Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “Cats

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…

dustcats2


Morning Cuppa: Wizmas is here again!

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s Wonderfully Wizard parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a house of ill manners, ill repute and illicit tiffin, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning in something of a panic-fuelled frenzy.

Wiz being the usual, run of the mill egomaniacal dictator that he he is, has decreed that for  at least six weeks of the year every New World citizen must drop what they are doing and spend every waking moment celebrating his rise to power and general magnificence.

And of course being the paranoid loon that he is, the date that this ‘Wizmas’ is to be celebrated changes every year, nobody knows when it will strike or who exactly decides on the date but Wizmas cards and wrapping paper will suddenly appear in shops over night and then the mad rush to buy presents and arrange parties will begin because if The Good Folk or The Watchers catch anyone displaying a ‘Lack Of Wizmas Cheer’ …well…

So, as we’re both rather fond of our necks, we will, over the next few weeks, be celebrating Wizmas with all the flamboyant flare that only an octopus and his Very Quiet Gentleman Friend can muster. So, if the Turkeys and Nativity Plays, the Tinsel and the Wassailing of your own world is driving you insane, you can rest assured that The Parlour will remain, throughout December, a veritable haven of sanity.

Hm? Oh, Max says ‘There is a phrase that is not likely to be heard again.’

Here you will find only witch hunting, spoon duelling, spurtle wielding, soup reading and other New World shenanigans as we attempt to push subversion, parody and insubordination to the limit…without being arrested and hanged.

But before we begin rampaging about wrapping eachother in foil and wotnot, we must take a moment to introduce you all to a couple of pests…er…I mean PETS who have appeared in the parlour yesterday afternoon. They are Dust Cats, usually residents of our favourite gothical island Hopeless Maine and we are at quite a loss to know exactly how they got here, however we put them quietly to bed on the mantle piece last night and in the morning we woke to find they had created absolute havoc with the tea and left us a rather sinister note…

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Hm, we are going to be keeping an eye on these little chaps over the festive season and any further shenanigans will be posted here!

And Now we really ought to start this holiday thing in ernest and that means a cup of tea (if we have any left!) and a fabulous list of splendid Steampunk books to keep you glued to the chaise throughout December…

Selkie Cove – Kara Jorgensen

The Illusioneer – Karen J Carlisle

A Study In Temperence – Ichabod Temperence

Gifts – Margaret McGaffey Fisk

The Dandelion Farmer – Mathew McCall

Legacy  – Michelle Lowe

Legacy The Reunion – Michelle Lowe

Heart Of Brass – Felicity Banks

Silver And Stone – Felicity Banks

The Antics Of Evangeline Vol 1 – Madeleine D’Este

The Tale Of Raw Head And Bloody Bones – Jack Wolf

The Befuddlement Of Flash Mahogony – Tim and Kathy Hunt 

Strax And The Widow – Victoria L Szulc

Red Dog Conspiracy – Patricia Loofbourrow

And our tea this morning is something rather special and splendid – gunpowder and ginger from We Are Tea

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This smokey, spicy blend reminds us of our recent adventures in The Temple of Heaven and how lucky we are to have survived all that and be safe and snug here in our lovely cozy parlour…hm? …. oh, sorry, Max says ‘Don’t go too far old man’ … was I going too far? Well…

As I am apparently being censored this morning, there seems nothing left to do except consult our oracular cephalopterois (who has been notably quiet these last few weeks – probably the move has unsettled it) and see if it has any Wizmas cheer for us this morning…

 

Thankyou Mr Colin Furze. Ah, how enlightening! So that is how you do this ‘Christmas Dinner’ thing in your dimension? Well it puts our hum drum Wizmas Salmon to shame indeed.

And on that slightly warped note, we had better pour a nerve-settling brew, kick our tentacles up on the table and not lift a finger to clean up the dust in case we upset our dear little guests.

We wish you an utterly splendid morning, filled with tranquillity and calm, only dust if you absolutely must! And we invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses so, until then,

please be always, Utterly Yourself

 


Morning Cuppa: Clockwork Fairies #steampunkfiction

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back to Max and Collin’s sublimely subterranean, yet  lavishly luminescent parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True there may be some rather odd noises coming from our landlord’s ‘rumpus room’ next door, but we ask that you ignore the screams of those poor unfortunates who couldn’t pay their rent, and pull up a cat, or a cushion, and make yourselves at home.

Do you like what we’ve done with the place? We discovered that marvellous little lanterns can be made by filling our empty lemonade bottles with fish oil (there are barrels of the stuff lying around at the docks), sticking a wick of rope in the top and setting fire to it! Genius eh?

Hm? A bit of a smell, you say? Well the cats seem to like it… black smoke? No no that must be your imagination…now look here, did you come to give us a health and safety inspection or to enjoy a cup of tea and some excellent fiction? Right then, let’s begin…

 

clockwork

 

Desiree is an inventor of unparalleled skill –  a wealthy heiress with the luxury of time and money to spend in doing what she loves best. But her father is worried; keenly aware of the fragility of a woman’s freedom in Victorian society, he dreads his beloved daughter being forced to bend her will beneath the yolk of misogyny. This is why he dislikes her fiancee, Claude.

Claude (Oxford Dean, wealthy and influential) loves Desiree as well. He loves her exotic beauty (provided her dress does not become too flamboyant), he loves her intelligence (although of course her views on Darwinism are heretical ), he loves her inventions (but of course that will all have to stop when they have children) and he loves the idea of taming such a creature and bringing her under the protective wing of his care and instruction.

Into this furnace of social and emotional tension strolls Lord Tyrell, the enigmatic Irish Gentleman who casts his charismatic spell over all and soon the little family are transported to his country estate for a weekend of hunting and fine entertainment. Despite all this, Claude is certain that something is not quite right about their host – but are his macabre suspicions and fears for Desiree’s safety founded on reason, or fantasy?

 

This is a beautifully written short story, heartbreaking and tense with the leash-tight interplay of well-crafted characters and a plot that is both surprising and moving. If you are looking for a steampunk read that is both satisfying and short then we thoroughly recommend this one.

And is that the kettle boiling? I think it is, please do join us in a cup of cat-inspired tea from Contours Albion

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Yes it was a house warming gift left without a note on the doorstep this morning. Some people find themselves very amusing don’t they? I don’t suppose you would like to take a cat with you when you leave? They make very good foot-warmers, if you have feet…?

Anyway, we wish you a deliciously delinquent afternoon and hope you will join us for elevenses tomorrow. Until then, please, be always,

Utterly Yourself


Soup Of The Day: With Steampunk Author Nils Nisse Visser

 

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is Steampunk writer Nils Nisse Visser, author of Amster Damned! Good morning Nils, thank you so much for coming to help me in the kitchen today! 

NILS bw author

An absolute pleasure!

Oh and who is this magnificent gentleman you have with you?

FIVEWAYS 2

I’ve brought Fiveways Wilf, an extraordinarily adventurous ginger Persian cat from Brighton. Fiveways Wilf is extremely sociable to both the delight and despair of the humans he owns (Staff#1 and Staff#2) as he’s an incorrigible jailbreaker and forever devising new ways to go for a saunter around the Fiveways area of Brighton, visiting friends, strolling into shops and generally just about owning the whole neighbourhood. Fiveways Wilf has become quite a local celebrity and generously uses that fame to raise funds for less fortunate felines (http://www.lostcatsbrighton.org.uk/). Naturally I was delighted when Fiveways Wilf agreed to star in the Time Flight Chronicles where he appears as himself, albeit simply called Fiveways. All the payment he asked for was for me to help him support Lost Cats Brighton and I added the City Cat Shelter to that list of my own accord. My protagonist Alice Kittyhawk has a soft spot for cats you see…..when she retires she’ll probably become a crazy cat lady.

Well there is certainly nothing wrong with that, I have rather a soft spot for cats myself – except the clockwork kind, of course! And is that your sky-skiff double parked outside, Dear? I wouldn’t leave it there too long you know, the local law enforcement are inconveniently vigilant at this time of year. 

Yarr, Alice lent me The Liddle Mew, her own skyskiff, which means ‘Little Seagull’ in Sussex dialect. I’ve checked your local Lancaster parking regulations and they are fairly detailed on wheeled vehicles and air ships, but there’s nothing about leaving a fishing boat on the street, so I reckon that leaves me covered.

Oh splendid, well done for checking that! But how was your journey here from your own dimension? I hope you didn’t run into any rogues en route?

As for the journey, we had a brisk spectral wind at our back. Apart from having to evade a few critters and an Aero Fleet patrol it was pretty uneventful. All in day’s work.

For you perhaps! Goodness me I have never taken much to flying, not that I have done much of it I confess but my one impromptu airborne adventure was enough to last me a lifetime I assure you!  Mmm, but something smells delicious!  Have you brought some soup with you today to share with the orphans?

Sussex Fish Stew, a local speciality. Leek, fennel, bay leaves, rosemary, parsley, ground pepper, homemade fish stock, cider, a few taters, some sour cream and a dash of double cream as well as filleted cod and haddock. The secret ingredient is the cider, which goes into both the fish stock and the soup itself, it has to be unpasteurised Sussex cider, so none of your supermarket stuff. Proper cider does the trick.

Oh how wonderful! That certainly sounds delicious – and thankyou so much for bringing the cream, we are spoiled for fish here at the docks but since The Good Folk have stepped up their patrols I cannot risk having any contraband in the house! Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we have a seat by the fire and I will put the kettle on, and you can tell the orphans here all about your book, Amster Damned…

There are a number of themes in the story. One is the notion that girls can’t do some things because only boys can do them. That is absolutely ridiculous. Girls can do anything they want, they are just as clever, just as resourceful and just as capable as boys. So my main character, Alice, is a young woman doing what people in her time considered a man’s job, and she is very good at it. Some of her friends are the same, there’s a female Admiral in the story and the engineer of the airship The Centennial Kestrel is a woman too, and both of them are very friendly, intelligent and capable. The Minister of Lost & Found is a woman as well, but although she is very clever and cunning she isn’t such a nice person. Anyhow, none of these women, nice or not, stand around waiting for men to rescue them or tell them what to do or how to think, and that’s how it should be, don’t you think so?

Oh yes indeed! I’m sure we all agree with that!

Another theme is one you might know well children. Maybe you’ve been told before by adults that you can’t read certain books or find out about certain things because you’re not old enough. Well, in the story some people, the powerful ones, have taken that a step further and made very long lists of books people of all ages aren’t allowed to read or ideas people aren’t allowed to think about. Adults can be just like children and when they are told not to find out or think about some things that’s exactly what they do. That includes Alice. She is an avid reader of books and she spends a lot of time finding books she’s not allowed to read.

Well here in Ire we can all identify with the notion of having others control what we can or can’t read, think, say and even eat! But Alice is a wonderful character isn’t she!

Then there are a lot of interesting characters, many of those really exist. I don’t know them myself but a good friend of mine, Corin Spinks, is an excellent photographer and takes their photographs at steampunk gatherings, sends them to me and I then make up a story about them and put them into my stories.

Last but not least, there is a fabulous airship, because……well, you know, because: Airships.

Yes of course, airships are beautiful things indeed, although, as I said,  I think I prefer to keep my feet firmly on the ground! Oh lovely, I see you have brought a copy of your book with you to show the children?

 

amster damned

 

That is marvellous. Now then, the theme of smuggling crops up rather a lot, are you a smuggler yourself , Dear?

We prefer to use the term ‘free trader’ in Sussex.

Oh dear, I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to cause offence!

It’s been my professional ambition to become a fully-fledged pirate since I was a little lad. As I got older I was often told that wasn’t realistic or mature which only made my determination stronger, being an irrationally stubborn person (or so I am told – I don’t believe a word of it myself of course). I was absolutely delighted when I moved to Sussex and discovered a very rich smuggling heritage, moreover, one of which the locals are extremely proud. In Rottingdean, Hastings, Brighton and other places there are annual celebrations in which everybody dresses as a smuggler, pirate or mermaid. *glances at orphans* A lot of “Yo Ho Ho and bottle of sugar-free lemonade” going on on those days, savvy?

Oh yes I’m afraid we’re all a little more worldly wise than we ought to be around here… A-hem… Ah now the kettle is boiling!  May I offer you a cup of tea? How do you take it?

With a dash of ru……a dash of milk and sprinkling of sugar please.

I quite understand, Dear. There you are. So what first attracted you to Steampunk, was it the tea?

The Nautilus. I was six or seven and my parents took me to a seaside town in the Netherlands with an unpronounceable name, Scheveningen. There’s a pier there and at that time within one of the pier buildings they had a life size scaled Nautilus submarine. I walked into that ship and was smitten. Gleaming pipes, fascinating instrument panels, portholes which offered a view of a sunken pirate treasure protected by a giant octopus waving its tentacles, schools of fish…..now those fish were paper mache dangling from strings but as a young child with an overactive imagination it was pure magic. The rest wanted to go to the beach, swim, eat ice cream and such stuff and I just wanted to stand behind the helm of the Nautilus and sail off into the unknown. They had to drag me out screaming and kicking in the end.

So it was love at first sight? What a splendid tale, and how have your own culture and experiences influenced your writing?

I define myself as a cultural chameleon. When I was a child I grew up in countries in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe, all over the place really. So I have passport which says I have a nationality but I feel transnational. I can identify with all the cultures I’ve lived in but also see the less positive sides. I hear a lot of people from different countries enthusiastically expounding on how their country is the greatest and best, but I don’t believe in all of that. All the countries I’ve visited or lived in have wonderful sides to them, and darker, far darker, sides to them as well. As a writer I feel that I’ve benefited greatly from the ability to view things from multiple perspectives. I am going to use The Time Flight Chronicles to revisit all of those places. We’ve had Amsterdam in Amster Damned, but in her attempt to find Dr Beesworth, Alice Kittyhawk will visit Brighton, Paris, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Dar-Es-Salaam, Zanzibar, Cairo and Oklahoma. I know all of these places, have vivid memories and my own unique insights, so the setting is pretty much sorted.

There is a lot of humour and warmth in your writing style which complements the serious issues you raise concerning prejudice, governmental control and oppression, both historically and today – do you think Steampunk is well placed to draw attention to important issues like these?

Thank you, that is a very thoughtful compliment and I’m glad you’ve picked up on that. That balance is very hard to achieve and you’re the first to suggest I’ve succeeded in it. I think Steampunk is ideally placed for this purpose, yes. The inclusion of ‘punk’ in the name suggests as much. I reckon Punks are meant to be hollering about something or other and definitely ought to be kicking against the walls of the establishment. So I remind people of Victorian realities, in which, for example, two adult ‘gentlemen’ tell a ten year old girl they’ll pay for her services in four, five years time when she is considered ‘ripe’. At that time their social status as rich and influential men and the child’s as a slum-girl meant they could get away with that kind of behaviour. The child is Alice, my protagonist. She’s far older in Amster Damned, around 25, but the incident left a deep impression on her, the notion that such a future was all she was deemed good enough for has fuelled her aspirations to reach to greater heights and make her own destiny.

I also think Steampunk can be used as a mirror to reflect on our own time, and you’ve noticed that because the attempts by TimePol to suppress all forms of fantasy fiction in my steampunk setting very much reflect the manner in which today’s global society sees increasing government and corporation control over every conceivable aspect of our lives. In Alice’s world, the powers that be have identified writers, readers and librarians as the enemy and are actively oppressing them. The current flow of international politics suggests that we might not be far off from such a moment. Freedom of speech is under threat when science and progressive thinking is debunked as fake news, experts are ridiculed and fantastical make-believe is presented as reality. As another Alice once famously said: “Curiouser and curiouser.”

Indeed! Do you think, there is sometimes a danger that Steampunk may be seen to glorify the blunders of the past rather than expose them?

No. One of the reasons that I really love this genre is that it affords me ultimate creative freedom, Steampunk is whatever I want it to be. In my case I have some limited talent in telling a story and in that I weave social and historical observations and try to kick the establishment a little. Somebody else may be 100% engaged with Steampunk purely because of the frocks and corsets or creating the perfect top hat, not ever having read a single word of Steampunk literature or caring much about the social inequality of the period. Who am I to say that what they are doing is not Steampunk and what I am doing is Steampunk? The moment I would do that I would try to impose rules on Steampunk. That leads to exclusion and dogmatism, moreover, it erodes the very core strength of Steampunk which is the freedom it affords.

Yes I see your point, there certainly is a strong argument for keeping things as rule-free and inclusive as possible. Now then, back to your own writing, do you have any new releases or projects brewing that we can get excited about?

Definitely. Time Flight Chronicles Book 2 is called Brightonesque and should be out within a year. Also, Writerpunk Press has recently published its fourth anthology, called What We’ve Unlearned: English Class goes Punk. I’ve got a novellette sized story in there called “The Rottingdean Rhyme” which is a stand-alone story and it’s about the friendship between a London poet and a Sussex smuggler called John Hawkeye, who happens to be Alice’s father. So Alice Kittyhawk features in that one as a six-year-old and as a nine-year-old, in the company of her childhood friend Brax Beesworth and Fitzsimmonds Noakes also makes an appearance. So if you simply cannot wait to read more about Alice, I’d very much recommend the anthology, it has really good stories in it from the other writers as well, a wonderful diversity of imaginative craftings. Seth features in another story in the Writerpunk Press anthology Merely this and Nothing More, as a side-character in my “The Oval Sky Room” story the main character in my “The Oval Sky Room” story is Alice’s childhood friend Lottie. As for the Wyrde Woods fans, my other main series (magical realism and dark urban fantasy), I haven’t forgotten about them. There will be a brand-new Wyrde Woods back story in a new Fantasy Anthology called Dreamtime Dragons, and I am determined to get on with Hidden Spring, the sequel to Forgotten Road. Also, back to Amster Damned, Alice was recently invited for an interview by The Protagonist Speaks. Being rather busy she sent Fitzsimmonds Noakes instead and you know what Captain Noakes is like, so prepare for a torrent of Victorian obscenities. That is scheduled to be released on October 6th.

Oh splendid, lots of things to look out for then! And where can we find your work online?

Well, there’s an Amster Damned teaser here: https://hubpages.com/literature/The-Yellow-Book-Chronicles-part-the-first

I’ve got a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NilsNisseVisser/

GoodReads works for an overall impression of all my books: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9843111.Nils_Nisse_Visser
Marvellous! Well now, it really has been so wonderful to chat to you today Nils, thankyou so much for coming to give me a hand in the kitchen! I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready so shall we start dishing it up?

The soup does smell delicious. Thank you very much for having me, it’s been a pleasure.

And thankyou all for joining us today! I hope you will all pop back again next week for some more splendid Steampunk and Soup, until then,

Blessings on your brew my dears!


Soup of the day: With Alexander James Adams

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since those dreadful land pirates , The Chronic Agronauts, utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious! 

 

Now I am extremely honoured this morning because Faerie Tale Minstrel, Alexander James Adams has very kindly agreed to help me dish up some soup for our poor unfortunate orphans here in Lancaster. Good morning Alexander! Can I take your hat and coat? This is supposed to be spring but nobody has told the weatherman as usual!

 

AJA

Oh, and who is this you have brought with you?

While not always visible except to such discerning folk as yourself, my Lady, my feline familiar Bartholomew Dragon Master is always with me since he became a ruler of the Sun.  When he ascended from this realm in 2015 during Samhain, he made it known to me to have his name inscribed on my neck where he liked to rest his paw when sleeping and the ink used was to be infused with his ashes so now he is a part of me and I of him.

 

Oh what a touching tale! Well you are both most welcome. Have a seat here by the fire and I will put the kettle on, and here of course is a saucer of cream for Bartholomew. Now do tell me, how was your journey here from your own dimension?

Wonderous and unthreatened.  That is not always the case when traveling, but you gave very safe directions so I was able to avoid the Unseelie Court and Their kind. They like to invite me to Their parties, but I try to have other things to do so as not to be tempted so often to do mischief with Them.

Oh dear me yes, there are many who delight in leading the unwary traveller astray! But of course you must be quite used to time and space travel by now; from Victorian, Medieval and Renaissance times on earth to the realms of Fairyland, your music speaks of a most exciting and adventurous life! Are there still more stories to tell?

Yes. I have been to many magical places, not the least of which was the Land of Fae Itself where I was abducted to by the Fae at the time of my birth. A changling took my place bearing the name of Heather Alexander and she dwelt among the Mortals for forty years or so enchanting folk with her magical music.  Then she got bored and returned home, where upon I saw my chance, challenged the Queen of Faeries in a dual of fiddles, won my freedom and came here to the realm of Man. I plan on traveling to more and more magical realms to collect new songs and stories.  The lands of Steampunk,  furry talking animals who walk upright like humans, and even the Realm of Aegis, a new world of high adventure and canticles where I bear the name of Everon the XIII, a false immortal bard who battles for the Light of the World:

Canticles Productions – www.matthewmorrese.com

Goodness it all sounds so exciting! And certainly puts my own meagre adventures to shame! But it is so kind of you to brave the trip to our blighted Isle Of Ire to come and help me out this morning in my humble little kitchen , tell me have you brought some soup along to share with the orphans?

 

I brought my favourite! As a musician and sometimes empty pocketed, I have learned to make the most of what I have and can save for a hard time ahead. I call it Boiled Bone Soup.  I use the frozen bones from various dinners previous, reboil them til I can strip every little bit of meat from them, toss out the bones, add rice, cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg to taste, plus any vegetables I have around.  If I’m really lucky, I‘ll have a little port or red wine to add. Stir and cook until it’s all soft and warm and serve with fresh homemade bread. The next day, it will be almost solid and becomes a casserole until it’s all gone, but it’s so good, that doesn’t take too long at all.

Oh how delicious! Let us take out my largest cauldron then and make a double batch so we have plenty for tomorrow as well. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us about your exciting new Steampunk project?

It will be a huge event.  A kind of Cirque du Soleil presentation with musicians, elaborate settings and four to five “Mechanical Technicians” to run “Hypnotica’s Magical Mind Machine”.  It is a form of stage hypnotism themed in a setting of Steampunk and done by music and singing rather spoken suggestions.  It won’t be just simple entertaining parlour tricks and making folk do silly things either. Everywhere they “travel” in the machine will give them an experience that will give them a sense of accomplishment and fun.  I want to make sure that everyone who comes, whether they volunteer for hypnosis or not, are transformed and empowered by the show.  Hypnotism does work much like real magic.  It is a way of allowing your brain to accept a specific suggestion and then believing it to be real.  If done with proper intent and respect, it can change the way a person thinks and behaves for the rest of their life. When folk see the Magical Mind Machine, they will learn that with the power of their own minds, they can change life for the better.  That’s good magic, right there.

That certainly sounds like a marvellous thing to look forward to! When do you hope it will be released?

The musical album should be out by the end of summer this year.  The show itself will take a little more time, but we hope to see a version of it come out next year. The producer himself, Mark Maverick, is a Manchester man, so we hope to have the show in London in the first year, if possible.

Oh how exciting! Now I know you’re rather a legend in the folk / filk arena but this new project isn’t your first Steampunk album is it?

Not entirely. I released a faerietale/steampunk combination album in 2014 called Summer Steam.  It combines the 5 songs of Summer Releases from that year and 4 songs called Clockwork Collection all bundled to make a 9 song album.

I have heard it playing on Max and Collin’s spirit radio, it really is marvellous! But tell me my dear, what first sparked your interest in Steampunk in particular? Was it the tea?

Indeed, the tea is exceptional, but I really love the old ways of air travel like with dirigibles and hot air balloons.  They seem so much more connected to the air and the magic of flight. Also, it is a genre where the gentlemen can have as much fun with clothing as the ladies and I’ve always enjoyed accessorizing!

Oh indeed! You know I think you would get on very well with our dear Captain of The Chronic Agronauts, he shares both those views entirely! But, I do find it very curious that so many people who have their roots in folk eventually find themselves drawn towards Steampunk, do you think there may be some intrinsic link between the two?

Perhaps.  While Steampunk does involve the machinery and innovations of Man, it works so much more intimately with Nature and the land, leaving a much lighter footprint, so to speak, which the Folk culture tends to favour.  If we had been smarter and more respectful of our world when we first started inventing, perhaps we would have become more like the world Steampunk represents.

Now there’s an interesting thought indeed… Ah, now the kettle is boiled, what is your hot beverage of choice, my dear, and how do you take it?

Hmm…I think some hot chocolate with a twist of brandy would be good, if you please.

Splendid, there you are. I’m afraid I cannot indulge in the brandy myself though, it’s my husband Albert who is the drinker. Now while we are waiting for your new release, where can we see you performing this year?

I will be traveling to the Renaissance period for the month of May performing for the Queen in Castleton, Muskogee, Oklahoma and then just popping in and out of many realms and times as I am invited to do for the rest of the year.

www.okcastle.com

Most of the friends that gather here can actually see me bi-monthly if they wish through the magic of a service called Concert Window.

https://www.concertwindow.com/alexanderjamesadams

I try to perform an online concert  from my home every other month and I ask my friends via the Book of Faces for their favourite dates and times during a given weekend.  If those gathered here contact me through the Book of Faces under my full name of Alexander James Adams, I will be happy to arrange a time where this side of the pond will be more awake to attend.

Oh that is splendid news indeed! I know many of us here were thrilled to see you perform a few years ago when you visited the UK as part of Tricky Pixie, do you have any future plans to pay the UK another visit?

If I get an invitation and some help with the travel, I would jump at a chance.  The Steampunk CD will bring me to Scotland to mix and master it with my good friend Fox Amoore so perchance this summer I will schedule a gig there and possibly elsewhere if I get information and the schedule to make it happen. If any one of your friends can help, please contact me at ryuuaja@aol.com and let’s talk!

That sounds promising indeed! And for those of us who are trapped in another dimension entirely and cannot make it out to your live performances, where can we purchase recordings of your marvellous music?

Through my web page:

www.faerietaleminstrel.com

or direct download through Bandcamp:

https://alexanderjamesadams1.bandcamp.com

They can also get access to music, videos and art that no one else can if they wish to join my Patreon subscription:

https://www.patreon.com/AlexanderJamesAdams

It starts at 1 dollar US currency per month but it will be helping to pay the monthly fee on my live-in Pro Tools Studio which I hope to have built by the end of this summer so I can make even more music and magic than before.

Splendid! Now I know that the little street urchins were hoping you might play a song for them before we eat?

This being May and still a little chilly, I recommend a “Good Beltaine Fire”!

https://alexanderjamesadams1.bandcamp.com/track/good-beltaine-fire

Oh marvellous! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Alexander, it’s been delightful chatting with you and I hope you will come back and see us again sometime. Now I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready so shall we start dishing it up?

Please, and thank you so much for inviting me today! May your soups always be fulfilling to the soul!

Thankyou all of you for joining us today, I hope you will come back again next week and until then,

Blessings on your brew my dears!

Oh and before I go I must take a moment to apologise for the absence of Max and Collin this week, apparently their participation in the de-flowering festival has resulted in their home-made-steam-powered-wagonette crashing into a farmer’s barn and setting the whole thing on fire. They are now walking home, keeping to the woods and ditches to avoid said irate farmer, and should hopefully be back in the parlour next week – in my opinion it serves them right for fraternising with wayward cultists but, you know how it is, boys will be boys…

 


Tea @ Three: Antiquated Discoveries

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome, once again, to Max and Collin’s, catastrophically cat-ridden yet still charmingly chi chi parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.  

True, perhaps, some have called it a perilous pit of depravity populated by monsters whose morals follow the wild swinging arc of Time’s own pendulum,  but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us, on this bleak and bewildering afternoon still having kittens about our desperate cat situation to the end that Max is now standing on the makeshift balcony screaming ‘Who will rid us of these cats?’

Meanwhile I am going to light a pipe and see if we can smoke them out.

Oh, but enough of this feline foolishness, despite our desperate situation it is undeniably Thursday Afternoon and we are All Punked Up With No Place To Go so let me see if I can find the society papers, beneath the writhing piles of fur and claws, and desipher where the action is this weekend…

Steampunks in Space is taking place at the National Space Centre on 12th – 13th November  and on 12th November there is also the alternative steampunks in space at the old horse ‘clockwork infirmary’ www.facebook.com/steampunksinspace

And looking a little further ahead, on the 18th , 19th and 20th November we have the  Haworth steampunk weekend

But before we hit the town, there is just a little time left to kick our tentacles up on the table with a good book and an energising cup of Firefly browncoat pilot’s blend by Friday teas. Fortunately the 5th of November saw the release of Den Of Antiquity – the new Steampunk Story Collection by members of The Steampunk Empire’s ‘Scribbler’s Den’ . The collection includes stories  by Karen J Carlisle, Jack Tyler, Alice E Keyes,  Bryce Raffle , Kate Philbrick, E.C. Jarvis , Neale Green , N.O.A. Rawle , Steve Moore , William J Jackson , B.A. Sinclair and David Lee Summers and all the proceeds are being donated to the International Red Cross so if you haven’t already got your tentacles on a copy, there’s a very good reason to do so!

We will be back in the parlour on monday but please do stop by and visit Peril in his lovely library tomorrow where he will be sharing something of Momentous Magnitude…hopefully it isn’t his Tiffin bill… so, until we see you next please be always,

Utterly Yourself.


Elevenses: Cats for tea

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, you find us ravenously eleven o’ clockish this morning, which is grand because the time is, indeed, 11’o clock. So, step inside, take off your Top Hat Of Imposing Mental Prowess, hang up your Pugnacious Parasol and make yourselves at home  in  Max and Collin’s voraciously verve and quintessentially quixotic  parlour, located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some people have called it a mange-ridden menagerie crawling with cretinous creatures of condensed conscience, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

Today you find us spitting fur balls as we try to relieve ourselves of our unwanted feline guests. We have stopped feeding them, we have stopped naming them, we have barred the door and we have banned them from the choicest cushions but still they keep on coming! There are cats on the balcony and cats on the stairs, cats on the table and even in the teapot.

Maybe that is because we are enjoying Witch Of The Woods from The Malfoy Tea Emporium? Those witches are all about the cats aren’t they eh? Perhaps this is Mrs Baker’s doing? Perhaps she is sending us cat after cat in some cruel and unusual attempt to make us mend our ways? Hm. What do you think Max? ….Max?…

Oh goodness no stop eating them I’m sure that is not the solution!!

Ah, not to worry, those are not real cats that my Very Quiet Gentleman Friend is devouring but these delicious black cat cookies from Gesmack which our smugly sadistic werewolf butler has inflicted upon us no doubt in some diabolic attempt at dark humour.

black cat cookies.jpg

Still they are delightfully delicious and so she is completely forgiven – never wise to hold a grudge against a woman with teeth like that. So, we have our tea, we have our fancies, all that we require now is some splendid sounds to usher in the afternoon…

 

 

Marvellous, and of course Max and myself will be ‘suiting up’ in our own fashion on Thursday and looking for the most prestigiously punked-up places to spend the weekend. Meanwhile our catastrophic witch, Mrs Baker, will be interviewing Kylie Dexter tomorrow in her soup kitchen and Peril will be back on Friday with some Wonderously Witty Fiction…or so he claims…hopefully it isn’t his resume…

so, until we meet again please be always,

Utterly Yourself

 


Morning Cuppa: Catastrophes with Christopher Lee

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s fearlessly feline friendly and glamorously gothic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it the decimated shell of a disused fish factory where the stench of its previous occupants lingers like a putrid clarion call to every feral cat within a five mile radius, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us on this strange and calamitous Monday morning utterly overrun with cats. When we rented this place from the dashing scarecrow downstairs we did think we heard him mumble something about cats but we weren’t quite sure what it was. Now we would rather like to question him further on this point, however we’re a little nervous of disturbing him in case he asks for the rent, which of course we do not yet have.

The unhappy truth is that we have been gaining a new feline friend each morning since we moved in and, well, much as we adore their softness and purriness they are stretching our milk ration to the limit. Not to mention the fact that we are running out of names…hm? What’s that? Oh, Max says I should stop naming them and feeding them our milk ration. You know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman you can be quite cold Max. Quite, Cold.

We are listening to another Audaciously Awesome Audio tale in celebration of Poevember,  this time read by Christopher Lee, and to accompany it , our nerve-settling brew this morning is Gin and tonic tea from Urban earth teas, This splendid green mate   is bursting with juniper berries and complimented with a dash of citrus and mint.

 

 

Hm, you know after listening to that tale I can’t help thinking that it might be better if we could rid ourselves of these cats, you’d think that having a werewolf butler would be something of a deterrent but apparently not. Well perhaps our Oracular Cephalopterois will have some ideas…

 

 

Well I’m not sure what it thinks we can do, build a robot guard dog? Really that creature is absurd.

Ah, but now I think our tea is brewed and so there is nothing left for us to say except ‘chin chin’, we cordially invite you join us in the parlour again tomorrow for elevenses and so, until then be always,

Utterly Yourself