International Question and Answer Roundtable!
First, I’d like to thank the wonderful folks who took the time to answer my questions.
I wanted to focus on their whole experience in Steampunk.
We have so much information that I am going to break this up so that you don’t have a numb backside after you finish reading. Or maybe if you’d like one… you are welcome to take your time reading every word with great care.
What have you enjoyed the most about the last year in Steampunk?
Sally-Ann: For me, it has been all about the supportive, co-creative people that have crossed my path, not least working alongside my brother Matt of ArcaneArmoury. The Aether Nomad Project has become, with the help and creativity of my fellow admin and group members, a distinctive and growing gift to the Steampunk community. That is what has given me the most joy – taking a little idea of mine and sharing it with others until it has become something of a sub-genre, albeit in its infancy.
Davide: I’m not much for big events and crowds, and I am basically a word-monkey, so I enjoyed in 2014 what I’ve been enjoying in the last few years, really: the increasing amount of excellent fiction that’s being published both traditionally and by author/publishers. It’s great to see that the boundaries of the genre are being expanded constantly.
Karen: The Railway Museum approached the local steampunk community to participate in its inaugural Steampunk Expo at the museum. We were invited to attend in steampunk attire, bring our cameras and take advantage of the steam trains, carriages and station set-up. A few merchants sold steampunk trinkets; there was an art exhibition and Archers Arcadia – a display of Victorian arcade games and automania. It was well received by the general public and is now planned as an annual event.
Paulo: A lot of things happened last year in the Steampunk scene, however I think there were two things: Steampunk Hands Around The World, because I met more people involved in the Steampunk from different countries; and the nomination of El Investigador Magazine for the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Awards.
Josue: After the first Steampunk Hands I learn a lot about multicultural Steampunk and how I can develop Steampunk in my culture and my country. That was the best.
Jaymee: Unfortunately, much of my year last year was involved in explaining Steampunk to not-Steampunk people. However, I have met Madeleine Holly-Rosing, of Boston Metaphysical Society fame, and she was terrific. This year’s “Witty Women of Steampunk” panel at San Diego Comic Con was also quite excellent, but I am totally biased because Ay-Leen the Peacemaker (of BeyondVictoriana.com) and Claire Hummel (of Bioshock: Infinite) were there. I also had the chance to meet Dr. Dru Pagliassotti, author of what is perhaps the one of the first truly-cannot-really-stick-a-proper-label-but-Steampunk novel on the market, Clockwork Heart. The release of Steampunk World and putting together The Sea Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia were also personal highlights.
Suna: 2014 was a year of collaborations: A short story podcast for Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine’s ‘Tales from the Archives’ anthologies. A contribution to ‘The Steampunk User’s Manual’ by Jeff Vandermeer and Desirina Boskovich. Working with Yomi Ayeni of ‘The Clockwork Watch Transmedia Experience’ by participating in two interactive events at the National Maritime Museums in Greenwich, London. I had the opportunity to speak publicly on MultiCulturalism and LGBT topics in Steampunk, for instance at the Glasgow School of Art and on a Pride Scotia panel which addressed LGBT women’s positions in the Creative Industries. Getting to know and working with all these different people was a true pleasure.
The collaborations highlighted several things for me: that the writing community within Steampunk is extremely supportive. That Steampunk is a great platform for combining information with playfulness and that multiculturalism and diversity in Steampunk are still not entirely solid, but most definitely growing.
Kevin: The thing I’ve enjoyed the most this last year is seeing how Steampunk kept growing in multiple expressions, channels, and venues. There are more individuals, groups, and businesses creating new things and experiences with a Steampunk aesthetic.
There were new web series like Progress and Felix Blithedale
New conventions around the world.
New books, blogs, music, and artwork.
There were business that opened up with Steampunk décor, and existing establishments which redecorated with a Steampunk theme.
Arthur: I’ve enjoyed the fact that the french community is going more diverse. That it is not only in Paris, that it is growing and there are a lot of new faces and that the community can do great things (like the crowdfunding to make Abney Park play in Paris). A lot of great stuff happened and I’m waiting for what will come in 2015
Kenneth: I have had a lot of fun involving myself with the local Steampunk community here in New York City. I attended a great event Steampunk Unlimited at the 19th century railroad in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.
What do you have in the plans for 2015?
Sally-Ann: Developing my Etsy shop and The AN Project in parallel.
Davide: Work-wise, lots of writing. A huge game design project that will be focused on the creation of a cross-cultural Steampunk universe. The project was pitched in November 2014 and officially launched in February 2015. By this summer I’ll hopefully have something to show. Leisure-wise, more reading.
Karen: I am currently finishing rewrites on my first steampunk/gaslamp novella and plan to publish it, with three short stories, as The Adventures of Viola Stewart. I am also planning a new outfit…
Paulo: It seems a very active year. Dring February the third volume of “Ácronos” will be published, this is an anthology that I’ve been co-editing along with Josué Ramos from Spain, also I do participate as a writer. Besides, a story of mine based on the battle of May the 5th will be published by Nevsky in “The Best of Spanish Steampunk” which will be digital and in English. Of course I also have to finish the novella I’m already writing too. But specially I’m working in a project that I pretend to finish soon, I think is kind of ambitious so then better take it step by step.
Josue: I will try to publish a new steampunk novel and one or two steampunk anthologies.
The most important step I want to take is to publish a few short tales in English. I included “The Mechanical Flower” in The Best of Steampunk Spanish (Nevsky, 2015). So, this year started quite well.
And, of course, I have plans to run more events this year. We have plans for a new edition of EuroSteamCon this fall, which we are already preparing.
Jaymee: I will be returning to the convention circuit! (Steampunk cons, take note! I am based in the Southern California area, but will travel.) I am also fundraising, marketing and generally preparing for The Sea Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia this coming Fall. I do also have a new short story to write that’s long in coming, and revising a Steampunk romance novel.
I am also writing a dissertation on Steampunk, continuing my work from my MA into my PhD. In March I will present a paper on Steampunk Mad Scientists at the International Conference of the Fantastic Arts. It shan’t be anything fancy, just an exploration of the Steampunk mad scientist figures I see crop up the most and following an essay that I read recently categorizing them.
Suna: In daily life, I divide my time between writing, film and music. I will be submitting stories to two Steampunk projects. I will continue work on expanding the Steampunk India universe with short fiction and an accompanying book. There is also a new online project which launches in March. I will be providing content and articles on Steampunk and various other geek culture topics. Non-Steampunk: The film company I work with is working on our Indie features. The singer/songwriter I am a backing vocalist for is releasing her next album on the 20th of March. We are in the studio putting the finishing touches to it. We also run a music agency that focuses on female artists and we are working with three new talented ladies.
Kevin: It’s going to be more of the usual for me – interviewing the creators in out community, relaying the news and information happening each week, adding videos to YouTube playlists, documenting the people, events, and artifacts of our ever evolving present and history, appearing as a guest and speaker at conventions and events, and, because there’s always another shiny idea to be entranced by, there’s at least two brand new projects in the steamline which should be publicly announced this spring.
Arthur: I have several plans this year. First concerning books. My new fiction with Etienne Barillier and the photographer Nicolas Meunier will be released in autumn, there will be one or two more publications by 2016.
There will also be the Steampunk evening at the Jules Verne’s House in Amiens on the 13th of june and a big concert on the 17th of october in Lille (the line-up is still to be confirmed). In 2016, I will be releasing my first english work in the US with Selena Chambers.
Kenneth: As a writer, I have a number of works in progress. Most of the stuff I’ve written has been on the historical end, that is to say what we might call “Low Steampunk” (to borrow a term from the Fantasy genre), stories that occur in this world; I am branching out into the more fantastic, tales that take place in another world, “High Steampunk”.
What aspects of the Steampunk culture do you participate in and enjoy?
Sally-Ann: It all began with putting a costume together and creating a character – The Navigatrix, out of which was borne the shop TheNavigatrix. I make upcycled jewelry and accessories. When I am am making each unique piece, a snippet of story often sneaks into my head and finds its way into the item descriptions. That is how the Aether Nomads were created. So, I create one-off pieces of Steampunk adornment, I have a costume (I’m an experienced Live Roleplayer anyway!) and inadvertently, I have found myself both writing and modelling my own creations.
Davide: I’m mostly a writer and a blogger, so that’s what I do. This year for the first time I’ll also start teaching writing classes, and Steampunk is likely to be part of the subjects we’ll discuss.I am artistically helpless, and can’t sketch to save my life, and that’s something I’m trying to improve right now. Who knows, in twenty years or something, I might end up doing Steampunk graphics, too.
Karen: I have been costuming since 1980, and steampunk costuming since 2007. Each year, our house is infused with more Victoriana. I tinker with steampunk art. My passion is writing.
Paulo: I participate mostly as a promoter and writer, as much as articles as fiction.
Josue: Writing and running events. Besides, I work with some publishers as editor.
I tried to make gadgets in my first years; but I’m too clumsy… LOL
Jaymee: I am primarily an academic (my Master’s thesis, Chromatic Chronologies: Using the Steampunk Aesthetic for Postcolonial Purposes, is available as a PDF) and fictioneer. For a very long time, I operated as a Steampunk activist, focusing on anti-racism; my blog is filled with critiques of the community. I do have outfits, but most of them are also my daily wear!
Suna: My main focus is on writing Indian Steampunk fiction at the moment. I am extremely fond of meeting people, dressing in costume and participating in events, but due to an uncooperative schedule this doesn’t occur very often!
Kevin: The most seen parts of what I’m involved in would be blogging, social media news feed, public speaking, and adding the next most fabulous coat to my ensemble. Since I’m all about information, I am also contacted frequently with questions, requests, and calls for assistance.
Arthur: I’m deeply involved in writing and conferences everywhere in France. I also write Steampunk LARPs.
Kenneth: I write. My everyday dress is also fairly Steampunk along Weird Western lines.
Have you found that an aspect of your Steampunk life has fallen at the wayside?
Sally-Ann: Over the past two years I have been faced with a health challenge – Functional Neurological Disorder, on the spectrum of CFS/ME – and so although nothing about my Steampunk life has fallen by the wayside, I’ve not done as much with my business or the ANProject as I would have liked. However, doing this has been something of a saving grace, keeping me motivated and passionate. I’ve had to temporarily put my home-based holistic therapy practice on hold in order to look after my own health, but this is something flexible and fun that I can still do.
Davide: In the last few years I certainly reduced my interaction with the local steampunk community – what with not being into cosplay and not liking crowds and events. That’s something I somewhat compensated with online activities, but the scale and scope is simply different; I’d really like to become more active in the local community, but I can’t see that happening very soon.
Karen: My everyday clothing has morphed back toward the jeans and t-shirt of my University days. My 2014/2015 mission: I am gradually finding more steampunk inspired pieces in second hand stores and hope to regain some steampunk chic in my everyday life.
Paulo: Yes, I guess the Steampunk persona I began with and the modification of toy guns and making props had fallen at the wayside.
Right now I guess I would like to take back Steampunk outfits for Cons and gatherings, not as a character but as the right outfit for the right moment and place. Sometimes I would also like to focus with the modding but have a lot of things to do that I don’t find the time.
Josue: I worked with Paulo César Ramírez and Mexican Steampunks in El Investigador, the first steampunk magazine written in Spanish. It was great and awesome and I miss it a lot.
We have plans to bring it back but we don’t have the time to do it.
Jaymee: Con-going. Alas, I attend a school that is on the quarter system that goes all the way into mid-June (halfway through convention season!), and alas, I have teaching assistant duties that prevent me from skipping school and gallivanting around the country at will. However, I will be trying my utmost to bring multicultural steampunk out to the SF cons I am able to attend. Also writing fiction, but that’s the way graduate school goes.
Suna: Because I am concentrating on writing, I have not created as much visual content for the Steampunk India website as I would have liked. It is important to illustrate the world I am building by doing photoshoots of some of the characters that could populate a Steampunk India universe. There are two shoots that were postponed last year: one involving a continuation of the series I shot with Kay Singh, where her character will become involved in shady business with two other characters. The other shoot will introduce an entirely new character. Once the Scottish weather becomes a trifle less arctic and I can humanely expose my models to the outdoors, I fully intend to go ahead with these shoots!
Kevin: There are a few activities which have lessened over the years all due to time and effort. I used to read every twitter message with the hashtag #steampunk, but now there are so many, and so many sales posts, that I don’t have enough time to read them all.
Similarly, there’s not enough time for book reading. I do read each ARC sent to me by publishers, and use that to prepare for interviewing the author, but there are still many more books and stories out there that I’ve bought and are waiting patiently in the To Be Read shelves.
Kenneth: I would say no; as a mutli-media artistic movement, Steampunk just continues to grow.
Have you found an aspect of Steampunk life that you’d like to ADD in 2015?
Sally-Ann: I’d love to be able to be more sociable in person. Failing that, I love giving interviews! My dream is that the Aether Nomads and the character of The Navigatrix might one day find their way into a graphic novel, ideally illustrated by Jennie Gyllblad, (of the Clockwork Watch books) who has already done two illustrations for me.
Davide: As I said, I’d like to try my hand at sketching, just for the fun of it. And I think I’ll get more into steampunk-influenced music, in the next few months.
Karen: More gadgets and artwork, and another book for me to write.
Paulo: Since the beginning I realized that the International Steampunk community could make a lot of things together thanks to the media, so I’m sure this 2015 will try to take the most cooperation with Steampunk people around the world I can.
Josue: Since this last year, I’m very interested in pushing the boundaries of Steampunk. I started to do it in my writings; so, I want to keep it in mind.
Jaymee: If there is one I haven’t encountered yet, someone better tell me.
Suna: Well now. Being part of a production company, I would dearly like to make use of the fact that I have all of that glorious equipment, crew and tech at my disposal. If time allows I will absolutely make a Steampunk India short!
Kevin: Nothing so much as ADD but plenty to CONTINUE – The 2015 coat collection has already started. There’s always new artwork I’d like to frame and hang on the walls. There are so many wonderful conventions around the world which I’d truly love to attend. And there are still many, many amazing people in our community that I would like to meet.
Arthur: I should definitely work on a costume, I might be the shame of the French Steampunk community with my two jackets and assorted ties (and my goggles of course).
The Q & A will be continued in another post tomorrow…
Sally-Ann’s photo – Georgina of Nevermora
Karen’s photo – David Ruwoldt Photography
Paulo’s photo – Alex Silver Photography
Josue’s photo – Viktor von Krupp
Jaymee’s photo – Lex Machina Photography
Suna’s photo – Henry Faber
Arthur’s photo – Christopher Mark Perez