Chris-Rachael Oseland has written a number of books in different genres. I had the chance to interview her for an article about her Steampunk Book, 101 Steampunk Cocktails and Mixed Drinks: SteamDrunks
Hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I did 😀
Q: What was your introduction to Steampunk, your ‘awakening moment’?
A: Honestly, I never had an “ah-ha!” moment. I’m a second generation SF fan, which means I’ve been going to conventions since I was in junior high. Cosplay trends are cyclical. For example, SCA/Ren Faires were all the rage in the 90’s. Pirates became super popular in the early 2000’s (in part because you could re-use some of your existing medieval pieces). Now, Pirates are more of your dad (or granddad’s) cosplay. Bits of the steampunk aesthetic have crept in here and there for years. Around six or seven years ago, matte white and shiny silver gradually gave way to earth tones and bronze. It felt natural, cyclical, like a response to all that white plastic and shiny metal. Now it was time to whip out your old “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr” DVD’s and dress up as something from a whole new era. I’d say the steampunk trifecta of goggles, tentacles, and the color brown hit a critical mass about five or six years ago. It quickly became one of my favorite forms of cosplay. Even if you’re dressed as a grease monkey or a thug, there’s something elegant about it. I love the fact that, unlike comic or anime cosplay, people of any size can look really impressive in a Steampunk costume.
Q:You’ve a number a of books for purchase on Amazon.com in different genres.
Where did you start your publishing career?
A: Believe it or not, writing is my day job. I’m currently the Technology and Geek Life reporter for The Austin Post. Let me tell you, that’s a rare and coveted position, and I feel incredibly lucky and grateful. Before joining The Austin Post I wrote for a good assortment of websites and ghost writing clients. I’ve paid the bills as a professional writer since 2009.
When I got into indie publishing, I waffled a lot on whether or not to set up a bunch of different pen names for specific markets. After all, I have everything from cookbooks to dating books to short stories. Now, I also have my first illustrated children’s picture book, “Counting With Tesla.” I decided to go ahead and keep them all under one name because they’re united by my overwhelming geekery. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to see how SteamDrunks and Where to Find Geek Girls are related.
Q: What drew you to the concept of writing a drink mixing book for Steampunk?
A: You can blame Absinthe.
I know it has a sexy reputation, and everyone loves the color, but the stuff tastes like ouzo strained through a homeless guy’s socks. Not only was it vile, but for a good long while, it was everywhere. If you wanted to prove your Steampunk drinking cred, you brought a bottle of absinthe to a party, melted some sugar in a spoon, and make a big production out of serving it. So I did a little research into what else people were drinking. That led to a lot of research into Victorian drinking habits. It was one heck of a fascinating rabbit hole. I had to share what I’d learned.
Q: Beyond the recipes for the drinks you have included a lot of history for the different drinks and customs. Have you always enjoyed research?
A: I love it. My MA is in History, which is really just an excuse for obsessive reading and research, at the end of which you have a captive audience who has to read your paper on the subject. The fun thing about SteamDrunks was getting to be snarky and opinionated.
Early on, I listened to a few people who told me to cut all the damn history and just give them a recipe. No one wants to read all that crap, I was told. So for my second cocktail book, Bad Girl’s Boba, I stripped the recipes down to the absolute basics. Here’s a list of ingredients and how to mix them. I waffled a lot on editing SteamDrunks, but eventually let it slide in favor of working on new books. It’s a good thing. A year later, the Amazon reviewers positively gush about the snark and history in SteamDrunks. That seems to be half the reason people buy the book. Meanwhile, the anime themed Bad Girls Boba sells maybe two copies a month. I love the fact that people really get into the history portion of the recipes.
As a Special Favor, Chris-Rachael has given me permission to post one of her receipts along with her answers –
4 shots cold, Black Tea
1 1/2 shots Dark Rum
1/2 shot Dark Creme de Cacao
2 tsp Sugar
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Sugar is not a friend to cold drinks. Classy people with a bit of free time resort to simple syrups. Lazy people with a bit of muscle just put everything in a cocktail shaker and attempt to beat an invisible leviathan to death.
If you want to take the simple syrup route, mix the tea, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir well. Continue stirring until the sugar has entirely melted and the mix has lost all graininess. Now let it cool, add your rum and Creme de Cacao, and serve in a highball glass full of ice.
For the faster muscle bound route, add all your ingredients to a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake with a worrisome power and vigor, then strain into a highball glass full of ice. Your drink will be grainier than the simple syrup version, so you might as well drink two to make up for it. You won’t notice as much difference when quaffing the second drink.