Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Elevenses

Elevenses: With Stephen Palmer

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are honoured to have Stephen Palmer joining us for elevenses this morning.

Do please have a seat,  (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? ( We are all out of Oolong Max so don’t even think about making that joke again)

 

Definitely Darjeeling. Nothing else will do! But I’ll just cross my legs and place this pocket abacus on my lap so that Max is stymied…

 

That is very kind and unnecessarily accommodating of you Stephen, here is your tea. Now then, do tell us more about yourself and your latest books.

 

Well… it’s a long story. Many years ago I was taken off the slush pile by Orbit Books, which started my time as a published author. Since then my career has scaled some heights and descended into some depths, though recently it’s been on a bit of a high. At the end of 2016, my steampunk/alternate history trilogy Factory Girl (The Girl With Two Souls / The Girl With One Friend / The Girl With No Soul) was published, to a very positive reception. Earlier this year we decided to relaunch it with covers designed by famed steampunk illustrator Tom Brown (he of Hopeless, Maine), with a fourth, supplementary novel – not published with the original trilogy – also set for publication. This latter novel is set in 1914-15 and is called The Conscientious Objector.

 

Oh that does sound like an intriguing series! We very much admire Tom Brown’s artwork too and did you hear that Max? That last book sounds like just your cup of tea! ( Many people find Max objectionable, I’m sure you can see why.)  What inspired you to write the series?

 

The entire plot, characters and structure of Factory Girl came to me one evening during a two hour blitz of ideas. That this happened means it was waiting in my subconscious ready to appear. The overarching theme is whether or not souls exist, an area explored via Victorian-style automata, though also through the life stories of the main characters. Of these, the main ones are: Kora Blackmore, an illegitimate mulatto (used here for historical accuracy) girl imprisoned in Bedlam Mental Hospital; Erasmus Darwin, grandson of Charles; Dr Spellman, an entirely mysterious benefactor; other members of the Darwin family; an enigmatic automaton who can speak and understand; and Sir Tantalus Blackmore, Kora’s father, the greatest industrialist of his age and owner of the Factory in Sheffield, where all the Empire’s automata are manufactured. The story takes place over all three novels during 1910-11.

 

I see, it sounds most enticing… er, no Max we do not need to hear about your experiences in Bedlam thankyou… nor why there is a young lady there who swears you have tentacles… I’m so sorry Stephen I’m afraid he has been at the sugar again this morning. Moving swiftly on, what would you say most influences your writing in general?

 

I’m known in the genre world for rarely reading fiction. Most of my influences are non-fiction. For instance, I recently read: Mama’s Last Hug (the emotions of animals), Novacene (James Lovelock’s new one, celebrating his 100th birthday), and The Hare With The Amber Eyes (an extraordinary memoir about netsuke).

 

How interesting! But if not any fiction then are there any authors who have particularly inspired you?

 

In my earlier days I was influenced by authors such as Jack Vance, Gwyneth Jones and Gene Wolfe. These days there aren’t many authors of fiction who inspire me, but in the steampunk world I much enjoyed the YA novel Cogheart.

 

Hm. Excellent. (No he does not want to hear your poetry Max, that is not in least bit inspiring, stop interrupting)  Battenburg?

 

Do you have any parkin? I understand they make it in Leeds.

 

We certainly do have some Parkin – left over from a tea party with the Brown’s in fact! – although this was made in Lancaster. You know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

 

It was an extraordinary stroke of luck. I had been sending sample chapters and the like to various London publishers, but without much by way of reply. Then, mere days before I moved house (never to return for reasons best not mentioned), I received a letter from Orbit asking me to send the full MS of a novel I’d sent them over a year before. I was surprised! So I sent it off, but then, because of various life-events getting in the way for me and for them, I didn’t hear anything for a while, during which time I wrote a third version. This version was eventually accepted, to be published in 1996 as my debut Memory Seed.

 

I see, what marvellous good fortune! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

 

When I do writing events or author appearances I usually mention writer’s volcano – the opposite of writer’s block. So, yes, I have lots of projects on the go! This winter I’ll be writing the final volume of a steampunk trilogy set in an alternate Shrewsbury (my home town) and in London. Set in 1899 and 1900, it follows the fortunes of a couple of orphans.

 

Ah, we are well acquainted with a small army of orphans so can easily see how that subject could provide ample plot-fodder – in fact Max often wishes he was an orphan. So, where can we get our tentacles on your work?

 

My novels are available in all the usual places online, both as paperback or ebooks. Infinity Plus have most of the ebooks of my back catalogue.

 

Splendid. And can we find you online?

 

My blog: https://stephenpalmersf.wordpress.com/

On amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stephen-Palmer/e/B0062Z5R78?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1569234616&sr=1-1

On amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Palmer/e/B0062Z5R78?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1569234674&sr=1-1

At Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625764.Stephen_Palmer?from_search=true

 

Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

 

It’s no problem! I’m wearing Dr Avebury’s Secret Trouser Improver, from which liquids dissipate.

 

What a marvellous invention, perhaps we should invest in some ourselves. But Are you sure you’re alright? Can I perhaps tempt you with another cup of the hot stuff?

 

If it’s my usual poison, yes indeed… but I must away. A Nigerian automaton has just leaped from my blazer pocket and told me the time. Farewell!

 

Oh dear, Max I do believe your menacing threats of mostly awful poetry and ill-concealed amorous advances have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful  rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself


Elevenses: David Lee Summers talks #Mythpunk with Collin…

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

 

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird. Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are honoured to have our good friend Mr David Lee Summers joining us for elevenses this morning, authour of the Clockwork Legion series which we very much adore.

Do please have a seat, David, (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on a cat, cats are not cushions Max how many times must I remind you?)

I do apologise, David. Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? (We are all out of oolong Max so don’t even think about making that joke again.)

 

I do believe a nice robust Assam would be just what I need to get this day off to a splendid start. Thank you.

 

There you go.

Now then, we are deeply concerned about our puppet mistress, Penny; there are rumours that she has a secret laboratory where she takes stories (and I’m talking about ancient, respected myths, legends and Moral Tales here, David, the backbone of what you humans call ‘Sophisticated Society’ I believe?) and does unspeakable things to them so that when they emerge they are… forgive me an affected shudder… changed! Warped! Twisted – almost out of recognition…but not quite, which I think is even more disturbing. Certainly I, as an octopus, am disturbed. We are certain that it is some sort of illness and we wondered if you might have heard of it?

 

I have indeed heard of this condition though fear not, I don’t believe your mistress is more ill than most writers. Though she might suffer from an excess of making connections in stories the original writers did not see or intend, or connecting them to new and different time periods. The condition is not especially dangerous as long as your mistress is allowed to explore her thoughts in writing.

 

But tell me that this is not normal human behaviour, I mean, do you know anyone else who behaves so disrespectfully towards the written word?

 

I know a few such authors who have looked at legends and fairy tales through new lenses and seen new meanings. Such people as Jody Lynn Nye, Jeff Young, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail have all explored these ideas. A grand example is the anthology Gaslight and Grimm which Danielle edited.

 

Of course, Catherynne M. Valente coined the term “Mythpunk” to explain such behaviour and has engaged in it a few times herself. Neil Gaiman and Theodora Goss are a couple of other authors who have done this.

 

Hm, I’m becoming a little suspicious here, David, please tell me you are not one of these fiendish writers yourself who thinks that ancient, sacred tales are merely cadavers that you can dissect and use to create new life?

 

Oh dear, it seems you have found me out. Though I will say that I do not see these ancient and grand tales as cadavers at all. Rather it’s because they live and breathe that they are so adaptable to new kinds of characters and different situations.

 

Oh. I see. Um, oh how remiss of me I haven’t offered you any cake! (Max, I’ll keep him talking while you run and find some sedative to slip into his tea, it seems these writers are all as mad as each other)

 

No need for the sedative. Yes, I heard you, Collin, but I will take a little cake, thank you very much.

 

Hm, but what is the point of it? What do you all hope to achieve? I mean, aren’t the old stories perfectly fine just the way they are? And even if they aren’t, can’t you just write something entirely new?

 

Of course, the original stories are timeless and beautiful. However, they are, sometimes, rooted very firmly in the times and places they were written. Not everyone can read one of these stories and see themselves reflected in the story, so it doesn’t seem relevant to them. Rewriting them with new characters can help a more diverse audience find the stories. Sometimes those stories are rooted in prejudices of the time they were written or collected. Rewriting them from a different point of view allows one to see the story through a new lens and perhaps bring out different or new meanings on top of the lessons one might see on the surface.

 

Ah, I think I’m starting to understand… (No not now, Max, just hold off with that laudanum-laced-sugar bowl for a moment..) So it can actually be a good thing to re-tell or re-imagine stories from the past?

 

Indeed, I have taken classic stories and turned them around so the “villain” becomes a hero, which allows you to see the story in a new light such as I did in “The Griffin’s Tail,” which appears in Jennifer Brozek’s anthology, Human Tales. In “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife,” which appeared in Cemetery Dance magazine, I substituted a vampire husband for elves in the story of the “Elves and the Shoemaker,” which made it a story about relationships. When I wrote “The Slayers,” I wanted to get past the madness of Ahab, which dominates the novel Moby-Dick, and look at what the story says about hunting beautiful, intelligent creatures we don’t always understand. By setting this story on an airship and using dragons instead of whales, it freed me from the expectations one might have when reading Melville’s novel. So, yes, I think retelling stories allows an author to examine aspects of a story that might be overlooked by a casual reader.

 

Hm, I think you’re starting to win me over, but I do have one last concern – I mean, we Octopuses have a great store of oral tales but very few of us are up here on the land to share them with you humans – this Mythpunk makes me almost afraid to share them in case they end up being ‘re-imagined’ by some mad-mythpunker and what then eh? How would people know the original version from the new? Or what if – Devon forbid – I should perish in some act of great daring heroism (stop giggling Max it is very rude) and the stories die with me… I suppose what I am asking is, do you think writers have some sense of responsibility to the cultures whose tales they chose to play with, or is it one big free-for-all?

 

I agree, authors do have a responsibility to respect the original tales and the cultures from which they come. I own a collection of the original Grimm Fairy Tales in German, complete with notes about the stories by the Grimm Brothers. All of my Grimm Fairy Tale retellings have involved me translating the stories myself and reading those notes to understand where they came from. I don’t think one always needs to go that extent, but I do think one needs to understand the stories and the cultures where they came from.

 

It’s common advice that a writer should “write what they know.” If a story goes beyond the life experience of an author, the author has a responsibility to conduct research to become familiar with the culture and time period they’re writing about. This is true whether you’re writing mythpunk, steampunk, fantasy, or science fiction.

 

I see. Well, I think I have been quite hasty in my initial judgement of this mythpunk phenomenon, I would very much like to find out more. Can you point us at some worthy works of marvellous mythpunk (including your own of course)?

 

My works of mythpunk have appeared in two anthologies, which present works by many authors whose work is worth seeking out. These include:

Gaslight and Grimm edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine https://www.amazon.com/Gaslight-Grimm-Steampunk-Faerie-Tales/dp/1942990316/

and Human Tales edited by Jennifer Brozek is available at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00563YEBW/

 

My story “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife” is in Cemetery Dance, issue 66, available at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BBJVJVI/

My story “The Slayers” is available as a standalone short story at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A9H1BSO/

I also highly recommend the novel Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohammed. As we’re speaking, the book is in the last days of the Kickstarter campaign to fund a beautiful new edition. I’ll share the link as it will no doubt tell people when the new edition is available for purchase. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/e-specbooks/discover-the-magic-of-baba-ali-and-the-clockwork-djinn/description

I have some new works coming out in the not too distant future including a story called “Horse Feathers” where witches under the tutelage of Russia’s Baba Yaga have an encounter with marvels from the Arabian Nights. Watch my blog at http://davidleesummers.wordpress.com for news of new stories and the anthologies they’re in!

 

Thank you, that should keep our tentacles occupied for a while! Ah, the kettle is boiling again, more tea?

 

Yes, please. This is a delightful Assam.

 

Sugar?

Did I hear someone say there was laudanum in the sugar? Hmmm… perhaps just one lump.

 

Oh dash it all Max, I told you to lay off with that sugar bowl; and now we have yet another authour out cold on the parlour floor. Oh well, just add him to the pile over there and we will drop them all at the next port, which I believe is The Night Market in Bohemia? I’m sure they can find their way home from there…


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology: Elevenses with Marc Vun Kannon

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously
raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful
rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.
Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because
joining us for elevenses this morning we are taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog
tour/ internet blitz and we are honoured to have Marc Vun Kannon.
Do please have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let them sit down … hm? … no floor cushions are not ‘all the rage’ Max, and that is not a floor cushion it is a cat, just move aside.)

I do apologise, Marc, would you like some tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max you have definitely exhausted that comedic avenue)
Earl Grey, please. I love the smell of bergamot in the morning. Well, anytime,
actually.
Marvellous, there you go. Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology which are excited to be able to supply the pre-order links for here:

Mine is the story of Sarah Mack, who may turn out to be a fatal femme, but is most
definitely a dangerous damsel. Taken as a baby from her parents shortly after the
Night of Echoes, when magic returned to the world, her parent, mentor, and boss –
known only as Mr. Tom – has trained her in the gentle arts of magic and thievery,
usually in combination. One of the few who possess psychic talents as well as
magical ones, she is sent to Glastonbury Tor in search of a certain, special
something, but what seems a graduation exercise of sorts is really the first step on
a slippery slope of love, revenge, and redemption. I’m just not sure for whom, yet.
Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. What inspired you to write it?

This story is set in the world of my novel Ghostkiller. This story will be the first
chapter of the sequel, when I get around to writing it. The Night of Echoes changed
the world in just so many ways.

I see, how marvellous. And what would you say most influences your writing in general?
No one thing, in particular. While I am willing to take inspiration from any source, I
prefer to blaze my own trail when it comes to the actual telling of the story. My only
rule of writing is, I’ve seen it done once, don’t do it again. I have a huge stash
of material from books, films, TV, and even music in the back of my head, but when
the story brings it forward, I take that as a sign to do something a little different.
Splendid idea! Any authors who have particularly inspired you?
A few, negatively. I’ll do them a favor and not mention them by name. On the
positive side I suppose I could mention L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson,
creators of the Oz books. I grew up with those.
Hm. Excellent. (No he does not want to hear your poetry Max, we had quite enough of that yesterday) Battenburg?
Certainly. Never tried that before.
Well, it doesn’t usually have as many hairs in it as this slice but the galley cats are incorrigible gluttons. You know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?
Unplanned. It started with some dreams. I don’t normally remember those. When I
mentioned them to my wife she said, that sounds like it make a good book. A few days later I had a sentence in my head. I wrote it down and said now what? With no
writing classes or experience to speak of, I developed my whole technique based on
the books I’d read, and what I did and did not like about them. Basically, the story
came up to me and said ‘you will write me!’ Ever since, it’s been one story after
another.

Excellent! It sounds like fate! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?
Oo, well, ‘plans’ is a hard word. I’m a total pantser, I have no plans for anything, not
even the book I’m in the middle of writing. Inspiration can come from anywhere,
though, all you have to do is pay attention to your life. My stories are always growing, too. ‘Sleeping Dragon’ is an example of that.
So, where can we find your work?
All of my work is available on Amazon. I’ve recently taken to self-publishing, and I’ve also had my stories appear in a number of magazines lately as well. I’ve got a link around here somewhere…
https://www.amazon.com/Vun-Kannon-Marc/e/B0076OUKWQ
Oh thankyou… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?
Not at all, not all. (brush, wipe) What’s a little octopus slime between friends?
Are you sure you’re alright? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t
tempt you with another cup?
Sorry, but there’s octopus slime in my bergamot. Maybe another time…
Oh dear, Max I do believe the rumours of your awful poetry and your clumsy antics at the tea table  have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself In Company.
Thank you, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship,The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again,

please remain always,

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses

#Twitterinterview with the authours

Guy Donovan joins us for elevenses

Nimue Brown causes havoc with her tentacles


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Nimue Brown

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured (and not even slightly alarmed) to have our very dear friend the infamous lunatic and cheese fiend Nimue Brown joining us for elevenses this morning.

Do please put down that lethal looking collection of cutlery, My Dear, and have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let her sit down before she takes off a tentacle with that spoon… hm? … no she can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max that joke is wearing decidedly thin now)

Earl Grey is my tea of preference, very strong and with no milk in it. Thank you!

I have never understood this human penchant for putting dairy products into hot beverages, there you go my dear, one Naked Earl. (Max get up off the floor I don’t know what you are finding so amusing)

Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology which we are now happily able to provide the pre-order links for here…

 

Well, it is a Hopeless Maine tale, in essence the aftermath of a tragic love story between a giant tentacled sky beast and a hot air balloon. We probably don’t have enough stories about the sort of mopping up other people have to do when love gets out of hand.

Ah, alas, those of us with tentacles have perhaps the most tragic tales to tell… was this story semi-autobiographical?

I was colouring on the Hopeless Maine graphic novel series, and a conversation between Sal and Owen popped into my head in which she was complaining bitterly about his wet hair slapping her in the face, and as I pulled back from this scene, I could see what they were dealing with and it was large, and messy and there were tentacles and bits of rope everywhere….

Max don’t be so rude it does NOT sound like my bedroom on a Sunday morning! Let us just ignore his idiotic remarks – what would you say most influences your writing in general?

Coffee. Tom Brown. Not being able to afford therapy. Being allowed to kill people with absolutely no consequences… I should probably stop there.

I see… Nimue I’m so sorry, I have just noticed that these cake knives seem to be tarnished, I will just put them away out of reach… er, I mean, sight… a-hem… Any authours who have particularly inspired you? (Max put your battered old notebook away, you are not an authour.)

A the moment I am particularly in love with the work of Penny Blake, Carol Lovekin, Alan Garner, Meredith Debonnaire, Margaret Attwood, Robin Treefellow Collins, Adam Horovitz, Nils Nis Visser, Mark Lawrence, Ursula Le Guinn, I could go on listing for pages, I read widely and a lot and am fairly omnivorous…

Hm. Excellent. (No she does not want to hear your dreadful poetry, Max, even if it is about cheese, stop interrupting) Battenburg?

Splendid! Would it be a terrible time to mention how much I like poetry? And also very bad poetry. The worse the better, in fact.

Oh gods above and below, woman, what have you done?

[HISTORIC MOMENT AS MAX SPEAKS OUT LOUD FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER TO ANYONE BUT COLLIN, LEAPS ON THE TABLE, KICKS OVER A TEAPOT AND BEGINS TO READ A TERRIBLE POEM ABOUT CHEESE]

En Route To The Fromagian Ball”

(A Political Poem Of The Mor Irate Revolution by Eightcups Max)

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree

To spread its limbs and welcome me

To its embrace eternally

I dreamed I journeyed long, to thee

(To dance The Masque at Caerphilly)

I met Morbier on the way

He wore a masque of silver grey

Very smooth he looked, yet grim

And seven rats did follow him

Fat they were, and no surprise

For, despite his mournful sighs,

And as I feasted with my eyes

Yet they with sharp teeth took their prize.

Next came Roqufort and he had on,

All speckled with viridian,

A gown so tattered, holed and frayed

I wondered not he looked dismayed….

MAX THAT IS ENOUGH!! STOP, DESIST, HALT, MY DELICATE SENSIBILITIES CANNOT TAKE ANOTHER CHEESY SYLLABLE!

Good grief, I had forgotten what a terrible influence you are on him, I am certain the world needs no more dirges on the evils of cheese and more sonnets to folk with slime and tentacles, it quite makes me think of taking up the quill myself. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

I started out with some notions about being a serious novelist – I was young, and foolish back in those days. By the age of 23 I had been rejected by every major publishnig house in the UK. Then I discovered both the internet, and smut – they both got moving at the same time in an entirely connected way… and I wrote weird, gothic filth for a while, and weird fantasy ebooks, and then I met Tom online and he persuaded me that a weird, gothic graphic novel series was something I should write. Since then I’ve ambled into steampunk, and non-fiction. In essence, I will do almost anything for money, and absolutely anything that strikes me as amusing at the time!

Yeeeees, I shall never quite recover from that street corner encounter a year or so back… and do you have any plans for new projects in the near future? Writng-wise I mean and not in anyway involving cheese or street corners…

There’s more Hopeless Maine graphic novels on the ways and an illustrated prose book in the setting – New England Gothic. I want to get into light novels and I want to write about darkness in a way that deconstructs that racist light/white/good stuff.  I’m working on content for the Hopeless Maine role play game, I want to write a murder mystery evening event script, and I’m working on poetry that explores the wildness and naturalness of human bodies… 

Well, if you’re looking for something wild and natural to do a project on, I would be happy to offer my services as a subject for study… no? Oh well, no pleasing some folk I suppose. So, where can we get our tentacles on your own work?

Much of it can be bought from anywhere selling books – I work well in search engines, you can find me with relatively little pain!

 

And can we find you online?

www.druidlife.wordpress.com

www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/Nimue_B

https://www.facebook.com/nimue.brown

https://www.instagram.com/nimuebrown/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2iAnLZ1JJzOfltGrnS0P8Q

And again, for the dedicated stalker, there’s always a search engine…
Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

Being a filthy urchin, it would be hard to tell fresh slime from anything else that has happened to my clothing at this stage. 

Are you sure you’re alright? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t tempt you with another cup?

Well, I have an… assignation with a …. poet…. it’s a full diary here most of the time and I have to spread myself about rather carefully. Which probably sounds at least as bad as it actually is…

Well the best of luck with your Poet Assassination, goodbye! Oh dear, next time she comes I shall lock the cheese in the pantry… and perhaps Max too…

Thank you, friends for bravely enduring the madness this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses

#Twitterinterview with the authours

Guy Donovan joins us for elevenses


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology: Elevenses with Guy Donovan

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and, as you already know if you have been keeping up to speed, we are in the happy position of being able to furnish you with links to the kindle pre-order page right here

Not only that, but joining us for elevenses this morning we are honoured to have Guy Donovan, contributor and cover artist for the anthology!  Do please have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … well I’m sorry but the Damsel Of Your Dreams will have to move aside as well, we have a real guest this morning who must take precedence over figments of your unhealthy imagination)
I’m so sorry Guy, would you like some tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be so rude)

Hmm…you wouldn’t happen to have any Chamomile, would you? If not, perhaps a
horn of mead, thanks.

We are not OVERLY fond of herbal concoctions but we do have a little chamomile we use for sedating…ah, that is for soothing  some of our more excitable guests – we have had several try to throw themselves from the deck for some reason.

Now then, do tell us more about your contribution to the Dreamtime Damsels anthology, which we have pre-ordered and simply cannot wait to get our tentacles into!

My story is “Better the Thorn,” and its main character is named Lash. Lash is a
female goblin who was born to the ruling class of fae in her dimension, but was
kidnapped by goblins as a child and eventually accepted a goblin life, even taking
on their form through her own inherent ability to wield magic. The story basically involves her quest to seek revenge against the fae, who she blames for never
having tried to rescue her.

Unfortunately for her, the goblins are a barbaric collective of tribes that war with each other as much as they do the fae, who dominate the world of Faerie as benevolent (though equally fierce when necessary) overlords. Being an adept (a term both fae and goblins use for wizards), Lash has the ability to travel interdimensionally. She uses that ability to travel to Earth, where it is currently the mid 1980-s. There, she infiltrates military bases all around the world to steal human weaponry she can take back to Faerie and use against the more powerful fae.

As the story begins, she has just returned with her latest cache of stolen weapons
when a fae patrol attacks her. She has no choice but to run for the safety of her
fortress in a mountain pass, magically constructed by her over the years using
massive thorn vines and bits of Earth military hardware, including the rusted
superstructure of the battleship Arizona sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Lash leads the fae on a merry and murderous chase through a variety of booby-
traps laid throughout the forest. In the process, she and the fae both discover
something that seems too fantastic to believe, but might very well bring their years-
long conflict to a head in a way neither of them ever expected.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. What inspired you to write it?

I love writing stories that have a grounding in different periods of actual history.
This one originally started out set in the late 1960’s. It was supposed to be about a
little girl running away from her mother on the day they are supposed to go to her
father’s funeral, who died in Vietnam. In her mind, she imagined herself as a vicious and magical goblin being pursued by her fae persecutors. As she tries to evade her mother chasing after her in a wood behind their house, she pretends to lay waste to her enemies using the tools of her dead father’s trade.
Ultimately, I was having a hard time figuring out a way to finish that story without it devolving into a syrupy mess. With the submission deadline approaching, I decided to ditch the little girl concept and write it as a straight fantasy/adventure tale set in the mid-80s, during which time I served in the U.S. Marine Corps myself. I’m happy with it.

I see, so it sounds as though the anthology was the strainer of the ointment, as they say! And what would you say most influences your writing in general?

I’m a military brat, so the many places I’ve lived have a big impact on my work. The
music I’m listening to (almost entirely instrumental) also has a tendency to color my current scene. Otherwise, I take a lot of inspiration from what I see around me while I’m writing. A field full of tiny white butterflies flitting about in pairs, a flock of grouse trying to reach the lowest leaves of a tree in the wintertime (and failing
comically)…these are the sort of incidental things that lend themselves to being
included in what I’m writing as I write it. I also love taking outrageous bits of
dialogue I catch in real life and work it into a story.

Ah yes, we are military coves ourselves (albeit in the republican tea army) and travel extensively as a result, it really is wonderful to have such varied experiences to work into your fiction! And are there any authours who have particularly inspired you?

Lots! Notably, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, Victor Hugo, the list
goes on. On the indie side, authors like W.C. Quick and my co-conspirators in
Dream Time Damsels and Fatal Femmes continue to inspire me, not only to keep
going against the odds, but also to keep trying new things and acquiring new skills.

Ah! An excellent selection! (No he doesn’t want to hear your poetry Max, that doesn’t inspire anyone to do anything except throw themselves from the deck, will you stop interrupting)
Battenburg?

Didn’t he die on a boat? Oh, no…that was Mountbatten. You mean the cake, right?
No thanks, I’m trying to cut back.

That is, as the poet says, “An unfortunate political decision reflecting these times” as we fight for the freedom of every man, woman and child to have their cake and eat it, every man woman and child seems to be on some sort of health fad.

Ah well, back to the subject of writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author.

Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

I’ve always been creative, both art and writing, so as a kid in the late 70s, I started
writing (really bad) Star Wars fan fiction. Of course that was pre-Internet, so luckily none of it saw the light of day.

Many years later, I worked in Hollywood as an animator and designer for most of the big studios (Yes, including Disney, but mostly Warner Brothers). Then, right around 9/11, the bottom had fallen out of the animation industry, with most work being sent overseas in order to maximize studio profits. That left a lot of talented artists out of work. Rather than try to make a living as a freelance greeting card designer or decorating cakes for a local baker, I went into a more (mind-numbingly uncreative) direction in order to get a little job and financial security for me and my family.

After a few years of that, having no creative outlet was driving me absolutely
bonkers. Enter my wife, who had been a film editor in Hollywood but had become a
struggling screenwriter after we both left the business. She had recently written a
spec script for a direct-to-video Barbie movie she called “Barbie and the Dragon’s
Treasure.” It hadn’t sold, and she was in the dumps too, looking to maybe get into
indie publishing. I suggested to her that she take her Dragon’s Treasure concept,
mature it up a good bit, and turn that into a novel. It took her all of ten seconds to
say, “Naah. Why don’t you do it though?”
I thought about it for a few days and eventually decided to give it a try. Ten years
later, I’ve just finished the fourth and final of my own series I call “The Dragon’s
Treasure.”
Sales are…elusive, but I feel much better!

Goodness, it sounds like quite a roller coaster ride! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

Oh yes. Having basically immersed myself in 5 th century Wales and Scotland for the last ten years, I’m thinking of doing something drastically different. I’ve got an idea for a Southwest border (USA) werewolf story, and a semi-hard sci-fi story about a 21 st century space truck driver hauling an illegal cargo of…something…to Jupiter. I’ve also got a head full of short story ideas all screaming to get out.

Oh marvellous, we LOVE werewolves, having had one as a butler for a couple of terrifying years!  But perhaps you’d better keep your voice down about the illegal cargo… being as we are on board a pirate ship!

Tell me, where can we find your fiction?

My Amazon author page is at: https://www.amazon.com/Guy-
Donovan/e/B00EO3VRD8?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1565292793&sr=1-1

 

And I’m also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/The-Dragons-Treasure-
Series-172879129537712/

Oh marvellous, we will certainly check those out… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap. I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

Not at all. And I must say that it must be fun being basically a living Slip ‘n’ Slide.

What’s that? You say it’s time you were going? I was going to offer you another cup, but if you insist on leaving, I won’t stop you.

Well, actually I wouldn’t mind another…

Oh really? Max be a dear and pass the chamomile would you (shhh, perhaps add a hefty dose of Valerian to it this time as well!) 

Thank you, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Paul Michael

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and, as already know if you have been keeping up to speed, we are in the happy position of being able to furnish you with links to the kindle pre-order page right here

 

 

 

Not only that, but we are over the moon to have our good friend Paul Michael joining us for elevenses this morning!

Do please have a seat, Paul,  (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he has not brought Miss Henderson with him, and even if he had, Miss Henderson is not a chair, just move aside.)

I’m so sorry about that, would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

If you have Lady Grey that would be marvellous. I find Earl Grey a bit overstimulating at this time and indeed at this altitude.

Of course, I completely understand, it has taken me, as an octopus, quite a while to get used to the heights myself! There you go. Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology– the aether is alive with the gossip!

It’s a strange and terrible story about an innocent young lady who becomes a maid at the strange house of the mysterious Count Vlasko, recently arrived from afar and with an unusual condition that makes him afeared of daylight.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. (Hm? Yes your quite right, he does sound a little like our old landlord) What inspired you to write it, Paul?

I wanted to create a short story where the character – a Miss Felicity Henderson – would be in the spotlight. The young maid in question is a recurring character in my Jennings and Jennings story cycle, which is my Magnum Opus.

Indeed! As one magnificent octopus to another, we are very well acquainted with your marvellous mystery series, and with the good lady Miss Henderson (Max will you stop making ridiculously opprobrious remarks) Let us just ignore him, what would you say most influences your writing in general?

 I would say I am driven by the obsessive need to write ridiculous and comical stories in a Gothic style. I have seen several alienists on this topic and they are unable to help, although I did get some punctuation tips from one.

Oh, marvellous! Any authours who have particularly inspired you?

The gravitas of Saki, the feather light touch of Lovecraft, the humour of Poe… all of these have affected me deeply.

Ah yes, you certainly have some of my favourites in that list too… (Hm? Max the only comparison that can be made between your poetry and the writings of such masters of gothic horror is that they all fill One with dread! Now do please stop interrupting). Battenburg?

I haven’t been myself but I hear the statuary is quite something.

Probably very wise, last time I checked it was full of cat hair. But back to the lark of writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an authour. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

It was many years ago, as the rain lashed the windows and I stared morosely into the middle distance that I first entertained the idea of writing fiction. Suddenly my mind was filled with feverish visions of a man and a woman determined to fight ancient evil and terrible creatures from beyond. I fell onto the task of writing at once, my hand scratching out words as fast as the thoughts were conjured. As daylight broke, I slumped exhausted onto my writing desk, a thousand page epic created and ready to publish. Alas! In my exhausted state I knocked over the inkwell, turning all the pages black and completely unreadable.

After that I bought a computer and started again at a rather more sedate pace.

My goodness! Well, if it makes you feel any better I too have had many catastrophes caused by uncontrollable outbursts of ink; I’m sure I shall never live down Lady Harrington’s charity ball! And where can we find your published work?

I have absolutely no idea. No wait (rummages in pockets)… it is available from this place in South America… 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennings-Paranormal-Investigators-Casebook-One-ebook/dp/B071V9PP6F/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1566288338&sr=8-3

 

And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

I am currently writing and serially publishing a novel length story called the Paris Awakening. That is to say, it is a story that is approximately the length of a novel, rather than an usual length. It is part of the aforementioned story cycle, of which the first four novellettes are already collected and published. My collected writings are available at this academic journal of which I am the lead and indeed only writer.

https://thebenthictimes.com/

Oh yes, marvellous, we are avid readers of that marvellous publication and… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

In my line of work it is an occupational hazard. I maintain a supply of these eight sided “octochiefs” for exactly these kind of situations.

What a marvellous invention, perhaps we should keep a little store of them here on board for these situations! Now, can I tempt you with another cup of Lady Grey?

Delicious though it was I fear another cup will lead to a dangerous imbalance in my delicate constitution, leading to an outbreak of bilious convunction or possibly a bout of floxy.

But I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for inviting me to your vessel. It has been a great pleasure with only occasional moments of terror.

Oh dear, Max I do believe your threats of imminent and horrific poetry have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Benjamin Towe

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed sky ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured to have another of its contributors, Benjamin Towe,  joining us for elevenses this morning!

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Dreamtime Fantasy Tales authors are proud to DREAMTIME present their anthology & FATAL FEMMES With stories by: Greg Alldredge Penny Blake Nimue Brown Leslie Conzatti Guy Donovan Johan Klein Haneveld Jaq D Hawkins Marc vun Kannon Nav Logan Paul Michael Morgan Smith Benjamin Towe Expected Nils Visser Mary R. Woldering SEPTEMBER 2019 Thomas Woldering A.M. Young'

Do please have a seat, Benjamin (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no the floor does not do wonders for peoples posture, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

I brought my own. It’s Enhancing Root tea. The Teacher of the Drelves harvested the tubers in Green Vale during the Dark Period on Parallan, the World of the Three Suns. The circle of Thirttene Friends oversees affairs in the vale, one of the rare green places on Parallan. It’s quite good. Drelves use the tubers in many recipes. The most promising of each generation accompanies the Teacher on the annual quest to harvest the root tubers.

 

My goodness, how exotic! Do let us all try some! Now then , won’t you please tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology we keep hearing about – the aether is buzzing with the hype but we still haven’t managed to cajole any of our associates into slipping us an illicit copy – sigh – what is the point of rubbing tentacles with the likes of smugglers and pirates if we cannot persuade them to part with their contraband fiction?  

 

Lyana Rikmon, warrior of Donothor. Lyana is a character from my first trilogy, the Donothor series. She is sheriff of the hamlet Knottington and a loyal subject of the Kingdom of Donothor. I’ve written 12 novels, but I’m new to the short story. Damsels has been a learning experience for me. Lyana’s story was written in collaboration with Nils Visser. I’m very excited about it! 

 

Oh did you hear that Max? I love the sound of those place names and we’re all big fans of Nils Visser’s books too. What inspired you to write it?

 

In 1982, I was Dungeon Master and created campaigns for a group of friends, who challenged me to put the campaign to prose. The result was my first novel Deathquest to Parallan. It was written as part one of a trilogy in 1982. I published it in 2005, after my children scanned the old manuscript to a data disc and presented me my first laptop. I rewrote the story. In the first version I killed almost everyone off. I beat George RR Martin to the punch. The rewrite was kinder and gentler. I then completed the second novel, the Orb of Chalar, and then the conclusion of the trilogy, Death of Magick. Lyana Rikmon is introduced in Death of Magick. The Chalice of Mystery followed, then a prequel Dawn of Magick. Since then I’ve written “prequels.” My Elfdreams series includes Lost Spellweaver, First Wandmaker, Wandmaker’s Burden, Emerald Islands, and Mender’s Tomb. Thirttene Friends is a prequel to both the Donothor and Elfdreams series. My most recent, Unwonted Spellweavers bridges the series. I’m currently working on a sequel to Orb of Chalar. 

 

Marvellous! We are all avid players of D&D (although Penny did manage to fracture her hand a few weeks ago at the gaming table which has been the cause of much amusement) and we will certainly hunt out your series to add to our library! Now,  what would you say most influences your writing in general?

 

My years as Dungeons and Dragons player and Dungeon Master. I enjoy creating worlds and filling them up with characters. I love all things Magick. 

 

Ah, alas Magick is banned here in our world but we are fighting the revolution to try and win back our right to wield balls of fire in public. Any authours who have particularly inspired you? (Max put your poetry book away, no one wants to hear that drivel) 

 

Certainly JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Piers Anthony,  Damsels has given me the privilege of collaborating with one of my favourite authors, Nils Visser. I’ve become nigh a permanent resident of the Wyrde Woods. I’ve enjoyed Guy Donovan’s masterful Dragon Treasure series and WC Quick’s quirky elves. 

 

Oh you’ve definately listed some of our favourites there as well (No he really doesn’t want to hear your poetry Max, stop interrupting)  Battenburg?

 

I prefer “octameter”  to iambic pentameter. 

 

As do I! How nice to find someone who shares an appreciation for all things octical! But moving on from poetry (for sanity’s sake), you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an authour. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

 

As I mentioned, I wrote my first novel in 1982 and published it in 2005. Writing has been a great escape for me. I encourage young people to read and write… and persist. 

 

Oh well you must meet some of Mrs Baker’s Lancastrian orphans then! Peril does his best to teach them to read and write and they are certainly persistent in many of their other occupations (although I recommend you hold onto your pocket watch if you do venture down there.)  And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

 

I’m currently working on a story that will again bridge my brace of fantasy series. It expands on events in Orb of Chalar and will ultimately be a sequel to Death of Magick. It features a powerful red-haired elf named Ravenna, the daughter of a sorceress and assassin. Her father Tigarn Nocerre commissioned the Arch-Lich Achymm to create the cursed sword, the Death of Magick.

 

Marvellous! So, where and when can we get our tentacles on a copy?

I hope to have it finished by end of year. 

 

And what about your other work, where can we find more of that?

 

My 12 fantasy novels are available at Amazon, Authorhouse, Barnes and Noble, and some at Kobo and Apple Books. I have signed copies available. My Facebook page is Benjamin Towe books. Benjamintowe.com has excedpts from my stories. I’m on Twitter @bftowe

 

Marvellous I…. Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

 

In Wandmaker’s Burden, the residents of Vydaelia battle a triskaidekapod. 13 tentacles and legs and a nasty disposition. Being hugged by eight arms isn’t so bad. 

 

Well how very kind of you to say so, most people get a little skittish at octopoidal contact, it’s a terrible prejudice and makes for a very lonely life….  Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure, why it feels as though you just got here!

 

My Dreamraiders have the power of Translocation, which enables them to traverse space and time. A bit of Whovian influence I suppose. Escape to an Elfdream… 

 

Oh dear, Max I do believe your threats to commit poetical atrocities and your lack of appreciation for a man’s personal space have scared off yet another of our guests. We are doomed never to get our tentacles on a copy of this Dreamtime Damsels Anthology and it is all your fault. Besides which you have eaten all the french fancies again.

 

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful  rainbow sailed sky ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with A.M. Young

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird. Yes that’s right we have escaped our dank cellar and our evil landlord (if you want to know how you will have to read our #RainbowSnippets posts on Saturdays and all will be revealed). So we are now heading the revolution in Ire from the skies – which turns out to be much safer and more fun than heading it from the ground! But never fear, we still have time to stop for elevenses! 
Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and are honoured to have A. M. Young joining us for elevenses today!
Do please have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let her sit down … hm? … no she can’t sit on the cats, cats are not cushions, Max, just move aside.)

Sorry about that, would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

I’m really more of a coffee person myself, but anything dark and strong will do.

Coffee? I’m afraid we have had enough fiasco here with that wretched stuff to last a lifetime, I simply will not have it on board anymore! But if it’s something dark and strong you’re after, well, us octopuses are well known for our muscular physiques, as you can see, and my complexion is certainly  on the shadier side of… oh, I see Max has poured you a strong, black cup of tea already… well…  do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology we keep hearing about – the aether is alive with the gossip and although we have tried to coax more information out of several of our captives… er… VISITORS…. we still haven’t managed to get our tentacles on a black market copy…

So, my story is called “What They Do Not Tell You” and it’s a retelling of the Pygmalion myth from the statue’s perspective. Arguably, it’s a bit unconventional as it’s written in a kind of monologue from the main character, recounting her creation and the aftermath of becoming a living woman.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting – we simply adore a bit of mythpunk here on The Harlequin! What inspired you to write it?

I’ve always loved Roman and Greek mythology, and the Pygmalion myth has long been one of my favorites. What author hasn’t wished they could meet one of their characters, right?

Well, of course, or else I suppose I wouldn’t be here talking to you today!

One day a while back I was talking about the myth and I was trying to remember the name of the statue/woman. Resorting to the help of the internet when I failed to recall it, I found that she was known as Galatea. However, that name was actually provided by a scholar centuries after Rome fell; it had no factual basis in the myth at all. And that got me to thinking about how she was represented in the story, how she was so integral and key to Pygmalion’s myth but she never even had a name. The story just spiraled out from there.

Oh my goodness! I feel tears in my eyes! How moving, I can’t wait to read it! And what would you say most influences your writing in general?

I’m still pretty early into my writing career, but one theme that has emerged thus far is that I love examining people making ‘bad’ choices. What I mean by that is the question of “why would someone do that? how could they not see how stupid/pointless/unkind/short-sighted what they’re doing is?” is often key to my stories. I like to examine the emotions and circumstances that drive us to make decisions we often come to regret but also would make again in a heartbeat.

It sounds very interesting, are there any authours who have particularly inspired you?

I think my biggest influences are Stephen King, Tamora Pierce, and Neil Gaiman.

Oh we’re huge Neil Gaiman fans here as well, that is marvellous. Battenburg? Max stop feeding Battenburg to the cats you are getting it all hairy!

No, thank you. Not much of a sweets person.

Suit yourself, ‘all the more for me’ as Professor Elemental would say 😉 You know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an authour. Tell me, what was your own road
into fiction writing like?

A bit like a twisting path through a forest. You start down one branch, sure that you know where you’re going (which was writing poetry, in my case), you get lost for a while, decide to just give up and live by the quaint little pond you’ve found, and then one day while climbing a tree you realize you can see a path again just past that copse of spruce trees. When I went back to school to finish my undergrad degree, I decided to commit to fiction writing even though I had very little practice or experience in it because all of my ideas had just gotten far too large and detailed for poetry. I’ve been a storyteller ever since.

It sounds like quite an adventurous life indeed! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

I have a novella draft that’s waiting for the revision process to begin. I also have an idea for a novel in my back pocket, but I’m not quite ready to start that one yet. And I have plenty of little ideas that may or may not unfurl into full-on short stories one day. We’ll just have to see what happens.

So, where can we get our tentacles on a copy of this delightful collection?

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Dreamtime Fantasy Tales authors are proud to DREAMTIME present their anthology & FATAL FEMMES With stories by: Greg Alldredge Penny Blake Nimue Brown Leslie Conzatti Guy Donovan Johan Klein Haneveld Jaq D Hawkins Marc vun Kannon Nav Logan Paul Michael Morgan Smith Benjamin Towe Expected Nils Visser Mary R. Woldering SEPTEMBER 2019 Thomas Woldering A.M. Young'

I believe Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble will be the most familiar to the general
reader. There may be other, better sources that I am unaware of currently.

Ah yes, many is the time we have trekked into the Amazon on a search for treasure filled tomes. Never fear, friends, as soon as this book is published we will don our pith helmets post haste and return swiftly with a map (or perhaps even a link) to its whereabouts! 😉 And in the meantime, what about your own work, where can we find more of that?

I actually don’t post my own writings much. However, I did have a flash fiction story
published last year by Underground Art and Literary Journal of Georgia State University.
You can read that online at their website: undergroundjournal.org

Mavellous, we’ll be sure to have a look at…. Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

That’s quite all right! I’m sure it will wash out just fine.

Are you sure you’re alright? I’m sure Max can lend you a dress if you want to soak out the stain? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t tempt you with another cup?

Thank you, but I really must get back to ground. I think I see storm clouds rolling in, and I get terrible motion sickness when there’s turbulence. Thank you so much for the
interview!

Oh dear, Max I do believe your awful tea-making skills and ill-concealed cat obsession has scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed sky ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we meet again,

Please remain always,

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Nav Logan

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird. Yes that’s right we have escaped our dank cellar and our evil landlord (if you want to know how you will have to read our #RainbowSnippets posts on Saturdays and all will be revealed). So we are now heading the revolution in Ire from the skies – which turns out to be much safer and more fun than heading it from the ground! But never fear, we still have time to stop for elevenses! 

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because this morning we are taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured to have one of the contributors, Nav Logan, as our guest for elevenses!

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Dreamtime Fantasy Tales authors are proud to DREAMTIME present their anthology & FATAL FEMMES With stories by: Greg Alldredge Penny Blake Nimue Brown Leslie Conzatti Guy Donovan Johan Klein Haneveld Jaq D Hawkins Marc vun Kannon Nav Logan Paul Michael Morgan Smith Benjamin Towe Expected Nils Visser Mary R. Woldering SEPTEMBER 2019 Thomas Woldering A.M. Young'

Do please have a seat, Nav, (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

I don’t drink tea.

What? I… I’m sorry I please forgive me I just slipped off my chair… I’m so sorry, I must have had sea water in my ears, I thought you said you don’t drink tea? No, I’m sure I must have misheard you, here have a nice soothing cup of Earl Grey with a dash of Absinthe.There you go. Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology we keep hearing about – the aether is alive with the gossip!

Gossip is the Devil’s telephone they say, but having spent my fair share of time kneeling in front of the loo, groaning “Oh God!” I guess it’s only fair to confirm that the compilation is near completion and almost ready for print, and yes, I did my small part in the whole thing by supporting the rights of women to wear chainmail bikinis, should they so wish, or not, as the case may be. We live in a diverse universe, and I say live and let live, or to paraphrase Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Oh we octopuses always think everyone should get along and … (Hm? Oh don’t be ridiculous Max I do NOT own a chainmail bikini and I’m CERTAIN my tentacles would get pinched in the links.) Although I have to say, Nav, it does does sound exciting. What inspired you to write it?

Nils Visser gave me a challenge to write this particular story. I had contributed another one too, but only this one made it through the rigorous editing process… And then only after I bribed and coerced some of the judges… but we won’t go into that.

Ah yes, bribery, coercion, cake laced with epic doses of the Green Fairy… we are certainly on the same page. We believe that is the only reason Penny’s story was included too. More cake? I see you haven’t touched your tea… (Max be quiet, everyone loves tea)

Now then, what would you say most influences your writing in general?

Heavy doses of M&Ms and a heady cocktail of Chinese food and Red Bulls, although I’m currently in rehab and detoxing … I’m sixteen days clean now!

Ah yes, Max went cold turkey once from caffeine and sugar. It wasn’t pretty. You have our deepest sympathies. Cherry Bakewell? No? Oh yes, sorry, you’re detoxing… um… and are there any authors who have particularly inspired you? (No he doesn’t want to hear your poetry Max, stop interrupting)

Thomas Jefferson. Man, that dude could write. That whole Independence thing… wow… mind blowing!

Oh yes we are all about independence – we are heading the revolution from the skies in fact (it being far safer than leading a revolution from the ground, we have discovered) but back to writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

Some would say poetry was my road to fiction… Others would refer to my previous illicit horticultural endeavours and the particular strain of plant I developed… That was some pretty mind-expanding stuff, right there. I put some in the tea to give it a kick. Hope you don’t mind.

I see, oh dear, is that why the room has turned purple and your head has exploded in a burst of golden stars? You must leave some behind with us when you go. And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

World domination, but I’ll start with becoming the King of Ramsbottom.

World domination… er…. you’re not a wizard are you? So, where can we get our tentacles on a copy of this delightful Dreamtime Damsels collection? I mean, I know it’s not OFFICIALLY on sale yet but we thought, you know, as we’ve been so kind and plied you with cake and suspicious hot beverages….

The Black Market… The Deep web… I’m not authorised to reveal that. It’s beyond your security clearance to even think about it, let alone utter such a request out loud.

Damn. Our hearts are broken! Oh well, it was worth a try I suppose. And what about your own work, where can we find more of that?

There are ears everywhere… Mum’s a word… <wink>

Oh! Oh I see… um…. Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped… or perhaps that was the effect of this blasted tea… I am so very sorry I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

I’m good thanks.

Are you sure you’re alright? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t tempt you with another cup of tea? Yo haven’t even touched your first!

I can’t feel my toes! Is that normal?

Would you like some help crawling to the door?

Oh dear, Max I do believe your awful poetry and ill-concealed amorous advances have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’ What do you mean it was my fault for pushing tea on him? Everybody loves tea!

Thankyou, long-suffering friends, for joining us this morning on board our beautiful new rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan


Elevenses: #inktober 50 shades of tea

Greetings! I may have got a bit behind with inktober postings but rest assured the old pen and brushes have been whirring behind the scenes…

Here is Jules WHY-Verne  in ink and excitingly his first lil story book has all the words finished and will be well on its way to being published in the near future 🙂

IMG_2217.JPG

 

Here also is Christina taking her tea  in the back passage, painted in tea and coffee. I think I’m getting better at the backgrounds, I just love the way you can build up these little clouds of colour. This one isn’t finished, I’ll be building up the layers of coffee over the next few days to give  a rich, dark sheen to some areas.

 

and here also is the little excerpt from Jack and Marjory which sets her in context… Jack and Marjory (who were trying to smuggle a priceless historical teaset which everyone seems to want) have just been captured by a ruthless band of beatnik poets and taken to The Golden Lion in Lancaster to wait for Max, the leader of the revolution, to be hung on Friday…

There were poets everywhere and everyone was talking, some were reciting and some were conversing and some were just ranting loudly away to themselves or perhaps the room at large or perhaps the universe or someone in particular on the other side… and men and women with quills and nibs and paintbrushes and wells of ink and mugs of cold black chicory coffee were writing all over the walls the things that were being said or thought or sung around them or inside them so that they became essays and poems and novels by the look of some of them… and still others were reading aloud what was being written as if it were prophecy or scripture or a recipe for the most sinful cake in Devon…

…all come to the golden lion… all come to see Max… get hung…

The Golden Lion ; a shrine and a womb and a cathedral and a tomb and a chrysalis all at the same time…  all to see one man who wasn’t perhaps, by his own admission,  even a man at all, get mullered for love.

« Cause that was all it was, really » Johnny Moonstruck, owner of the Garish Theatre Company is standing with his foot on a bar stool rocking it back and forth back and forth while he drums with his paintbrush on the side of his mug »

…is this really just chicory they’re drinking…

«  love of a woman, love of too many women, love of too much tea, love of One’s own autonomy and freedom, love of being Utterly Oneself »

We nod, we understand the narcissistic drive that says ‘I bloody well can and will and the devil take me I shall. » but he’s not done …

 

« … the love of Oneself and then of course the sacrifice of that love for love of another but, in the hope of what ? That love then being reciprocated ? It’s the same with The Cause, the fight for One’s own freedom has to be the fight, eventually, for every One’s freedom, but it’s all driven by that same Utopian ideal of love eternal and unconditionally reciprocated, be it platonic or otherwise. That’s what lead him here, that’s what has lead us all here. Look around you , Mary, »

« Marjory »
« Marjory… »

« and Jack »

« Right… It’s not even that they believe or care about any Goddess or any old heretical religion, or even Amelia,  they don’t really give a damn, they just want to love what they love and who they love and be left alone… have you got enough cake ?»

« …the soul of the teapot… the soul of the commonest object… the last bag of flour… the poem in the heart of the treacle miner…»

 

That might have been the theme that ran through all the words and pictures and pantomimes as we moved from cacophonies of colour  to grotesqueries of sound, but it might not have been as well. We couldn’t say if there was any truth in that reduction of all things either, havin experienced little of this love thing ourselves, we was more inclined to say, from our own perspective, that survival was what had brought us here and the random kindness of one crazy Land Pirate.

Even if we could possibly have said something that would add to that… even if we could have found a voice through all that upper-middle-class artistic ego venting … we had no one to say it to. This was hardly about us at all…

« Hey, hex slinger are you ? Mm, mm, that’s what it’s all about, taking back the magic…hey, Wainright, get this woman some cake… »

And that was how it went in The Lion for days on end. Pushing the seams, pushing the rafters…pushing…

« …the limits of the diaphane… »

and Christina walked among them all like a china doll, like one of Amelia’s automatons…a little white idol of a goddess they’d created in her own bloody image… wearing Joyce’s words poured out onto teabags and stitched together into the daintiest little wafers of dresses and long bridalesque trains that just might melt given enough steam…

« the soul of the commonest… the dream in the heart of the treacle miner… »

JACKANDMARJORYCOVER

 

I’m afraid I’m running a day behind so Mrs Baker will be in her soup kitchen tomorrow with a cute little grey furry helper… in the meantime, Blessings on your brew and all your inktober endeavors 🙂


#inktober : 50 shades of tea

Or we could have said 50 shades of EARL grey but that sounded a bit prejudiced against all the other lovely teas out there – we are a pro-diversity site remember!

So what is this diabolically titled post all about?  Celebration of course! Celebration of tea and diversity and difference and similarity and community and preferences and peculiarities and did I mention tea? I don’t pretend to be an artist, just a sad old tea-sot who’d like to improve!

So this year my teabies are going to bring you ’50 shades of tea’ starting with a group hug… because that’s the way all things should begin isn’t it? Feel free to snigger, or groan as you see fit 😉

  1. EVERYONE’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT:

IMG_2044

Here’s Max, Collin and Christina (I hate-love-hate drawing Chrissy and Max together but, that’s the history.) Very unhappy with the shakiness of my damn hands but, hey, start at the bottom and climb upwards right? That’s the plan anyway..

And from today here’s a lil sketch of Chrissy on her own wearing the teabag dress with all Joyce Jameson’s wise words written on the teabags (“whoever has the last bag of flour will win the war…the limits of the diaphane…the soul of the commonest object…the poem in the heart of the treacle miner..” etc etc ) which she wore when she went to see Max get hung in Lancaster.

2. CHRISTINA TAKES IT IN THE BACK PASSAGE:

IMG_2045

Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday I’ll try and do Chrissy in tea and Max in ink…  blessings on your brew, and all your inktober endeavors 🙂

 


Elevenses: Utterly Myself

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to Max and Collin’s providentially propitious to porcine perfection parlour located beneath the seasonably sodden streets of the splendidly scenic city f Steampunk’d Lancaster.

True there was a little kerfuffle here yesterday with some animal rights activists getting  hold of the wrong end of the proverbial stick and and trying to beat us to death with it, but never fear, such morally explosive coves will not be receiving another invitation.

You find us this morning much returned to the usual mill of things, the angry mob has dissipated, the furniture is recovering its dignity, Freddy is telling himself obscene jokes and we are feeling virtuous after feeding an entire town full of orphans their first taste of bacon. We have also stocked up on beer pending the arrival of our new pet and even made it a sort of ‘hutch’ …. hm? …. oh sorry Max says it’s called a sty… in the corner out of lemonade crates and the dismembered chaise. So, we are pig-ready and so forth.

Also, we have some news. News which I didn’t personally believe when Max first informed me of it. But, there it is, a box has arrived and now there is no doubting the fact – Max has written a book. And yes it is painted in tea. Of curse it is. How could it not be.

You may recall some time back that Penny put all her stories together into a book? Well if you remember that then you may also remember that Max got a bit shirty and said that he – or indeed we – ought also to be in a book. Some banter was exchanged and Max, being the precious kid he is, stormed out in a sulk and went to have a hairy coffee in The Squid and Teapot where he moaned and sulked and whined and recited a lot of embarrassing poetry until he passed out in a pool of his own sonnet. In short, he made such a damned nuisance of himself that in the end our dear friends Nimue and Tom Brown said that they would help him into a book if ONLY he would sod off back to Lancaster and leave them in peace with their demons.

So Max returned, joyfully coughing consumption over everyone but, nevertheless, with a box full of books. Somehow he persuaded Penny to do the words and pictures – I think a lot of Lapsang must have change hands there – and so here they are, available to buy on our etsy store, should you be inclined to do so…

Utterly.jpg

 

“Description

Eightcups Max and his Octopus friend Collin feature in their first book together – Utterly Myself –

Max may use the ironic handle of Very Quiet Gentleman but everyone who has ever Met Max knows that Very Quite and Gentleman are not accurate descriptions of our beloved tea fiend. Rumors abound about demonic rituals and medical malpractice and there is even a young lady in Bedlam who swears Max has tentacles…

So what the hell are you Max? – Man? Woman? Monster?

Join Max and Collin in this lovingly tea-painted Small Strange Book as they ask what it means to be any or all or none of these things and above all, do remain always, Utterly Yourself. “

We are very much back to normal now here in Lancaster – Mrs Baker will be in her soup kitchen tomorrow and do please stop in and pester Peril in his Lovely Library on Friday, he does so hate to be interrupted in his vital work and we do so love annoying him.
We will of course be back in the parlour on Monday with some more excellent fiction and tea so until then
Please remain always, Utterly Yourself

Elevenses: The Politics of Post-Brexit treacle

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, thankyou for joining us for elevenses this morning! Today you find us burning the candle at both ends. We have just returned from laying bets on a splendid spot of hex-slinging over at The Angel where we ran into a very dear friend of ours, Jack and Marjory, who used to work in the treacle mines over at Chobham (before we liberated them and the other orphans who had been enslaved there that is)

We should probably explain to any non-UK residents that, here in Britain, we mine our treacle out of the ground. This has been the case for centuries and  William Cobbet, recently visiting Crumbria in 1816, wrote:

“This place I found to be a fair and healthy place, the women and children well fed and happy. Most menfolk were at work upon the Land but that evening in the excellent Crown and Thorns Inn I was surpassingly surprised to see many men brown of hue. On enquiry I determined that these were miners of Treacle and what a jolly crew they turned out to be. That night I repaired to my bed thanking our maker that there was at least one happy parish in the land.”

 

You see, when rain water falls over Birch forests any residual sap on the sides of the tree trunks becomes dissolved in the rain water and is carried down under the ground. The rainwater seeps into the bedrock where it pools and eventually evaporates, leaving behind the black sticky birch sap , or treacle. Over thousands of years the treacle hardens into veins which can be mined out of the rock in the same way as coal. Occasionally, the pressure of large deposits  causes the rock to crack and the treacle to ooze, or sometimes rocket,  to the surface, in fact this is how the treacle hot spot in Chobham was discovered – much to the embarrassment of the courting couple who were caught in the explosion.

Treacle mining has, in the past, controversially employed boggarts to retrieve the ‘black gold’ (as we call it over here) but the government now ‘employs’  street children to do the dirty work as the boggarts, along with all other magical beings,  disappeared after the goddess was defeated.

Of course Max and I are communicating with you via the wonders of aether-technology from the year 1842 but Penny tells us that in fact the last known treacle mine in Britain closed in 2012, which begs the question…if you are still eating treacle, where is all your treacle coming from? Hm? Because if you are depending on the one and only European Treacle Mine in Bergues, you may find your post-Brexit  desserts have come to a sticky end.

The Bergues Treacle Mine was founded when Frittenden pit boss Harrold Gray was forced to close his mine after a plague-like  infestation of Fritts (small insects which live below ground and destroy the wheat crops of neighbouring farms). Gray decided to take a trip down to the cliffs at Dover and reflect on which direction his life now ought to take. Gazing out to see he happened to glance down and saw a gentleman of similar age standing perilously close to the cliff edge. Harry called out to warn the fellow but in doing so alarmed him and the young man slipped, falling into the waves below. Without thinking, Harry leapt after him and, clinging to eachother for dear life, the two were quickly swept out to sea. Fortunately they were picked up by a schooner running buns out of Calais but as the smugglers were on their return trip they could only agree to drop the two men in France. Stranded with no means of getting home, Harry and his new chum Herbert made their way by happenchance to Bergues where they discovered that the local forester, Majolica Luneville, had recently struck a treacle gyser and had no idea how to exploit the vein. Harry stepped in with his expertise and together the three treacleteers opened the first and only ever French Treacle Mine. Since all the British mines are now closed, we can only assume that all the world’s treacle now comes from there.

Still it is possible that the British monarchy have already forseen this problem and made the first move – The Prince Of Wales has apparently recently laid claim to the treacle mining rights in the Duchy of Cornwall, much to the anger of Talskiddy Treacle Mining Corporation.

Luke Bazeley, the mine boss at Talskiddy said  “Although it’s said that nothing will come of this, I think that as the current climate is cold as far as Talskiddy treacle’s market value is concerned, this worried some local employees.”

Talskiddy residents first heard about the claims in a letter sent to them by the Land Registry. It said the registration did not mean it had any intentions of mining the land but residents and workers are naturally concerned.

Mayor of St Columb David Swindells said: “The Duke of Cornwall is trying to claim the land and minerals of the people of Talskiddy, but this is a Mad Hatter idea. This isn’t Alice In Wonderland and if he continues, he might find himself in a sticky situation.”

A Cornwall Council spokesman said they would try “ to keep the local community sweet”

So there you have it, will there still be treacle after Britain leaves the EU? Will the crown seize the day and cash-in by re-opening  the mines of old Blighty? Or will treacle deposits be discovered elsewhere and instigate world war five? Who knows. In the meantime here are some interesting articles exploring the plight, decline and politics of the treacle industry in Britain , you know, in case you thought we were making it all up… oh ye of little faith…

 

Treacle Mines Of Britain: http://www.treacleminer.com

Treacle Tax: Dunchideok Mine Treacle Tax

Trevithick re-opnes – https://trevithick-society.org.uk/cornish-treacle-mine-re-open/

Miners convention: http://www.treacleminer.com/

Kent closures: http://www.treacleminer.com/

Saben mine closure: https://www.duedil.com/company/gb/02159301/sabden-treacle-mines-limited

 

Mrs Baker will be talking Steampunk India with Suna Dasi in her soup kitchen tomorrow and Peril flings wide the doors of his Lovely Library on Friday to bring you his latest piece of anthropological research – ‘Tales From Steampunk’d Lancaster Part 1: Tales Of The Hex Slingers’ . And of course Max and I will be back on Monday with some more excellent fiction and tea so, until then please remain always,

Utterly Yourself

 


Elevenses: With Nimue Brown and the Sinners of Hopeless Maine

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the sweltering summer streets of steampunk’d Lancaster! You find us this morning still trying to sell enough lemonade to keep our sinister landlord off our proverbial backs (and our actual backs, in fact – he has recently fitted his walking cane with a morning star.)

So, can we interest you in a delightfully delinquent and relentlessly refreshing bottle of fiz? Brewed by our own fair tentacles? …. What? Oh, hold on a minute, who’s this?

Well strap me into a corset and call me Susan, it’s our dear friend Nimue Brown!  What brings you to this street corner, my darling? (Max, stop being rude and ridiculous)

N: This is what I get for borrowing a pair of trousers from Professor Elemental. At least we now know where and when I am, which is progress…

Well we are very, very glad the trousers went wrong because we have been simply dying to get our tentacles on a copy of Sinners – the newest release in your Hopeless, Maine Steampunk graphic novel series!  Please, do tell me you have some Hopeless Sinners tucked away somewhere about your person?

N: I’m like some kind of non-seasonal, less than perfectly masculine Father Christmas with a really dodgy sack just now. I’ve got all the Sinners. Hopeless Sinners.

sinners

The very best kind of Father Christmas then by all accounts! Thankyou! (Max take your mits off it you’re getting it all sticky) we will certainly be reviewing that over a nice cup of tea in the parlour shortly, but before we get it home and out of its negligee (Hm? Oh it’s called a ‘dust jacket’ is it? Sorry…) a-hem… do we get a little teaser as to what’s inside? From the cover it looks like Sal has grown up a little!

N: No, you were right first time, it was a negligee, I may have got a bit carried away with the ‘sinners’ part. I don’t think I’ve got any of the chained ones left…

Oh that is shame…

Yes, Sal is a bit more grown up at this point, but it’s still a passably child friendly read, if the child has no fear of demons, elder gods, monstrous sea life and whatnot. Funny things happen, terrible things happen, and we find out more about the people who live underground on the island.

Now that is what I call a tease! And where can our good friends here get their hands (or indeed tentacles)  on a copy?

N: In theory, anywhere that sells books. In practice, you have to make an appropriate sacrifice at the full moon and pray to an elder God that the online store of your choosing will have copies and will not be charging an entirely random price for them! We’ve had issues in the pre-order period.

Well if anyone needs a potential sacrifice candidate we have a landlord we are willing to part with for noble purposes such as this so do shout…

Otherwise, watch out for Sloth Comics at comics events, or my betentacled crew at Asylum in Lincoln.

Splendid! Now look here, Mrs. Brown, I don’t suppose you could help us sell a few bottles of this fiz here could you? My tentacles are drying out in this heat and Max’s so called ‘wit’ is driving the punters away in… ouch!… I mean, is perhaps not to everyone’s taste…

N:We could redeploy some of the negligees to protect those vulnerable tentacles, don’t you think?

Hm, this reminds of that  pole dancing episode … Max get off that lampost people are starting to flee the street…

I don’t know any lemonade songs. I’ve got a lemon song, but I mostly use it for stuffing chickens with. It goes (brace yourself)

‘lemon up your bum, lemon up your bum, lots and lots of lovely lemons, lemons up your bum’.

Which might or might not sell lemonade, I suppose…

 

Well I think between the three of us we have managed to clear the docklands quicker than if someone had shouted ‘PLAGUE!’ … and now we may well be reduced to pole dancing again to make the rent this month, so may I keep the negligee?

Thankyou for joining us on the street corner this morning, we will be back soon with more splendid shenanigans and a super special announcement … or two… so, until then,

please be always,

Utterly Yourself


Elevenses: With Aunt Enid – protector extraordinaire!

A GUEST POST BY STEAMPUNK WRITER KAREN J CARLISLE…

 

<The Parlour door creaks open. Smoke drifts into the room. An old lady with a grey bob enters, shuts the door behind her and leans on her silver walking stick.>

 

Don’t worry, dears, the smoke should dissipate soon. I should’ve never left Agnes to watch the scones/oven. She always gets distracted, that one. I managed to save some scones for us.

 

< A plastic container thuds on the table.>

 

I’ve brought that new book you wanted. It took some trickery to pry it from the author’s hands, you know. They’d only just arrived by courier. She’s so excited. I thought you might like her to visit.

 

<Silence.>

 

Oh.

 

<The cane taps on the floor.>

 

Oh, sorry. I didn’t see you there. Are you here to see Max and Collin? We haven’t met have we? They said they would introduce us before they left. I’m Enid Turner.

Oh, dear that sounds very formal. <She smiles.> Just call me Aunt Enid.

 

< Pause.>

 

They didn’t tell you I would be looking after the Parlour, today? They had to pop out to sell some lemonade… <She lowers her voice.> To earn the rent money.

 

<The clock strikes eleven. Aunt Enid sighs.>

 

It’s time for Elevenses already? Oh, dear, I am late, aren’t I? That explains why they aren’t here. That’s the problem with Relocation Magic. It’s not always reliable.

 

<She reaches into her apron pocket, retrieves a book and plops it onto the table. The kettle whistles in the kitchen.>

 

Do you prefer tea or coffee?

 

<Tea cups chink onto their saucers. The plastic container snaps open. The smell of freshly baked scones fills the room.>

 

I made scones and lemon butter. Why don’t you try some.

 

<She dribbles some honey into her coffee, her hand grips her walking stick as she waits.>

 

Why, thank you. It’s a family recipe. Are you feeling all right?

 

<She relaxes and rests the walking stick against her chair.>

 

Oh, good. Now that’s done, I suppose I should get started.

 

<She clears her throat.>

 

Ahem…Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously ridiculous and chi-chi to the core parlour located somewhere within the lower intestines of the splendidly steampunk’d city of Lancaster.

Is that how it goes? Yes? Oh, good. I must apologise; Max and Collin said they would leave some questions for me, but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. I suppose I’ll have to ask the questions myself.

 

<She sips her coffee.>

 

Q: Tell us about the new book, Aunt Enid.

Oh, it’s just a little story Agnes and I wrote. My niece, Sally, insisted we publish it. But don’t believe everything you read.

Q: And what is The Dark?

There’s no such things as Shadows and Collectors, or The Dark. That sort of thing gives people nightmares.

 

<Pause.>

 

Pardon?

 

<Aunt Enid frowns, picks up the book and reads.>

 

When people start disappearing Sally is drawn into her aunt’s secret world and soon discovers her aunt is a Protector Extraordinaire.”

Yes, it’s my duty to stop it breaking through this world’s protective shell, and protect you all. That’s what a Protector does – in the story, that is.

Would you like another scone?

 

<Aunt Enid turns the book over and shifts in her seat.>

 

Q: Tell us about your garden?

Oh, I’d love to. Did you know hydrangeas change colour depending on the acidity of the soil? I like/prefer mine to be blue.

 

<Pause.>

 

What’s that? Why blue? Well… I like blue. It’s a lovely colour don’t you think? Bees like blue. Oh, did I tell you about my bees? They are such lovely creatures. Very observant. As are garden gnomes.

Did I say that?

 

<Aunt Enid stares into her teacup and whispers to herself.> I wonder what Max has put into the coffee…

 

<Lightning flashes outside the window. Thunder rumbles over the roof tiles. Aunt Enid grasps her cane and glares out the window. Loud drops of water tap on the roof. Her hand relaxes and she rests her walking stick on her lap.>

 

Everything’s fine. It’s just a rain storm.

 

<Pause.>

 

Oh, silly me. You mustn’t mind an old woman. One must be expected to get flustered at my age.

 

<She smiles, pulls a folded piece of paper from her pocket and places it on the table in front of you.>

 

Do you like the lemon butter? I promised Max and Collin I’d share my recipe with you.

LEMON BUTTER RECIPE

 

<The front door slams shut. Footsteps hurry down the hall. Max and Collin enter the Parlour, dripping water all over the carpet.>

 

Well, it’s about time you two got back. You forgot to leave me some questions to answer.

<Pause.>

 

Yes, Collin, I’ll leave the scones for your afternoon tea.

 

<Aunt Enid turns back to you, and smiles.>

 

Thank you for keeping an old lady company. I need to get back to Adelaide and get lunch ready. My Sally’s on afternoon shift at the hospital today. Just make sure Max and Collin don’t hog the scones.

 

Goodbye Aunt Enid! See you again soon we hope! … Hog the scones indeed! Who does she think we are, a pair of cake crazed tea guzzling lunatics without an ounce of self control when it comes to…. Max! Stop stuffing your face with scones, that is no way to behave in front of our guests… mind you they do look exceedingly tasty… and is that lemon butter? ….

 

You can read about Aunt Enid’s adventures in the first book of Karen J Carlisle’s new cosy paranormal mystery series, The Other Worlds Chronicles

“Daemons, fairies, magic: it’s all real!
The Otherworld is bleeding through cracks into our world. And Adelaide is ground zero. Something is coming. Something dark – trading souls for passage. And only one person stands between The Dark and the fate of the world.
Aunt Enid is just your average seventy-something year old. She loves to cook, is a regular at bingo and spends hours in her garden, talking to her army of garden gnomes and fussing over the colour of her hydrangeas…
When people start disappearing, her great niece, Sally, is drawn into a secret world and soon discovers her great aunt is a Protector Extraordinaire.”

 

 

Karen J Carlisle is a writer and illustrator of steampunk, Victorian mystery and fantasy.

She graduated in 1986, from Queensland Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Optometry and lives in Adelaide with her family and the ghost of her ancient Devon Rex cat.

Karen first fell in love with science fiction when she saw Doctor Who as a four-year old (she can’t remember if she hid behind the couch). This was reinforced when, at the age of twelve, she saw her first Star Destroyer. She started various other long-term affairs with fantasy fiction, (tabletop) role-playing, gardening, historical re-creation and steampunk – in that order.

She has had articles published in Australian Realms Roleplaying Magazine and Cockatrice (Arts and Sciences magazine). Her short story, An Eye for Detail, was short-listed by the Australian Literature Review in their 2013 Murder/Mystery Short Story Competition. Karen’s short story, Hunted, featured in the ‘A Trail of Tales’ exhibition in the 2016 Adelaide Fringe.

She writes full-time and can often be found plotting fantastical, piratical or airship adventures.

Karen has always loved dark chocolate and rarely refuses a cup of tea.

She is not keen on the South Australian summers.

Where to find Karen:

www.karenjcarlisle.com

Twitter: @kjcarlisle – https://twitter.com/kjcarlisle

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KarenJCarlisle/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/karenjcarlisle/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com.au/riverkat42/

For information on where to buy Karen’s books: http://www.karenjcarlisle.com/shop

 

You can also follow Aunt Enid’s progress on the book’s FB page.

 

 

 

In the interests of Transparency, a note from Penny : I have the potential to earn a small amount of income through the Amazon Associates program should visitors to this site choose to purchase Aunt Enid – Protector Extraordinaire via the featured links in this article – Penny 🙂 

 

 


Elevenses: Join The Ministry Of Steam Wizards!

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen!

Welcome back to Max and Collin’s marvellously magical parlour located somewhere within the bowels of the splendidly scenic city of steampunk’d Lancaster!

True some have called it a house of illusion and deception where strange creatures wait to lure unsuspecting travellers to doom, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

This morning we have some exciting news to share with you all! As well as our wonderful Hopeless Shenanigans at Time Quake Steampunk Festival last month, we had the very great honour of meeting The Ministry Of Steam Wizards, being sorted into our steam wizard houses by Aethelred The Pigeon Of Pigeonholing and taking part in their wand making, potions and wand duelling sessions!

WE CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH, THE ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF AWESOME THAT IS THE MINISTRY OF STEAM WIZARDS!

steam wizards 1

But if you were not at Time Quake, fear not! You can join us at The Ministry Of Steampunk Wizards right now and become part of this fabulous, friendly, supportive and super-splendiferous steampunk society!

GET SORTED INTO YOUR STEAMPUNK WIZARD HOUSE HERE

Just like the Harry Potter houses, there are four Steampunk Wizard houses which Aethelred the pigeon of pigeonholing can sort you into. A quick questionnaire (which of course, just like the Hogwarts sorting hat, takes into account your own personal preference) will determine whether you would be best placed in

 

Shackleton : The best house to be in and not just because it is the house that we – and by association Penny – were sorted into! Named after the great polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, some may call us bold, pigheaded and obstinate but we know that is just the green eyed monster speaking.

Here’s a word from our head of house:

“Good evening everyone I shall take this opportunity to introduce myself and the next school house.

My name is Professor Albert Vastin and I am the head of Shackleton house, I am also the Duelling instructor at our school. We of Shackleton house are said to be Persistent and strong willed to the point of obstinacy, I prefer to see us as determined in all our endeavours. It’s a fact that we are the more likely of our brethren to put our magic aside and get our hands dirty be it adapting non magic gadgets to meet our own needs or expanding our knowledge of far flung corners of the world, it’s no wonder many of the great explorer of the last century came from our house, after all one of the greatest is our founder and patron! Our house colour is blue and house song is Nimrod. (At least it will be when I persuade the other heads that we should have house songs!)

Our house motto is “Exultemus in faciem adversis.” Which means “Triumph in the face of adversity.”

Our house founder Earnest Shackleton lived these qualities in abundance. A wizard of iron will he lead several polar expeditions braving sub zero temperatures and hard ships that would make most of us tremble, he managed all this without magic. (He lived too close to them to hide it). He greatest achievement was the saving of his crew while they were trapped in ice and their supplies ran low.

I look forward to greeting those who join our endeavours to discover just what is beyond the horizon, we can equip you for that journey in Shackleton House.”

steam wizards nightigale

 

Nightingale : Named after the famous founder of nursing Florence Nightingale, never cross a Nightingale they say, for the only difference between medicine and poison is the dose!

Here’s a word from their head of house:

“Felicitations my good people! Welcome to the next House in The Steam Wizard School- Nightingale 🙂 I am Queenie Goldsteam, your Head of House and Matron. We are inspired by the great heroine, Florence Nightingale, the lady of the lamp (who was, of course, a light magic user). A pioneer in her field. Our attributes are that we are caring, considerate, patient, helpful but ruthless. We are resourceful and respond well to crisis and change. We are leaders and specialists in any field we choose.

Our House Colour: Red (for the blood of life)
Symbol: heart

I look forward to meeting fellow Nightgalians! Do you have what it takes to:

“A cool head and a warm heart light the way” ? ”

steam wizards edmonstone

Edmonstone Named after John Edmonstone the taxidermist who taught and inspired  Charles Darwin, Edmonstonians are persistant in the face of adversity and prefer to work quietly behind the scenes supporting and encouraging the endeavours of others – a bit like ninjas really… only more kind-hearted and possibly bearing cake… cake ninjas?

Here’s a word from their head of house: 

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen! I am Professor Solis Dark and I am here to introduce the final of our four houses- Edmonstone.

Edmonstone house is known for perseverence. We will not give up no matter the odds, and grow in the face of adversity. Our quiet strength comes from our rigour, and we apply ourselves thoroughly to any task. We are often most comfortable behind the scenes, providing knowledge and support.

We are a creative house, learning and growing together (as our symbol would suggest). In Edmonstone you are encouraged to be the best you can without judgement. Education is valued in Edmonstone in all forms, as is creativity. We are creators, in science and in the arts.

Our founder was John Edmonstone, the freed slave who taught Charles Darwin, ultimately encouraging him to move from medicine to naturalism. He inspired Darwin with tales of his time in the deep rainforests of South America and was a talented taxidermist. He was a learned man, who achieved great things in time, and we are proud to bear his name.

Our house motto is ‘gutta cavat lapidem’, inspired by his perseverance. It translates to “a water drop hollows a stone” or “constant dripping wears the stone”. I look forward to welcoming new members of Edmonstone!

A small admin note for any prospective Edmonstonians: I am primarily based on Venus for field research and am often away from my office for long periods. My Acting Head of House is Lauramavic Caradonna who will be representing Edmonstone at some events we attend. Feel free to direct queries at us both.”

steam wizards earheart

 

Earheart Named after Amelia Earheart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic, ask an Earheart where they’ve been and you’ll likely be told “Where haven’t I been? WOOOOOFF!”

Here’s a word from their head of house:

“Good evening, fellow Steam Wizards!

The first house that I proudly present to you is the House Of Earheart. Named after the great Amelia Earheart, female pilot (and secret witch of the Ministry), Earheart has inspired the qualities of our House: Bold, adventurous, and lovers of derring do! Outgoing and brash- not afraid to break convention and fly with ideas!

I (Korbynn Talon) will be your head of house and I look forward to meeting fellow Earheartians! Do you have the derring do to be one of us?

On Wings We Fly!”

 

SORTED! WHAT NEXT? …. 

Once you’ve sorted yourself, you’ll need to make a wizard name for yourself, you might have one in mind already but if you need a little help you can use this WIZARD NAME GENERATOR

Once you have your name and house you’re ready to come and introduce yourself on the facebook forum!  

Here you can meet the staff and your fellow wizards, post anything pertaining to your steampunk wizarding adventures and create a personal Chronicles file which can build up over time as an on going in-character diary of your magical adventures!

Wizards and witches of all ages are welcomed at the Ministry Of Steam wizards and their ‘outreach programme’ seeks to encourage and support youngsters by sending them a letter of encouragement and support or congratulations for an achievement ( you can ask them to put a specific thing in the letter if you wish) along with a steam wizard certificate. This is a heart-meltingly wonderful idea which they are providing for free so if you know a young witch or wizard who could do with a boost let the steam wizards know!

Once you’ve settled in you’ll no doubt want to get yourself kitted out in some top wizarding tweeds so pop along to Madame Warpweft’s Academic Outfiters and pick up your wand, robes and official house badges, pins and hair bands, all at super-affordable prices (our little urchins were able splash their pocket money on plenty of fabulous things!)

Practical Magic…

Besides contributing to the online community there are plenty of fun and practical things you can do at home or at conventions which The Ministry Of Steam Wizards are present at.

The Ministry has devised an excellent system for wizard duelling with steampunk spells! The actual spells to be used will change at each convention or event, making it fair for newcomers, and the system works with a core of 5 spells where each spell defeats two others (exactly like rock, paper, scissors!) at the duelling master’s word the two duellists shout their spells and the judges determine who has won. Anyone can duel for fun or in the training workshops but formal competitors must be aged 10 years or over.

The spells used at Time Quake (so that you can have a go now at home!) were:

Coglito Totalis! (Beats Steamulto and Punkus)

Steamulto! (Beats Automata and Tenebitur)

Automata! (Beats Punkus and Coglito Totalis)

Punkus! (Beats Steamulto and Tenebitur)

Tenebitur! (Beats Automata and Coglito Totalis)

 

If you’re more of a potion brewer than a wand waver, we also had fun at Time Quake brewing colour changing potions of love, healing and death! our little urchins enjoyed this so much they had a potions day at home and devised their own simple system for naming steampunk potions, which you are welcome to borrow:

Take a Latin prefix which describes the type of potion you are making, add any word associated with steampunk, end with any Latin suffix that sounds cool!

 

So there you have it, what are you waiting for?! Come and join us at the Ministry Of Steam Wizards and look out for them at your next Steampunk convention!

 

We will be back in the parlour next week with a review of Selkie Cove by one of our favourite authors of all time, Kara Jorgensen, so until then please remain always

Utterly Yourself!

 

PS: It shouldn’t need to be said but, just in case: ” Intellectual copyright of everything in this post – rules, names and spells, competition and games etc. are the intellectual copyright of the Ministry Of Steam Wizards and not to be used elsewhere without prior agreement. Ministry of Steam Wizard (MoSW) and Mme Warpweft’s Academic Outfitters logos, house emblems, products and prizes belong to the group as intellectual property. The admins/staff reserve the right to refuse third parties to reproduce and access to MSW logos and emblems. Logos/ emblems/ names/ Houses/ intellectual content must not to be used for profit and resale. Use of logos in re-creation for personal use is permitted (and indeed encouraged- we love to see what you can do for your and your families outfits!) with copyright credited on anything shown online (physical produce, art work ,writing for instance).”

 

 

 

 

 


Elevenses: With Captain Jack Davenport of Army Of Brass

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously ridiculous and chi-chi to the core parlour located somewhere within the lower intestines of the splendidly steampunk’d city of Lancaster.

 

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because joining us for elevenses this morning we have our favourite character from Collaborative Writing Challenge’s Army Of Brass Captain Jack Davenport (is an octopus allowed to swoon?) of the Capital Cartographer’s Society.

 

Do please have a seat Captain (Max, get off the chaise and let the Captain sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea Captain? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

Just Darjeeling is fine, thankyou.

There you go. Now then , do tell us more about this Capital Cartographer’s Society you are a member of, what is its purpose?

 

Why, exploration of course! We use our fleet of airships to take us all over the world and we map the places and ideas we find there.

 

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting and exotic and… hm? Oh yes, wait a minute, Max says  ‘did you say you map ideas?’

 

Er, well, yes. In a sense. The CCS is concerned with which way the wind is blowing, both real and figuratively. We pride ourselves on understanding the way information travels and being able to predict events as much as to report on them after the fact. We have agents who are stationed in different cities, and as captains, such as myself, travel from place to place, we always spend a day or two catching up on what has happened there since our last visit. That information is compiled in Mailderet’s capitol, Antikythera, and our agents sometimes act in an advisory capacity to the king.

 

Hm, we’re not overly fond of Royalty and their advisors around here Captain, do you act in that capacity yourself?

 

I never stay in any one place for very long, so I’ve never had the pleasure myself. Journeyman Cartographers rarely have the opportunity to rub shoulders with royalty.

 

Even a Journeymen as famous as you?

 

Though the general public has certainly become familiar with some of my more daring exploits through the press and the occasional novel penned in my honor, the CCS’s feelings on the matter are rather more…complex. Lord Whithorne, the Seneschal, says he would prefer I spent less time giving interviews and more time in the skies, at least officially. But between you and me, I think he secretly enjoys the favored place the Cartographers occupy in the imaginations of the people. Our image as heroic explorers can open doors for us that the king’s seal simply cannot.

 

As your presence in our parlour this morning testifies, Captain. Battenburg?

 

Er, thankyou … is that octopus slime on my plate?

 

Maybe…. Being a CCS captain must  keep you on your toes – Any time for finding that special someone?

 

[Clears throat] As in love and marriage you mean?

 

Not necessarily…

 

Well, as you say, my work keeps me rather busy and on the move. There is one woman who…that is to say, I have met many interesting and lovely ladies on my travels,

 

What about cephalopods?

 

God no! I mean …. no one can compare to The Wayfarer. She is my love, my constant companion, and my gateway to the skies. I don’t know what I would do with myself if I ever lost my ship.

 

Did you hear that Max? The man is in love with his ship. Our hearts are broken.

Oh well. So which decadent delights are you and ‘The Wayfarer’ off to sample next?

 

Unfortunately, I’ve got serious work to do at the moment. We’ve known for some time that the Hunter Baron has been gathering his forces. The rough seas around Maildaret have protected us for some time, and the mountains inland protect the capitol and the House of Lords in Brasshaven, but he appears to be mobilizing all the same. His Marksmen army certainly outnumber our forces, and we must be prepared. Personally, I believe the key rests in the hands of the Master Tinkerer, but she will need some assistance. So, when I leave this way-station, I am going to Brand to consult with the Forgemaster and convince him to travel to Brasshaven to lend her a hand. Then, I must deliver the news of Fairport’s fall to the House of Lords and the Master Tinkerer.  

 

Have you ever met the Master Tinkerer before? She’s rather new to the position, isn’t she?

 

Elaina? Er…I mean… Mrs. Gable? Yes, we’ve met before. In Corkshire, during the massacre. She lost her husband there, but also got dozens of people to safety. She’s one of the bravest, most competent people I’ve ever met.

 

Oh Max, I think we have uncovered something! Captain Davenport, are you blushing?

 

What? No, of course not. It’s just warm in here. Wouldn’t you say it’s warm in here?

 

I certainly feel some of us are rather hot, would you like me to relieve you of your coat? Shirt? Anything at all?

Ah, no I…

Hm? I am not ‘pestering the Captain,’ Max, I’m just being hospitable! Max says that the involvement of Tinkerers and Smiths makes it sound like you’ve got something mechanical brewing to fight the Hunter Baron?

 

That’s astute of you. Perhaps you should consider becoming a Cartographer as well.

 

It sounds like a delightful proposition, but I can’t help but notice that you didn’t answer our question.

 

Oh, I’m fully aware of that, my friend. But one mustn’t tip one’s hand completely. Especially not when war is brewing. Fairport fell far quicker than anyone would have guessed, and I suspect the Duke had a traitor in his midst.

 

Why Captain if my sensibilities were more delicate I’d be offended! Are you insinuating I could be a spy? How deliciously dramatic of you! But, seriously, you must have some idea what sort of strategy the king will take in fighting the Hunter Baron?

 

As I said, I don’t really know his majesty personally. Though he may turn to the CCS from time to time, her prefers his circle of lords to any of us commoners. Once I have all of the pieces of my own plan in place, I hope to convince the Seneschal to arrange an audience with him to present the idea. He won’t like it, but I think it’s the best shot we have at keeping the people of Mailderet safe.

 

I see, then all we can do is wish you the very best of luck, Captain, and hope that the king can be persuaded.  And we must be getting back to the devious business of financing our own revolution which is desperately disorganised and underfunded. Do give lavish amounts of love and kisses to ‘Elaina’ from us both won’t you?

Oh dear Max I fear your overly dramatic advances have scared him away, I’ve never seen an airship weigh anchor as quick as that. Oh well, onward to the next conquest… and if you, dear friends, would like to find out more about Captain Davenport’s adventures you can order your copy of Army Of Brass here:

 

army of brass

 

Mrs Baker will be in her soup kitchen tomorrow with the next stop of the Army of Brass tour and we shall be back next week with some Steam Wizard magic so until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself


Elevenses: Showing The (green) Love

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen I hope you are all feeling the love this morning? The time is of course eleven o clock and we are ravenously eleven o clockish and remorselessly revved up with romance so let us see at once what our gorgeous werewolf butler has cooked up for us this morning…

IMG_1590.JPG

Absinthe ‘Show The Love’ hearts… but these devilish delights are more than just a romantic gesture from a woman with the brains and demeanour of a rabid dog; we are offering them here today to show our support for the Show The Love Campaign  …

“Hand made hearts can move worlds. Make, wear and share your green heart. It’s a beautiful way to begin a conversation about the things we love that climate change threatens, and the clean energy choices we must make to protect our world. Hand-crafting a heart is a moment to share with a loved one, with family, with friends, with your community – and beyond via #showthelove. See the amazing hearts others are already creating.  “

 

Sustainable energy is just as important to us here in The New World as it is to you in your dimension – from cream-powered landships to GORGON energy generators, we are doing our bit to help the environment.

If you’d like to get involved in this festive environmental endeavour there are several ways you can find out more…

Check out some of the fantastic blog posts from ‘Queen Of Green Hearts’ Nimue Brown who has her finger on the pulse where all things green and hearty are concerned:

https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/climate-change-show-the-love/

Visit the official website and get some hearty inspiration for making your own beautiful green heart talking pieces:

http://fortheloveof.org.uk/

And if you’d like to make Klapka’s lovely absinthe green heart fondants,   here’s the recipe:

500g icing sugar, 1 beaten egg white, 1 tsp green food colour, 1 tsp absinthe (or any flavouring you like)
Mix it all together then knead it into a soft dough and roll it out, cut out your hearts and sprinkle or drizzle them with your choice of toppings. Leave for a short while in a cool place to firm up then serve.

 

 

We wish you a very splendid afternoon and do feel free to leave a link to your own #sharethelove green heart projects in the comments section…


Elevenses: Strolling the frost fair

Good morning Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are all feeling remarkably eleven o clockish because it is, indeed, eleven o’clock and so I hope that you will come and join us as we stroll around the Lancastrian Frost Fair, taking in the sights and looking for dainty delicacies to nibble on.

I say strolling, which implies a leisurely pace, but my Very Quiet Gentleman Friend is doing an embarrassing amount of huffing and puffing and gasping for breath which is quite off putting I can tell you and leads me, once again, to question exactly what constitutes ‘Very Quiet’ in the realm above the waves.

I say strolling, but perhaps that is a misnoma for the exercise as in fact my tentacles are all still in splints from the ice skating affair and Mrs B has kindly rustled up an old wheelchair from somewhere and we have strapped a couple of floor board planks to the wheels so that Max can push me through the snowy cobbled streets and over the icy river with ease.

Oh the joy! I cannot tell you how immeasurably more enjoyable it is to experience a winter’s walk from the cozy comfort of an armchair…there are fire eaters and jugglers, oh my goodness is that an elephant thy have over there?! It is! I’m amazed the ice does not crack! Mind you, they are roasting spit an ox with impunity over there and I am certain it is going to lead to disaster.

There are so many things for sale. Luckily Max is a bit of a Finger Smith and we manage to procure some excellent spiced buns and treacle toffee before slipping away into one of the ‘fuddling tents’. These are made of the barge sails propped up haphazardly with poles and inside you with find some of the most lethal chai-cocktails to be mixed this side of a Tiffin Den.

We sampled ‘Purl’ (a steaming black brew made with lapsang and wormwood) which the vendor told us would have a man gibbering for days, and ‘The Spiky Mother’ (A pungent Assam with chilli and dark chocolate) which had apparently already hospitalised a crowd of eight, but we must be candid and say that, even after four or five cups of each, Max still had the wherewithal to hot foot it out of the tent and away before the angry vendor could catch up with us an extract his payment.  (no mean feat pushing an octopus in a make-shift sled)

He almost cornered us but luckily Max employed a pocket full of escapological marbles (if you naive to the uses of escapological marbles to thwart a pursuer just ask the nearest five year old) and we left him cursing in the gutter.

 

So here we are, keeping our heads down in a much quieter area of the ice and ready to show you some of the delights for sale…

Moth Festival (The home of Hopeless Maine on etsy) have a massive amount of Steampunk delights for you to spend your pocket money on, including this spiffing steampunk manifesto print which we are coveting for our parlour wall…

steampunk manifesto.jpg

Hapi Cult (skateboards, skate wear and street wear for urban Magic Makers) have these fab new Hapi Life spell t shirts

hapi life t.jpg

Steampunk Parliament  has a huge array of beautiful Steampunk lace jewellery, cute wall plaques and colouring books.

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We wish you all a very splendid afternoon and hope you will join us for more frosty fun next week so, until then, please be always,

utterly yourself

 

 

 

 


Elevenses: Frosty Fayre

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s splendiferously sparkling and frostabulously frozen parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a frigid place of cold hearts and frosty welcomes but we consider that uch people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning, warming our tentacles beside an imaginary fire after an enterprising and entertaining morning at the fabulous frost fair which is being held on our beloved river Lune.

Our psychotic scarecrow landlord, Montmorency, woke us before dawn with the business end of his walking cane and demanded that we head out into the frozen darkness and not return until we had enough money to pay for this month’s rent. The fact that we only just paid for the last month seems to have escaped the rogue and so I perched upon Max’s shoulder and we set off towards the river.

There were already traders setting up stalls on the ice but none of them took favourably to our offers  of  assistance (it seems that Queen Vic’s recent  amendments to equality in employment law do not extend to an Octopus and a Tea Fiend) So we settled ourselves on the bank instead and watched the sun rise over the frosted spires of the sail barges which had collapsed crazily into the ice sheets and lay mired liked the skeletons of stranded beasts from some fantastical caffeine-fuelled nightmare.

Things picked up once the punters arrived. After some initial competition from a woman hawking root beer (For a Very Quite Gentleman, Max can be terribly clumsy when glass bottles are around) we managed to sell twenty bottles of lemonade (and drink many more) without being lynched by the barge folk for selling without paying the trading fees.

We decided that that was quite enough hard shirking for one morning and spent the rest of the time mooching around the stalls, watching the jugglers and fire eaters and, most impressively to me, the ice skaters. Having lived under the sea all my life, I never imagined this curious form entertainment and I am determined, soon, to beg, borrow or steal enough pairs of ice skates to attempt the thing myself.

Now here we are back in the parlour, our landlord briefly appeased, our cats greedily devouring the last of the skimmed milk ration, and all desperately in need of a reviving spot of elevenses and some soothing music to tap our tentacles to. Unfortunately our absconding butler has not seen fit to deliver the goods this morning (perhaps she thinks it’s a holiday? ‘Though what a werewolf would find to do at a frost fair we have no idea…) but not to worry because we managed to run into our lovely Mrs Baker on the way back and she has set us up with a packet of genuine Frost Fair Souvenir Gingerbread which, knowing Mrs B, will be crammed full of illegal sugar…mmm…

And, by happy chance, Max’s constant pocket companion ‘The Whole Duty Of A Woman (or an infalliable guide to the fair sex) – 1737’ (A birthday gift from a devoted family member I think) has an excellent recipe for … OWCH! …Well, really! You know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman, Max, you  can be excessively violent devoid of a sense of humour…

I was going to say, before I was so rudely interrupted by a flying teapot, that this is a recipe for ginger bread biscuits, rather than the cake which we are enjoying now but it is nonetheless share-worthy, I think…

“To Make Gingerbread…

Take a pound and a half of London Treacle, two eggs beaten, half a pound of sugar, one ounce of ginger, beaten and sifted, of cloves, mace and nutmeg, all together, half an ounce beaten very fine, coriander seeds and caraway seeds of each half an ounce, Two punds of butter melted; mix all these together, with as much flour a will knead it into a pretty stiff paste, then roll it out and cut it into what Form you please; bake it in a Quick Oven on Tin-plates; A little time will bake it.”

 

And now we’d better tune in our Tesla radio and have some soothing sounds to placate my beastly savage companion… drink your tea Max and calm yourself down, it is not becoming for a Very Quiet Gentleman to sulk like that…

 

Ah, much better, that was Smith and Burrows if you were not aware of the before they are rather marvellous. We wish you a very pleasant afternoon, filled with with warmest and spiciest of delights, and we will see you back on Monday for some more splendid steampunk fiction and excellent tea. So, until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself

 

 

 

 

 


Elevenses: Off With The Masque!

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! We hope you had a deliciously delinquent festive season and are not yet ready to don the cap of contrition and sobriety because although our little dust cat friends have fled with the tinsel and the oatcakes back to their gothic island home we are none the less ready to make mischievous merriment in the aftermath of the Wizmas insanity!

You find us all about the lace and the periwinkles, all about the bombazine and the damasks, all about the masks in fact because tonight is the annual Lancastrian New Years Carnival which marks the end of the hated (a-hem, I mean beloved) Wizmas season and the beginning of our excellent Frost Fair as the weather begins to grow even colder and the River Lune threatens to freeze solid again.

Courtly Masques have been a traditional part of New Year celebrations here in The New World for centuries and the public version;  The Street Pageant or Carvnival, is something that accompanies the Frost Fair here in Lancaster every year.

Some of the most outstanding lunatics, parlour-poets, tea fiends and self proclaimed ‘artists’, in the full intensity of their creative insanity, have devoted themselves to producing these Pageants (despite the earnest efforts of various New World Puritans to abolish them) and the infamous Garish Theatre producer Joyce Jameson recently proclaimed it to be “the highest art form in The Scattered Isles.”

To give the balance however we should  also quote journalist Pomona Squash of the Tiffindependent Newspaper whose scathing review of last years’ revels read  ” the entertainment went forward, and most of the presenters went backward, or fell down, wine did so occupy their upper chambers. The actress playing the Queen tripped over the steps of the throne, sending her gifts flying; Hope and Faith were too drunk to speak a word, while Peace, annoyed at finding her way to the throne blocked, made good use of her symbolic olive branches to slap anyone who was in her way” (click here to tut at our rampant quote theft)

But what mask to put on? Well, let us have a look at some historical masks from your own dimension for some inspiration….

Bauta

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Primarily a masculine mask. During the 18th century this mask and accompanying black cape were often worn at official and government events where anonymity was essential.

Columbina

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Historically a mask worn only by women, this one is named after the famous character from the commedia dell’arte.

The Plague Doctor

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Invented by the 17th century physician Charles De Lorme, this macabre mask is a reminder that we are all participants in The Divine Comedy, our own parts decidedly finite whatever our societal status.

Visard

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A short-lived mask of the early 1700s , this small strange black velvet mask was worn by women and held in place by biting on a button, which rendered the wearer unable to speak or eat while wearing it. So obviously it won’t be any good for Max… ouch! Good grief is that our best teapot? Totally un-called for!

Larva

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The ghost mask, worn by both men and women, is usually all white although some are also decorated and worn with a veil, cloak or tricorn hat.

 

Pantalone

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A masculine mask depicting a grotesque old man this one is said to symbolise intelligence or wisdom so, again, perhaps not an appropriate choice for … ouch! For pity’s sake Max, get a sense of humour! This is supposed to be a holiday… tsk!

Harlequin

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Well here’s one our good friend Freddy Payne can tell us all about as he permanently wears one! The story of harlequin varies through the ages but essentially he is either a comical, foolish or romantic servant – character and a male counterpart to Columbina.

 

So, there you have it and that is where we abscond to this evening, to paint the town of Lancaster red and utterly get away with it because we shall be masked up and totally unrecognisable… we hope… not sure how much of a give away the tentacles will be…

We wish you all an equally jubilant evening and we will let you know how we got on on Monday so, until then, please throw on a mask be whoever the hull you wish (for one night at least!)

 

 


Elevenses: Two Spurtle Gloves

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! You find us this morning in a state of oaty bliss as we gleefully anticipate The Annual Wizmas Golden Spurtleglove Oatcake Championships (we understand you have something similar in your own dimension?) 

Of course cake is illegal here in Ire but oatcakes (those foul impostors ) are permitted ‘in moderation’ provided salt is used to flavour them and not sugar.

 If you are not sure what spurtle gloves are let us enlighten you – the spurtle glove is an oversized oven mitt used for oatcake flipping and a golden one is made in Lancaster every year and given to the contestant who can faultlessly flip the most oatcakes in six minutes.

 The judging is conducted by three highly trained oat flip observers and presided over by Lord Ashton himself but there are also smaller prizes for the most original oatcake creations and these are voted on by the general public.

 Last year some of the winners in the Innovative Oatcake Recipe section included Chorizoat Cakes, Plum Compoat and Chocoloat pudding.

 The best part by far, though, was the riot which began when the voted winner of the Oatcake Sculpture section (a truly gargantuan oatcake with a smiley face put on with raisins) was declared by Lord Ashton to be “An offensive and infantile attempt at insubordination and mob-rule.” He then proceeded to disqualify the oat face (an irony which will probably only be appreciated by our British friends) and award the prize to a detailed oatcake sculpture of Lord Battenberg, the noted explorer, instead.

 Lord Battenberg’s donations to Ashton’s extensive collection of arthropods is no secret and the furious crowds stormed the stage, seized the judges and began hurling lumps of the hated Battenberg into the River Lune. In the end Ashton had to call his man eating Liver Birds and we all fled for our lives… but it was worth it. All jolly good fun!

 It is frankly difficult to imagine a scenario that would upstage that little fiasco but we are keen to see if Penny is up to the task. In the meantime we wish you a delightfully oat-free elevenses, crammed with illicit sponge and belligerent fancies and we leave you with this little message from our festive parlour companions, the dust cats…

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Elevenses: Alternative Advent

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Well, it seems the Dustcats of Hopeless Maine are taking over our little parlour for the festive season in some strange steampunk parody of your earthly tradition of ‘Advent’ . Having put them sternly to bed on the mantle piece again last night we found them this morning in a state of spoons… with yet another odd note…

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Elevenses: Novel Tea

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back to Max and Collin’s gloriously ghoulish and curiously cat infested  parlour located somewhere within the alimentary canal of that splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True our psychotic landlord may have banished us to this dank and dingy dungeon, but anyone who would be crest fallen by such a turn of events has obviously never stood in their night dress fighting off flesh eating Liver Birds with nothing but a teapot and a book of mostly awful poetry.

Hm? Yes I have a night dress…. well how the hell do you imagine an octopus can fit into trousers? Really! A-hem….

You find us this morning in outrage because our puppet mistress, Penny, is keeping a very dark and dirty secret. At least she thinks she is. But we know what is going on. Having been very loudly and vociferously against the notion of National Novel Writing Month since its inception, she has decided to turn traitor on us and sign up for this year’s event. She has told no one. She is hiding her evil nano-notebook inside a waterproof zip lock bag inside the toilet cistern, ready to fake daily bouts of dysentery in order to complete her ridiculous writing goals in secret. But she is fooling no one. Least of all us.

We should state that our collective objections thus far have been that, while there is no harm in a person trying to have a bit of fun and create something fabulous along the way,  to stipulate what a novel can and can’t be is to cut a huge number of people out of the novel creating and consuming world. So why is she doing this? She has obviously gone mad through lack of tea.

Max has optimistically suggested that she is only trying a splash of espionage and has cunningly infiltrated the machine to bring it crumbling to the ground from within. But personally I consider even such a move to be highly treacherous, traitorous, untrustworthy and utterly unacceptable and I for one cannot bring myself to look her in the eye. Which is making the whole morning routine very difficult indeed.

But never fear! We in the parlour remain stoic to the cause and so, to combat this fever of driving oneself into an early tomb trying to write 50,000 words or more in a month, we will instead be exploring and celebrating absinthlutely everything that a novel can and should be other than a book of 50,000 words or so. 

A lot of our time this month will be spent working with urchins who process audio and visual information differently from most other people, and helping them to explore and celebrate their own writing and story crafting, so we will be posting activities that are inclusive and open the world of ‘novel writing’ to a much wider field of participant and audience.

So to kick us off on our Nano-free-November, we give you ….

TEA BAG NOVELS

(didn’t see that coming now did you?)

 

These are teeny weeny tight little tales that can be stapled into a book using tea bags as pages (or if you are very clever, a single tea bag!) Dry out your used tea bags on a plate (different teas will give you a variety of coloured pages, strawberry -red, blueberry – purple, Matcha – green, Redbush – orange, apple – grey, turmeric – yellow)

When dry, cut along one edge with a pair of scissors, then carefully scrape out the dried tea inside.

Write your novel in fine line ink pen or ball point, being careful to use the perforated edge as a margin.

When you have finished, pile your pages on top of each other in the correct order and stitch or staple your book together along the margin edge.

Voila! Will be ding this today with our little Lancastrian urchins and so here is our ‘one we did earlier’ example…

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And in case you can’t read the awful tentacular scrawl, here is the text…

Frogs’ Legs  

We met under a gut-punched sky, the raindrops racing down the tight screen of slipped out breath that caught in the space between our two neon egos – spitting sparks in the downpour.

Through a fudge of boiled rice conversation, I reached inside your brine and found the chalk of you ; graffiti-scarred myself, in fingernail wounds, into your smoothness and laughed .

“Give me back my soul,” I said, “I dropped it into the amber jewel pool of your eyes, while I was playing with your innards.”

“That’s not your soul,” you said, “that is only the sun, a bright gold ball reflected.”

I called you, “Toad,” and ran. The grass, like bottle glass, cut my feet and you, Hunter, licked up that garnet trail all the slow way to my door.

You dined on my defeat. Delivered up on plates of gold: pomegranate, passion, fig all patulous ; ‘Cuisses de Nymphe a l’Aurore’.

Ever after then, you bound me in a forest of words, so that I lie now: Ophelia and inked-over by your own tongue.

I blink out, through the black-string bars of a story that I refuse, still, to claim and reach for each new princess as if, through her, I could regain a purchase on the world and stand again – under that bruised sky; a spectrum of spilled blood, pooling under porcelain…

If, then I would make my order quick – ‘Cuisses de grenouille’ – end you with a finger lick.

 

 

We wish you a fiendishly festive Halloween / Samhain / All Saints / Souls / Day / Night / Thing whatever it is you humans are celebrating right now (so confusing) and hope you survive the night and will join Mrs B in her soup kitchen tomorrow, until then

Please be always

Utterly Yourself