Greetings! Today has happily brought yet another request for sources of information / research for writing authentic Rromani characters particularly in the sci fi / fantasy genre – this is great! I’m so happy that people are starting to get on board with this issue!
So I thought it would be a good idea to create a stripped down post that’s easy to point people at and quick to get info from on this topic. Here, then, are some quick tips for writing authentic Rromani characters in your fiction…
- Read Rromani Autobiography and Fiction.
We have a mantra “Nothing about us without us” and it’s a healthy one to keep in mind. The best way to learn about Rromani people is to read what our people have written about ourselves – not someone else’s interpretation of us, which (however well meant) is never going to be as authentic and accurate.
So, here’s a list of fabulous Rromani writers across many genres to get you started:
Nan Joyce and Anna Farmer
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić
Luminiţa Mihai Cioabă
Katarina Taikon Langhammer
Writers who’ve done an especially cringey / bad / offensive job of writing Rromani characters include…
It’s worth reading them to learn what not to do! lol.
2. Ask why you want your character to be Rromani – if it’s just for exotic flavour or as a plot device then forget it, sorry but no one wants to be a tool! If the character is an authentic character in their own right with a personality, back story, potential for growth, development and future who just happens to Rromani, that’s the sort of representation we’re looking for 🙂
3. Avoid ‘research’ or ‘biography’ written by non-Rroma. Even if they have traveled or lived with Rromani people. Ask ‘why would someone want to study another group of people and why would they particularly choose Rromani people?’ Often the reason is that they find Rromani people exotic and so have paid a clan to let them ‘see the magic from the inside.’ You are an intelligent person, you can see the problems inherent in a mutually-exploitative situation like that! Other times a person who has adopted a new-age traveling lifestyle and spent time with Rromani travelling folk … the problem with authenticity here is that the writer may see the picture without the background – they tend to write about the current situation of the small, poverty stricken, desperate group of displaced Roma they encountered, without any understanding of how this situation came to be, how it affects the people they are writing about, how it compares to other groups of Roma around the world and, importantly, how compares to other groups of different cultures in the same conditions – because only then can we begin to separate socio-economic issues from cultural ones!
Some writers to avoid in this area include…
So, there you go – hopefully those are all quick, useful points to take away 🙂 Got any questions or other topics you’d like me write about on this issue? Leave me a note in the comments or drop me an email 🙂
Big blessings, Penny
An Egg of Temperance
“Yoo hoo, Mr. Temperance, are you about the gardens, eh hem?”
~boingy, boingy, boingy~
“Happy Easter Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am!”
“Eep! Great Leaping Lepus! What on Earth, Mr. Temperance?!?!”
“Don’t be skeert, Ma’am, I’m just dressed up for an Easter egg hunt. We got a special invitation from our pal Penny!”
“Mr. Temperance, One cannot be seen in public with you if you choose to wear that ridiculous garb.”
“But I thought some big floppy bunny ears and a fluffy tail would be festive.”
“I got some for you, too! Take off your hat and put on some bunny ears. They’re fun!”
“I most certainly will not!”
“Will you at least stick a fluffy bunny tail on your bustle?”
~sigh~ “Very well, if it will make you happy.”
“One is compelled to correct you on a misunderstanding. Mrs. Blake has invited us on an ‘Aether’ egg hunt, not ‘Easter.’ The hunt in question is to find some clever positioning of specialized information that only One with ‘insider’ intelligence will glean, thus revealing a hidden message in an otherwise innocent scene, eh hem?”
“Oh dear, well, perhaps I can demonstrate the meaning this way: Do you remember the episode in which our Earth was invaded by Martians, bent on colonizing our fair home?”
“Yes, Ma’am! That adventure came to be known as ‘For the Love of Temperance’”
“Quite so. In it, you and a compatriot commandeer a Martian War Machine. Once within, it is realized that there are no windows. An artificial portal is duly discovered. Readers that are of an age to remember tubed, black and white televisions might recall a similar warm up period before the grainy, pixelated image, scrolling endlessly up the screen becomes fixed.”
“Oh, okay, I getcha. Sort of like that time you got kidnapped by a band of Native American, Pirate Ninja, Middle Eastern, Samurai and I had to make chase in a borrowed Handsome cab.”
“Thank you. Anyway, that stand behind buggy had a mechanical horsie. Readers that are familiar with mid-twentieth century American muscle cars might recognize what they would know as a ‘Four on the Floor’ manual transmission.”
“Just so, Mr. Temperance, however, were we to share an instance with our good friend Mrs. Blake and her wonderful following, then I should choose a selection from the novel, ‘A Journey of Temperance’”
“Oh my Goodness! That there adventure is a Fantasy Saga of Epic Proportions!”
“Yes, rather. In it, there is a chapter in which our intrepid band is assailed by monsters and devices during a perilous trek that reads not unlike a vibrant game of ‘Dungeons and Dragons’. It is the final scene of this outrageous section that shall be our parting, ‘Aether Egg’ excerpt to share.”
“Okey dokey Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am. Happy Reading and Happy Easter, everybody!”
“Mr. Temperance, I see a structure up ahead stretching out across this interminable gulf. It is an arched bridge, my friends. This must be the way out of this calamitous cavern.”
“Harumph. That long, slender bridge doesn’t look safe to me. Send the Temperance boy across first, to make sure it’s safe.”
“I say, there is no time for that, Mr. Morganstern. Let us all fly across this stony segue to sanctuary, eh hem?”
“Golly, we are all running and running, but it is still a long way across. Hunh? Do y’all notice an updraft? Do y’all detect an unidentifiable smell that is accompanying it? If I didn’t know better, I’d say that something inconceivably large were coming up out of this bottomless crevasse that we are desperately running across, what do you think? I’m gonna take me a quick peek over the edge, just to satisfy my curiosity. Well, what do you know, I was right! Way down deep, I can just barely make out a faint, pale glow in the distant depths. Hunh, I think it is getting brighter and bigger. No, it just appears
that way because it is getting closer. Oh my Goodness, maybe we should keep running, y’all.”
“Verily, we are caught out. Running will avail us not. The Great White Wyrm of Impossible Revulsion has us and there is no escape.”
“I’ll give it a lick with my magic pick!”
“This would be a noble last gesture, halflet, but this fabled monster is of an enormity that will engulf this entire cavern. Your best attack would be negligible at best.”
“Gee whiz, Mr. Legolamb is right! This big old worm is gonna gobble us up all gone! I sure am sorry that I allowed you to become grub for a giant grub, Ma’am.”
“Come now, Legolamb my dear, is there no spell you can cast that will stay this beast?”
“No Persephone, there is nothing I can do to stop it.”
“Dang, y’all, he is here! We are about to get gobbled up!”
“Could you stop time, perhaps, eh hem?”
“No, I’m afraid not. Wait, I may have an alternative! Great stores of raw magic, as is loose in these mines, will sometimes develop an id, if you will. I have a spell that will force the collective consciousness of these mad mines to manifest itself!”
Mines of Madness and Deceit.
Lord of Labyrinth Despair.
These adventurers demand a receipt.
For tolls taken in your lair.
Traps and armies and devilish schemes,
we have answered all.
We have a token we would redeem,
You cannot refuse our call.
By Elven right and Elven might,
manifest for me, spell caster.
Your game is paused, in position tight,
we would parley with Dunjeon Maester!
“Burbity. The stalagmites have ceased to fall.”
“Blast it, Temperance, I’ll call them anything I want!”
“I say, how extraordinary! Our surroundings hang in suspension. Oh, dear, so do we, apparently. We enjoy very little range of motion, eh hem?”
“Ach, the freakish white glow of the colossal wurm sends strange beams of light up from below, illuminating us all in staerk contrasts.”
“Verily, the spell is working! Behold, a swirl of light inside our five person party reveals our other worldly host.”
“My word, a humanoid head is manifesting in strange turquoise hues. I say, are you our host and Dunjeon Maester perhaps, eh hem?”
“Silence! This is not thy turn to speak. Who would be so insolent as to dare this maneuver? Who hast the gall to summon me?”
“I do, Dunjeon Maester! I, Legolamb of Upper Austeria. Legolamb of the Elven High Council. Legolamb of the High Arts!”
“Ha, ha, ha, foolish elf! This mighty wurm is moments from snatching you into its bottomless gullet! You are caught out and you have failed in your quest to pass through my domain!”
“Verily, I challenge thee by the Rites of Probability!”
“Dost thou carry the Artifacts of Probability, elf?”
“I do. Behold, Dunjeon Maester, they are here!”
“By my Omnipotent Mind, I didn’t see those coming! I haven’t seen a set of those in Ages! Where did you get them?”
“In my time, they were quite common. Any Enthusiasts’ Emporium was likely to have them. These, though, may be the last in existence.”
“I will use thine occult artifacts to cast your fate.”
“I say, small objects of varying polyhedral design float from Legolamb’s hand. Apparently, they are in control by our host’s telekinesis. The multi-sided pieces spin in a furious whirlwind before being hurled to the bridge’s deck. Our disincorporated Dunjeon Maester’s head does a quick calculation in his blue-green mind.”
“Inconceivable! I have never heard of such luck. You will be allowed to cast for your fate.”
“Verily, this is not fair, Dunjeon Maester! We have successfully passed the Rite of Probability! You must let us pass!”
“Quiet, elf! I am the Dunjeon Maester and I make the rules. It is my decision that you must all cast for your passage! First, you, wizard. My reading of you suggests a robust constitution, but low charisma. You possess moderate strength and wisdom but an extraordinarily high intelligence quotient. You will throw three, ten-sided Artifacts. Thou requires a sum of fifteen or greater to survive this confrontation.”
“Verily, my sweet Artifacts, Big Daddy Wizard needs a shiny new staff. Come on, Artifacts, don’t let me down. Go do thy magics, now! Yeah baby, yeah! Verily, seven, four and eight! I succeedest!”
“Next, the dwarf will cast. Strongenfight, I read that thou art of hearty constitution and amazing strength. Moderate wisdom, intelligence and charisma follow. Thou shalt have two, twenty sided dice to cast.”
“What! That’s absurd, that dwarf having more die points to cast than I!”
“Silence, elf, it’s not thy turn! Strongenfight, thou must cast a sum of twenty five or greater.”
“Ye don’t mind if I spit on them for luck, do you?”
“Verily, yes, I do!”
“Too bad, elfie me lad. ~huh-whock a patooey!~ Now then, pull me beard out of the fire, lassies, poppa dwarf needs to buy some baby boots. Aye! A fifteen and a seventeen! I’ve doone it!”
“Next, I choose the strange little creature in the odd black hat. I do not recognize thee as a creature of Middle o’ Earthhe. Tell me, what art thou?”
“Verily, it’s a halflet.”
“Ach, nae, it, I mean, he’s a dwarf! You are a dwarf, are you not, Ichs of the Bod?”
“Eep! Um, yessir, I reckon I’m a dwarf, all right.”
“Thou art a pathetic excuse for a dwarf, Ichs of the Bod. I read thee as possessing low levels in all the major characteristics, with the exception of unusual dexterity. Tell, me, pseudo-dwarf, how didst thou survive this long?”
“I have lots of enthusiasm, sir!”
“You are entitled a cast of two, four-sided Artifacts. Thee must achieve a sum of eight or greater.”
“How do I get greater than eight with two four-sided Artifacts?”
“Thou canst. I merely said that to amuse myself.”
“Oh, okay, well, I’m gonna let Miss Plumtartt blow on them for luck. Thanks, Ma’am. Now come on, Artifacts, don’t fail me now, Icky needs a new pair of gaiters! I done it! Double quads, Mr. Dunjeon Maester, how do you like them apples?”
“Silence, fool, thy turn has passed. Female, you are next. What is your name?”
“I say, I am delighted to introduce myself. My name is Plumtartt, Persephone Plumtartt.”
“Plumtartt, Persephone Plumtartt, thou art a beautiful creature, yet thou art not an elf. Of what race are you?”
“I say, I am proud to say that I am of the human race, good sir.”
“And a better example of humanity one could not hope to meet. Incredible, your aura radiates with the astounding levels of your delightful characteristics. In every category, you are as a beacon of perfection, my dear. You will be asked to cast four, eight-sided Artifacts for a sum of twelve or greater to survive.”
“Normally, I do not approve of gambling, outside of church charitable events, though I suppose one must if our entire party is risking larval digestion in the balance. Yes, hear, hear, come along, Artifacts, mumsy wishes to avoid aforementioned appetizer status. Hoiy-yaw! Brava! I have achieved the requisite amount! Jolly good, hear, hear, I say!”
“You are a human also, J. P. Morganstern. Your aura is unlike that of the Plumtartt girl. Yours is a dun-coloured morass. Your major characteristics are abysmal. You will cast a single, six-sided Artifact. Thou needs a sum of four or better.”
“Harumph. I am well versed in removing monies from my companions by way of gambling sport. Whether by cards, dice, or betting on racing and boxing, I have amassed massive fortunes in just this sort of play. Give me that blasted Artifact. Come on, sweet dollar signs, daddy wants to return to my riches! Burbity! A snake eye! That won’t do. I demand to throw again!”
“The Artifact cast has failed! You shall all perish! I suspend, this suspended animation! You are returned to your gruesome deaths, still in progress!”
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back to Max and Collin’s brazenly brassy and aggressively amorous parlour located somewhere beneath the bustling city of steampunk’d Lancaster.
Our tentacles are trembling with excitement to be back in the parlour, after so many calamitous adventures, and also to be part of the Army f Brass blog tour this week so without further ado let us hand you cup of tea, kick our tentacles up on the table and take a look at this marvellous book.
Army Of Brass was written by the Collaborative Writing Challenge with a different author writing each chapter. This gives the text quite a unique feel. On the one hand there is an inescapable sense of each chapter being its own ‘unit’ or ‘micro-story’ and on the other the neat plot development and consistency that speaks of the tight orchestration that must have taken place behind the scenes in order to bring a novel like this together, couple this with a cast of fully developed and likeable characters and you get an exciting, fast flowing steampunk adventure with just the right amount of romance, technology and political intrigue. It’s an amazing accomplishment and we’re all-over impressed by it.
Master Tinkerer Elaina Gable has settled into her new life after escaping her home country which was attacked by the blood thirsty conqueror The Hunter Baron. When the Baron’s warmongering threatens to destroy her new life as well, Elaina is certain she knows a way to stop him; by reviving the ancient automaton army, the Tinkerers and the Smiths believe they can defeat the Baron, but the automatons harbour a deadly secret linked to the toxic valley in which they now sit rusting away. Only the mysterious silver skinned woman seems to hold the key, but will she decided to help or hinder Elaina and her friends as the Baron’s army draws nearer…
This is a nice, straightforward, old fashioned steampunk adventure full of automatons and airships and some really likeable characters (It was really lovely to see an older, mature heroine for once!) Excellent plot with a few carefully crafted twists and turns and overall a nice smooth read for existing steampunk fans or a perfect entry-point for newcomers to the genre.
Tomorrow we continue the Army of Brass blog tour and have the very great pleasure of entertaining Captain Jack Davenport of the Capital Cartographer’s Society for elevenses and so we must now ask you to excuse us while we race about trying on ludicrous amounts of bombazine and lace…. unless that is you’d like to stay and help a poor floundering octopus with his corset?
Well, until next time then, please remain always,
Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.
I am the ghost known as Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.
But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of that incorrigible octopus and its unnerving Gentleman Friend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by strange creatures promising sweet delights. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here; here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!
But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? A bottle of the old Green Fairy eh? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one, not least because the city of Lancaster here has been getting ready for the eagerly anticipated launch of the latest offering from the Collaborative Writing Challenge – Army Of Brass.
Steampunk celebrates its 31st birthday on April 27, and Phoebe Darqueling and the Collaborative Writing Challenge invite you to join in the festivities with their high-flying adventure, Army of Brass.
“Steampunk” began as a literary genre, but has expanded to include fashion, music, art, and live events all over the world. During 2017, in honor of author K.W. Jeter coining the term in 1987, Steampunk Journal editor Phoebe Darqueling and the Collaborative Writing Challenge joined forces to create an amazing work that blurs the line between science and magic. Twenty international authors contributed chapters to this story full of gadgets, romance, and political intrigue set against the backdrop of a fantasy world informed by the culture of the 19th century.
What is Army of Brass About?
When the mad conqueror haunting Elaina’s dreams invades her adopted homeland, the real nightmare becomes what she’s willing to do to stop him.
The dreaded Hunter Baron has landed on the shores of Mailderet, but Master Tinkerer Elaina Gable believes she has the solution. Giant automatons sit rusting in the valley, waiting for someone with the drive and ingenuity to bring them to life. But the king, swayed by the destruction his ancestors wrought centuries before, harbors a deep-seated fear of the machines. Though he will not allow the alliance of Tinkerers and Smiths to complete the work, Elaina and a famous airship pilot resolve to bring the machines back to life in secret.
From the safety of the swamps, a woman with silver skin jealously guards the secrets of the automatons. Though the Silver Woman also wishes the past to remain buried, she must weigh the value of secrecy against the thousands of innocents her hesitation might send to the grave.
As they discover the link between the toxic valley and the inner workings of the automatons, Elaina and her allies are drawn into a web of deceit threatening the balance of power across two continents—and proving the truth behind the deadly legends surrounding the Army of Brass.
And if that sounds just like your cup of tea… or even your glass of sherry… you can Read Chapter 1 now on Steampunk Journal!
Or even Pre-order your ebook copy of Army of Brass for $.99 and receive it on Friday, April 27!
You are also cordially invited to Join us all on Facebook April 28-29 to meet the writers, participate in giveaways, and more!
Ans speaking of giveaways, they’ve got one going on for the entire blog tour, so between April 13-May 13, enter to win ebooks from the writers involved
Now then, the hour is getting extremely late, I really must insist you go, I have important work to be getting on with, not least making sure the front door is Liver-Bird proofed again, true I have no flesh to devour but they do make a dreadful mess of the books if they manage to get in …. what’s that? You’re not sure your parasol is Liver-Bird -proofed either? Well I’m sorry you should have thought of that before you decided to break the curfew! It’s certainly not my problem! Good Night!
Oh, er…leave the bottle though…I mean, if you don’t make it home it’ll be a terrible waste…
If you’ve been following this blog for a while now you’ll know that the word Gypsy (especially with a lower case g ) is a highly offensive word to most Rromani people. What you might not know is why it is so upsetting. You might also want to know the correct term to use instead and a google search might well leave you even more baffled on that score! So, hopefully this post will be a good resource for this subject and of course if you have any questions (or if you’re fed up with me banging on about all this) feel free to leave your comments in the … er… comments section 🙂
In order to understand this subject clearly, you first need to understand a bit about our language and history…
The Rromani People are a displaced diaspora of India. Back around the time of the crusades, Rajput military units were formed to protect different regions of India from invading Muslim armies. As these soldiers and their families and attendants all spoke different dialects / languages, a military language had to be formed which all could understand. This language formed the basis of what is now the spoken and written language of Rromani people worldwide.
When we refer to the way we speak might say ‘Romanes.’ But that is not the name of our language. The word Rom (s) / Roma (pl) means ‘a person / us / the people / (one of) the group / the family / ‘ so to speak Romanes means to speak ‘in the way of the group / the family / the people / us / to speak in our way … it is not the name of a language and, strictly speaking therefore, ‘Rom / Roma’ is not the name of our people.. it just means ‘(one of) the people.’ (It can also mean husband but not in this context – like the word ‘man’ can mean ‘a man’ or ‘people in general.’)
So, if you refer to Rromani people as The Roma or a Rromani person as ‘A Rom’ (which a lot of people do) you are saying ‘The People’ / ‘The Group’ / ‘The Family’ or ‘One of the people / the group / the family’. That is absolutely fine, many Rromani people speak in that way, most don’t mind it even if they don’t use it themselves. It’s certainly a polite, respectful way to speak to or about Rromani people.
Getting back to the Rajputs again, two groups were defeated by the Muslim armies and forced to leave their lands. Some were captured by Turkish armies and forced to join as slaves, those who escaped into Eastern Europe were immediately captured and enslaved for hundreds of years, those who fled west were unable to find a place to settle but continued travelling through Greece and eventually into the rest of Europe, using their military skills, skills in metal work and horse trading (as well as trades they learnt along the way such as entertaining, dancing and fortune telling – more about that in another post I think? ) to make money.
Obviously during this time The Group was forced to split many times. As each new splinter group moved through different countries, new words were added to the military language they all spoke – thus each clan now speaks a slightly different version of that first ‘Language of The Group.’ They also began to refer to themselves by different names, names that for the most part described their skills and trades much in the same way as surnames do the world over.
I belong to the Petulengros (Smiths) who are of the English clan known as Romanichals (which literally means ‘Rromani Chaps’ ) and the Kalderash (The cauldron makers / copper-smiths who turned their pots on fat posts hammered into the ground). Often a Rromani family have kept their clan name (or a version of it). Sometimes though they have had to change it in order to hide the fact they are a Rromani person and so allow them to avoid persecution and live an integrated, peaceful life with the rest of society.
So, some Rromani people don’t like to be called Rom or The Roma – you can understand that now right? They don’t want to be called ‘One of the group’ or ‘The People’ … they want to be called by their clan / family name (Like you might say ‘I’m a Jones’ or ‘I’m a McGill’) they prefer to identify as something related to who their family is and what they do / did.
If you think at this point that Rromani people seem incredibly fussy and it is all terribly difficult to know what to call them please look at it this way…
You might call yourself ‘English’ or ‘American’ defining yourself by your location.
If you do so / have ever done so, please take a moment to consider that it is a privilege to be able to claim a geographical location as an aspect of your identity. It implies that you are an accepted member of that place, you belong there, it is a part of you, it’s your home.
Rromani people do not have that privilege, have not been permitted to join another nation and call it home, they have been refugees for hundreds of years and so they must find different ways of defining themselves. (And, I feel, this is food for thought for all of us when we consider the long term impact of our treatment of refugees and immigrants today.)
(It has been suggested that Rromani people reclaim their Indian connection and that is ‘all well and good’ but as many of us now have fair skin and hair and look anything but Indian, that idea seems a little laughable really! So we continue to be ‘The Family’ / ‘That Group that left India together’ because no other nation has welcomed us and we cannot now go back.)
There are so many Rromani clans in the world today (Wikipedia has a quite dreadful map showing a very few in simple blocks which can only act as a rough guide) many, as I say, call themselves Rom / Roma and some prefer their specific clan name.
So, there you have it – When referring to a Rromani person or people you can say…
Rom – One of the people
Roma – The People
Romany (/ Romani / Rromani / Rhomani ) person – A person who is of the group (spelling is dependant on dialect)
Romany (/Romani / Rromani/ Rhomani) people – The people who belong to the group
Or you can use the specific name of the clan the person / people belong to eg: Sinti, Kalderash, Kale, Romanichal etc…
My advice is to just be clear about what word / spelling you are using, what it means and why you are using it.
“But why not gypsy?” I hear you say … well, again we need to look at history and language…
The word is a shortening of ‘Egyptian’. When Rromani people first fled into Europe their dark skin and hair caused people to mistake them for Turkish invaders and later either for Egyptians or people from Little Egypt (sources are unclear as to which). They were nick named ‘gyptians’ which soon became ‘gypsies.’ Obviously a homeless refugee population are powerless to dictate what they ‘should be called’.
The word gypsy became so far removed from the word Egyptian that, rather than describing the mistaken place of origin of a group of people, it instead took on its own bizarre set of definitions. Various leaders including Vlad The Impaler, Henry The Eighth and Hitler, all used the word gypsy to justify the de-humanisation and murder of thousands of Rromani people. Rromani people were burnt with the ‘gypsy brand’ on their skin which marked them as belonging to animal rather than to human kind and having no right to existence. They were then tortured, sterilised or simply murdered.
At least 250,000 Rromani people were murdered during the Holocaust alone, at least 85% of Germany’s Rromani population were branded ‘gypsies’ and exterminated because they were seen as sub-human.
During the industrial revolution, the notion of ‘being a gypsy’ was seen as a desirable alternative to the horrors of factory and inner city life. The dehumanisation of ‘gypsies’ at this time took a different turn as they were seen as wild, free, close to nature or at one with it, romantic, mysterious, magical, desirable, roguish, care free… writers, poets and artists failed to see the poverty and persecution suffered by a people who were not nomadic or ‘free’ , but shackled to a seasonal circuit of a few safe ‘atching tan’ (‘stopping places’) where seasonal farm work could be found, not allowed to own property, speak their own language or step foot inside shops. The Gypsy Law Society epitomised the attitude when they declared membership of their elite ‘research group’ required that the gentleman must first ‘bed a gypsy.’
You can, I hope, see why nobody would want this label. Why it is distasteful, sickening and upsetting for a Rromani person to be called a gypsy. Is it any different with a capital G? I don’t think so.
So, as writers and readers and steampunk enthusiasts who write and read and cosplay in an era where Rromani people were very visible and were habitually branded ‘gypsies’ how can we include the experiences of Rromani people of that time period without perpetuating the ongoing prejudice?
It might seem like a challenge but it’s really a no-brainer – look at other oppressed groups of the colonial period. How should they be referred to / treated / spoken about in historical or punk fiction? You might for example have a racist or ignorant English character refer to an African character using the N word, but you wouldn’t use the N word in the main text of the narrative to refer to that African person would you? You also wouldn’t call them ‘The N….’ , you would use their name. Just consider the G word, exactly the same as the N word. Because, to Rromani people , it is the same.
( Some Rromani people do use the word Gypsy – either because they are trying to re-claim and re-shape it as a form of empowerment or because the word Rromani is so often met with confusion from non-Rromani people. Many cultures take words that have historically been used against them and turn them into a form of personal power – that, surely, is their prerogative. )
If we couple the respectful use of language to talk about Rromani people, with an accurate portrayal of their history and culture, hopefully we can move the image of Rromani people away from the fantastical / de-humanised ‘gypsy’ and back into reality.
I really hope this info has been helpful – I’m by no means a linguistic scholar or historian though so if you think that I’ve made a mistake anywhere do please forgive me and feel free to discuss it, we are all learning together afterall 🙂 And of course if you have any questions or want me to cover any more topics on this subject let me know,
Big blessings, Penny 🙂
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, we ask that you be gentle with us this morning, no raised voices or glaring candle light please, we are very much sore-headed and delicate after a long weekend of carnival capers and masked-up mayhem and now want nothing more than to curl our aching tentacles around a marvellous piece of fiction and a steaming mug of tea…
The Tale Of Raw Head And Bloody Bones is one of our favourite books ever in the history of books. It is a love story of the most unique, raw and daring kind and at the same time it is an extremely dark fairy tale with all the exploration of psyche and self that hallmark a classic work of Gothic fiction. As a historical novel it explores the boundaries of class, affluence, education, mental health, culture, sexual and perceived moral behaviour to admirable depth making it a graphic, challenging and breathtaking read that will not suit everyone’s taste. This is not a book for the faint hearted but it is heart breaking and absorbing and utterly, utterly wonderful with characters who leave us weeping every time we step back into these dark and beautiful pages.
Tristan Hart is obsessed with understanding and preventing pain, at the same time he is addicted, enthralled and excited by it.
Nathaniel Ravenscroft is delightfully delinquent, exciting and enigmatic and everything that Tristan would like to be. Possibly. Or possess. But something isn’t quite right, there is a darkness lurking around that demonic smile, a secret or two that no one wants to talk about and when Nathaniel vanishes, does the key to his whereabouts lie in this world, or in the realm of fairies, daemons and an ancient half-remembered myth?
Katherine Montague is a troubled soul, beautiful and fragile, in need of Tristan perhaps as much as he is need of her… but is their love tonic or poison? Is their mutual obsession the key that will eventually help them both to find themselves, or is it a perversion that will eventually be their downfall?
An intensely compassionate, emotional and tormented soul, Tristan sees beauty where others see the grotesque and his days are a tense and brittle ice-path between the relationships of his physical world and the strange-woven mythology that inhabits the hearts and minds and landscapes that surround him. Who is this Raw Head? Who is Bloody Bones? Who, really, is Nathaniel Ravenscroft? Who is the monster and who the redeeming angel?
We wish you a perfectly restorative afternoon and swear we will be on better form to guide you around the frost fair tomorrow so, until then, please be always
Good morning Ladie and Gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s splendiferously spoontastic parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.
True some have called it an unfulfilling place of half baked fancies, bad eggs and drastic measures, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.
This morning you find us about to engage in the noble art of the festive spoon duel. We understand that in your dimension you settle your disputes by duelling with tea but, frankly, we find it hard to understand the mechanics of such a thing – do you hurl the tea at eachother? Or are the cups somehow used as foils?
Here in the New World we settle our disputes with a series of Parlour Affairs, one of which is spoon duelling (or Spuelling if you are feeling lazy). Spoon duel challenges are usually reserved for the Wizmas period.
In case you are not familiar with the art and history of the spoon duel let us enlighten you:
Spoon duelling began during the Ancient Egyptian era and was reserved for religious ceremonies in honour of The Goddess. Ornate spoons made of wood, flint and ivory were carved with hieroglyphs pertaining to tea, cake and magic.
Archaeological evidence suggests that it was in Ancient Greece that spoon duelling moved from being a religious ritual to an event used by the upper classes to settle disputes in a sophisticated fashion. Silver and bronze spoons were used during this period and spoons in the British Museum can still be seen which bear the scars of spoon duelling.
By 1259 CE (Cakeless Era), spoons had become a symbol of power. Royal monarchs were anointed with a special spoon to mark their coronations. The wealthy displayed the many battle-mangled weapons of their defeated opponents while the peasants were left spoonless to slurp soup with their bare hands and stir their tea with their burnt and blistered fingers.
Discontent began to stir the soul of the general populous and The Great Spoon Uprising of the Renaissance period lead to greater equality in cutlery which in turn lead to a greater diversity in spoon design. In joyous celebration of the noble spoon, artisans sprang up in every town, flooding the market with an array of spoons for every occasion.
Soon there were Caviar spoons (made of mother of pearl), Dessert spoons, Tea spoons, Fruit spoons, Runcibles (Max’s favoured weapon), Iced tea spoons, Jolly Long Spoons, Demitasse spoons, Chinese spoons, Bouillon spoons, Parfait spoons, Rattail spoons, Salt spoons, Seal-top spoons, Bar spoons, Caddy spoons, Slotted spoon, Mote spoons, Mustard spoons, Cheese scoop spoons… not to mention the cochlear ritual and anointing spoons, ear spoons, nose spoons and new born spoons (for ladling out babies)…
By the time Queen Vic came to the throne The Good Folk were screaming for regulation and one of the first papers to pass through parliament was the Standardisation Of Kitchen Utensils Act which introduced the standard issue spoons, tea cups and other tableware permitted for use today.
Obviously underground artisans linked to the Arts and Crafts Movement have sprung up across the scattered isles to produce illegal cutlery of the most impractical and extravagant artistic merit …
Hm? Sorry? Oh yes, Max says I should stop the history lesson and get on with the thing… you know for a Very Quiet Gentleman Max does interrupt an awful lot…
So, the noble art of spoon duelling :
Each competitor sits opposite the other at a tea table. (Historically, spoon duelling was a standing affair and opponents would attempt to crack eachother over the top of the head with a battle cry of ‘bad egg!’. After hats became fashionable the aim then became to knock the opponents’ headwear to the ground. This type of spoon duelling was outlawed by King George in 1721 CE. Of course there are those who claim to have revived it in some sort of secret- society- boys- club- thing… but we’re not sure we believe them…)
A point (or hit) is scored when one competitor taps the centre knuckle of their opponents’ spoon-hand with the back of their spoon. Three hits are needed to win the duel.
A hit is established thus; each spoon is moistened (traditionally with cold water but some vulgar persons lick their spoon and spiteful ones have been known to stir their scalding tea) and then dipped into coloured chalk. The chalk mark left on the back of the hand makes it easier for adjudicators to judge whether or not a hit is legitimate.
The spoon hand or wrist must remain in contact with the table at all times and the other hand may be placed behind the back, on the hip or above the head as preferred but never upon the table, knee or chair.
The winner takes the spoon of the defeated competitor as a trophy and many people choose to display their hard won spoons upon their hats, waistcoats, parasols, bed posts and parlour walls.
So we will soon be packing our runcibles into their leather holsters and heading into town to witness, and hopefully take part in, some festive sport. But before we do that we must tighten the belts on our dressing gowns, pour ourselves a morning cuppa and see what our little dust sucking friends have been up to in the night…
Hm, Gnii fishing eh? I’m not terribly fond of fishing now, having done so very much of it in the sunken city of Hull. Fish – delicious, but the getting of them? I would much rather visit the local monger rather than run the dispiriting odds of catching other ocean debris., the things you humans throw into the ocean sets my tentacles shuddering. Anyway… let us forget all that and dip our tentacles into our seasonally spicy tea which should give us plenty of zest for the morning is this superb ginger rooibos from craftteacompany…
Splendid, and now we must button up tight and head out into the cold dark alley ways of Lancaster and find ourselves a shady little tavern where we can lay a few bets on a spoon wrestling match (it’s similar to the duelling but for Ladies only and so there are less rules, more name calling, eye gouging, spork scratching, hair tangling etc and it all gets a little rougher and therefore more interesting, especially when the wigs come off…)
We wish you an utterly ineffable morning chockablock with spoonfulls of fun and we invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow so, until then
please be always
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 Author E. A. Hennessy, aka Liz, author of Grigory’s Gadget. Good morning Liz, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
I did! I recently made this delicious Roasted Red Pepper and Gouda Soup. It’s just the thing for a cold, dreary winter’s day!
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you have a seat here by the fire and tell us a little more about your marvellous book, I hear that Max and Collin enjoyed it very much indeed……
I’m so glad they enjoyed it! Grigory’s Gadget, which is Book 1 of the Gaslight Frontier Series, follows Zoya Orlova and her friends as they try to escape their oppressive life in Lodninsk. On their way to their new home, they are kidnapped by pirates and forced to join the crew. What’s more, the pirates seem to have a particular interest in Zoya’s family heirloom – a small gadget of compacted wires and gears.
It sounds thrilling, you know I was kidnapped by pirates myself not so long ago, but they were awfully nice really… but have you always been interested in writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I remember writing all sorts of stories, from mysteries to sci-fi and fantasy. I always knew I wanted to publish a book someday! I’m so happy to share my stories with the world.
And how did you first become interested in Steampunk?
I believe the first steampunk thing that really caught my eye was the Studio Ghibli movie Howl’s Moving Castle. I was obsessed with that movie, though at the time I didn’t know exactly what “steampunk” was. Gradually over the years, I noticed I was drawn to the Victorian aesthetic and to retro and anachronistic technology. Eventually I was able to give a name to those interests – steampunk!
Now I promised Collin I would ask you… when do you plan to release the next book in the series?
I am working on the rough draft right now. My plan is to finish the rough draft in the next month or two. After that, I like to utilize beta readers to gain some feedback. After a lot of self-editing, I’ll send my manuscript off to my wonderful professional editors at Writership! All in all, I would say that the sequel, Serafima’s Stone, should be out sometime next year!
Oh how exciting, I do hope you’ll visit us again when it is released. And, in the meantime, do you have projects, appearances or releases that we can get excited about?
In addition to working on Serafima’s Stone, I am participating in the Collaborative Writing Challenge Steampunk Project, titled Army of Brass! This is a really cool project where dozens of authors work together to create a single novel. It’s written chapter-by-chapter, with 4-5 submissions from different authors for each chapter. It’s a really fun challenge!
Ah yes, I have heard of it, it sounds wonderful! And where can we find your books for sale?
Grigory’s Gadget is available in ebook form on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo. It’s also available in paperback form on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you’re ever in the Troy, New York area, there are signed copies available at Market Block Books!
And now the all important question, upon which the fate of the universe may hinge – what is your favourite hot brew and how do you take it?
I’m currently obsessed with the cinnamon tea from Adagio Teas. It’s a Ceylon black tea with cinnamon sticks and cinnamon flavor. No milk or sugar needed! Alternatively, if I don’t want caffeine, I love making hot chocolate with real melted chocolate.
Oh splendid, always good to have a caffeine-free substitute on hand for if The Good Folk show up!
Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Liz, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
That sounds like a great idea! Thank you so much for your hospitality. Let’s eat!
Marvellous, I hope you will all join me next week when Margaret McGaffey Fisk, author of The Steamship Chronicles, will be helping me to dish up some more delicious soup so,until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!