Anna as well as War and Peace while in college. My favorite is a smaller book, one of his first, called Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. It’s one of those books where you read it and feel like everything he’s describing — about growing up, about family, and first love, all of it — he somehow got into your head and plucked out directly.

Before this project, i was familiar with steampunk more as an sartorial/design concept, rather than as a literary genre, but I’ve now had ample opportunity to study and appreciate the whole incredible culture. I went to the Steampunk World’s Fair to do a reading, and I was just blown away by the range of imagination on display, from the gleefully silly to the grim and dark. I’m a big fan of speculative fiction in general — the idea of tugging on one strand of history and seeing how the tapestry is altered.

LS: How long did it take you to write Android Karenina?

BW: Oh, about a year. Including months of — sorry, this was actually your last question — reading: reading and re-reading the original text a lot, but also immersing myself in great sci-fi, everything from Isaac Asimov to Philip K. Dick to Iain Banks to Battlestar Galactica.

LS: Can you tell me about how (and why) you conceived the “Iron Laws of Robot Behavior?” I have to say those made me very happy. 🙂 Did you come up with them before you wrote the story? Or did they emerge as you crafted it?

BW: Hmmm — I think they emerged as I was writing. The Iron Laws are obviously an homage to Asimov, who was (like Tolstoy!) deeply interested in the relationship between man and technology.

I was interested, as legions of sci-fi writers have been before me, in the question of how we can create super-intelligent, human-like machines, without running the risk of rebellion. With all the corollary questions such as, How do we treat them humanely? How much responsibility can we give them? What does it do to our own “humanness” to rely on human-like machines? And etc.

LS: So…how much has Asimov influenced you? What other authors do you admire? What sort of books do you read?

BW: Allow me to be totally obnoxious and answer with a link; I did this blog post for Quirk about my influences in writing the book

LS: Can you tell us what’s next? Cyberpunk Dickens perhaps?

BW: Well, I know Quirk has plans to continue the series, but I’m taking a breather from mash-up land. My next book is a young adult novel about a punk-rock Band and a Chorus teacher.

LS: Congrats on the YA book. It’s always nice to have other young adult writers on.

BW: And for the record, I wouldn’t mash-up Charles Dickens with a ten foot masher-upper stick. His work is already so heightened in so many ways, it would be foolhardy to add a new, over-the-top concept to it.

LS: Hmmm….I keep having visions of Fagin and his thieves with green mohawks, motorcycles, and bionic limbs….

Thank you so much for visiting Steamed!, Ben. We appreciate you taking the time to visit us.

BW: Happy to be here! Please let your readers know how much I’ve enjoyed getting to play in the steampunk universe.

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