Aloha from the Sandwich Islands… from the Hawaiian Kingdom!
Back in the Victorian Era, Hawaii was it’s own kingdom. And much of its distinction as a melting pot began, in my opinion, during that ‘Victorian’ Era. And one of the biggest reasons for the influx of immigrants was the Sugar Plantations. Oh, Hawaii has had other plantations, including cotton and pineapples, but Sugar was literally king.
When a new race of immigrants came over to work in the plantations they lived in designated areas among others of their race. Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and more found their way to the shores of the Hawaiian Kingdom and found a home grouped in little clusters of single story cottages. I have a direct connection to that history as some of my ancestors arrived in Hawaii for the express purpose of working in the sugar fields.
So, what does this all have to do with ‘My Favorite Things’ in Steampunk? Well, inspiration of course! I love to use Hawaii’s history and that of my family, and bring it to blend and cogitate (if you will) in the mind of my muse. In an upcoming story, set for an anthology I am very privileged to be a part of, I brought together a group of men from a number of different ethnic groups to stop a catastrophe from happening during the time of King David Kalakaua. Their cultures, languages, and experiences, rather than driving a wedge between them, their differences provide the missing pieces to a solution that otherwise would have been out of their reach.
My knowledge of the History of Hawaii is by no means perfect… I’ve spent many an hour in the State Archives, the Mission Library, and Bishop Museum adding to the tidbits of information filed away in my grey matter and file folders in my computer. I’ve also been an interpreter at several historical sites in Downtown Honolulu. All of those facts jumbled in my head, it’s not an easy place to navigate, but you can find some crazy stuff tucked in the corners if you dare to look.
While Steampunk is an alternate reality/history of the Victorian Era, history can be the rich fertile soil for so many stories.
What events in history inspire you?
(Pictures are property of Ray Dean and come from behind the scenes of the film Picture Bride)