The Keeper

I’ve finally decided!

I’m going to write my teens fantasy novel ‘The Keeper’ for Camp Nano. It’s a stand alone novel as far as I can tell so it would be nice to get it written and off my mind before focusing on the other two steampunk novels. The plot will go as follows:

A young girl receives a letter from her estranged father, asking her to meet her at Stonehenge. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to find out where he had been through her life and excited to meet him at last, Tasha makes her way out to meet him. As she arrives, she is met with an elderly gentleman who claims to be her father’s butler, and is led into the circle. She did not expect to see the Gods of Psyturia stood within the stone circle. She is the only remaining heir of Morgana and is bound by her ancestry to become the new Keeper of the Gods. She will be responsible to guarding the Gods of the Psyturia and preventing them from causing harm; which will is bound to put a serious cramp on her social life.

Will she be able to control the ancient deities?
Can she return them to their neutral alliance?
Will they be willing to follow the commands of a mere girl?

More importantly, how does this effect her chances with school heart-throb Jeremy?

 

I’m super excited about this one. The gods are going to be hilarious fun! A Warrior and Defender locked in permanent conflict, a know-it-all god of knowledge that mocks Tasha for her grades, and best of all…and no fantasy novel about gods can be without one….A TRICKSTER GOD! Hurray! Must desperately curb my enthusiasm for Loki and focus on making Tarion his own entity. He’ll most likely end up more like Puck by the end of this…

Know of any other novels I should read for inspiration? I’ve read the first Bartomeus novel which was incredibly entertaining and am making my way through the Dresden Files, so that’s all helpful. Always willing to accept suggestions though!

Turbulent Skies

Hello again my dears,

Just a quick post to say I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED THE FIRST EDIT OF MY NOVEL!

I wrote Turbulent Skies for Nanowrimo last November and have been editing it ever since! 96 pages and 58833 words later, and it is finally in a fairly presentable shape~ 

It will still need quite a bit of work, but at least now I can start sending it off to publishing houses and literary agents! If anyone knows any good contacts they would recommend, get in touch and I’ll look into it. 

Next month is Camp Nano so I’m torn as to whether I should start the sequel to the series or whether I should write the stand alone teen novel I have in mind. What do you guys reckon?

Steampunk shenanigans and sky pirates?
Or a teenage girl getting to grips with her new job as a demon watcher?

Neo-Historical Fashion and Youth Sub-Culture

As some of you may or may not know, I’m currently studying Dystopian Fiction in Post-War Culture for my dissertation topic at university. It’s a fascinating topic and I’m learning loads about the culture of the 1950’s and 1960’s as well as finding a new outlet into science fiction. However, it does lead to a rather disappointing and upsetting analysis of our own modern culture. I’m not saying there is anything particularly wrong with our culture in general, save for a few economic depression issues and a war in the Middle East, we’re doing ok. That is…apart from the social culture of the ‘chav’ and the ‘gangsta’.

One topic within my dissertation looks into the youth violence phenomenon of the 1960’s and gang culture that seemed to rise up at the time. So, I’m looking into the likes of Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Bodgies, Widgies, Stilyagi, Greasers and the like. Which made me realize something. Something upsetting. Something that puts this generation to shame.

We forgot how to look respectable.

Now, I’m not praising these former youth gangs in any way. They were occasionally violent, threatening, anarchistic and in many cases caused a lot of riotous trouble. But at least they knew how to dress themselves!

Teddy Boys were renowned for a neo-edwardian style!
Stilyagi rocked out in jackets and cravats!
Bodgies turned the working-class ‘farmer’ image into an ironically neat-pressed fashion!
Mods followed pop culture fashions with neat, clean cut hemlines!

And don’t get me started on the effort that went into hair!

So what do we have now? Ironic neo-industrial coveralls and bracers to mark the depression? Straight-laced cybernetic style fashion to celebrate the explosion of technological progression in our time? Maybe even Neo-victorianism to mark the second largest scientific progression in history?!

Nope.

We got kids with trousers around their knees and the heart-stopping, terrifying idiom ‘bruh’. 

What the hell happened?

I have my theories. Firstly, pop culture. Rockers and Mods were primarily fueled by the music trends occurring at the time. Greasers followed suit with the rock and roll phenomenon. So, with our music being dominated by ‘wub wub wub’ and ‘talkingsofastaboutgunsandviolencethatyouwon’tevenhearawordofituntilyou’velistenedtoitsomanytimesit’simprintedinyourbrainlikesubliminalmessaging!’ it’s not surprising that our youth culture ended up looking like convicts and drug dealers. It’s not an attack on the music, or our music industry in general (though I do have my issues with them), but simply with the role models that sculpt the behaviour and habits of our youth. Rappers, Gangsters and Thugs seem to be the iconic musical figure….

The whole baggy trousers scenario is the most ridiculous aspect. How on earth could I be intimidated by a kid who might trip over his own waistband at any given second?! What’s worse is that this has been described to me as a prison fashion habit for ‘receivers’ to offer their…uh…’services’ to rather lonely fellow jail-mates. Whether this is true or not is yet to be determined, but now every time I see this absurd fashion trend I can’t help but think they’re offering something they have no idea about…

Maybe I’m a vintage aesthetic fanatic. Maybe I’m just a little too enamored with Victorian fashion. But if Teddy Boys can make Edwardian fashion intimidating and stylish, then why hasn’t culture continued that way. I would much rather be attacked in the night by an Edwardian, braces wearing Droog than by a nappy-waddling, incoherent ‘bruh’. It just has more dignity somehow.

Needless to say, something needs to be done. I don’t care if we need to resort to Hipster vintage (which is, incidentally, very rapidly losing its vintage aesthetic in favour of beanies and big glasses), as long as something is done to provide this generation with a suitable image. Just think, in fifty years time, our predecessors are going to assume that all the belts in the world got used for drug tourniquets or something. I’d rather they looked back and thought, ‘wow, the youth culture back then was pretty awesome’ ……

I can dream.

All Aboard the Party Ship!

Yesterday, I was able to host my first ever Steampunk party!

In lieu of my 21st Birthday celebrations, I was able to host a house party in my uni accommodation for work friends, uni friends and my long-term childhood friends. It was the first time I’d thrown a lot of friends together from different social circles and I was a little nervous about how it was going to go. A lot of my friends have strong personalities and I was worried there might be a few clashes in opinion at some point in the evening and heads might clash a little; not to mention that I was unsure how I’d spread my time amongst all of them equally. 

As it turns out, my friends get along spectacularly!

Gamers were mixing with Literature dorks, childhood friends bonded with my new university friends and found things in common. It was magical. Two of my friends even stayed up till 6am just chatting!

Safe to say it was a success! But the most amazing part was the array of Steampunk characters that came out of the evening.

I myself was dressed in corset and skirt (hitched up as is the style), goggles, faux fur lined gillette and boots. I was Safia Harborne, Navigator for the FHMS Petticoat (formerly the HMS Pinafore) and head of passenger conditions! 

I was joined by Miss Downing (an engineer’s daughter) and her lover Dr Redding. Mr Benson the dock builder, an elusive travelling tincture peddler whose vials of colourful beverages were simply delicious, an assassin whose name shall not be mentioned and Miss Cali Winthrope the daughter of the local dock owner!

If all goes well, I would love to promote some of these friends to crew positions and take them to the Waltz on the Wye festival later this year in Gloucestershire. Which reminds me! Will any of you readers be attending the Waltz on the Wye this year? I would simply love to hear from you: costume ideas, musicians who are playing at the festival, performance ideas, character ideas! Anything! It’d be nice to discuss and even nicer to meet up at the Waltz!!

I also received some simply marvelous gifts! My friends really do know me too well~ I was given an inflatable turret from Portal, the Valve collection of graphic novels, a companion cube cookie jar from Portal, an Air Kraken pendant and The Meowmorphosis (parody of Metamorphosis). I loved them and couldn’t believe I’d received such fantastic gifts. 

I love my friends.

 

Have any of you held a steampunk themed party? 
Pictures will follow as soon as possible!!

Coming of Age in the Most Grand of Fashions

Hello again my dears,I must apologize for my delayed posting but the last weekend has been simply chaos. I have finally turned 21! Not only that, but my family and friends have made it the best birthday yet!! How? A few things:

1) I went home last weekend expecting the usual little buffet that my family put on; sandwiches, family popping in to say Happy Birthday and a few cakes. Instead, I came home to find an envelope addressed to myself by the door. On the back was written ‘Bring a Hat’ and inside sat a beautiful invitation card, decorated with a picture of myself in my steampunk attire super-imposed into a Wonderland scene, inviting me to a Mad Tea Party that was to be held on Sunday 3rd March for my 21st. 
Words failed me. 
I’ve always loved the Wonderland stories and was particularly fond of the Mad Tea Party chapter in particular. So, to have my own Mad Tea Party to celebrate my birthday was just the most perfect idea. 

2) In addition to having a Mad Tea Party, I was aware that my mum would be baking some sort of decorative cake (she runs a home-based bakery and her cakes are simply amazing). So, it wasn’t surprising when I found I was banned from the kitchen for a day. Knowing, as I did, that the party was Wonderland themed, I made guesses at the theme of the cake: A cake in the shape of a hat perhaps, maybe a clock? 
When at last, the cake was done, I was allowed to enter the kitchen to see it. Not the hat or clock I had been expecting, but instead the most amazing cake consisting of two tiers. Tier 1 was the large, rounded figure of the Cheshire Cat (Disney edition, naturally) and upon his back was tier 2, a bright green Hatter’s hat (complete with 10/6 tag). And to top it all off, there was a tiny little Alice falling down a rabbit hole into the top of the hat. I was dumbstruck! 
It was the most amazing cake I had ever seen, let alone been given.
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3) Continuing with the Wonderland theme, my parents also knew just how much I adored the world of steampunk. Being the geniuses that they are, they found a way to combine the two. One of the first presents I received was a small silver bag; inside sat a beautiful silver pocket-watch with a royal flush cards charm attached to the ring at the top. 
This was not the only pocket-watch I received. A friend of mine from work knew that my old pocket-watch had broken (the spring inside is uncoiling so it doesn’t wind up properly anymore) and was darling enough to buy me a new one. A gorgeous brassy coloured watch with a lovely Victorian floral design on the front. I loved it!
One can never have too many pocket-watches!
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4) The Grand Finale!
Today marks the day in which madness ensues! I am holding a party for my work friends and uni companions (as they weren’t able to come to the Mad Tea Party). The theme? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Steampunk!!
It sounds like everyone has had some amazing costume ideas and have started to put their persona bios on the facebook event page. I shall be Safia Harborne, navigator for the FHMS Petticoats (Formerly the HMS Pinafore)! My latest achievements have been managing to successfully fly the crew to China (we were aiming for Scotland), Circumnavigating a thunder storm (which we would have avoided in the first place if I’d have been paying attention to the horizon) and managing to get us back to jolly ol’ Wales, UK after we got lost in the Atlantic (I lost the map).
I can’t wait to see everyone’s costumes and I will be certain to put pictures up for you all to see. 
Who knows? Maybe I shall fashion myself a suitable crew for Waltz on the Wye this summer!!

The Uppers and Grounders

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about social structures with steampunk society. I’ve been particularly fascinated by how things such as airship docking and the invention of a literally ‘higher’ set society would effect class structures.

Imagine, if you will, a working class area of Victorian London. It’s most likely near a dock or industrial complex, with workers and their families forming the majority of the population. Let’s say for the sake of this example that the area is near a dock, and above this sea-faring dock we were to place an airship dock. I have always imagined these structures to be a small maze of gangplanks and boardwalks held fifty foot above the city by large pillars; so, it is as though we have two docks placed one directly over the other.

Now, imagine the types of people that are likely to have access to airships. Air travel is likely an expensive endeavor due to the fact it is a relatively new technology and is most likely associated with leisure. The ships would not be used for laborious tasks such as fishing, but could be used to transport goods more quickly than would be possible by sea. It would act as a kind of express delivery service and could therefore charge more for the service than a seafaring vessel; sea-based transport businesses would undoubtedly decline and the Ground level dock would rely more heavily on rough tasks such as fishing. Airships would also probably be used as a smoother form of human transport and travel; after all, passengers would not be rocked back and forth by waves, and would not be constricted by the tides, passage would be much faster. So, it can be assumed that airship travel would be a more upper class luxury while sea-faring vessels became a tool for the working class fisherman.

If airship travel is to become a popular pastime of the upper class, it is not so unreasonable to assume that they would move to a location with better access to these aristocratically friendly ‘upper’ docks; this would also serve to make way for the increase of working class people moving inland to find work in factories and mills as a result of sea transport work becoming invalid. There is the possibility that the upper classes would rise above the working class London and form a small dwelling space on the same pillar-raised level as the upper docks. A city in the sky is developed on the fifty foot high dock boards and expands over London to separate the upper class from the ever increasing working class struggle occurring on the ground.

We are left with a two-tiered city.

On the Upper levels, aristocrats and lords live near the grandiose air vessels, expanding a selectively inhabited city across the sky. Below, those unable to ascend are forced to stay near the locations of Ground level London that can provide paying work; docks, factory complexes and industrial mills.

It is this idea of a split city that really got me thinking about social structure in my steampunk narratives. I think it would be interesting to explore this a little more within my writing, perhaps introduce the figure of the ‘Fence-Jumper’ who can feign aristocracy to gain access to the Upper level but does so to gain the upper hand in the Ground level market; stealing trinkets and purses on their visits to use and sell on the Ground.

Certainly food for thought. However, this is a thought that occurred to me rather suddenly and I’d like to hear what you think. Have I not accounted for something? Is there something I’ve missed? 

I also need to figure out where the middle class fit into all this…If there would be a middle class at all.

Above All Else

I’m glad to say I can start this blog with some fantastic news!

I’ve been working on a few short stories over the last few weeks, mainly because my muse only visits when I have a mountain of coursework to do but there we go. One of these pieces was entitled ‘Above All Else’ in which a cynical, automaton fearing detective is called to a large manor house to investigate a disturbance. The short story was one I’d come up with off the bat but I was particularly fond the story and wanted to give it a chance to bloom a little.

Enter Verse Publishing stage left!

I was able to send the story off to Verse Publishers for consideration; they’d announced three new short story collections due to be published later this year and I fancied my chances at being included. Luckily, I had email back from the company today saying that they loved the piece and wanted to include it in their Steampunk collection: Rivetgun !!

Safe to say, I accepted wholeheartedly. 

This will be my second publication (my first being Hawk Eye in the collection The C Word) and it’s really put the wind in my sails to try my chances at further publications.

Perhaps I should get working on these other stories and see whether they meet the stride of their predecessors …