Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “octopus

Frost Fair: With Nimue Brown

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Goblin market, come buy, come buy!

Good Morning! Welcome to the Annual Lancastrian Frost Fair on the frozen River Lune! I’m Nimue Brown and I have shivered my way through many a real world stall and event, usually for the purposes of promoting Hopeless, Maine. For this Fair I find myself wearing all of my bloomers and knickerbockers under all of the woolly things I could tie round myself, so you may be forgiven for mistaking me for some kind of sofa.

The Goblin Market goes out to events around Stroud (where I live) and tempts people with illicit and dangerous fruit – namely art and poetry, and other books. Sometimes you’ll find me at Steampunk events, huddled under a Hopeless Maine banner with other reprobates – Tom Brown who is responsible for the art side of things, sometimes Keith Healing who wrote the Hopeless Maine Role Play Game and on occasion, Keith Errington who wrote Hopeless Maine novella, The Oddatsea.

As Hopeless Maine is a cold, foggy and imaginary island off the coast of Maine, dressing for a wintery apocalypse is always authentic. Sometimes, in chilly desperation, I have gone so far as to wear an octopus on my head. A woolly one, I hasten to add. I would not expose a live octopus in so dreadful a way!

If you’d like to buy our lovely things, develop an addiction and never quite get over it (we are a Goblin market after all) you can do so without getting frostbite in your fingers, either via Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MothFestival

Or by starting over here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/buy-the-books-and-things/

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Frost Fair: Collin’s Memoirs part 3…

Thankyou, friends, for joining me this morning on board the Harlequin Ladybird, do pull up a cat.. er, sorry, I mean a cushion… and make yourselves comfortable as I, Collin The Octopus, read to you all from my marvellous journal of extremely exciting adventures… a-hem…

February 1824

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen! You find us some what in haste this tea time as we are getting ourselves all dressed to impress and not just for larks or some nefarious landord’s scheme to make money, no, this time we actually do have somewhere swish to go!
Courtly Masques have been a traditional part of New Year celebrations here in The New World for centuries and the public version The Street Pageant is something that accompanies the Frost Fair here in Lancaster every year.

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

To give the balance however we should  also quote journalist Pomona Squash of the Tiffindependent Newspaper whose scathing review of last years’ revels read:

“The entertainment went forward, and most of the presenters went backward, or fell down, wine did so occupy their upper chambers. The actress playing the Queen tripped over the steps of the throne, sending her gifts flying; Hope and Faith were too drunk to speak a word, while Peace, annoyed at finding her way to the throne blocked, made good use of her symbolic olive branches to slap anyone who was in her way” (click here to tut at our rampant quote theft)

So that is where we abscond to this evening, to paint the town of Lancaster (revolutionary) red and utterly get away with it because we shall be masked up and totally unrecognisable… we hope…
We wish you all an equally jubilant evening and we will let you know how we got on on Monday so, until then, please throw on a mask be whoever the Hull you wish (for one night at least!)

 

Hm, yes I remember those pageant nights getting somewhat out of hand… in fact (voices hushed please) perhaps this extract wasn’t such a good one to have been reading out loud at all – Max once spent some time in Lancaster Castle prison, rather beaten up and waiting to be hanged (whether or not they managed to hang him in the end I really couldn’t say, he has an annoying knack of defeating death which really makes me wonder if he isn’t some sort of demon afterall…)

Ah but I digress; the point is he had some sort of delirious vision while he was there about a Cheese Ball… or a Cheese Masque… or some such nonsense, (I believe some nefarious conspirator from the island of Hopeless, Mainementioning no names – slipped him a hairy coffee at visiting hour) and it would be well not to set him off on a blasted recital of the Mostly Awful Poem he wrote about the…

Sunken Hull Max! Are you trying to frighten the life out of us sneaking around like that? …. no nobody mentioned cheese, or Masques, or indeed anything of the kind and we certainly have not got time for… will you get down off the table… oh dear, it seems there is no dissuading the wretch, cover your ears or run good people – preserve your sanity!

 

HISTORY IS MADE AS MAX SPEAKS TO THE ROOM AT LARGE RATHER THAN JUST COLLIN FOR THE SECOND TIME IN PARLOUR HISTORY…

 

Friends, Tea Fiends, Revolutionaries, Poets, Painters, Hex Slingers, Technomancers, Goddess Worshippers, and Octopussies, I humbly (sort of  I mean, one can’t be too humble with a face like this -wink- ) present to you all …

“En Route To The Fromagian Ball”
(A Political Poem Of The Mor Irate Revolution By Eightcups Max)

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree
To spread its limbs and welcome me
To its embrace eternally
I dreamed I journeyed long, to thee
(To dance The Masque at Caerphilly)

I met Morbier on the way
He wore a masque of silver grey
Very smooth he looked, yet grim
And seven rats did follow him

Fat they were, and no surprise
For, despite his mournful sighs,
And as I feasted with my eyes
Yet they with sharp teeth took their prize.

Next came Roqufort and he had on,
All speckled with viridian,
A gown so tattered, holed and frayed
I wondered not he looked dismayed

“Can you sir, really, thus arrayed,
Be going to the masquerade
To dance at Caerphilly?”

And the little cats, who round his feet
Did lip and lap and even eat
The scroobius crumbs which from him fell
And each grew fat and fine and well

Clothed with Her Majesty’s revenues bright
Glittering gold through the grim twilight
Mild Camembert, smiling, sauntered by
And by her side, strode Manouri

And my heart sank to see the sly
Reflections in each gleaming eye
Of all the host that by me strayed
Towards the marvellous masquerade
To dance at Caerphilly.

A mighty troupe of cheeses round
And as they rolled they shook the ground
Waving each a blunt hooked knife
And in their wake came grief and strife

And yet with glorious triumph they
Rode through The Scattered Isles so gay
Drunk as with intoxication
Upon the wine of unfair taxation

Through Crumbia, past The Once Was Sea
Caroused the pageant, fat and free
Pounding flat and crushing down
Each village, hamlett, temple, town
Until they came to Caerphilly

And each guest of that monstrous ball
Did gasp and gape and stand in thrall
As tearing down their revelry
The fromagian host advanced with glee

And, to my horror, out there came
To meet the host and so to claim
Their glory, friends and family
All singing odes to Sbrinz and Brie

“Oh we have waited, hungering
For the mighty curd-coming”
And on their knees each one bent down
And for each cheese, proffered a crown

Then each took fork and knife and spoon
And there below the blood red moon
They rat-like, cat-like all did feast
And, eating so, became the beast

And wild, rapacious was the eye
Of every one who passed me by
Behind each masque that greeted me
As I came to Caerphilly
But as I felt myself besieged
By comrades now themselves in league
With lovers lost and rampant cheese
As gazing, lost, at all my foes
A vapour from my teacup rose

Faint and fragile as the dew
All silver grey the image grew
This Maiden, mailed, before me stood
With spork blade bright and shimmering hood

My Lady, Silverneedle, stands
Her teapot held in mighty hands
And above the roar of cheese
Her voice rings o’re the land and seas:

“Sions of Ire, scions of glory
Heroes of unwritten story
Suplings of one mighty pot
Rise and slice the Gordion knot”

“Rise like Silver Needle’s steam
Swift and to fulfil the dream
In the heart of every slave
The late of birth, the late in grave.
The dream of every treacle miner
No notion simpler or sublimer”

“Rise as one to take with might
The final bag of flour, white,
For you are many, they are few
And all they gorged was meant for you!”

With step as soft as wind she passed
O’re my head so swift and fast
And though I sought to find her there
Still all I saw was empty air.

But lingering in the morning grey
Some muse stirred in my memory
The scent of bergamots’ faint leaves
Which soothed my soul to thoughts of thee

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree
To spread its limbs and welcome me
To its embrace eternally
Still in my dream I danced with thee
(We danced The Masque at Caerphilly)


Frost Fair: Collin’s memoirs part 2…

Thankyou, friends, for joining me this morning on board the Harlequin Ladybird, do pull up a cat.. er, sorry, I mean a cushion… and make yourselves comfortable as I, Collin The Octopus, read to you all from my marvellous journal of extremely exciting adventures… a-hem…

February, 1823…

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… do learn to take a joke, please!

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.”

 

 

Oh I do miss our dear Mrs Baker very much indeed! And yes, I’m sorry to say that Max is no less violent and humourless when it comes to ‘taking a joke’ these days as he was then… fortunately he has decided not to join us for these little readings, although I can’t think why he would deny himself such a pleasure, hedonism notoriously being his chief virtue…

If you are out on the ice today, do tread with care won’t you? Unless you have ice skates in which case throw yourself gracelessly with wild abandon! And until we meet again please, remain always

Utterly Yourself


Welcome To The Annual Lancastrian Frost Fair!

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

image copyright Nadiaforkosh courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s splendiferously space-tastic parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed skyship The Harlequin Ladybird!

Those of you who’ve been with us for the long haul will know how hard we have fought against exploitative scarecrow landlords, vicious flesh eating Liver Birds, machinating girlfriends and obsessive beat-nik poets to reach this point of well-deserved bliss, living the life of sky-pirate luxury and finally able to be Utterly Ourselves without someone trying to kill us or steal all our tea.

But upon this cloudless, blue sky morning as we drift lazily through the last departing tendrils of dawnish haze and Lancaster’s frozen River Lune lies below us like a glittering white ribbon and I see the stall holders of the annual Frost Fair setting up their gaily coloured tents and carts I must confess to being overcome with nostalgia… well, perhaps not overcome, I wouldn’t go back to that miserable life for all the tea in Ire…

But nostalgic enough that I thought I might hunt out my journals and perhaps spend the next few weeks reading over some of our memories from Frost Fairs past… (Max don’t be rude, of course our guests are eager to hear me read at length from my memoirs, look at them, they are on the edge of their seats already! … No it is not because the cats are taking up every other available space, it is because they are excited to hear me pontificate about my all-over-interesting life… no they do not want to hear any more about YOUR life Max, you’ve already had more than your fair share of lives, no wonder you like cats so much, perhaps you in fact part cat after all.

Anyway, now that my Very Quiet Gentleman Friend has finally shut up, I can invite you all to join us over the next four weeks as we weigh anchor in Lancaster, stroll the current Frost Fair and look at all the delights on offer from some wonderful Steampunk and LGBTQIA+ authours and look back at some fun and frolics from Frost Fairs of the past.

In the meantime I shall kick my tentacles up on the table here and ring the bell for tea. Hopefully you will join us again soon and until then, please remain always,

Utterly Yourself.

(Gorgeous picture of me, Collin The Octopus, by Nimue Brown of Hopeless, Maine )

Colin (1)

 

 

 


#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Happy Saturday! I hope you’ve enjoyed whatever festivities this season brings you! I’m writing this post on Friday and out the window is a lush blue sky and crisp cold morning with the Rowan next door giving us a last late burst of flame! Tomorrow we are supposed to have snow, I’m not sure how I feel about that! lol! The RA has kicked in and I’m sky high on painkillers right now so things that are going to make mobility even more difficult are a bit daunting! LOL. Here’s wishing that when snow does hit we can all enjoy it (even if it’s just admiring it from a window seat!) 😀

Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here.

As it’s still the spooky season I thought I’d do a few snips from a WIP which is the very last book (probably) in my Steampunk series Ashton’s Kingdom.

About 500 plus years after the events in the first book (The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry) a forgotten cult are still obliviously serving their long-dead leader, Wiz, and trying to find the secret of immortality. Sort of. Actually daily temple life revolves more around knitting circles, bridge nights and summer fetes… until two novices stumble upon the secret of undeath themselves and unleash a couple of very unlikely ‘gods’ (and one disgruntled octopus) upon the unprepared and erstwhile peaceful community.

If you missed the first part you can catch up here: #RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

rendered

 

“Sorry,” Douglas ventured, shuffling sideways along what he hoped was the back row of folding chairs. There was an almighty crash as something large and metallic clattered to the flagstone floor. “Sorry! So sorry,  Francis, er, I mean Your Grace…”

“Douglas!” 

“Sorry!”

“Late again Douglas, and I see the rest of your red-robe order are a no-show as usual, we have already begun the casting!”

 

 

Poor Douglas, can he appease Arch Cleric Francis and their fellow Necromancers for disturbing their casting? I’ll let you know next week 😉 Meanwhile have a fabulous weekend folks 😀 and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction


Elevenses: With Stephen Palmer

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

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Splendid. And can we find you online?

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Utterly Yourself


#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Happy Saturday!  And Happy Halloween / Samhain / All Saints and Souls / Candy Fest whatever you celebrate at this time of year 😀

Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here.

As it’s the spooky season I thought I’d do a few snips from a WIP which is the very last book (probably) in my Steampunk series Ashton’s Kingdom. This one is only 5 sentences but they’re long ones!

About 500 plus years after the events in the first book (The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry)  a forgotten cult are still obliviously serving their long-dead leader, Wiz, and trying to find the secret of immortality. Sort of. Actually daily temple life revolves more around knitting circles, bridge nights and summer fetes… until two novices stumble upon the secret of undeath themselves and unleash a couple of very unlikely ‘gods’ (and one disgruntled octopus) upon the unprepared and erstwhile peaceful community.

rendered.jpg

 

 

Thunder, Lightening, rain, hail, ominous fog and all the other things that accompany the beginning of an iconic horror movie or damn fine novel about Tea, Cake and lashings of Untimely Death, were occurring all over the little island known colloquially (and everywhere else) as The Skull.
Douglas skidded and stumbled over the vindictively slick cobblestones, cursing the length of his disgustingly sodden red robes, the ineffectual protection offered by his floppy wet cowl, the stupid little purse that dangled at his waist and was constantly expelling all his valuables into the muck, the fact that his favourite pocket watch had broken – again – and any and everything else that passed through his mind as he finally staggered, panting and wheezing to the top of the hill.
Sheet lightening flared for a second, silhouetting the crumbling chapel as Douglas clasped the cold iron ring in the studded wooden door and, with a cautious shoulder, silently eased it open.
The eerie luminescence of a hundred flickering candles, vanished in an ebbing wave to be replaced by darkness and smoke and a smattering of accusatory choking noises.
Thunder shook the walls and lightening flashed again, gleaming on several stiletto thin blades, poised in mid air.

 

 

Is Douglas in trouble? I’ll let you know next week 😉 Meanwhile have a spectacularly spooky weekend folks 😀 and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction


Elevenses: David Lee Summers talks #Mythpunk with Collin…

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

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

There you go.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Yes, please. This is a delightful Assam.

 

Sugar?

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

 

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


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology: Elevenses with Marc Vun Kannon

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

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

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

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

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

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

please remain always,

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

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

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

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

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

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

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses

#Twitterinterview with the authours

Guy Donovan joins us for elevenses

Nimue Brown causes havoc with her tentacles


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Nimue Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

En Route To The Fromagian Ball”

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

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree

To spread its limbs and welcome me

To its embrace eternally

I dreamed I journeyed long, to thee

(To dance The Masque at Caerphilly)

I met Morbier on the way

He wore a masque of silver grey

Very smooth he looked, yet grim

And seven rats did follow him

Fat they were, and no surprise

For, despite his mournful sighs,

And as I feasted with my eyes

Yet they with sharp teeth took their prize.

Next came Roqufort and he had on,

All speckled with viridian,

A gown so tattered, holed and frayed

I wondered not he looked dismayed….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And can we find you online?

www.druidlife.wordpress.com

www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/Nimue_B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

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

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

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

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

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

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses

#Twitterinterview with the authours

Guy Donovan joins us for elevenses