Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “LGBT

Soup Of The Day: With Steampunk Author Kara Jorgensen

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 one of my favourite Steampunk writers Kara Jorgensen, author of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series!

 

Good morning Kara, thank you so much for coming to help me it is so nice to welcome you back to my soup kitchen again, I hope your journey here from your won dimension was a good one?

…. It’s always a little rough this time of year, but luckily, I made it in one piece. Thank you so much for having me.

Oh you’re most welcome , Dear, it is lovely to have you back! And have you brought something delicious with you today to share with the orphans?

I have brought some Tamatar Palak Ka Shorba, or Indian spinach and tomato soup. Here’s the link to the recipe:

https://www.whiskaffair.com/tamatar-palak-ka-shorba/

 

Thankyou! Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we have a little peer into its depths and see what images it can conjure up for us from the aether?

steam arm

 

Ah yes, the Steampunk genre is certainly full of characters who sport mechanical prosthesis of one form or another isn’t it? I wonder why that is?

I’ve wondered that myself. A lot of it I think is merely due to aesthetics. You can add all sorts of gizmos and gadgets to a prosthetic, like knives, guns, rocket launchers (if you’re a little more modern in your punking). Plus, then your character has some steampunk flavor beyond just their clothing. Now they are actively part of the genre, so to speak. If it’s an actual limb, your character will also regain most of their function or even more, depending on how functional the prosthesis is.

Prosthesis feature prominently in your own writing, not simply as an aesthetic to support the genre but as key elements which shape the narrative, was this a conscious decision?

Yes, it was definitely a conscious decision. While I enjoy the aesthetics of steampunk, I had read a story where the prosthetic served no other purpose than to look cool. I didn’t want that with Eilian and his arm. Disabilities aren’t a costume, and I didn’t think a character with a disability should merely be used to strengthen the genre’s aesthetic. I wanted to show Eilian’s struggles with coming to terms with his disability and eventually progressing enough that he could function without an arm or prosthetic. I felt that journey was necessary before I introduced the prosthetic arm into the story. Instead of having the prosthetic “solve” his problems, I wanted him to solve them himself.

 

Of course to Eilian and Hadley, prosthetics have a huge impact on their lives in many ways…

Oh yes, well, poor Eilian is minus one arm, so his prosthetic arm plays a large role in his story. Going from an active world-traveller to an invalid, even temporarily, is a huge blow to him, but he eventually adapts to his burn scars and missing arm. His first prosthesis is horribly cumbersome and not worth wearing. After he meets Hadley, well, I won’t give too much away, but she devices something much more functional. Prostheses are Hadley’s business, so they are her livelihood. As a woman in the Victorian Era, she is expected to keep house and have children, but because she is the last surviving member of her family who can create prostheses, she totally goes against the norms of the time by actively working on mechanical devices.

 

But for Immanuel, his eye injury is not remedied by technology or medical science. Did you ever think that he might choose to try and repair or replace his injured eye, or was that never an issue for his character?

It may sound silly, but I don’t think Immanuel likes to admit that his eye bothers him. In several scenes, his partner has suggested he get glasses, but I don’t think there would be any other technology that could “fix” his eye. In my writing, I only use materials that were at least semi readily available during the Victorian Era, so I can’t make anything too complex. A moveable arm is one thing, but an eye is a much higher level of complexity. I couldn’t think of a way to make a device to help him see that wasn’t completely anachronistic.

 

You do a marvellous job of showing the complexities that Eilian has to face, both physical, logistical and social when he loses his arm, do you think it’s important to explore these issues in Steampunk and not just have characters ‘slap on a clockwork prosthetic limb and jump back into the fray’ ?

Very. It’s one thing if the story takes place a long time after the character lost their limb or they have always used a prosthesis (as in someone who has a birth defect). Then, it would make sense for them to slap on a prosthesis and go, but to lose a limb is a life-changing event. To brush it off as if it were nothing is unrealistic and kind of insulting to those who have gone through similar traumatic experiences. One thing I try to teach in my creative writing classes is that characters are people, too, so you have to give them human psyches. Exploring these psychological and sociological complexities are what make works of fiction rich, and in my writing, I try very hard to give my characters realistic experiences that readers can connect to.

 

Immanuel certainly has some physical injuries remaining from his ordeal with Lord Rose (goodness that monster’s name sends a shiver down my spine!) but what affects his life the most is PTSD, isn’t it?

Definitely, his PTSD is far worse than any physical wound. In time, those heal and disappear, or scars at least lessen, but PTSD never truly goes away. As I mentioned before, my characters are written to be human and have human limitations, as far as trauma goes. After being kidnapped and tortured for nearly three months, he has deep psychological wounds. I try not to overdo it in his stories to the point that his PTSD is comical or makes him seem completely dysfunctional, but it affects his everyday life. There are times when something triggers flashbacks to Lord Rose (such as cigarette smoke) or he has a panic attack that tears his mind away from reality. As the series goes on, his PTSD lessens to a point and the psychological issues associated with it change with the healing process.

 

Prosthetics are very popular in Steampunk cosplay but do you think there is ever a line of tension between creating worlds where varying abilities and needs form major narrative / aesthetic devices, and making those worlds accessible to real people with varying needs and abilities?

I’m not someone with a physical disability, so I can’t say for certain but I could definitely see how that tension could arise. When a disability is used as a prop, it may look cool to the average reader, but to someone with a similar disability in real life, it could be disheartening to see themselves used to further an aesthetic while in real life they struggle for accommodations that would help them live a more normal life. Having a disabled character float through life, especially Victorian life, without issue is hard to believe unless a very high percentage of people in that world are also disabled. No one’s hardship should be used as a prop, whether it’s a disability, their sexuality, or their race, just because it makes the character more exotic or interesting. These things affect people’s lives, and to treat it as nothing more than added flavour, is disrespectful to those living with it.

 

Do you think more can be done to make sure that Steampunk fiction and conventions are made accessible and welcoming for all fans of the genre?

With conventions, it is fairly easy: make sure the events are all on one floor or have elevators and accommodations for those who need them. The Steampunk World’s Fair does a good job of being inclusive for those with disabilities, differing sexualities, nationalities, etc. Panels on writing/creating characters different from yourself would help a lot to create awareness among writers that their stories could hurt people with disabilities if they don’t do proper research. Going off that, writers of steampunk fiction can take these things seriously when they write and be aware of what having a foreign or disabled character really means and what bad representation does to those that character represents.

 

Thankyou Kara for those wise and insightful words, I absoloutely agree with you. It really has been so wonderful to chat to you today, thank you so much for coming to give me a hand in the kitchen again! Now then, the kettle is singing so why don’t we pour a nice brew and you can tell me about what is new in the world of Ingenious Mechanical Devices; I know you have Selkie Cove which has just been released ?

SelkieCoveLH

Oh yes, Selkie Cove, book five of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices, came out in late July. It’s my latest book child, and I’m super stoked to have it out in the world. In Selkie Cove, Adam and Immanuel get involved with a magical government agency called Her Majesty’s Interceptors, and for them to join, they must first solve a case involving a murdered creature called a selkie. The selkies are seemingly half-human and half-seal and dwell in the northern waters between England and Scandinavia. Along the way, they find more dead bodies, new powers, and that Adam has been holding back more than he’s let on.

And do you have any new titles planned for next year?

Several, hopefully. I’m currently writing a story about Emmeline Jardine that takes place around the same time as Selkie Cove. She finds new love, some interesting lore about her family, and a new direction for her life. In 2018, I’m hoping to write another Eilian and Hadley story as well as an Immanuel and Adam story. With those, I only have a vague idea of what those might be about, but the Emmeline story should be out by Spring 2018 at the latest.

 

Well that certainly is alot to look forward to! Oh! I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready so shall we start dishing it up?

Mmmm, I can’t wait. Thank you so much for having me. Bon appetit!

 

Thankyou all of you for joining us in the kitchen today, if you would like to find out more about Kara’s writing you can find her on the aether-web here…

 

Website: http://karajorgensen.com

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

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kara-Jorgensen/e/B00L4KTO0W

 

Blessings on your brew my dears!


Elevenses: Warning, Philosophical Octopus…

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to the parlour, pull up a lemonade crate and make yourself at home. I’m afraid you find us in a contemplative and, some might even say, philosophical mood this morning… so if the idea of a contemplative and philosophical octopus will put you off your tea, you may wish to call back another day when we have sobered up a little…

 

Staying? Oh marvellous, well then… a-hem… this is what we were discussing…

 

If steampunk sits, eyeing us all seductively across the poker table, shuffling the cards of re-imagined realities , be they past, present or future, then surely He / She / They or indeed It is well placed to grind one sneering scarlet stiletto boot heel into the face of the spluttering, over indulged prejudices and misconceptions that have thwarted the progress of humanity throughout history?

 

And it is our own, humble, modest and most tentatively proffered opinion, that anyone who is inclined to be a part of that boot, or the alluringly unshaven leg within it, or even to cheer from the side lines and pour the next round of absinthe laced tea, should be encouraged to do so.

 

You know the Age Of Steam has always been my Least favourite in history; so much of it makes my blood boil, and no less in your own dimension than here in Ire. Granted we don’t have the issues of colonialism or empire building that you have had, but if you think that means our world is free from oppression and bigotry then you really haven’t been paying attention.

 

Everyone hates the Wizards and the Tea Time Lords because they control everything, everyone hates the Witches because the Wizards tell us to, everyone hates the Tinkers because they can do things that most of us can’t , but everyone wants the Tinkers to do things for them, everyone hates the Land Pirates, the Tea Smugglers and the Tiffin Madams because they succeed in living outside the law, and everyone would love to live outside the law, but everyone wants the things these outcasts have to trade, and few want to examine the turbulent history that has lead them to their current mode of existence.

 

And of course everyone hates the Skyway Men because… well, have you ever met one? I rest my case.

 

Hm? Oh, Max says that “everyone hates the Skyway Men because they are a small group of Tinkers who have broken away from their allotted niche at the bottom of society and formed an aristocracy of their own built on oppressing those they deem beneath them, much in the same way that the royal family and its social entourage have done for centuries, and nobody likes it when the tables are turned or when an upstart minority group rebels against its allotted station in Iife.”

 

Well possibly, Max ,possibly, all I know is, last time I was in Annwn they called me a dribbling cephalopod and threatened to blow our brains out. Hm? I don’t care if it was a hand made lace tablecloth Max, I just don’t care, offence has been taken and that is that. And will you please stop interrupting!

 

Now then, the reason I love Steampunk is that it provides a splendid, hand crafted, gleaming brass, steam powered, time travelling, dimension hopping vehicle into which we can jump (teapot in one hand and energy-ray-blunderbuss-of-idiocy-thwartation in the other) and re-write the wrongs of the past, not to somehow exonerate or brush under the carpet our embarrassing ancestors (and lets face it, we all have a few of those – Max particularly…) but to create new narratives that grab these perpetrators of injustice by the shirt collar, tie them to a small rickety wooden chair in the basement of an abandoned mansion house, shine a spot light in their face and pelt them with a relentless barrage of witty abuse, whilst posing about in front of them wearing smug faces and fabulous amounts of bombazine…

 

Hm? No! It is  merely a sartorial preference, Max, not a fetish. Honestly, for a Very Quite Gentleman you do an awful amount of interrupting.

 

… Far from allowing us to then traverse the murky rivers of the past with impunity, pith helmets on crying “Oh it’s alright, we’re not like that any more see?!”  these new narratives help inform the development of the future, both real and imagined. By not only slaying the beasts of the past but paving the road forwards with their carcasses, we create a poignant ‘bone road’ for those who follow in our adventurous footsteps.

 

But are we obliged to do this? Is it possible that all this talk of ethics, equality, diversity and inclusivity should not cross the boundary from the real world into the imagined? Can’t we just romp around in whatever costumes we like and write or ridicule whatever we fancy because, at the end of the day, it’s just a bit of fun and nobody means any harm and we don’t want the fun taken out of the thing now do we? Leave politics for the pub and steampunk for the cons? Hm? Does it matter if we create an accidentally segregated situation in which certain groups of society do not feel welcome in our ranks or are offended or hurt by our actions or unable to join in the fun because they cannot gain access to it?

Probably everyone’s opinion will be different, we can only offer our own…

Speaking candidly, as folk who are usually in the minority wherever we go (there not being many people in the world-above-waves who sport such fetching tentacles as myself and my Vary Quiet Gentleman Friend), Max and I think these things do matter and that in the Steampunk arena, as in every other area of life, everyone has a duty to follow the wise words of that hypocritical oath that so many doctors swear by…

Hm? Hypo what? Oh Hippocratic is it? So sorry I thought it said ‘first do no harm’ … oh it does say that does it? I’m sorry your human world is so very confusing.

 

More tea?

 

But all this waffling is only the humble opinion of one tea-sotted octopus, over the next few weeks we will be talking to some seriously salt-worthy Steampunks who are passionate about the issues of inclusivity and diversity.

 

As I said earlier, I believe that anyone who is keen to jump into their space-time-dimension vehicle and begin wreaking restorational havoc upon the past, present or future should be encouraged to do so… but anyone who has encountered our own dear Gail Force will know that such well meant endeavours can occasionally blow up in one’s face, so I will also be getting some first class advice on how not to end up causing more harm than good.

Max and I encountered an irate individual the other day who, rudely but quite rightly, said that we shouldn’t go through life terrified of offending others. This is true and we would like to place it now upon the record that, as creatures with many tentacles, we do not wish anyone to be terrified of the ramifications of treading upon one of those limbs. Accidents happen all the time and any reasonable creature will understand that. (An Elder God may not, but they are thankfully few and far between).

We would however like to help create a world where everyone is aware that creatures with tentacles exist and where, just as we try to be polite and courteous and not to trip anyone up or dribble over your best lace table cloths (be quiet Max!), others try to be polite and courteous to us and not trample on us in their eagerness to get to the free biscuits.

More tea? No? Five cups is your limit is it? Ah well, thankyou for staying and enduring the ramblings of a tea-sotted octopus and the embarrassing ejaculations of his Very Quiet Gentleman friend, we hope you will join us again next week for more marvellous tea and excellent Steampunk fiction and of course tomorrow Mrs Baker will be talking to Nils Nisse Visser about his Steampunk book Amster Damned.

We wish you a very biscuit-full afternoon and, until we see you again,

please, be always

Utterly Yourself

 

 

 


On Steampunk and Trolls : A note from Penny

A small but unpleasant thing happened at a con recently which brought to my attention several issues that, in my naivety, reclusiveness and small-scale social paddling pool of carefully vetted beautiful-hearted human beings I had not been aware of.

But before I talk about the little incident and the road forward from there, I need to make it clear that I am speaking and writing and feeling from a situation of immense privilege. For anyone who doesn’t already know, I am half Rromani. Over the generations the parents and grandparents of my family have done all they could to merge with mainstream British culture to the point that all the children of my generation (and now my children’s generation) can live without the stigma associated with being labelled with the racist term ‘gypsy.’

That means they totally (publicly) abandoned their names, culture, religion, traditions, language, dress, beliefs… so that we could have full access to jobs, education, a social life and all the other aspects of life which they had been denied because of their ethnicity. Being Rromani was dangerous, it still is for many, and so my family hid – becoming invisible in plain sight.

Because of their sacrifice, I am able to choose to stand shoulder to shoulder with any other middle class British person, blissfully unaffected by racial issues of disadvantage or prejudice. So when I choose to reclaim, explore or celebrate aspects of my cultural heritage I am exercising that right from a position of safety and privilege ; I am able to choose to opt in or out, to reveal or to hide.

Often I choose to opt in because I feel that, if I don’t, all the beautiful and terrible things that are becoming lost will be lost forever. All the stories will pass away. I feel that the efforts of my elders will have been wasted if I don’t stand in the place their sacrifice has put me and wave their flag for them. Opre Roma? Well, here we are! And although I have endured the odd idiotic remark, that is by no means comparable to the atrocious suffering undergone by many Rromani people, both historically and today.

So when my husband and I Steampunk we always draw inspiration from Rromani history and culture (real Rromani history and culture, not this, frankly insulting, ‘steampunk gypsy’ aesthetic that can be seen wafting around the internet) and, probably because we always Steampunk small-scale with friends and family, this has never been an issue.

But this year we went to something big and I’m sad to say that we received some rather idiotic  remarks from a few other Steampunks about our overtly Rromani costumes not being ‘Proper Steampunk.’ Thankfully our children didn’t hear and obviously we didn’t run off to blub in the toilets but just got on with the day and had a marvellous time.  But it has lead my husband to say that perhaps we shouldn’t dress like that anymore (in case it happens again and the children do hear and get upset), that we should just wear top hats, goggles and lots of high tech gadgetry to try and fit in more rather than stand out as something outside the norm, perhaps we’re ruining it for the mainstream and they don’t want people to stray from the approved aesthetic? Or perhaps they just don’t understand and it’s not worth trying to educate them.

Well I thought about it long and hard – at first I have to say I was shell shocked because I’d always assumed that my small but very diverse circle of educated, enlightened, all-accepting and utterly beautiful friends was reflective of the entire Steampunk Community. I did some snooping, hoping to discover that my first impressions had been correct and that what we experienced was a one off… sadly I found lots of folks had had similar experiences … but happily I also found that lots of folks like us were trying to put their own cultural stamp on Steampunk and THAT I felt was something to dwell on, to pay attention to, to celebrate and to encourage.

Professor Elemental tells us ‘don’t feed the trolls’ and Nimue Brown’s beautiful poem tells us not to give attention to the idiots of the world but to raise high those who are doing good things.

I need to respond to what happened, because it left such a nasty taste in my mouth, and fortunately I am in a position that enables me to choose to respond by ignoring those trolls and instead drawing attention to as many fabulous folks as I can find who are doing good things and helping to make our community diverse, interesting, welcoming, representative, inclusive and fun for everyone who wants to be a part of it – because I think that for the most part it is!

So I stand very awkwardly, very humbly, and very nervously before you all today, in the shadow of those far better and wiser than me, on the shoulders of those far stronger and more deserving, hoping to spend some time celebrating the diversity that already exists within our wonderful Steampunk world by bringing together some fantastic writers, artists, musicians and creators who are actively shaping the genre into a really splendid scene to be a part of. (rather than an exclusive, fusty old gentleman’s club stuck up it’s own rear end).

So that is what will be happening here over the next few months ( I mean, hopefully it sort of inadvertently happens already!)

Nimue Brown spoke recently about creating types of sacred space, the more we all work together to try and create sacred spaces where we can celebrate and explore our own histories and cultures side by side through the medium of punk fiction, the more the trolls will be pushed to the sidelines where they belong.

(Thankyou for humouring me. Apologies for the interruption to the usual schedule of frivolity and mayhem, normal tea service will resume as soon as octopoidly possible…)

😉  – Penny

 


Morning Cuppa: Who Murdered Dr Damien?

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! A very warm welcome back to Max and Collin’ s ravishingly refreshing and zestily zany parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have called it too piquant for their tastes, but we consider that such individuals are simply sour that they have not yet received an invitation.

Well you find us this morning safely returned from our inter-dimensional jaunt to MCM Comic Con in London (for some reason your London is not a clockwork city run by Land Pirates as ours is but nevertheless our tri-cornered hats, fake mechanical limbs and crys of ‘arrrr me hearties!’ did not seem to be out of place)

Unfortunately operating the photographic device we had brought with us whilst preventing our small hoard of street urchins from half-inching shiny things, assaulting aliens with their lethal balloon-swords and getting themselves locked up by the security team meant we didn’t actually take many photographs, but here is a small taste of some of the steampunk splendidness that was on show in case you weren’t able to make it there yourselves …

WP_20170528_034WP_20170528_040

But now the excitement is all over and we  are very pleased to be home and able to kick our tentacles up on the table with a splendid pot of Lady Grey tea from Mystic Brew Teas and an excellent book… like this one…

blackwood

 

Katie is a 28 year old woman in crisis; her relationship (if you could ever call it that) has crumbled and she’s back at her father’s house popping pills and drowning her sorrows while her demonic step sister is trying to win the world’s worst tantrum award. But when the little brat falls down the stairs, breaking her neck, Katie is blamed for her murder and sent to Greystone Asylum… a dark and terrifying place where death stalks in a black hood and no one is quite what they seem. Who is the mysterious murderer? What secrets are the doctors harbouring behind their office doors? And will Katie survive long enough to find out?

To call this book a contemporary lesbian murder mystery would be accurate but not do it justice. The raw reality of Susanna Kaysen meets the gripping horror of Paul Hoffman in this dark and twisted tale which, amongst the sexual intrigue and the pervading tension, has at its heart some deep questions about humanity, our concept of self and our judgement of others.

Overall, a gripping page-turner which horror and mystery fans will adore.

Now our oracular cephalopterois is straining at the leash to tell us something so let us pop him into his teacup and what his far seeing spines have plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

Oh ho! Well, that makes sense because it is indeed lemonade season here in Ire and our meticulously maniacal landlord Montmorency has been badgering us again about getting out there and selling the stuff so, for the next few weeks we will be All Over Lemonade; its history, place in Victorian culture and lots of luscious recipes for making your own.

So, we invite you back to join us tomorrow for some lusciously lemony elevenses and until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself.

 


Soup of the day with steampunk author Gill McKnight

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!

Helping me this morning is author Gill McKnight! Good morning Gill, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Can I take your hat and miscellaneous weaponry? I do apologise for the heat in here but I must keep the fire burning even in this weather!

Good morning, Mrs Baker. It’s a pleasure to help out and I don’t mind the heat at all. It’s good for the wet beriberi.

 

Indeed! Now then, have a seat here by the window where it is a little cooler. How was your journey here from your own dimension? Did you come by time machine, or is your camper van wired for inter-dimensional travel?

On the number 9 bus. I waited hours for the dirigible before they finally told is it was cancelled due to seagulls?

Ah yes, we have similar problems here with the Liver Birds but that number nine is always reliable. Ah, now I see you have  brought some soup with you today to share with the orphans!

Yes, I brought my famous chickpea and turpentine soup. It cleanses as it nourishes and makes your colon sparkle.

Oh how…er….interesting! Goodness I think it is making my nostrils sparkle already! Now while that is simmering away nicely, filling the bakery with its fumes, why don’t you tell me a little more about your steampunk adventure The Tea Machine, have you brought a copy with you to show us?

image004

I once had a history teacher who postulated that if the Romans had manged to use steam as a power source other than for bathing, then with their verve and vim we’d all be living on Mars by now. The advances would have been mind-blowing with the right power in the right hands at the right time.

Marvellous, I know that Max and Collin enjoyed it very much indeed! What lured you in to writing in the steampunk genre? Was it the tea?

Tea and crinoline – the ying and yang of any well-kept parlour. What could possibly go wrong when these two forces get together.

Oh absolutely!

Also, there are some fantastic authors out there who get the Oolong flowing. I’m thinking of Gibson, Powers, Carriger, Reeve, Priest, and Blaylock, the list is endless. They all acted as catalysts to my imagination.

The story is full of believable, loveable characters, particularly Weena the giant space squid! Do you have a personal favourite, or are they all your ‘darlings’?

It’s so unfair to have favourites, but I do have a slight preference for Millicent. Mostly because she shoulders the plot and drives it through all sorts of rubbish. Such a trooper – every author needs one.

The story takes us from the Victorian era to the height of the Roman Empire, two very different settings which you capture the essence of perfectly, did you have to do much research to inform your writing?

I tend to make it all up. If I so much as open Wikileeki, or anything like it, or go browsing this or googling at that, I lose hours of writing time. Really the internet is a time travel machine in its own right, in that the present seems to disappear whenever I open it.

And it should be obvious I dig deep into the cannons of Rider Haggard, H.G. Wells, Lovecraft, Melville, and, of course, Nora Roberts.

There is plenty of frivolity, humour and whimsy woven into your steampunk world but you skilfully manage to draw the reader’s attention to a lot of important issues such as equality, exploitation, industrialisation and religion and how seemingly innocent things –like tea – can be manipulated to satisfy greed and power lust. Do you think it is important for science fiction / steampunk to challenge and expose these issues?

It’s the nature of the beast. I think steampunk authors naturally go against the flow. The inversion of historical norms can’t help but throw up closer inspection and commentary. And science fiction has a long pedigree of commenting on the nature of humanity and the world around us.

Now you have hooked us all in with the first book and left us on a splendid cliff hanger, when can we get our hands on the next book in the series?

Parabellum is pencilled in for 2018. I have too much on my plate to bring it in any earlier. I write full time now and somehow seem to manage to produce less? Why is that?

And where else can we find your writing?

www.gillmcknightwrites and www.dirtroadbooks.com should do the trick.

Marvellous! Do you have any other new releases or events coming up soon?

A contemporary lesbian romance this May, and part five of my Werewolf series this July. Why was I complaining above?

So plenty to look forward to then! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, my dear, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I do hope you will come and talk to us again when Parabellum is released! Now then, I must say that soup really does smell like it must be about ready, even with the window open it is making my eyes water! Shall we start dishing it up?

I’ve enjoyed myself today, Mrs Baker. Thank you so much for inviting me over to help. The little, rickety orphans are a joy to behold. Could you pass me that ladle, please?

Certainly! You know I think I will keep a jarful back for next time my flame-throwing parasol runs out of juice, or perhaps when the landlord calls…

Thankyou all of you for joining us in the soup kitchen today I hope you will join me again next week so until then,

Blessings on your brew my dears!

 

 


Morning Cuppa: The Tea Machine

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s breathtakingly brew-tastic parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True some have called it a tasteless affair offered up by the dregs of society but we consider that such individuals are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

Well we hear that in your dimension you are celebrating something called Beltane? We hope that is going splendidly for you all! Celebrations abound here in Ire as well with our annual Decimation Of The Flowers ritual (or deflowering ceremony as some folks call it) and so we humbly ask that you forgive our absence yesterday as we were swept along with the tide of evil cultism… you know how it is…

Wiz has decreed that wild flowers can only possibly bloom from seeds pilfered from government plantations and are therefore illegal and must be destroyed on sight. Flowers, after all, contain nectar which bees might use to make honey and then wild honey might be illegally harvested by anyone, and then how would the Wizards regulate the national sugar intake? Anarchy would ensue.

So, in each of the seven counties this month you will find troupes of people using home made apparatus and ingenious devices to rid their locality of wild flowers in all their many forms and destroy any bees nests whilst avoiding being stung. It is all highly amusing and, best of all, it is quite possible in the confusion to finger-smith lots of Percy (that is, lots of sweet edible flowers and honey for one’s ‘personal use’) without The Good Folk noticing. (Of course a diligent gent can snag Wild flowers at any time of year, there is always something in bloom, but evidently Wiz hasn’t cottoned on to this fact yet)

But before we embark on our morning deflowering mission we must fuel up with enormous amounts of tea and  good literature and, naturally, we have both. Our tea this morning is the festive Blooming Tea from ZakkaCasa and our book is the tea machine by Gill McKnight…

image004

 

Millicent is an intelligent woman of independent means whose life couldn’t be more perfect, that is until her scatterbrained genius of a brother,Hubert ,decides to decimate her best Parasol to use as the lever of his time machine… as Millicent tries to reclaim her beloved property she inadvertently triggers the machine and finds herself plunged headlong into the future of an alternate reality where the woman she loves is in mortal danger. As Millicent tries to save her beloved Sangfroid from what seems like an inevitable and violent death something, or someone, seems to be pulling the strings of time and space into a noose around their necks. Can Millicent, Sangfroid and their friends escape the machinations of evil tea cultists and giant space squid and discover the temporal anomaly that has lead to the rise of the tea goddess and her terrifying steam powered Empire?

This well paced steampunk adventure has everything you could wish for, the whimsy of Gail Carriger, the intrigue and intensity of Meredith Rose and a cast of characters we instantly fell in love with; we laughed, we cried, we basked in the classic Wells/ Verne flavouring and we almost forgot to breathe at the scary bits! We cannot wait for the next book in the series to be released next year.

Now then,our poor oracular pet is straining to be unleashed so let us pop him into his teacup and see what he has plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

Well REALLY! What is the impudent creature trying to suggest? That we switch our beloved tea to coffee instead? Hm… I am beginning to suspect that little cur of insubordination and possible defection of our noble revolutionary efforts. Coffee indeed! Pff.

We wish you all a very pleasant morning, whatever cult you belong to, and we hope to see you back in the parlour again soon, hopefully with armfuls of pilfered posies, but until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself

 

 

 

 

 


Morning Cuppa: An Oxford Holiday

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s formidably flamboyant and delinquently day-dreamy parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a barren affair; its charms a figment of fiendish imagination, but we consider that such people spend too much time indulging in unsavoury gossip.

You find us this morning reminiscing about the innocent delights of youth… at least I think that is what we are doing.. we are coming out of the end of an all night tiffin session with the lovely Miss Ottis, our local Milliner. I’m not sure Max has noticed that she gave her leave over an hour ago and he has just finished regaling her empty chair with a charming story about how the poet Christina Biscotti first introduced him to something called a sherbet rocket.

I confess I couldn’t follow most of it (sweet delights like that may be illegal in the land f Ire but below the sea they are simply unobtainable, as even the most intrepid cake smuggler does not think to put on a diving suit and peddle their wares along the sea bed.) but the whole thing seemed to take place on a punt in Oxford and ended in a near death collision with a steamer.

Anyway, Max has now moved on to rambling about Christina’s Mostly Awful Poetry and that can only end in tears so I think it is time we opened something splendid to read and put the kettle on  again for a nice grounding cup of Wildflower Serenity Tea from DaisyandMallow

An Oxford Holiday (An Ingenious Mechanical Devices Short Story Book 1) by [Jorgensen, Kara]

Our book this morning is An Oxford Holiday, another beautiful offering from the mistress of ingenious mechanical devices, Kara Jorgensen. An oxford holiday is a short companion story to the series and falls between books two and three.

Lovers Adam and Immanuel have been separated since their last adventure, Adam lives in London while Immanuel is finishing his studies in Oxford. Although the nightmare reality of Immanuel’s capture and torture by the gentleman devil is now over, the Oxford bully boys continue to make his life a misery and his experiences have left scars that are both physical and emotional. He is overjoyed at the prospect of Adam coming to stay for a weekend, even if they cant let their feelings show in public it will be good to have a friend as company, and then f course Adam will have his own hotel room… But things don’t go as planned as an emergency at the university means that Adam and Immanuel may not get the break they planned for after all.

If you haven’t already read the first two books it is possible to enjoy this as a sweet gay romance story on its own as Kara does a great job of filtering in the necessary facts without any annoying information dumping. What newcomers may not fully appreciate, and this is the reason devotees of the series will want to make sure they grab this little bonus book, is just how much Immanuel has suffered in the past, how much this precious time alone with Adam means to them both. Immanuel is an adorable character and we desperately want him to find happiness with Adam if their plans for the future work out, but the subtle threat to that at the very end of the book implies that even London may not be the sanctuary he is hoping for, we suspect that Immanuel and Adam have more trying times ahead and we can’t wait to read the next book

And now we must pop our oracular pet into its cup and see what its tentacles have plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

That is truly ingenious! I wonder if he could make us one for the tea… we wish you all a very sweet and steamy afternoon, and hope you will join us for elevenses tomorrow so,until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself

 


Morning Cuppa: Intelligent Designing For Amateurs

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Max and Collin’s marvellously meretricious parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have called it a brummagem quagmire  brim full of the ashes of mortal hopes and dreams… but we consider that such individuals are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning wading through a slough of self pity, shuddering sporadically with shame as we remember the horrors and humiliations of the past two weeks.

Montmorency waved his straw-stuffed hand breezily as he assured me that exploitation was not a word in his vocabulary, that everyone in his employment was over sixteen and by opening his burlesque club to employ “Men, Women and Everything In Between” he is “pioneering a new era of equality in workers’ rights and flying high the flag of anti-discrimination.”

But nobody likes being referred to as a non-descript entity lost between the two poles of normality, especially not myself… or Max, and we suspect that merrily making money out of the bodies of those with tentacles alongside the bodies of those without is not the sort of equality and anti-discrimination The New World should be aiming for.

Somebody needs to get a handle on that scarecrow and, in the meantime, we need to find better methods of making money.

But now the long dark teatime of the soul is over, the rent is paid and we can sink into our imaginary silk cushions and brew ourselves a reviving pot of Molly’s Morning Magic from DesertSageNatural and open something splendid to take our minds off the trauma…

intelligent

 

Yet another utterly ineffable piece of steampunk splendidness from Nimue Brown, this mischievous tale is jam packed with druids, pirates, undead biscuit bakers, inventors, archaeologists, industrialists, circus performers, preachers, pesky kids and one fabulously formidable grandmother to keep them all in check and make sure they wash their hands before tea.

Little Temperance is terribly excited when an archaeologist moves in next door – she can’t wait for them to start unloading the dead people! But socialite Justina Fairfax isn’t ‘that sort’ of archaeologist, and even when she does discover ‘something’ she needs to call on the skills of would-be-inventor  Charlie Rowcroft to re-construct the broken pieces and figure out what it is before she can claim the fame and glory. Enter Temperance and her dead cat and suddenly Charlie’s house is overrun with reanimated corpses. Before long the quiet and unsuspecting town of Bromstone is awash with chaos, beards and mortless mice…

This is a wonderfully witty and marvellously magical tale which fans of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman will absolutely adore.

Now then, our oracular cephalopterois is straining at the leash to bring us some news from the aether so let us plop him int his tea cup and see what his tentacles have tuned into this morning…

 

Mechanical animals eh? Well I don’t know what it is trying to tell us but I do know that I have had quite enough philosophy for one morning. We wish you a very easy and taxless morning free from exploitation, discrimination and copromise and we invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses so until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself

 

 

 


Morning Cuppa: For The Love Of God Marie!

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s religiously ravishing and piously precocious parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a festering Hull-hole filled with demonic fiends,  tentacled terrors and irreverent imbeciles, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning deep in philosophical discussion. Our delightful landlord, ever the entrepreneur, has given us an ultimatum – either we make enough money to meet our next rent by selling his filthy lemonade (a feat which is becoming ever more difficult as The Good Folk have increased their street patrols now that the warmer weather has set in) OR we join the chorus line at his (even filthier) burlesque club across the Docks Road and earn the money in tips. The question is, would anyone really want to see a Very Quiet Gentleman and his Octopus pole dancing in their suspenders? Would it be coins and wolf whistles, or glass bottles and death threats that were flung at us from the stalls?

These are all serious matters to consider. Max has done a lot of artistic modelling in Litchfield, mostly for Michael Biscotti, but he assures me it is hardly the same thing at all. He also assures me that going back to Litchfield is not an option, well, we have until Friday to make our Hobson’s choice.

Ah well, let us take our minds off these tribulations with a nice cup of tea  and this morning we’re filling our pot with cranberry rose from melysteashop and to accompany it we must of course have something splendid to read, like this…

marie

 

For The Love Of God Marie! by Jade Sarson (also creator of the fabulous comic Cafe Suada, of which we are huge fans) is a heart-warming, heart-breaking, masterpiece with bold, gutsy,lovable characters who held us spellbound throughout – we laughed, we cried, we forgot we were reading a graphic novel as we became so emotionally invested in Marie, Will and Annie’s lives.

This is a book we have now read many times! The story follows catholic schoolgirl Marie on her journey from daughter to mother and as we voyage those stormy seas along with her we see the changing attitudes of society towards issues of sexuality both on macro and micro level. 1960s school girl Marie just wants to love people – what’s so wrong in that? Well, plenty according to her parents and teachers who both manage to present a highly prescriptive yet utterly confusing ideal of what love is.

By the 1990s Marie is now both teacher and mother but instead of being able to make up for the mistakes of her elders, Marie finds herself just as alienated from the wants and needs of her own teenage daughter.

There are lots of laughs, some really joyful love scenes and a fair few teary heart-breaking moments along the way but the book ends on a beautiful, sassy, optimistic note (which we won’t divulge for fear of ‘spoilers’) and left us with a lovely warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

And speaking of things which feel fuzzy, it is time to lift our oracular pet into his cup and see what its far seeing tentacles have plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

Oh my goodness that is marvellous! I know Penny has an old singer I wonder if she would make us a tea machine? Perhaps if we ask very sweetly…

We wish you a very splendid afternoon filled with only the finest fancies and we will see you back in the parlour tomorrow for elevenses so until then please be always

Utterly Yourself

 

 


Pipe and Slippers:Perilous Journeys#2

 

Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

old-library-1571043

I am 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 I do not have time for entertaining tonight, can you not see that I have just returned from a most important business trip? I have papers everywhere and notes to set in print and… what’s that? What are you wittering about? Help? You’d like to help me transcribe the notes from my journals into volumes so that they can be preserved for generations to come? You’ve brought along some late bottled vintage port to keep out the chills as we work?
Oh.
Well, I suppose that puts a very different slant on things doesn’t it? Very well then, I will dictate and you can pour…I mean type… a-hem…

Here, then, is the next instalment of the account of my first expedition…..(if you missed the first instalment you can find it here)

 

“Pearl White is it?”

I gave the boatman my most imperious glare. The effect was not the desired one and I instantly feared that my mastery of these new, delicate feminine features was going to take some time to achieve. What I needed was a mirror, and time to spend in perfecting the manipulation of this woman’s eyes, nose and mouth into the expressions I required.  But neither luxury was afford me and so I was forced to try again.

“You quite alright Miss?” the boatman looked deeply concerned as he watched me wipe the canvass clean and start over with an new attempt at ‘menacing frown’.

“The name is PERIL” I corrected, ignoring the soft and almost squeaky intonation of my new inferior vocal chords.

The boatman wiped his nose with an oily rag. “Right. You sure you gonna be alright with this skiff Miss? The Thames might be fine for a couple of chaps on a hay day but a birdie on her own, that seems asking for trouble to me…”

I tell you I very nearly popped the fellow with my dainty lace gloved fist for his sheer impertinence.

He must have sensed the menace in my aura because at length he shrugged, muttered something about Abney Park and handed me the oars.

There was some little difficulty in boarding the craft and arranging my belongings but after a little negotiation and a quick dip in the river to gain perspective I  managed to get going and soon fell into a steady rowing rhythm, putting the raucous laughter of the dock workers behind me as I headed up stream towards Bermondsey.

It is there that the Toshers have a legend which I was certain must be evidence of some magical presence – The Rat Queen.

Toshers, in case you are unaware, Gentleman Scavengers who frequent the city sewers at nught in search of all the coins, pocket watches, rings, swans…you know how easy it is to drop these things when one is preoccupied.

The Tosher makes his living from trading in the treasures he finds in the subterranean darkness in much the same way as a Treacle Miner and so it is no surprising to find that the two professions share a belief in protective spirits who have the power to grant good fortune and personal safety, as long as they remain appeased.

For the miner, this sprite is a type of brownie known as A Knocker, for the Tosher, it is The Rat Queen.

The Rat Queen is a supernatural being said to be able to shift form between that of an enormous sewer rat and that of a beautiful woman. In her human form she will approach a Tosher when he is alone in the tunnels and offer him a deal – if he can satisfy her passions and pay her a worthy tribute of treasure from his haul, he will be blessed beyond his wildest dreams -his business will prosper and his family will grow large and healthy. But if he fails or refuses to part with his loot he will find nothing more i  the sewers but a watery grave.

I moored the skiff beneath an overhanging elder tree and, after a minor war with the potable stove, made myself a depressing supper of cold tinned ‘standard issue’ soup and hunkered down to wait for midnight.

Under the cloak of darkness, I lit my dark lantern and made my way into the sewers in search of The Rat Queen …

“Pardon me, ladies, but would one of you happen to be The Rat Queen?”

The little coven of brightly painted damsels whom I had stumbled headlong into in the dark regarded me with unrestrained disgust; hands on hips, red lips twisted into smirks and sneers. “Oh, we’re all rat queens down here, deary..” the eldest bird squawked, flicking her head plumes, “question is, who the Hull are you, eh? You can’t just wander in here trying to join the game, thinking you can get in on a good earner…” her eyes narrowed, “anyway, who was it who ratted out on us?” She held up her own lantern and shone it into the faces of the assembled women, “who’s not here? Sharon! That little chatter box tart…”

Teeth began to gnash, painted talons flexed, I felt the time had come to set the record straight…

“Fear not, Madame,” I said, attempting to inject an air of authority into my voice which was ricocheting off the brick dome in sopranino staccato  most vexing. Cursing my new feminine vocal chords, I floundered on.. “I have no intention of encroaching upon your little entrepreneurial endeavour I…”

my confident smile fled the scene

“I…”

my manly resolve snatched up his hat and followed suit

“I…”

my legs finally cottoned on and joined the exodus, propelling me back through the watery tunnels with the rabble of raucous rat queens in rabid pursuit. Rocks and lemonade bottles exploded off the pith helmet as I made good my escape and at last, breathing hard, I made it back to the skiff and applied myself to the oars as if my life depended on it.

Of course this was quite ridiculous as my life expired many years ago but I did feel a certain obligation to return this body in proper working order….

 

Aaaand I think that is quite enough for one evening don’t you? The bottle is dry and…what’s that you say? Stay the night? Certainly not, what sort of a wraith do you think I am? Now go on, out with you, not another word, GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

all images used with kind permission from http://www.freeimages.com


Elevenses: The Language Of Flowers

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen I hope you are feeling extremely eleven o clockwise because the time is indeed eleven o clock so please, Hang up your top hat of imposing mental prowess, fold down your pugnacious parasol and pull up a chair (or lemonade crate)

 

This morning our lovely werewolf butler has been out picking flowers for us… hm? Oh no, no, no don’t worry, nothing like that… we need them for the revolution. Sorry? War of the roses? Oh I see, you are trying to be amusing! Oh well done, yes…hm… but seriously now, please, these flowers which Max is diligently dismantling over there are going to play a vital role in overthrowing the queen and taking our first tentative steps towards world domination…. Hm? Oh yes, sorry, you’re right of course I did mean world liberation. Liberation from the tea time tyranny of Wiz.

 

You may be aware that Max and his fellow revolutionaries communicate with each other using coded poetry books and an unnecessarily complicated language of stamps? Well now we are attempting to incorporate Floriography (the language of flowers) as well. If you are plotting a revolution, you may wish to consider using this marvellous coding method yourself and so here, for your convenience, are some commonly used flowers and their traditional Victorian meanings to get you started…

Yellow Marquerile – I come soon

Canterbury Bell  – Your letter was received

Iris – I sent a message

Red Fuchia – I like your taste

Pinks – Yes

Wild Rose – Pleasure and pain

Poppy – I am not free

White rose – I cannot

But goodness, all this flower arranging tires one’s tentacles to the extreme, let us break for a while and see if Klapka has not been too busy flower picking to to make us something delicious for our elevenses… mmm, lemon and lavender tea cookies! They are her own recipe, and here it is…

Lemon and Lavender Tea Cookies

150g plain flower

100g butter or margarine

50g caster sugar

1 lemon zest finely grated

1 tsp hot earl grey tea

1 tsp lavender flowers

Mix all ingredients together to form a soft dough, adding a little more flour or tea as needed. Roll into a sausage shape, wrap in cling film and chill for 1 – 24 hours. Slice into cookie rounds (each about the thickness of a pound coin) and bake on a greased tray on gas 4 for about 10mins until pale gold. Leave to cool down and firm up then serve with a cup of jasmine or lady grey tea.

Delicious! And now there is nothing left to do but find some soothing music to tap our tentacles to as we nom …

 

Marvellous, we hope you have a very lovely afternoon and we invite you back to join us for our morning cuppa on Monday, until then please be always

Utterly Yourself


Morning Cuppa: A Matter Of Temperance

 

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin,s marvellously moderate and audaciously ambient parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True, some have called it a gratuitously garish affair overflowing with an excruciating excess of extremities, but we consider that such faint hearted fops are not accustomed to folk with tentacles.

You find us this morning revelling in the joys of spring – one hardly minds a sack cloth roof or even pane-less windows when the clotted cream of early morning light is flooding into the parlour, making the dust bunnies dance with delight and warming the faded velvet cushions upon the lemonade crates..

Hm? No I am not trying to be poetic , Max, I am simply rebelling in the joys of spring.

Spring in the realm above waves is quite the event isn’t it? There are flowers and leaves peeking through the brown earth, the little street urchins are doing far more skipping than shivering, fewer of our neighbours are dropping dead of cold and starvation and the longer days and shorter nights mean less time battling the flesh eating Liver Birds.

Yes indeed, I feel this ‘coming of spring’ malarkey is certainly something to celebrate and what better to celebrate anything than with a cup of tea and a good book? And of course we have both..

Our tea this morning is Jasmine White Tea from Rosy Lea Teas and to accompany it we will be reading

a-matter-of-temperance

 

This riotous Steampunk romp had us in stitches from start to finish. Ichabod Temperance  (an American Inventor who is really far too moral and forthright to ever find Victorian London a ‘welcoming place’ ) is plunged headlong into apocalyptic paranormal pandemonium as he attempts to rescue the alluring adventuress Miss Persephone Plumtartt from the demonic tentacles of both men and monsters (at times it is hard to tell which are which!)

This laugh-a-minute roller coaster is jam packed with action from haunted mansions to epic steamer chases, bare knuckle brawls  to daring hot air balloon escapes (not forgetting the champagne of course!) The fast paced plot had us pinned to our seats while the comedic interplay of the characters kept the tears of laughter flowing.

‘Icky’ is a delightfully innocent and upstanding character, always ready to defend Miss Plumtartt or put his incredibly inventive brain to the task of helping her to save the world, while Persephone is everything a steampunk heroine ought to be – intelligent, capable, and (thanks to an occult experiment gone wrong) able to fire energy rays from the palms of her hands. Together they make an adorable team and we really can’t wait to get our tentacles into the rest of the series.

Now then, it seems that our tea is brewed and we just have time to put our oracular pet into his cup and see what he has plucked from the aether for us this morning…

Ha! Jolly good fun all round. We wish you a perfectly pleasant morning, full of sunlit strolls and gentle breezes and we invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses so, until then please be always

Utterly Yourself


Soup of the day: With Kara Jorgensen

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 Kara Jorgensen, author if the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. Good morning Kara, thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?

Here is a recipe for Irish beer cheese soup. http://www.aspicyperspective.com/irish-beer-cheese-soup/2/ I love cheese, and while I’m not a fan of beer, this soup is one of my favourites, especially in a bread bowl.

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 tell us all a little more about your writing? Did you always want to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing. When I was little, I would visit my grandma at work and peck out stories on her electric typewriter. For a while, it was melodramas with my dolls, but in middle school, I really started to write more seriously and try to write an entire novel. It didn’t work. It wasn’t until I was in university that I realized writing had been my passion all along.

And what inspired you to write in the Steampunk genre in particular?

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Victorian Era. I loved Sherlock Holmes and period dramas, so when I realized that steampunk afforded me the ability to manipulate and rewrite the past while still dabbling in medicine, science, and magic, I couldn’t help but join in. There’s also a lot of dualities in the Victorian Era that make it interesting: science v. pseudo-science, morals v. sensuality, utilitarian v. luxurious brocades and corsets, massive wealth v. sinfully poor. Steampunk is an incredibly diverse genre, and that diversity allows me to write things that may not work in straight-up scifi or historical fiction.

Are there any particular writers who you feel have influenced or inspired your writing?

Probably every writer I’ve ever read influences me in one way or another, but my main influences are probably Oscar Wilde, Anne Rice, and historical-fantasy writers like K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk. Charles and Hawk write fantastic historical-fantasy stories featuring LGBT characters, and in Rice is in the same vein, though I probably pull more from her use of atmosphere and description. With Wilde, I think it’s more of what he stood for. He was in his heyday in the 1890s when my stories take place, so he is that typical Victorian genius, full of wit, excess, and all the dualities of the period.

Your books are wonderfully detailed, which gives the impression that either you are an expert on archaeology, history, mechanics, prosthetics and a dozen other subjects at least, or you do a fair amount of research before you begin to write… which is it?

Research is the best and worst part of writing historical-fantasy. I love learning about new cultures, history, whatever I can get my hands on, but it eats up a lot of time. Sometimes I find myself winging it because I just want to write. This leads to having to fact-check everything during the revision process. The great thing about writing steampunk and historical-fantasy is that it lets me dabble in all of the subjects I love, including history, mechanics, medicine, and of course, archaeology.

In the first book, The Earl Of Brass, we meet Eilian and Hadley; two engaging, headstrong characters whose developing friendship runs as a background theme throughout the book. Together they show the reader the prejudices of the world in which they live and this adds a welcome layer of depth to this romantic adventure. Tell me Kara, do you think it is important for science fiction to comment on and challenge the notions of the past, present and possible future in this way?

earl-of-brass

I definitely do. When I think back at the books I’ve read, I’m often drawn most to those that made me see the world differently. Anne Rice’s books made me aware at a young age that not everyone was straight, white, or free to do as they pleased, and that altered my thinking and made me more aware of the struggles of “the other.” Books are a society’s written history, veiled through motifs that less threatening than flat-out saying we are doing x, y, and z wrong as a society. People are more likely to listen and enact change if they can sympathize or empathize with the person struggling, and what better way to do that than through compelling characters.

The second book is perhaps a little darker than the first and we meet some new characters, and a new Ingenious Device, would you like to tell us a bit about that?

devil

The Gentleman Devil is the second book in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, and it moves away from the adventuring aspect of steampunk and into the mad scientist side of things. The story begins with a teenage medium nearly drowning in the Thames and being rescued by an Oxford student with a family heirloom that can resurrect the dead and inadvertently ties their souls together. Of course, a potion that can revive the dead or grant immortality would be very useful for some less than moral characters, and Emmeline and Immanuel end up in deep trouble. Luckily, the latter also finds love, and Emmeline learns more about herself and her future in the process.

How many books are there in the series so far (and will there be any more) ?

As of right now, there are four books out, and I’m writing the fifth, which should be out by summer time. I also have ideas for at least two more stories in the series, which would bring the series to seven stories. Besides the books, there are two companion short stories. One is a romantic romp between Adam and Immanuel that occurs between books two and three, and the other is a prequel that shows how and why Eilian decided to ditch nobility in favor of adventure.

And besides the books, where else can we read your work?

Before my books are published, I always post chapters on my website along with lots of teasers. When you join my newsletter, you get a free short story entitled, “The Errant Earl,” which is the prequel I previously mentioned.

Do you have any new projects or releases planned that we can get excited about?

Yes, I’m currently working on the fifth book in the series, I’m really looking forward to sharing it with everyone once it’s complete. It features Adam and Immanuel as they venture to an island in search of some strange, humanoid sea creatures. After that, I’m hoping to tackle another story featuring Eilian and Hadley off on an adventure and Emmeline, my bratty, sassy heroine will get a story of her own.

And now the all important question which do you sup to inspire you when you write, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)

Coffee is my go-to drink. I love a dark roast with some half-and-half and a bit of milk. At that point I’m probably drink three-quarters rather than half-and-half, but I love the mellowing effect it has on a dark roast… and that it makes it cool enough to drink in a timely manner.

Well thankyou so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Kara, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and learn more about your writing. 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?

Sounds great to me. Thank you so much for having me and for cooking up some soup for us. If anyone would like to receive a free short story along with information regarding future books and projects, I hope they will join my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bfJTW9

Wonderful, I hope you will all join me in the soup kitchen next week when I will have another very special guest helping me so until then,

Blessings on your brew my dears!

 

 

 


Morning Cuppa: Grigory’s Gadget

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s delightfully diluvian parlour located within the splendidly slippery-when-wet city of Lancaster!

True some have called it a soggy slop house full of wet blankets but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find me this morning balancing precariously on lemonade crates and sheltering under parasols whilst Max attempts to plug the holes in the roof, walls, widows and doors with histrionic napkins. Yes that’s right, the frost is thawing all over the parlour, the biscuits are soggy and the tea set is afloat… on the plus side Montmorency is unable to get in and terrorise us into paying rent because scarecrows and water don’t get on apparently.

You may be wondering why an octopus like me is desperately trying to keep his tentacles dry during this deluge  but please take a moment to consider that this is not beautiful briny sea water we are talking about here but the foul rooftop runoffs of a hundred or so ramshackle tenement buildings fashioned from old fish factories… I rest my case.

So, while Max screams and curses and tries to keep the parlour from falling apart at the seams, let us try and drown out his torrent of expletives (not at all appropriate for someone who insists on using the epithet of Very Quiet Gentleman.) by read at volume from a very good book. And fortunately I have one right here…

gregorys

 

This is a fast paced steampunk adventure aimed at the teen / YA age range. Zoya and her friends set sail for university, hoping to leave their troubled lives in the harsh city behind. But their journey has hardly begun when they are kidnapped and forced to join the crew of a pirate ship. The pirates hope to get their hands on Zoya’s apparently useless heirloom  and the friends soon find themselves fighting for their lives as they try to escape and fathom the truth behind the mysterious mechanical gadget.

This is a wonderful, action packed tale for younger readers which we are sure fans of The Jupiter Chronicles or the Everland series are bound to enjoy. It features an excellent mix of strong, intelligent, thoughtful, crafty, sword wielding, academic female and male characters and some of the little street urchins we shared it with are very keen to get their grubby hands on the sequel.

Now then, joy of joys, the tea has at last defrosted and we can enjoy a warming cup of chai after so many weeks of ice chips… so what better brew to kick off this season of new possibilities than this Chocolate Voodoo Chile tea from Mortar and Petal.

And now there is little left to do except see what our oracular pet cephaloterois has plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

 

Hm, you know I have the disturbing notion that the spiny little beast is trying to develop a sense of humour…

We wish you a very dry afternoon, filled with pleasant things and invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow so, until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself

 


Pipe and Slippers: Perilous Journeys

 

Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

old-library-1571043
I am 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 I do not have time for entertaining tonight, can you not see that I have just returned from a most important business trip? I have papers everywhere and notes to set in print and… what’s that? What are you wittering about? Help? You’d like to help me transcribe the notes from my journals into volumes so that they can be preserved for generations to come? You’ve brought along some cherry brandy to keep out the chills as we work?
Oh.
Well, I suppose that puts a very different slant on things doesn’t it? Very well then, I will dictate and you can pour…I mean type… a-hem…
Many may not know this but I have not always been a bad tempered ghost in charge of an underground library. Once upon a time I was a bad tempered gentleman who had devoted his life to the collection of evidence which indicated that the power of The All Mother was not entirely gone from The New World. I travelled the scattered isles in search of such evidence – witches, fairies, folk lore, wild magic that was not controlled or perhaps even known about by Wiz and his ridiculous Wizards.
Not to be put off by death, I have struggled to find a way to continue my studies and I have indeed found a method by which I can sporadically leave this library, to which I am otherwise bound, and travel abroad.
This method is known as The Opprobrious Pith Helmet.
By securing the services of a less than reputable Wizard I have had my soul partially bound to an ancient piece of explorational headwear and am therefore able to possess the wearer for short periods of time, with their consent.
For my part, I am bound to being summoned by the wearer at their whim to provide protection, guidance, words of wisdom and advice, that sort of thing. It is a tiresome trade off but it could, I suppose, be worse.
Here, then, is the account of my first expedition.
I had decided to begin my studies with a journey down the Thames, past the Pirate City of Londinium, stopping at various Inns along the route and gathering from the locals any tales of interest which might hint at the existence of magic. But as I sat at my dressing table, pith helmet in place, waiting for the arrival of the Hippo’ton drawn coach which would take me to Barley Bow I began to have my doubts.
I pulled the magical contract I had signed with that wretched gutter-magician from my purse for the hundredth time and examined it again. No. Nowhere in the small print could I find mention of the fact the body I would be possessing might be a woman.
I stared into the mirror with grave concern at the ringlets and the lashes and the tinted cheeks. Could this work? As a strict adherent to the old religion I have the greatest respect for women, of course, but I have never actually been inside one.
The clatter of metal hooves upon the cobbles outside brought my dilemma to a close. This was my one chance to continue my work and I must put away any infantile embarrassment and get on with it.
With this new found resolve I leapt from my chair, tripped over my crinolines, flew out of the chamber door and tumbled head over bustle down the short narrow staircase, landing in a heap of fabric and whale carcass in the tap room.
I will not sport with your intelligence by repeating the comments this little accident incited from the patrons of the little tavern but will move swiftly on to my arrival in Bow.

The Hippo’ton dropped me at The Widow’s Son , a fascinating Inn with an equally fascinating history which I was keen to investigate. An old folk legend tells that the first owner was an old Widow whose son joined the navy. Upon his leaving day he told his mother to bake him a bun on Good Friday and he would be sure to be back in time to eat it. The bun was baked but the son never came home but the widow hung the baked bread from the ceiling in a net and added a new bun to the collection every year. After she died her friends and patrons kept up the tradition and it is now even written into the leasehold of the property that the custom must be kept by every owner.
Of course the story is hogwash. It is likely that there never was a widow at all but that the tradition is in fact born of a much older practise – that of leaving bread and milk out for household fairies, boggarts and helpful magical creatures as thanks for their kind assistance in bringing luck, health and happiness to the household through the year.
I had brought my case of instruments for detecting and catching fairies and other magical beings with me but as I eagerly began to lay them out upon the bar the Landlady approached and asked what I thought I was doing. When I asked to see her buns so that I could perform my arts upon them she screamed the most unrepeatable names at me and threw me out into the street.
It was a long walk down to the docks, where I had arranged a hired craft to take me up the river. Long but by no means lonely. I can only say that I now have a new found sympathy for the fairer sex and completely understand why they are reluctant to venture out alone at night without those splendid flame-throwing parasols. Skirts, bustles, high heeled boots…none of these make for expeditious retreats from darkened alley ways or indeed high speed chases over cobblestones away from amorous drunks.
I did manage to make it to the docks eventually and spent the night huddled under a tarpaulin that smelled of fish and cats, still I was optimistic that my next stop would prove more fruitful. My journey had, afterall only just begun and it was no good losing heart along with everything else at the first hurdle. So I sat in the dark, counting my losses and hoped that my young host would not think to do the same, or at the very least not be too miffed, when her body was returned to her…..

 

 

And I think we had better leave it there for this evening don’t you? The bottle is dry and… hm? Well yes of course it is dark you’re not afraid of the dark are you? Flesh eating Liver Birds you say? Well yes there are those to consider but you should have thought of that before you set off on this midnight mission shouldn’t you? I can’t be responsible for your safety! Now go on, off with you, just because I am dead does not mean I don’t have things to do…go on…out!


Morning Cuppa: The Gentleman Devil

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome once again to Max and Collin’s splendidly Siberian – themed parlour located within the spectacularly frosted-over city of Lancaster.

True, some have called it a frigid flophouse belonging to chilling individuals whom you would not wish to meet down a dark alley, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find me this morning feeling a little foolish, a little sorry for myself and a little disappointed that ice skating isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Certainly ice skating with tentacles is not a thing I shall ever be attempting again. I’m afraid I got a little over excited at the Street Pageant … the masala chai punch…you know…

So here I lie, my tentacles in splints, attempting to suck chips of frozen tea through a straw while Max reads to me and the cats do their best to irritate me to distraction. Mrs B has kindly made up some foul smelling brown goo to rub into my wounds but it does nothing for my pride, I’m afraid; I am a fallen creature indeed….oh do shut up Max I am in no fit state to suffer your dubious wit.

Fortunately our soothing tea this morning is this beautiful Seaside Green Tea from Rosie Lea Tea – a gentle blend of Sencha with sea buckthorn, spearmint and lemon verbena which reminds me of my ocean home and a lesson learned that not all forms of water provide an octopus with his element!

And our book – we have been most eager to get Wizmas out of the way and begin this one! – is the second in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series by Kara Jorgensen

devil.jpg

It is not often that an Octopus is moved to tears, but Kara Jorgensen has managed it! Young  Immanuel Winter and spiritualist Emmeline Jardine, two extremely different and often conflicting characters,  find their souls bound together by his Mother’s mysterious elixir, and suddenly they are thrown into a terrifying world of conspirators and mad-men.. everyone, it seems, wants the secret that will conquer death. Set comfortably in a Steampunk / Victorian setting this dark paranormal adventure gives us strong and believable characters, a beautiful gay romance side story , plenty of intrigue and a perfectly gripping ride from start to finish. We can’t wait to get our tentacles into the next book in this series.

Now then, let us de-frost our oracular pet and see what its far-seeing tentacles have plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

 

 

 

Hm, I’m not quite sure how to take that? Is it trying to be amusing or helpful?

Either way it is time for us to say ‘chin chin’ and begin chiselling  out the frozen tea from the pot with our runcibles. We wish you a perfectly dignified morning, where pride and tentacles remain  un-dented, and we invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow 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 Thursday for something rather special. So, until then, 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

 


Elevenses: Fairly Fragile

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope we are all feeling extremely  eleven o’clockish because the time is, indeed, 11’o clock. So, step inside, take off your cloak, hang up your fangs and make yourselves at home  in  Max and Collin’s veritably verve and queasily quixotic  parlour, located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some people have called it a mere figment of some lunatic tea-addict’s over-active imagination, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

Today you find us trembling in our boots after a night full of dreadful disturbances and utterly appalling apparitions, which we are certain has nohing to do with our over indulgence in fairies yesterday morning. Still we will be glad when this season of ghoulish ghostiness is at an end and we can settle back into the company of more everyday monsters such as psychotic scarecrow landlords and hybrid vampire squid.

Now then, we are both feeling a little delicate and thankfully our lovely werewolf butler has nosed out some dainty and delicate delightfulness to ease us into the afternoon, Betty Crocker Style…

witches broom cookies.jpg

Ah, witches, maybe they aren’t so bad after all? They’re broomsticks are certainly tasty and they seem to make good soup… which reminds me that Bellabeth will be joining our own Kitchen Witch for Soup Of The Day tomorrow, so don’t miss out on that will you? And we will be back in the parlour on Thursday with some tremendous Tea @ Three but for now let us tune in to something soul stirring while we nibble on these tasty treats,

 

Splendid! We wish you a most enchanting afternoon and until we see you again please,

be always, Utterly Yourself

 

 


Morning cuppa: Fairies at the bottom of the… teacup?

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

True, perhaps, some have called it a treasure trove for the Freudian Sleuth, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us on this, boisterously bright and cheerful, Monday morning absolutely apple-free and wondering about fairies. Are they real? There seems to be unnecessary amounts of hubbub in the town of Lancaster at present surrounding the subject and, against our better judgement, we have been ‘drawn in.’

Of course there are those who say that there used to be fairies in The New World, before Wiz arrived and stole all the tea, cake and magic, but those people are mostly witches and you should never trust a witch should you? (don’t tell Mrs Baker we said that).

Well at least there’s one fairy we know is real (she’s green and old Peril is very fond of her) and look at this little treasure we have unearthed…

http://www.teaandabsinthe.com/who-is-tea-absinthe/

Tea and Absinth? TEA AND ABSINTH? Oh I don’t think my tentacles can take it I’m all of a quiver..

Luckily we have a nerve settling Wuyi rock water fairy puerh tea from music city tea shop steeping as we speak… hm, fairies everywhere this morning, even in the teapot…well it must be because the book we are about to enjoy with our morning cuppa is none other than

steampunk-fairy-tales

If you were enchanted by volume one of steampunk fairy tales, well, be prepared to be enchanted again. The eagerly awaited second volume is filled with enough whimsy, magic and imagination to satisfy even our appetites for adventure…

The tales featured include an electric gingerbread house, a clockwork cabinet, a fairy samurai and many more but our favourite was Vasilisa and the Mechanical Matryoshka by Heather White which puts a fabulous steampunk twist on this awesome ancient tale! And Heather has kindly agreed to help our lovely Mrs Baker in her soup kitchen soon, so that is something to look forward to!

But  before we commence our tea , let’s just see  what our oracular cephalopterois has to show us this morning…

https://youtu.be/KqL-w3sQhEU

 

Good grief that has done absolutely nothing to settle my nerves, perhaps we should steer clear of fairies from now on, whatever their colour! Ah, thankfully, the tea is brewed and it is time for us to say  ‘chin chin pass the tin open the book and let’s begin…’ We wish you all a very green and luscious morning, filled with magic and wishes-granted, and we invite you back to join us in the parlour tomorrow for elevenses so until then

Be always, utterly yourself


Tea @ Three: Fiends of Fortune

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome, once again, to Max and Collin’s, fabulously funky and yet still succulently sweet parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.  

True, perhaps, some have called it a slimy cesspool, filled with festering detritus but we have sent those people packing with a barrage of rotten fruit.   

Today you find us still wallowing in apples and we are now using them to tell fortunes – yes that’s right, I have been unceremoniously forced into a dress and turban and decorated with jingling gold coins and Max is diligently trying to lure young women into the parlour with promises that we will, with our magic apples, reveal their romantic destiny.

We have not, so far, had any takers… which is a shame because we were hoping to raise enough money to pay our rent next month and avoid another violent landlordian outburst.

If you’d like to try our little trick for yourselves, simply peel an apple, trying to keep the entire peel in one piece, then toss the peel over your shoulder and try to decipher what letter/ s it most resembles. These are the initials of your future love.

Apparently.

Max got a C and a B and is definitely not amused.

Never mind, enough of this unfortuitous fruity nonsense because It is Thursday afternoon and, once I get out of this dress and into some fetching tweeds, we will be ‘all punked up with no place to go’ so, while we drown our sorrows in a steaming cup of Hairy Crab Oolong from TTime Organics, let us peruse the society papers and see where we should be heading to this weekend….

The League of Splendid’s ‘Splendid Day Out’ is here at last! It’s in Morecambe, Lancashire so if you are in the area, pop along and stock up on steampunk treats from the  artisan market, indulge in a spot of tea duelling or tap your tentacles to tunes from Cauda Pavonis, Professor Elemental and more.

Or, looking further ahead, on the 24th of October the monthly Newark Steampunk Meet are holding their Halloween Event as well , while on the 30th of October we have the Steampunk Time Fall Back Show by the British Horological Society so, a very ‘timely’ thing to look forward to, eh?

Ah, but now I think our tea is brewed so we will wish you all a perfectly punktastic weekend

And see you in the parlour on Monday. In the meantime, we hope you will join Perilous Wight for Pipe and Slippers in his lovely library tomorrow evening when he will be sharing something of ‘extreme prodigiousness’…or so he informs us…hopefully it isn’t his tailoring bill…

So until then! Be always,

Utterly Yourself.


Elevenses: Bad Apples

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope we are all feeling extremely  eleven o’clockish because the time is, indeed, 11’o clock. So, step inside, take off your hat, hang up your parasol and make yourselves at home  in  Max and Collin’s perfectly polished and chichi-to-the-core  parlour, located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some people have called it a rattling death wagon filled with bad apples and other forbidden fruit but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning going dippy over apples –  yesterday our afternoon stroll was intercepted by a band of oiks who thought it would be great sport to pelt us with the rock-like rounds of a nearby tree.

Fools.

Never go up against myself and Max in a hurling match.

Of any description.

The cowards soon fled for their lives, dropping their fruity load, which we gathered up and are now having enormous amounts of fun dipping them into every sweet or sticky substance we can get our hands on.

If you find yourself the sudden owner of superfluous fruit and need some inspiration check out the link below, we really don’t think life holds greater pleasure than a plate full of huge glittery pink apples.

candy apples.png

And whilst we wait for those beauties to dry and our delicious pumpkin pasty tea to brew – All that is needed now is some eleven o’clockish music to tap our tentacles to as we tuck in, No Lodging For The Mad? That seems appropriate, still, not for the faint heart ed perhaps…

Ah, awesomely audacious audios to usher in the afternoon! We wish you have a very sweet and sticky one, filled only with the very best apples, and hope you will join our dear witchy friend Mrs Albert Baker and the marvellous Karen J Carlisle in the soup kitchen tomorrow. Myself and Max will be back on Thursday with some tantalising Tea @ Three so, until then

Be always, Utterly Yourself.


Morning Cuppa: In need of a doctor…

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

True, perhaps, some have called it a nightmarish landscape of unsavoury fancies and tasteless chinaware, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us on this, dark and sinister, Monday morning playing the knife game – which is a lot easier for Max than it is for me (five fingers, of course, being far easier to negotiate than eight tentacles). Of course we are using our beautiful new skull spoon from Wild and Violet instead of an actual dagger – daggers being horribly dangerous and un-gentlemanly things to go throwing about the tea table, all the same, a slip with a spoon can also cause the need for a doctor, and luckily we have one in the house today! (Albeit a rather deadly, knife-wielding one)

If you are not sure what the knife game is you can watch Bellabeth sing a lovely version of it here, also with spoons…

Bella will be joining our darling Kitchen Witch on the 26th October so  there is a splendid thing to look forward to!

And speaking of things to look forward to, I cannot wait to get my tentacles into our book this morning…

dr-jack-cover

Karen J Carlisle has created a captivating steampunk series with her heroine, Viola Stewart – a widowed optician with a talent for detecting.

This book has the same comforting familiarity of picking up a Conan Doyle or an Agatha Christie but enough uniqueness in terms of plot and character to keep us on the edge of our leather armchairs throughout – you know by the end of the second page that you are both ‘in safe hands’ and ‘in for a thrilling ride’ – Most of us have heard the tales of Jack The Ripper but this new version goes beyond the common knowledge to reveal a chilling world of Grey-clad conspirators in which Viola must keep her wits about her if she is going to uncover the truth and survive.

Karen will be helping in The Soup Kitchen on Wednesday so make sure you drop by for a taste of her lovely home cooking and to hear more about Viola and her adventures…

But for now, just while our marvellous teapot is brewing us a nerve-settling sup of Monkey Picked Oolong by the Kent Tea And Coffee Company, (gosh, what are they playing at getting monkeys to pick tea? Reminds me of all that hard labour harvesting seaweed in The Sunken City)  let us carefully place our oracular cephalopterois into his cup of hot water and see what futuristic fantasies it has to show us this morning…

Well, that is a little worrying to say the least…let’s hope that we never have such problems here in The New World, can’t have the tea plantations put into jeopardy! And think of the wheat! No wheat – no cake… now that is a spine-chilling thought!

But enough morbidity for now, the tea is brewed and it is time for us to say  ‘chin chin pass the tin open the book and let’s begin…’ We wish you all a perfectly perilous morning dusted with dastardly delights, and we invite you back to join us in the parlour tomorrow for elevenses so until then

Be always, utterly yourself


Tea @Three:Exciting Excavations

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome, once again, to Max and Collin’s  perhaps-not-so-private and extensively excavated parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.  

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

We are taking tea on our new balcony this afternoon. It was immensely kind of our landlord, Montmorency, to put one in for us…sorry? Oh yes, well… Max says, “There are implements better suited to smashing holes in walls than the heads of Very Quiet Gentlemen”… well, yes, Montmorency does get a little over excited when we don’t pay up on time. But never mind about your injuries, Max, because it is Thursday afternoon and we are ‘all punked up with no place to go’ so, while our lovely werewolf butler makes us a reviving cup of  Slytherin Serpent’s blend from Friday tea , let us peruse the society papers and see where we should be heading to this weekend….

The Yellow Book in Brighton, Brittain’s first Steampunk Themed Pub is always a delightful hotspot for steam-themed shenanigans and on Saturday they are playing host to Victor and the bully…

Need we say more?

Or, looking further ahead, don’t forget The League of Splendid are planning another Splendid Day Out-  on the 22nd of October in Morecambe, Lancashire. It looks set to be a smaller but just as marvellous event with artisan market, tea duelling and entertainment from Cauda Pavonis, Professor Elemental and more.

And on the 24th of October the monthly Newark Steampunk Meet are holding their Halloween Event as well so, all good things to look forward to.

Ah, but now I think our tea is brewed and it is has just occurred to me that having an enormous hole in the wall is not perhaps the best of plans when the sun is about to set and hoards of carnivorous Liver Birds are about to descend upon the streets of Lancaster… perhaps Klapka can nail some planks over it…quickly…

Hopefully, we will survive the night and be back in the parlour on Monday! In the meantime, we hope you will join Perilous Wight for Pipe and Slippers in his lovely library tomorrow evening when he will be sharing something of ‘ineffable literary merit’…or so he informs us…hopefully it isn’t his sugartax returns…

So until then! Be always,

Utterly Yourself.