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 Chris Allaun. Thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today, My Dear! May I take your hat and miscellaneous weaponry?
Yes, of course. Where shall I place my broom?
Oh, just over there beside mine in the corner – it’s wonderful to have another magic user visit the kitchen! How was your trip from your own dimension? I hope you did not run into any hostile sugar-
zombies or sky pirates on your way?
Smooth flying. No problem at all. Except for the Wild Hunt that is happening now.
Ah yes, they have often caused a few problems for our vistors flying in. And have you brought along some soup to share with us?
No soup today.
Alas, I dare say The Hunt upset your cauldron! Never mind I have some left over Pumpkin Soup from Halloween which we can heat up instead.
simmering away nicely, why don’t you have a seat by the fire here and tell me a little about the types of non-fiction that you prefer to write?
I write books on witchcraft, shamanism, and magick. I’m also an energy healer and necromancer so you’ll see a lot of that in my books too.
Oh my! Not another necromancer! We’ve had quite enough of their shenanigans recently! And what is your latest book, would you like to tell us all a little about that?
My new book is Called Otherworld: Ecstatic Witchcraft for the Spirits of the Land. The book is basically my compilation of my many years of experience working with the spirits of the Otherworld. The running theme throughout the book, and all my books, is how to have a relationship with the spirits. In this book, I talk about how to deepen your relationships with Faeries, Elves, Nature Spirits, and Plant Spirits. I also show you Dragon Magick as it was taught to me in Traditional Witchcraft. There aren’t many books about
traditional dragon magick so I thought I’d “bust the seal” and teach people how to work with those energies!
Well, that all sounds wonderful and not at all what I would have expected from a necromancer so perhaps you are not the baby-eating, demon-raising kind of trouble maker I first took you for afterall. Have you brought a copy of the book with you today to show the orphans?
Ah now that’s the kettle boiling, what is your ‘poison’ Dear, and how do you take it?
With Two children please…
I BEG YOUR PARDON!?!
Um…sugar, I meant with two sugars please!
I see… perhaps you’d better just sit back a little children, we don’t want any hot soup splashing on anyone do we? Hmm…. Now, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your own path into non-fiction writing?
Well, I’m a minister for the Fellowship of the Phoenix and I teach a lot of magical and pagan classes. My go-to is working with the ancestors so over the years I’ve compiled a lot of material and so I thought I’d write a book. At the time, there were only a few books written on how to honour the dead and your ancestors. So, I submitted to Mandrake of Oxford and my first book Underworld: Shamanism, Myth, and Magick was published in
That sounds marvellous and is there anything that particularly inspires you when you write?
The spirits. The gods. Ancestors. The Elves and Faeries . All these beings are important to me so I want to share with the world on how to have relationships with them. My goal is to help us all heal the magical cord that connects us to the spirits in all of the shamanic worlds.
Of course we love supporting independent writers, artists and small presses here in Ire; do you have any favourite indie authors who have inspired you or whose work you can recommend?
I’m a big fan of Robin Artisson, Nigel G. Pearson, and Gemma Gary,
Splendid, I will be sure to hunt those out – I am always on the look out for a good fireside read to keep me company while I knit or bake. And where can we find more of your own work?
You can always find me on amazon, but I also have free articles on my website
chrisallaun.com and my YouTube channel Chris Allaun.
For Facebook you can find me at Chris Allaun: Author. Teacher. Healer
Splendid! Ah now that soup smells like it is about ready, would you be so kind as to help me serve it up to the orphans?
Of course! They are delicious…um, I mean the soup is delicious. I’m happy to help!
Um, yes, well, perhaps you had better leave the serving to me – why don’t you sit over there in the corner and put your feet up – well away from the children! (Tsk! Necromancers, they are all the same…)
Thankyou all for joining us in the soup kitchen this morning and until we see you again,
Blessings On Your Brew My Dears!
Greetings! Welcome to to Steampunk’d Lancaster! My name is Mrs Albert Baker and… well yes, that’s right I am a witch, how very kind of you to notice! Perhaps it’s my magical aura… or the smell of freshly baked gingerbread that tipped you off? Officially I’m actually The Last Witch Of Pendle but, sadly, 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 my little underground soup kitchen for the street urchins.
Strange times have struck here in the Scattered Isles of Ire – Lord Ashton’s Flesh Eating Liver Birds plague the skies above us and hoards of Mancunian Sugar-Zombies roam the cobbled streets spreading their curse like a plague…
So some of us have decided to re-kindle the old beacon in the city watchtower and keep its flame burning each night as a way of giving hope to those running for their lives and being hunted down by terrifying monsters, or evil scarecrow landlords…
Tonight is my shift and never fear, I am well armed to protect myself with a hot cauldron of soup, a fistful of hexes and of course my trusty rolling pin, which has seen off many an Annoying Wizard, Giant Crab or Night Potato, I can tell you!
Over the coming weeks, a marvellous host of writers, artists and creators will each be taking a turn to keep the light in this old lantern burning through the dark and share with you some of their wonderful books, stories, artwork and other fabulous creations.
Now then, since I’m here I thought I would share a little excerpt from some of my own adventures with you. This is taken from The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry when those two miscreant wizards had the cheek to break into my house in Pendle and frighten the wits out of myself and my husband in the middle of the night!
The two wizards scrambled to their feet but, on cursory inspection, Skarry realised they were trapped. This was not magic that they, as mere initiates, would have any hope of disabling.
“Oh! Burglars? Thieves? Oh no!” The woman standing in the doorway, dressed in a long cotton nightdress and curlers, trembled, sending the glaring yellow light from her lantern quivering over the moon-slicked floor, serving no purpose other than to irritate the eyes of every conscious person in the room. “Oh, this can’t be happening! I…I must get Albert, yes, he will know what to do!” and she quickly spun on her heel and disappeared again. They heard her stumble back along some hidden corridor, muttering in frenzied tones as she went: “Oh blessed mother! Oh Green Goddess, why is this happening? Why? Oh this is the end, I know it is! The end of Pendle, the end of everything! Oh Goddess, if it is true, if you have really not abandoned us to the mercy of Wiz, please, please grant me the strength to deal with this! But I cannot, how can I? I am the last! The very last!”
Her ravings slowly faded, swallowed into the belly of the house, and Skarry fired a look of utter bewilderment at his friend and tapped his forehead in silent questioning appraisal of the woman’s sanity. But, to his surprise and further confusion, Mercurio’s own features revealed that he was lost in some deep private reflection which was obviously beginning to amuse him.
Before long, the woman returned, now sporting an ill-fitting black toupee, which she had hastily balanced on top of her net of tightly curled hair, a false moustache and a quilted claret dressing gown. She held the lantern high again, swinging its luminescence into their squinting eyes.
“Now, see here!” she said, failing dismally at affecting a manly baritone. “Just who, may I ask, do you think you are? Bursting into my abode and frightening the wits out of my wife like this? Hmm?”
Skarry blinked. Surely, surely, this strange woman must realise the flagrant flimsiness of her charade. He opened his mouth to speak, but the woman pre-empted him.
“Don’t move! D-d-don’t move or I’ll…I’ll…well, you can’t move, can you? Hmm? If you try to, you won’t be able to so…so just stay there while I… er… go and call the Watchers… and The Good Folk. Yes, that’s it… now just you stay there! And don’t move!”’
Mercurio held up his gloved hands and chuckled with amusement. “My dear… Sir, we have no intention of going anywhere and, as you have pointed out, even if we wished to, we would be unable to penetrate this.” He gestured to the thin blue field of magical energy which now surrounded them, regarding it with the eye of a connoisseur. “But this is quite astounding!” He gave the moustachioed woman a look of respect, mingled with curiosity, which was not lost upon its subject.
She lowered the lantern an inch.
“Surely,” Mercurio continued carefully, “surely a spell like this could only have been set in place by… and please do not take offense, my good man… by a wizard? And an extremely powerful one at that. Perhaps, even, a witch?”
To Skarry’s amazement, the woman sank down into the leather armchair and began to sob, wringing the lantern chain between her fingers.
“My apologies,” Skarry said quickly, “if my friend has upset you, please… er… here, oh damn I can’t do that,” he returned the useless handkerchief to his pocket and glared furiously at Mercurio, who gave him a withering look and then hitched up a mask of sincere compassion and sympathy and turned it towards their host.
“Oh, you’re right!” the woman sobbed. “It’s true, it’s all true!” She pulled off the moustache and toupee and flung them angrily onto the floor. “Oh, this silly charade has been wearing me to pieces! But I have had no choice! There have always been six witches at Pendle, and there always must be at least one witch at Pendle – even Wiz himself says it – otherwise the whole town will crumble to the ground; the manor, the park, the houses, everything!”
“Wiz?” Skarry looked sharply at his friend, but Mercurio hadn’t flinched.
“Yes. It is only by his will that I haven’t been forced into the caves to be hunted, like game, across the marsh, like my poor sisters. He allowed just six of us witches to stay on here at Pendle because of the curse. There have always been six and we’ve always managed to fool the townsfolk into thinking we were ordinary citizens, but I am the last! And what will happen if I am found out? Oh it has worn me so thin you cannot imagine. Of course I cannot marry – who would marry a witch in this day and age? And yet I had to marry Albert or else people would become suspicious; a woman living all alone… people have such suspicious minds… you wouldn’t believe the things they say when my back is turned…” She was beginning to rave, the pitch of her voice crescendoing with the speed of the words. If she went on like this, she would be hysterical within the next 60 seconds and if she hyperventilated and fainted, even worse asphyxiated herself, they would be trapped. Possibly permanently.
“Why don’t you have a glass of brandy?” Mercurio suggested.
The woman shook her head “I don’t drink,” she sniffed. “It’s Albert who’s the drinker.”
“Albert?” Skarry mouthed silently.
Mercurio raised his eyebrows at him. “Well, perhaps Albert would care for a snifter then? Settle his nerves?”
Skarry closed his eyes so that he would not have to witness the woman reassembling her disguise so that she could nod and stumble unsteadily out of the room in search of alcohol.
If you’d like to read more about my adventures with those two Terrible Wizards, Scarlet Skarry and her marvellous Land Pirate crew and of course Eightcups Max and his fabulous octopus Collin, you can find The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry here:
Well thankyou so much for joining me this evening as we keep the light in the lantern burning. I’m afraid that’s my shift over for the night, thank goodness it was a quiet one! Who knows, perhaps the smell of gingerbread was enough to keep wary monsters at bay?
Stay safe good friends, whatever assails you, and when times are dark, look for the light in the lanterns of others and treasure the light in your own….
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 another contributor to the Dreamtime Damsels Anthology, Jaq D Hawkins. Thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today, My Dear! May I take your hat and miscellaneous weaponry?
Oh, don’t let the knives frighten you! I’ve got Mars in Pisces, you see. No temper at all. I’ve never injured an interviewer, promise!
Well thank goodness for that! How was your trip from your own dimension? I hope you did not run into any hostile sugar-zombies or sky pirates on your way?
As it happens, I’m an old hitchhiker and I’ve got history with airship pirates, so I hitched a lift on the Persephone. Best rum I ever tasted!
Marvellous! And have you brought along some soup to share with us?
How could I visit a soup kitchen without bringing something to share! This is something a little special from a now extinct restaurant I used to frequent in my youth.
Potage St. Germain (Pea Soup)
1 (1 pound) ham bone
4 1/2 cups water
1 (13 ounce) can chicken broth
2 cups split peas
2/3 cup finely chopped leeks or green onions
1/3 cup finely chopped carrots
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup chopped ham, cooked
1/2 cup chopped chicken (cooked) (optional)
Place ham bone in large pot. Add water, chicken stock and peas and bring to boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes
Saute the onions, carrots and celery just until limp. Add them to the soup pot along with all of the seasoning and continue to simmer until peas are very soft and mixture is thick – about 45 minutes. Remove ham bone. Gradually stir in the milk and cream. Add ham and chicken. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of dry sherry, to taste.
Mmm, it smells delicious! I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely.
You might want to give it an extra splash of sherry to keep them quiet. 😉
Marvellous tip! Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you have a seat by the fire here and tell me a little about the types of fiction that you prefer to write?
In the realm of fiction, I’m basically a Traditional Fantasy writer, though I often lean towards darker themes. Goblins for example, or pirates. My new series will deal heavily with dragons. I’ve also been contributing to a lot of short story anthologies recently and some of those are even Horror.
And I hear you’ve recently made a contribution to the Dreamtime Damsels anthology I’ve heard so much about – would you like to tell us all a little about that?
I was invited to contribute and couldn’t resist, having dealt with the editor on the Dreamtime Dragons anthology and being favourably impressed with his attention to quality and detail. The idea of writing about strong women is a natural for me as I’m pretty resilient myself, but most of my stories so far have featured male protagonists. I decided this would be good practice to develop my female characters more.
Splendid and now I know the book hasn’t actually been released yet but Max and Collin were bragging this morning that they had managed to get their tentacles on a pre-order link for the kindle version?
Oh thankyou very much, I will order my own copy post haste! As an adventuress myself, I certainly think it is wonderful to see a fantasy collection where women take the centre stage isn’t it?
It makes a nice change. The Wizard’s Quandary was meant to be a stand alone story, but now it’s inspired me to write a follow-up series, with dragons of course. I think some of them are going to have to be female as well.
Oh dragons are always splendid company… Ah now that’s the kettle boiling, what is your ‘poison’ Dear, and how do you take it?
Usually red wine, not that yuppie Shiraz stuff but a good Malbec. However, as you’ve boiled the kettle, a simple coffee will do. A spoonful of honey please, and a little heavy on the milk.
You are lucky I have just visited The Harlequin and have a plentiful supply of contraband milk! Now, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your own path into fiction writing?
Well that started in childhood. By the time I was in high school I was churning out short stories furiously. It was only natural that I would move on to novels eventually. My goblin world took me there.
Oh my! I have never encountered any goblins personally but they sound terribly exciting and is there anything that particularly inspires you when you write?
Anything. Everything. I hear a phrase and a conversation forms around it. I see a colour and start visualising a scene. Stories go through my head faster than I can write down the notes for them!
That sounds wonderful! Of course we love supporting independent writers, artists and small presses here in Ire; do you have any favourite indie authours who have inspired you or whose work you can recommend?
A large percentage of my reading for enjoyment these days is written by indie authors. The Big 5 have become cautious and keep putting out clones of whatever sold best last week, usually lightweight stuff that doesn’t appeal to me.
Some indie authors I’ve really enjoyed besides the ones contributing to the Dreamtime anthologies include Graeme Reynolds, Shanna Lauffey, Charlton Daines, Jeff Brackett, Lin Senchaid, Lita Burke, Austin Crawley, Frank Tayell and C.M. Gray. I’m sure there are many more on my book shelves but those come to mind.
Splendid, I will be sure to hunt those out – I am always on the look out for a good fireside read to keep me company while I knit or bake. And where can we find more of your own work?
My Amazon page is at
and my Smashwords page is
Then of course there is my website where you can read about anything upcoming at http://jaqdhawkins.com
Ah now that soup smells like it is about ready, would you be so kind as to help me serve it up to the orphans?
Certainly. Don’t forget a dollop of sour cream in each bowl! Dibs on licking the cauldron.
Thankyou all for joining us in the soup kitchen this morning. You will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, Blessings On Your Brew My Dears!
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 sci fi author Meredith Debonnaire! Thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today, My Dear! May I take your cloak?
Yes indeed, here it is. Thank you so much for having me 🙂
A pleasure! How was your trip from your own dimension? I hope you did not run into any hostile skywaymen or space pirates on your way?
Very smooth, thank you. Came through the inter-dimensional tunnels, so mainly just Dwarfs. And some of those urchins of yours I think, but they weren’t a lot of trouble.
Ah yes, children will get everywhere won’t they? And have you brought along some soup to share with us?
Oh I am so sorry! I am honestly a terrible cook, so I thought it better not to subject you to my attempts at food. I have brought tea… Lapsang Souchon?
Oh my absoloute favourite how thoughtful of you! (You know tea is illegal here and so very hard to come by, thankyou imensely for that!) Now then, I will cook up a nice batch of soup for the orphans and why don’t you have a seat by the fire here and tell me a little about your book The Life And Times Of Angel Evans, I know Max and Collin enjoyed reading it immensely
Oh, how nice to hear! I enjoyed Max’s Utterly Myself book. Anyway, The Life and Times of Angel Evans is about what you do after saving the world. It was a question that has bothered me for a while. So the story is not about saving the worlds, but about picking up the pieces afterwards when the prophecy is fulfilled and you have to get on with things. Angel Evans did save the multiverse, but now she has to figure out how to have a life and sometimes that feels harder.
I really love that premise! I must confess to have dabbled a little in world saving myself but in the end I found running this soup kitchen far more rewarding! Have you brought a copy with you to show the orphans?
Marvellous, thankyou! Ah, now that is the kettle boiling, what is your ‘poison’ dear and how do you take it?
I like a good strong hot chocolate, with chocolate dark as moonless midnight please
Ah, fortunately we have plenty of smuggled cocoa powder in storage ready for the winder months! There you are. Now tell me, My Dear, what do you look for in a good story?
Hmmm, well, characters that I can root for are very important – I find it difficult to be immersed in a plot if I don’t care about the people. I want magic, and I want to be surprised, and I want lots of women and preferably queer representation. Tight plotting is a little less important to me, although I do appreciate it as a skill. As I mainly read fantasy and sci-fi, the worldbuilding is very important and I can be drawn in by an exciting-sounding world. It boils down to wanting something that I will be able to get emotionally invested in, and that will reward that investment rather than stomping on it.
Splendid, … Oh! Do excuse me for a moment, that’s the post…. There we are…Oh lovely it’s the brochure I ordered! I am looking for my next holiday destination (it is never a good time to be a witch here in Ire but sometimes it is positively dangerous so I like to take the odd pleasure jaunt when that occurs)
How exciting! May I take a look? Holidays are very important things, especially if there is any chance of a mob turning up on one’s doorstep…
Well, yes indeed… mind you, I have heard that you are a chronicler of the history of the curious town of Tantamount – is that a holiday destination you would recommend for a witch?
Absolutely. Tantamount gets seasonal witches most Autumns as they migrate, and to survive in Tantamount you have to be at least a little bit witchy. It’s particularly a good place for picking up odd spell ingredients, though you have to be careful of the history; it bites.
Oh how wonderful it sounds like just my cup of tea! Collin told me they have interesting wildlife, I am very fond of magpies…
Magpies are very important in Tantamount, although why they are important is a subject of great debate and the occasional stabbing. So far as we can tell from the correspondence, there are also very intelligent Wild Boar (who have successfully negotiated for voting rights), spam pigeons, and of course the Carrion. We’re not sure if the Carrion are really wildlife or just some sort of odd phenomena, as no-one who’s got close enough to tell is in any state to pass the information on.
I see, perhaps I might ask Max if I can borrow his aether energy pistol. He also said they have some charming rituals there as well, although as I am post-menopausal myself it sounds like I may not be of much use for some of them?
Ah, I think you are referring to the Bluddening Ritual? That one is specifically for people who menstruate, as it is the most convenient way of bleeding a lot without hurting anyone. There are plenty of other Rituals that you could take part in: The Feast of Fears, which comes around at slightly random times and involves the ancient sport of Carrion Running, is one example. There is also the Awakening of Spring, which involves pouring tea on the Dumpsy Tump while singing classic Tantamount songs such as Truly, It Is Time To Get Out Of Bed, Hades is No Fun Anyway, We Are All Bloody Cold Oh Spring and When Will the Daffodil Beast Roam Free Again? If that doesn’t work, someone has to go and hit the gong. But usually it doesn’t come to that.
I see, well I shall certainly mull that over carefully, it does sound a lot of fun but I want to make sure I return in one piece! Now then, where can we read more about Tantamount?
All of Tantamount is currently available here: https://meredithdebonnaire.wordpress.com/tales-from-tantamount/
I recommend reading about it from afar; it isn’t a place with a high life expectancy.
And where else can we find you on the aether web?
Marvellous! Well thank you so much for joining me in the kitchen this morning, that soup smells as if it is ready, would you give me a hand dishing it out to the orphans?
Thankyou all for joining us in the last soup kitchen of 2018, have a very blessed Wizmas or Feast of Fears or Christmas or Creepmas or Yule or Hiding Under The Duvet Until It All Goes Away Fest …. or whatever you celebrate in your dimension at this time of year and I will see you all again once the tinsel and mince pies have died down and the frost fair arives on our frozen river Lune, so until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Helping me this morning I am extremely honoured to welcome Admiral Ceri Harper-Leigh and George! Thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today, me Dears! May I take your hats and coats? We may be over St Michael’s Little Summer but here in the kitchen the fire is nice and warm
Thank-you, its splendid to be here. George and I feel quite at home sat by the fire.
How was your trip from your own dimension? I hope you did not run into any hostile skypirates or alien life forms on your way?
Fortunately the Sky Pirates and aliens stayed away. Luckily we managed to cadge a lift from the Regius Professor of Chronology at St. Cedd’s college, who just happened to be passing by your time/space co-ordinates.
Oh that’s marvellous, how convenient for you! And have you brought along some soup to share with us?
I think we should have Georges favourite meal of “Magical Soup” – basically a mixed vegetable recipe with a star shaped toasted cheese crouton to float on top..
Mmm, it smells delicious, what a lovely idea! I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now George why don’t you stand on a stool beside me here and as I chop the vegetables you can put them into the cauldron for me?
oooo, thank-you Mrs. Baker
You are most welcome my Dear, It’s so nice to have a little helper in the kitchen! There, now while the soup is simmering away, why don’t you tell us all a little about how the two of you first met?
We first met when we (The Royal Steam Navy) rescued George and his family from the pirate Red Tail and his dastardly crew of grey squirrels when they unsuccessfully tried to sell the bears into “showbiz”.
Oh my goodness! What a dreadful scoundrel! George have had many adventures, haven’t you dear?
I have, thank-you. Not only pirates, but also martian mice, and my latest adventure which is yet to be published with queen Victoria.
Indeed! And Admiral you have begun documenting them in a series of beautifully illustrated books, have you brought some with you to show the orphans?
Is it an easy task to keep up with the adventures of such an intrepid young bear?
Yes, they a very easy to write down as I keep a personal journal of my travels, and I can assure the fans of the “bear that dares” that his adventures will continue for at least three more books, bringing the total to six. So when you place them in order they will portray the colours of the rainbow flag.
I think that is a very beautiful idea! And which has been your favourite adventure so far George? (I know that Max and Collin have enjoyed reading all about your trip to Mars!)
oooo, tough question, but I think I have to say it’s my latest adventure with queen Victoria.
We are all excited to read about that when it is available! And will you be having any other adventures in the near future?
Most certainly, Mrs Baker. I love having adventures
Splendid! Good for you, Dear! But the life of a small grey bear cannot only be about adventuring, surely you have a loving home and family George where you spend most of your time?
Sometimes I can get a little sad when I’m away from my mums and my cat, spot. but I sing my “happy bear” song and I feel so much better. would you like to hear it?
Oh yes please! We love a good sing-song!
(ahem) # i’m a happy little bear, i never try scare. i always am polite and i never like to fight. i love my mums and spot so i never ever stop from be-ing a hap-py little bear…#
Oh that is marvellous! Well done indeed! Ah now the kettle is boiling, what can I offer you my dears? – I have contraband tea of all descriptions and a very little coffee saved for special guests (assuming you don’t want the government-standard-issue-decaff?)
Thank-you, tea for me, milk and no sugar please, and a baby-bear-o-ccino for George please.
There you are, now where can we purchase copies of your small grey bear adventures?
Funnily enough you can find us on Facebook as “Small Grey Bear Adventures”
Marvellous! And will you be making any public appearances in the near future?
We are planning to return to the “Festival of Steam and Transport” at Historic Dockyard Chatham next Easter as part of the “Steampunk Village”
Well perhaps we will see you there! Thankyou so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Admiral, and for bringing young George along to help as well! It’s been wonderful to meet and chat with you both and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
Thank-you Ma’am for inviting us to your cosy cottage. Sadly we have to return to our own dimension now as I believe I’m needed back on the bridge of my flagship HMS Essex, and George has school in the morning and we wouldn’t want to upset his teacher Mrs. Shorttfur.
No indeed! Thankyou all for joining us in the soup kitchen today, you can find George’s adventures by following the links below – Blessings on your brew my dears!
George books LINK: http://www.smallgreybearadventures.yolasite.com/
Umbrella publishing group LINK: http://ghostbearpublishing.yolasite.com/
Helping me this morning is author Katherine McIntyre! Thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today, Katherine! May I take your hat and cloak? It is still very warm here in Lancaster today although the season is undoubtedly on the turn!
Thank you for inviting me!
Now, why don’t you have a seat by the window there, how was your trip from your own dimension?
Breezy! Flew on in by airship ; )
I had quite the quick trip from the suburbs of Philadelphia!
Splendid! And have you brought along some soup to share with us?
Absolutely! I’ve got a penchant for potato soup 😊
This is one of my favorite soup recipes: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/13218/absolutely-ultimate-potato-soup/
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 Steampunk series Take to The Skies?
My steampunk universe isn’t set in Victorian England like a lot of them tend to be—instead, I brought anachronistic elements to a sci-fi future where the landscape has changed and airships dominate the skies. It’s a swashbuckling adventure series akin to pirate novels, which fans of Treasure Island and Firefly are sure to enjoy.
It sounds marvellous! But you don’t only write Steampunk, you have two other series if I’m not mistaken?
I do! I primarily write paranormal romance. I’m currently working on the second book in my Discord’s Desire series, which is about a fae rock band who get embroiled in the middle of a war between hunters and their own kind.
The shifter series I just completed writing the third book of is the Tribal Spirits series. It revolves around the wolf and mountain lion packs in central PA and the politics that descend upon the region with the arrival of a dangerous renegade.
And have you brought some of your books with you to show the orphans?
Your web-mantra is “Strong Women. Strong words.” I must say I like that very much indeed! What inspired you to choose that phrase?
I have a natural inclination to write women in places of power in my books, whether it’s female captains or alphas. I love the complexity that strength involves, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, and I’m determined to represent women in a realistic way that honors their flaws, strengths, and struggles.
Women have always had a voice in science fiction, from it’s very beginning, and today sci-fi enjoys a huge female fan-base and many excellent female content-contributors, do you have any favourites in particular either past or present day?
One of my particular favorites is Madeline L’Engle, whose intelligent book, A Wrinkle in Time, and its sequels captured my attention from an early age. Despite it being young adult, she never tried to dumb down the concepts and the book expanded my horizons in a wonderful was as a kid.
Despite the consistent contribution of women to the sci fi genre, the stories told still often portray women as the victim, the villain or the supporting role to a male hero, do you think there is a reason for this?
I think a lot of it revolves around societal expectation and what’s considered the norm. Even now, there exists a struggle to get stories out there which feature women in a different light. I’ve faced rejection for featuring a female alpha who they deemed too masculine. A lot of places aren’t willing to take the risk to push forward the change, which is a reason I will relentlessly push for it myself.
Do you think we need more stories where the capacity and depth of female (and indeed male) characters is expanded and explored in greater detail – or do we perhaps have these tales already and they are simply not given the spotlight they deserve?
I think we have some of those tales, which do deserve the spotlight, but I also think we need many more. A lot of the characters prescribe to a definitive gender divide when the reality isn’t quite so clear. I would love to see more depth in both men and women, instead of the tendency to shy away from any traditionally ‘masculine’ tendencies in women, or ‘feminine’ qualities in men.
Ah now the kettle is boiling, what is your ‘poison’ dear and how do you take it?
Always coffee, which I take with cream and sugar.
You are in luck! We don’t farm traditional coffee here in Ire but I do have a little canister down here that one of my guests kindly left behind some time ago… There you are, now then, diversity and representation are big issues for us here in Ire and they are for you as well is that correct?
Absolutely. Reading teaches empathy, and if we’re only presented with limited options of who to empathize with, we’re missing a broad mark of how to promote acceptance of one another. I’ve been making an active effort to push past my own experience to explore others, whether it’s including characters of different races and sexualities than my own, or exploring characters who struggle with mental or physical disorders.
Do you think that the sci fi and fantasy genres are representative enough of the diverse realities of our little blue planet, or do you think there is still ground to be won in that area?
I think there’s a lot of ground to be won. While some wonderful examples exist, I think in the past a lot of science fiction and fantasy represented a very white and heterosexual viewpoint, as well as a lot of Eurocentrism in fantasy. I am loving the new array of stories emerging from so many different perspectives than the ones we’ve seen in the past, and I hope that trend continues.
Do you have any works in progress or new releases that we can get excited about?
I’m currently writing the second Discord’s Desire book, and I’ll be starting the fourth Tribal Spirits book soon! As far as new releases, the first two books in the Tribal Spirits series are coming out with Totally Bound in January and February of 2019. I’m also participating in a steampunk Christmas anthology, Bustles and Bells, which will be coming out later this year.
And in the meantime where can we purchase your wonderful works of fiction?
My books can be found on
As well as many other online retailers!
Fabulous! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Katherine, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
Thank you so much for having me! I absolutely enjoyed the visit.
Helping me this morning is photographer and Steampunk Charli Anderson-Farrar, Mastermind behind the awe inspiring Pagan – Steampunk project ‘Shades’, which you may have seen exhibited at The Asylum back in August. Good morning Charli, my dear, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
I have indeed, and I hope you like it! I’m a bit of a cheese addict, I’m not ashamed to say it, and I discovered a wonderful creamy cheese and bacon soup recipe on geniuskitchen.com a while back that I adapted to be more to my taste by using Blacksticks Blue cheese! This recipe serves 6 and takes about 1 hour and ten minutes to complete.
2 Starchy Potatoes
8 slices smoked bacon (you can use unsmoked if you wish but Blacksticks and Smoked Bacon taste amazing together!)
115g Blacksticks Blue cheese (you can substitute this for another blue cheese or stilton if you prefer)
475ml single cream
Salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the potatoes until soft.
- Drain, then transfer to a pan with the milk and blend thoroughly. Grill the bacon until crispy then cut into small pieces.
- Crumble the cheese over the potatoes and gently stir it in until the cheese has melted. Then add the cream and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add the bacon now if you wish to infuse the smokey flavour. Bring the soup to the boil, then remove from the heat.
- If you did not add the bacon before boiling, place it in the bottom of the bowls or in the soup tureen. Serve the soup over the bacon immediately.
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you have a seat here by the fire and tell us all about the main concept for your exciting steampunk project Shades ?
The idea behind “Shades” was initially going to be a staged version of a British myth, prompted by a topic in my university course, but I was encouraged to move away from British Myths and ended up doing a Greek one instead. The idea stayed with me though, and it quickly moved into the idea that those things that go bump in the night, the traditional zombies and vampires, were not the only things that hide in the shadows.
I was more interested in the stories that many people have forgotten over the centuries. These are Gaelic and “Celtic” tales, pre-Christianisation spirits and Gods, word of mouth stories passed down for centuries and often lost to the mists of time; the Courts of the Ancient Fae, the Aos Si, tales of Banshees and Phantom Horsemen, personifications of Human Evils and even Humans themselves touching the darkness with their desire for power and wealth. I love the origin stories of natural phenomena, such as Will o’ the Wisps (gas lights in marshes) being the lanterns of pixies causing mischief, or how fire came to the world through the theft of Faerie Fire. These stories are more open to interpretation, as there are fewer popular preconceptions and film visuals dictating how they should look, dress, act or think, which will allow me a certain freedom from modern cultural influences when it comes to creating the aesthetics of the characters.
And what inspired you to merge forgotten myths with the Steampunk aesthetic?
Even those that move in the Shadows have to move with the times. The television series “Grimm” shows fairytale creatures in the modern setting of Portland in the USA, hiding in plain sight, while the film “Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters” shows the God Hermes as having a day job at a Courier Centre. I already knew that I wanted to create my images in an alternate-world setting, as I felt that just bringing them forward into the modern era was a little bit limiting in terms of fantasy design and that was something I really wanted to keep a hold of – I didn’t want to just mimic Grimm and Percy Jackson by having old objects in a new setting. I wanted the objects to still be aesthetically relevant.
The alternative-world opens the way for even greater creativity surrounding the character and costume design of these fantastical creatures, and because of this, I desperately wanted to include a Steampunk element. While not exactly “modern” in its primary aesthetic, Steampunk is something that I love and cherish, and with so many possibilities and creative avenues to explore within the genre, there is something there that will cater to all the characters that I have planned. Not only that, it gives me an excuse to utilise modern ideas with a much older aesthetic.
It certainly is a marvellous and original idea, oh and I see you have brought some photographs along to show the orphans?
Those look marvellous! Who designs and creates the costumes for each character?
I do! I did some theatre and film design studies a while back, so I had some experience in designing costumes and props already. Originally I had planned to have a local seamstress make them, but I couldn’t afford to pay her as the whole project is voluntary. She wasn’t willing to work in that way, which I can understand, but it did leave me in a bit of a pickle. So I re-acquainted myself with the use of a sewing machine and revisited some of my old stage costume and prop-work from when I was at school to get myself back into the swing of things. Some of the outfits, like the Wisp, are put together from charity shop and Ebay finds or donated items, while others, such as Lorell the Embodiment of Fire, are made 100% from scratch.
That is amazing! And what is your ultimate vision for the project to be presented to the public? I have heard whispers of a book or possibly a performance piece?
Yes, eventually I want to get all the pictures together into a photo-book, perhaps with some short stories or essays in to compliment the images. I also like the idea of presenting the project in a slightly more interactive way than a traditional exhibition – I want people people to be interested in the project on an educational level, as many people don’t know the history of our country from before the Roman settlement. I’ve always felt that if you give people the opportunity to get involved and interact with things, they tend to be more interested and remember what they have learned.
Indeed! I am aware that Shades is a collaborative project, is there any way that the good folks gathered here can get involved or support the project?
Well, one way to support the project is to make a donation of money or materials, either to the one-off donation box on the Shades website, or you can sign up as a Patron on Patreon. Most of my Patreon earnings go towards Shades, and those that don’t help support other projects that I am currently working on, which in turn also generate interest in Shades, so either way, Shades wins!
Another way people can get involved is by supporting the exhibitions. I keep a list of exhibitions on the website, so you can come and visit, or if you are a festival or event organiser, we are always interested in hearing from people who might like to have Shades displayed.
Finally, if you keep an eye on the “Get Involved” page on the website, you can see if we have any voluntary openings coming up. These are usually for models, but I do occasionally need specialist skills that I can’t personally do, and these will go up there as well. I also sometimes take requests for work experience and portfolio development opportunities, but I don’t take requests for secondary photographers.
And where can we see the costumes displayed, learn more about the project and keep up to date with future developments?
The outfits can be seen “live” at exhibitions, though currently I don’t have any confirmed shows coming up just yet. I have just finished my application to take part in Asylum X in August, so hopefully I should have some news on that soon! Otherwise, you can check out www.charli313.wixsite.com/shadesproject where all information regarding Shades is kept. You can also follow the project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheShadesProject/, follow me on Twitter (@charlianderson) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/CharliAndersonCreations), see pictures on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/charliandersonfarrar/ or check out my Patreon for special Patron-Only updates and exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures and footage! (https://www.patreon.com/charlianderson).
I sometimes take my work to other kinds of shows, depending on the theme. For example, the Lorell outfit is dedicated to a gaming community of the same name, they I recently took the outfit to a game fan convention to display there, so keep your eyes peeled for those odd occurrences too!
And finally, the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang… the kettle is singing so which is the brew that inspires your creative endeavours, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)
Always tea for me, as coffee gives me headaches! NATO standard, milk with two!
Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Charli, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
No problem, I’ll grab those bowls for you! And if you ever have a particular British spirit or God you’d like to see me represent, I’m always up for a challenge, so drop me a line sometime!
We certainly will my dear, and I hope you will come back and visit us again some time!
Thankyou all for joining us in the soup kitchen today, I will see you next week when Poet and Science Fiction authour Kevan Manwaring will be telling us all about the launch of his new Eco-sci-fi Thriller Black Box!
Until then, Blessings on your brew my dears!
I am extremely happy this morning to welcome my dear friends, the paranormal investigators Sir John and Marie Jennings… Good morning to you both, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitc… Sir John? Over here… Marie, my dear, are you sure he can see with those goggles on? Whatever are they for?
Sir John: These are my ectoscopic goggles that allow me to see any spectral energy so as I look around the room…GOOD GOD WHAT IS THAT!
Marie: I think you are looking at the cat, mon cher…if you take the googles off…
Sir John: Ah yes, ahem, yes I’ve seen this before where feline energy can be mistaken for, er, ghostly energy. Perfectly normal.
Mrs Baker: Oh dear yes, I’m so sorry about the cats, they are after my illicit cream stores, you know. Well, why don’t you both have a seat here by the window. How was your journey here from your own dimension? I hope you were not delayed by any spectral presences en route?
Sir John: It was relatively uneventful. We made use of my brother Saul’s cabinet to travel here through time from 1901. He was, I’m afraid to say, a bit of a crank, believing in some pseudo scientific hogwash he called Quantum Physick. Most bizarre, with strange parallel worlds and waves behaving like particles. He built this device to travel to these parallel worlds, and it seems to work as it’s brought us here. Hopefully we can return, it’s the first time we’ve used it.
The only real trouble we had was when we were stuck in some hellish box, travelling in random directions with strange, dishevelled muttering creatures. What was that thing called Marie.
Marie: I think it was Southern Rail.
Mrs Baker: Oh dear me yes, I have heard your trains are as bad as our Skyway Rails, for future visits might I recommend the number nine bus, some have found the driver both adventurous and persuadable if bribed with sufficient tiffin. Now then, I shall put the kettle on, have you brought some soup with you today to share with the orphans?
Marie: I brought a recipe that our maid Miss Henderson suggested for Courgette and Milk Soup. She said it is from the “Mysterious and Exotic East”.
Sir John: I think she means Walthamstow.
Mrs Baker: Oh!
Marie: Here is her note…
Mrs Baker: Thankyou my dear, let me see now, she writes… “Dear Mrs Baker, please find below my recipe for Corset and Milk Soup. Take a pound of corsets…” CORSETS?!
Sir John: we think she means courgettes
Mrs Baker: Oh! I see!…...and cook in a bit of water until soft but not too long or the taste will cook out. Mix them up – I use a device Sir John has made for me called a Vegetofruit Blending Device. It’s quite quick and only moderately dangerous. Put aside and then heat a tablespoon of butter and when that’s melted take off the heat and add tablespoon of flour. When that is like a paste, add half a pint of milk and stir until it thickens a little. Then add the corsets and some ground Kew men…
Mrs Baker: Oh yes of course! …and season with salt and pepper. Finally serve in bowls with some Sumac powder sprinkled on top. The soup is mild in flavour and the dark purple colour of the Sumac is a lovely complement to the pale green of the corsets.”
Sir John: Funnily enough she got the name for Sumac powder right. It’s a fascinating spice, rumoured to give anyone that prepares it correctly a five octave singing voice. I’m not sure that’s true but our previous maid, Mrs Flitwick, did once mistake it for cocoa and she made a very high pitched noise.
Mrs Baker: Well it certainly sounds delicious, I wouldn’t worry about the Sumac, the orphans are quite hardy round here you know. So, I will just pop the cauldron onto the fire, there. Now while that is simmering away why don’t you tell us all a little more about the work you do, paranormal investigation sounds most fascinating!
Sir John: Well it all started in Paris, where we met. I was working away at various theories of how to detect paranormal activity. Marie was my willing companion, assisting where she could. Eventually we married and moved to London and set ourselves up as Paranormal Investigators. It was a little easier as my French isn’t terribly good and I was concerned it may be difficult to communicate with francophone fiends.
Mrs Baker: What a wonderful story, I do like a good romantic tale! And I have heard that you employ some very specialist inventions to help with this work, have you brought some along to show the orphans?
Sir John: This is my Thanatograph. It’s allows us to hear the spectral voices of any phantasm. It’s quite subtle, if there are any such entities present we may hear a faint human-like voice when the machine starts. Now I’ve set it up, let’s all be very quiet and see what happens.
Mrs Baker: Is it supposed to do that?
Sir John: Actually no. It’s quite unusual for it to fly around the room like that.
Mrs Baker: Oh, silly me! I’m afraid we are directly above the underground library and so our resident ghost, Perilous Wight, may be setting it off?
Sir John: Ah I see! Let me see if I can catch it. Oooof!
Marie: Mon cher, are you alright!
Sir John: Yes I think so. I don’t chew much on that side of my face anyway. Let me put it away before it causes any real damage.
Mrs Baker: I’m so sorry about that, I hope it will be alright. Well, these machines are all very technical and exciting, but Marie, my dear, (and while Sir John is occupied putting that device away) I cannot help but sense something of the mystical about your aura, I have a feeling that perhaps you do not need such devices to see these ghostly goings on?
Marie: Well, why I sometimes ‘ave some, shall we say, intuition into what may be going on… I’m not sure what you mean or where you have ‘eard this…
Mrs Baker: Oh my dear, I’m so sorry, I did not mean to alarm you or to be rude! Magic is forbidden in this dimension of course, but there are those of us who still practise it in secret where we can and I cannot help but sense that you have, shall we say, the ‘gift of intuition’ when it comes to the paranormal?
Marie: Ah, I see. Well, yes, it is true that I can sometimes offer … more help than is obvious. I like to keep that to myself. Oh look, Sir John is back.
Mrs Baker: Oh marvellous, and that is the kettle singing, can I offer you both some tea? How do you like it?
Sir John: Plenty of milk, three sugars, not too strong.
Mrs Baker: Oh dear, I’m afraid that is almost the last of the sugar, I shall have to visit the smugglers again.
Marie: Black, please. No sugar.
Mrs Baker: There you are. Now I know you have had many adventures but would you like to tell the orphans a little about your most recent or exciting one?
Sir John: Yes we have recently been relating our vacation in Sunnyport in our journal. It started out as a holiday and quickly became a terrifying nightmare. And that was before anything supernatural happened.
Mrs Baker: It all sounds so very exciting! And I hear that Paul Michael and Josephine Pichette have compiled some of your adventures into a book?
Sir John: Yes, indeed. It’s a collection of our first four investigations: a haunting, a strange case of a mesmerised young heiress, a fiendish killer in London, and a theft of some magical artefacts. It’s called, rather appropriately Jennings and Jennings Paranormal Investigators Casebook One. It’s apparently available in South America?
Marie: Amazon, mon cher.
Sir John: Ah, yes.
Mrs Baker: Splendid! And where else can we read about your adventures?
Sir John: Well our journal regularly publishes details of our adventures and other interesting tidbits. Mr Michael and Mme Pichette are kind enough to update it twice weekly. They are also on, is it Twitbook, Marie?
Marie: That’s Twitter and Facebook.
Mrs Baker: Splendid! And will there be more books in the future?
Sir John: Yes indeed, Mr Michael and Mme Pichette are, I believe, chronicling our recent trip to Paris in a book they are calling The Paris Awakening. You may have read about the aftermath of that trip in the papers. It made the front page.
Marie: I don’t think Mrs Baker gets Le Monde here, and not from 1900, especially.
Mrs Baker: No indeed, the year here is 1840… and besides which, the only paper I get the is Tiffindependent…
Sir John: Well I believe it was in The Times as well…page 27. Underneath an advert for a mechanical carpet cleaner.
Mrs Baker Well perhaps I can use my soup-scrying techniques to locate a copy. Ah but that soup certainly smells the ticket doesn’t it? Thank you so much for coming to help out in the kitchen today, my dears, it’s been wonderful to chat with you but now those little urchins must be ravenous so shall we start dishing it up?
Sir John: Yes, let’s! Thank you so much for having us to visit. I’m terribly sorry about the scorch marks from the Cryptozoetropometer. I can pay to have that cleaned.
Marie: Yes thank you Mrs Baker, it’s been nice to meet a fellow…cook.
Mrs Baker: Indeed! Thankyou all of you for joining us in the soup kitchen today, I hope you will come back again next week and until then
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Helping me this morning is Joe, creator of the beautiful steampunk inspired jewellery at Jamlincrow. Good morning Joe, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
I’m rather partial to a good vegetable soup, until recently I had always dipped lightly buttered bread in my soup. However, the other day I hollowed out the top of a baguette and filled it with cheese and shoved it in the oven as a little experiment. Hot crusty bread with lashings of melted cheese was quite the treat to accompany my soup. So that is what I have brought with me today! 🙂
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at some of your lovely creations, have you brought some along to show us today?
Well, let’s see, what have we got…… ah yes I have this magical key necklace featuring some splendiferous clockwork watch mechanics from a bygone era. Also a sprinkling of Amethyst to mesmerise all that gaze upon it!
What else can I rummage up? How about these cufflinks, with some rather special Tissot watch movements. Quite the extravagance for the discerning gentleman!
Or maybe a tie bar would be more the ticket…
A lady such as yourself would look rather fetching with a colourful dragonfly fluttering around your neck. Careful, not to dangle him in the soup though!
They really are marvellous, I especially like the key and dragonfly necklaces! How long have you been in the business of making steampunk jewellery?
Thank you so much for your kind words! People do seem fond of my dragonflies and keys…. I think being able to customise by choosing their own colours adds to the attraction 🙂
I reckon I must have been steampunking around with jewellery for about 5 years now. It doesn’t feel that long, time flies when you’re working with watch parts and winged insects 😉
Oh yes I suppose it must! And what inspires you when you set about making a new design?
I’m lucky enough to have found my soulmate, who is a constant source of inspiration to me. In fact she is the reason I started my Jamlincrow journey in the first place!
So my work is often guided by insightful mutterings from my better half 🙂
Oh what a beautiful story! Now then, you have a lovely range of jewellery in your shop but if a customer wanted something special do you take custom orders?
Yes indeed! I get all sorts of requests, so people only need tap at my chamber door and ask the question…… don’t be shy.
A lot of my custom requests are for steampunk plug earrings (for people who have stretched ears). I seem to have carved out a little niche for myself making those.
Goodness! Whatever next! And, where can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?
Although I always have plans to get my website up and running, I would say my Etsy shop should be your first port of call for now 🙂
I am also an official supplier to the National Maritime Museum who stock some of my items, including my watch mechanism cufflinks at The Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
You can also keep an eye on what I’m up to on my Facebook page!
And finally, the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang… the kettle is sing so which is the brew that inspires you more when you are creating, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)
TEA?!?! Yuck! What a disgusting thought. I’m all about the coffee 😛
Usually an Americano or two in the morning, moving on to a Cappuccino as an afternoon treat, each with 1 and a half spoons of sugar. Wow, no wonder I don’t sleep well
Coffee? I think I do have a little jar around somewhere, yes here we go…
Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Joe, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
Most definitely. We can’t sit around here nattering all day when their are empty bellies to feed!
Thankyou so much for joining us in the soup kitchen today,I hope to see you all again next week when another exciting guest will be helping me dish up some tasty soup so, until then
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since those dreadful land pirates , The Chronic Agronauts, utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!
Now I am extremely honoured this morning because Faerie Tale Minstrel, Alexander James Adams has very kindly agreed to help me dish up some soup for our poor unfortunate orphans here in Lancaster. Good morning Alexander! Can I take your hat and coat? This is supposed to be spring but nobody has told the weatherman as usual!
Oh, and who is this you have brought with you?
While not always visible except to such discerning folk as yourself, my Lady, my feline familiar Bartholomew Dragon Master is always with me since he became a ruler of the Sun. When he ascended from this realm in 2015 during Samhain, he made it known to me to have his name inscribed on my neck where he liked to rest his paw when sleeping and the ink used was to be infused with his ashes so now he is a part of me and I of him.
Oh what a touching tale! Well you are both most welcome. Have a seat here by the fire and I will put the kettle on, and here of course is a saucer of cream for Bartholomew. Now do tell me, how was your journey here from your own dimension?
Wonderous and unthreatened. That is not always the case when traveling, but you gave very safe directions so I was able to avoid the Unseelie Court and Their kind. They like to invite me to Their parties, but I try to have other things to do so as not to be tempted so often to do mischief with Them.
Oh dear me yes, there are many who delight in leading the unwary traveller astray! But of course you must be quite used to time and space travel by now; from Victorian, Medieval and Renaissance times on earth to the realms of Fairyland, your music speaks of a most exciting and adventurous life! Are there still more stories to tell?
Yes. I have been to many magical places, not the least of which was the Land of Fae Itself where I was abducted to by the Fae at the time of my birth. A changling took my place bearing the name of Heather Alexander and she dwelt among the Mortals for forty years or so enchanting folk with her magical music. Then she got bored and returned home, where upon I saw my chance, challenged the Queen of Faeries in a dual of fiddles, won my freedom and came here to the realm of Man. I plan on traveling to more and more magical realms to collect new songs and stories. The lands of Steampunk, furry talking animals who walk upright like humans, and even the Realm of Aegis, a new world of high adventure and canticles where I bear the name of Everon the XIII, a false immortal bard who battles for the Light of the World:
Goodness it all sounds so exciting! And certainly puts my own meagre adventures to shame! But it is so kind of you to brave the trip to our blighted Isle Of Ire to come and help me out this morning in my humble little kitchen , tell me have you brought some soup along to share with the orphans?
I brought my favourite! As a musician and sometimes empty pocketed, I have learned to make the most of what I have and can save for a hard time ahead. I call it Boiled Bone Soup. I use the frozen bones from various dinners previous, reboil them til I can strip every little bit of meat from them, toss out the bones, add rice, cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg to taste, plus any vegetables I have around. If I’m really lucky, I‘ll have a little port or red wine to add. Stir and cook until it’s all soft and warm and serve with fresh homemade bread. The next day, it will be almost solid and becomes a casserole until it’s all gone, but it’s so good, that doesn’t take too long at all.
Oh how delicious! Let us take out my largest cauldron then and make a double batch so we have plenty for tomorrow as well. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us about your exciting new Steampunk project?
It will be a huge event. A kind of Cirque du Soleil presentation with musicians, elaborate settings and four to five “Mechanical Technicians” to run “Hypnotica’s Magical Mind Machine”. It is a form of stage hypnotism themed in a setting of Steampunk and done by music and singing rather spoken suggestions. It won’t be just simple entertaining parlour tricks and making folk do silly things either. Everywhere they “travel” in the machine will give them an experience that will give them a sense of accomplishment and fun. I want to make sure that everyone who comes, whether they volunteer for hypnosis or not, are transformed and empowered by the show. Hypnotism does work much like real magic. It is a way of allowing your brain to accept a specific suggestion and then believing it to be real. If done with proper intent and respect, it can change the way a person thinks and behaves for the rest of their life. When folk see the Magical Mind Machine, they will learn that with the power of their own minds, they can change life for the better. That’s good magic, right there.
That certainly sounds like a marvellous thing to look forward to! When do you hope it will be released?
The musical album should be out by the end of summer this year. The show itself will take a little more time, but we hope to see a version of it come out next year. The producer himself, Mark Maverick, is a Manchester man, so we hope to have the show in London in the first year, if possible.
Oh how exciting! Now I know you’re rather a legend in the folk / filk arena but this new project isn’t your first Steampunk album is it?
Not entirely. I released a faerietale/steampunk combination album in 2014 called Summer Steam. It combines the 5 songs of Summer Releases from that year and 4 songs called Clockwork Collection all bundled to make a 9 song album.
I have heard it playing on Max and Collin’s spirit radio, it really is marvellous! But tell me my dear, what first sparked your interest in Steampunk in particular? Was it the tea?
Indeed, the tea is exceptional, but I really love the old ways of air travel like with dirigibles and hot air balloons. They seem so much more connected to the air and the magic of flight. Also, it is a genre where the gentlemen can have as much fun with clothing as the ladies and I’ve always enjoyed accessorizing!
Oh indeed! You know I think you would get on very well with our dear Captain of The Chronic Agronauts, he shares both those views entirely! But, I do find it very curious that so many people who have their roots in folk eventually find themselves drawn towards Steampunk, do you think there may be some intrinsic link between the two?
Perhaps. While Steampunk does involve the machinery and innovations of Man, it works so much more intimately with Nature and the land, leaving a much lighter footprint, so to speak, which the Folk culture tends to favour. If we had been smarter and more respectful of our world when we first started inventing, perhaps we would have become more like the world Steampunk represents.
Now there’s an interesting thought indeed… Ah, now the kettle is boiled, what is your hot beverage of choice, my dear, and how do you take it?
Hmm…I think some hot chocolate with a twist of brandy would be good, if you please.
Splendid, there you are. I’m afraid I cannot indulge in the brandy myself though, it’s my husband Albert who is the drinker. Now while we are waiting for your new release, where can we see you performing this year?
I will be traveling to the Renaissance period for the month of May performing for the Queen in Castleton, Muskogee, Oklahoma and then just popping in and out of many realms and times as I am invited to do for the rest of the year.
Most of the friends that gather here can actually see me bi-monthly if they wish through the magic of a service called Concert Window.
I try to perform an online concert from my home every other month and I ask my friends via the Book of Faces for their favourite dates and times during a given weekend. If those gathered here contact me through the Book of Faces under my full name of Alexander James Adams, I will be happy to arrange a time where this side of the pond will be more awake to attend.
Oh that is splendid news indeed! I know many of us here were thrilled to see you perform a few years ago when you visited the UK as part of Tricky Pixie, do you have any future plans to pay the UK another visit?
If I get an invitation and some help with the travel, I would jump at a chance. The Steampunk CD will bring me to Scotland to mix and master it with my good friend Fox Amoore so perchance this summer I will schedule a gig there and possibly elsewhere if I get information and the schedule to make it happen. If any one of your friends can help, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk!
That sounds promising indeed! And for those of us who are trapped in another dimension entirely and cannot make it out to your live performances, where can we purchase recordings of your marvellous music?
Through my web page:
or direct download through Bandcamp:
They can also get access to music, videos and art that no one else can if they wish to join my Patreon subscription:
It starts at 1 dollar US currency per month but it will be helping to pay the monthly fee on my live-in Pro Tools Studio which I hope to have built by the end of this summer so I can make even more music and magic than before.
Splendid! Now I know that the little street urchins were hoping you might play a song for them before we eat?
This being May and still a little chilly, I recommend a “Good Beltaine Fire”!
Oh marvellous! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Alexander, it’s been delightful chatting with you and I hope you will come back and see us again sometime. Now I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready so shall we start dishing it up?
Please, and thank you so much for inviting me today! May your soups always be fulfilling to the soul!
Thankyou all of you for joining us today, I hope you will come back again next week and until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Oh and before I go I must take a moment to apologise for the absence of Max and Collin this week, apparently their participation in the de-flowering festival has resulted in their home-made-steam-powered-wagonette crashing into a farmer’s barn and setting the whole thing on fire. They are now walking home, keeping to the woods and ditches to avoid said irate farmer, and should hopefully be back in the parlour next week – in my opinion it serves them right for fraternising with wayward cultists but, you know how it is, boys will be boys…
Helping me this morning is Sara, creator of the marvellous larp and steampunk clothing at Citadel Costumes. Good morning Sara, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
Yes, I have my favourite homemade tomato and red pepper soup. I made it by softening a large, diced brown onion in a knob of butter. When soft, add two diced red bell peppers and several different types of sliced fresh tomatoes. My favourites are vine tomatoes and baby plums, but you can use any you like. Then add enough vegetable stock to cover the ingredients, a little salt and pepper and simmer until the tomatoes have turned into a pulp. Whilst you are waiting for that to happen put two sweet pointed peppers on a baking tray, and drizzle in a little oil, pop them in the oven at about 200 degrees, and roast them until soft and the skin is slightly blackened, drop them whole into the soup and remove from the heat. Once the soup is cooled, blend it in the pan until smooth… you can add a little single cream or natural yoghurt to make it creamier if you wish
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at some of your lovely hats and costumes, I see you have you brought some along to show us today!
You certainly have a wide range of costumes, what inspires or influences you when you sit down to create a new costume?
It depends really, if it’s a costume from my own imagination, it can be something as simple as seeing an image or texture, I then start to think about how to translate that into fabric, which then develops into a whole character costume…If it’s for a client, generally I build on key aspects of their brief, and add my own creative spin to it. I love a challenge, so I always try to add something to the design, which will push me outside my comfort zone. Whether that’s a challenging pattern cut, or a difficult dye job, I think it adds something special to the piece, a kind of exclusivity if you will.
Splendid! Do you usually have a particular character or setting in mind when you create each one?
Not always, but sometimes a whole costume will pop into my head; I’ll think “Sea Elf” and the whole thing will be there in colour and texture with accessories! Other times I’ll get inspired by a fabric, like Chinese Brocade and a kimono with a bustle will pop into my head! I’ll start to make the piece and a character will form around it, I’ll begin to visualise other aspects of the costume, the accessories, hairstyle, mannerisms etc.
(this must sound mad! Hehe)
No, no my dear, that does not sound mad at all, unless, as they say, ‘We’re all mad around here’ … but tell me, do you take part in live action role play yourself?
Yes, I’ve only been involved in it for a couple of years, but it’s an amazing hobby. I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and I love dressing up. The role play was challenging for me, I felt rather awkward the first few events I went to, but throwing yourself into the game and the character you’re portraying is the best way forward. It’s pure escapism for me, a way to get away from work/life stress and although I come home from events exhausted, in a way, I always feel recharged too
It sounds marvellous! You have a lovely range of costumes in your shop but if a customer wanted something special do you take custom orders?
Yes I’m happy to take commissions, I find some of my best work comes from other peoples briefs, even though I’m quite whimsical, I like having guidelines too, it helps me focus!
Oh lovely! Now I know I am just longing to get one of your lovely hats! Tell me, where can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?
Currently, I only have my Etsy store for online purchases, you can find that here:
I’m also on Facebook, where you can see what I’ve been up to, recent makes, upcoming trading events etc, that’s here:
And, if any of our discerning Steampunk friends attended The Chepstow Steampunk market, in south wales on the 22nd of april I was there too and may be again in the future.
Now that is a curious thing as I think some friends of ours were there as well! Now then, as the kettle is singing, the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang… which is the brew that inspires you more when you are creating, coffee or tea?
Oooh both really!, a good cup of coffee, with milk, is what gets me going in a morning, and a nice cup of tea in the afternoon to pick me up when I’m flagging!
Splendid, here you are then a nice cup of tea to usher in the afternoon!
Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Sara, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
By all means
Lovely, thankyou all for joining us in the soup kitchen today, and I will see you again next week with another splendid steampunk guest,
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Helping me this morning are the magnificent monster fighting duo, Miss Persephone Plumtartt and Mr. Ichabod Temperance. Good morning to you both, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Can I take your hats and offer you a cup of… oh, goodness me what on earth is that?
“Good morning, Miss Mrs. Baker, Ma’am, please do not be alarmed, she ain’t near as dangerous as she appears.”
“Not you, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am! I was talking bout this here contraption I’m lugging around. It’s a universal-trans-dimensio-temporal-type-o’grapher. I use this to communicate with the alternate dimension of an Earth in the far-future year of 2017.You ladies just wait until the condensors are charged and the vaccuum tubes get warmed up, then I’ll show you what she can do.”
“This may not be the appropriate time to engage this wonder of information transportation, eh hem? One is concerned at the unusual amount of errant electrical discharges, sir. Not only have the organic felines of the house been frightened away, but the clockwork cat has fled in fear of the dread device as well.”
“Oh my Goodness, I did not mean to scare the kitties! I can show off the temp-o-graph another time.”
Oh not to worry my dears, the cats are only after my secret stash of illegal cream and as for that dreadful clockwork contraption it is an awful piece of gutter wizardry! I really cannot stand it snooping about. So, now then, do have seat, how was your journey here from your own dimension?
“Boy, oh, boy, we sure ‘nough had us a humdinger of a trip, Miss Mrs. Baker, Ma’am! I bought a ‘build your own dirigible’ kit from an advertisement in the back of a Greater Britanicacaca Scientific Journal for Kids catalog. We made it here all the way from Irondale, Alabama, USA in it!”
“No, not quite, all the way, Mr. Temperance. Unfortunately, the aircraft did not survive the journey. Moreover, One maintains the craft was woefully under-sized and ridiculously impractical for such a trying voyage.”
“It looked a lot bigger in the catalog picture, Ma’am. I still think that we could have made it all the way if those Portuguese sky pirates had not gotten after us.”
“Perhaps, Mr. Temperance, nevertheless, I think my own prudent caution of packing an inflatable dingy in my bustle saved us from certain drowning when you wrecked our own vessel’s steerage whilst disabling our foes, eh hem?”
“I didn’t have no choice, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am! I didn’t have so much as a slingshot aboard to fight with!”
“With which to fight.”
“Nor that neither.”
“You lost my newest parasol, sir, during the engagement.”
“But I needed it to hook the rudder what sent our Portobellan Buccaneers into a nice, neat spiral. They didn’t like being upside down worth a flip. So to speak. I sure did hate crashing our little ship into the ocean. I’ll never see that $7.95 again. At least we ran into a friendly herd of psychic porpoises that pushed our safety raft all the way into Morecambe Bay. We hired us a pony cart to get us from Heysham to Lancaster. I think that mean little horsie over-charged us, though. I’m sure this is a lovely area, I’m just waiting for the fog to lift, to let me have a look. I know this is an invite to a soup kitchen, but this here pea soup fog is more substantial than what I have planned.”
Oh dear me, it sounds like you have had a dreadful journey! Thank goodness you are such a resourceful pair, it would not have done at all to let sky pirates get in the way of a nice cup of tea and a sit down. I can only apologise for the fog, I’m afraid at this time of year it is dreadful but Lord Ashton is working on a set of turbines to blow it further inland (along with the toxic gasses from his factories.) Now then, what is this soup you intend to share with the orphans? That’s not it there is it?!
“‘Kudzu Gumfoo’! This here is a real life magic soup! Its primary ingredient is the magic vine of Alabama, ‘Kudzu’. I just had a small root of it with me, but as soon as I planted it outside, it took ahold like it was happy to be here. We already have plenty to make soup for all the kiddies. Just remember, you have to keep eating it. If you don’t eat the Kudzu, the Kudzu will eat you.”
“Oh! My goodness! How … unique! I think I will just ask one of the street tuffs to wrestle it into submission so that we can cook it. Now then, while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we put the kettle on? Max and Collin have told me so much about your exploits battling monsters and such it all sounds thrilling but tell me, Miss Plumtartt, how did a nice genteel lady such as yourself become mixed up in such awful events ?
“Good morning my dear, I cannot say what a delight it is to be welcomed into your abode. My thanks to Max and Collins for sharing our adventure. As to my acquaintance with Mr. Temperance, I confess that a rather unlikely set of extraordinary circumstances brought him and me together. Mr. Temperance and I come from disparate backgrounds. I am of the family Plumtartt, famous throughout Britain for our production of capital ships. Technically, I am from Elderberry Pond, of Crimpenmestylenshire and of the famous Plumtartt Manour there, but in truth, I am the product of many and varied educational environs. My involvement with the unassuming Mr. Temperance, who bears an under-educated rural Alabama resume, borders on the edge of improbable to impossible, yet, somewhere, in that little fellow is an ineffable essence of charm that I find difficult to deny.”
Indeed? And you, Mr. Temperance, you are an inventor from America, is that right? How did you come to be involved with Miss Plumtartt?
“Oh, yes, Ma’am, Miss Mrs. Baker, Ma’am, I surely am an inventor. In the world that Miss Plumtartt and I inhabit, our Earth is visited by a comet, that apparently, did not visit any of the other multitude of universes out there. In the summer of 1869, the Earth passed through the tail of a comet. Well, what do you know, ever since then, there have been sprinklings of varied genius popping up all over the world. There have been all sorts of amazing advances in spring and steam-powered mechanicals. The advances in electrical products are shocking!”
“I couldn’t resistor, Ma’am. It is now the year 1877, and this here planet is just awash in fantastic contraptions. Things have gotten a little out of hand in the paranormal sections of our world too. It seems like Miss Plumtartt and I can’t swing a holiday possum without hitting some kind of devious monster bent on subjugating our unsuspecting planet. It ain’t like we go out hunting for monsters, they just sort of plop into our laps and it is up to us to set things right.”
It sounds like your adventures are far from over, where can we read more about your exciting battles to save the world?
“Golly Gee Whillikers, you can bet your pointy hat we have more adventures to share! We have ten of them published so far. Each themed, stand-alone adventure is a full length novel, yet is reasonably priced at .99. It is even free to read on KDP for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The universal-trans-dimensio-scripto-temporo-graph is all warmed up, so here is a link to my alternate dimension Amazon author’s pages”
Oh marvellous, I know that Max and Collin are very keen to follow along with the fun, which reminds me, Mr Temperance, I did promise Collin that I would ask you a question; I’m sure you have very little time for making goggles these days but Collin uses a specially made pair of gill-goggles to ‘breathe’ on land, sadly they are leaking and he wondered if you might be able to fix them before you go? (tinkers are few and far between in Lancaster you see, unless you count the Spoon Smith and the Time Keeper – who we are all a little afraid of…)
“I was wondering what that was on the floor. You know how it is with pets. I am relieved to know that it is just seawater. I can fix Collin up in a jiffy! I always have lots of tools and general repair supplies on hand. I will probably need to employ my micro-tools, and utilize my macro-goggles, but that’s why I carry that stuff around.”
Oh that is so kind of you Mr. Temperance, thankyou!
Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, my dears, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and learn about your adventures! I must say that soup smells…. interesting. I think it must be about ready now so shall we attempt to serve it up before it devours somebody?
“It has been our pleasure! Thank you for having us!”
“Hear, hear, I say, good show!”
“We better let them kids in. That Kudzu vine is coming on strong, and I don’t want them urchins to get ette before they can do the eating.”
“Mr. Temperance, I wish you to convey an unusual quality of your writings to our host and her guests. You see, little by little music has crept into the books. Before we depart, will you share a sample of your singing with Mrs. Baker, eh hem?”
“Oh, yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtart, Ma’am! You see, in this latest adventure, we are up against a ruthless gang of pirates! Strangely, though….
My pirates get to sing
I let their voices ring!
It might be wrong, to write in song,
but I don’t give a ding-a-ling!
Splendid Days, everybody!
~Icky and Persephone. 🙂 “
Oh how marvellous, come on children, join in the song! We do love a good sing song while we eat, and singing pirates bring back such happy memories of my time with the Chronic Agronauts..
thankyou all for joining us today and do come back again next week for more soup-based fun, until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Helping me this morning is author and Awenydd (or Spirit-Keeper) Elen Sentier. Good morning Elen, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Can I offer you a cup of tea?
Lapsang Souchong, please, straight, no milk. Unless you happen to have Bruichladdich single malt ???
I’m afraid I don’t touch alcohol Elen, it’s my husband Albert who is the drinker. Now here is your tea my dear…
Thankyou Mrs Baker, I wonder if we’re related? My aunt was Ida Baker who kept the sacred well in the village on the edge of Exmoor where I grew up; it was in the wall between her garden and ours, still there and still revered. She was a darling, and so was her magical gardener-husband, Uncle Perce, she gave me seedy cake and strawberries when I got in trouble at home when I was a wee kiddie J, and Uncle Perce taught me about talking with plants and bees.
They both sound marvellous Elen, you know I do think it’s possible we could be connected in some way, although I have never been to Exmore I’m afraid, it was my Mother’s job to guard Pendle before me, and I had never set foot outside it until the pirates came and kidnapped me…
BTW, I’m really sorry to hear about the treacle (and the sprats!). Just down the road from me is, I think, the only pub in the country called The Treacle Mine. Wish they could have done that with you, a much better idea z|a.
Oh we do have treacle mines at Sabden and Chobham, but you’re right it was a dreadful waste of confectionary, I do wish they had used some of the dreadful ‘standard issue tinned soup’ the government forces upon us all instead…
Oh yes, the soup for the orphans! … well, goodness me, there’s so many. When it’s the season, I just love tomato soup and it’s so simple to do. You need a good wallop of ripe tomatoes, the ones with that fabulous smell, a big bunch of fresh basil, and you can either use olive oil or good butter, butter gives it an extra sweetness. You need a good, heavy-bottomed pot to make it in.
Chop the basil really fine so all its scented oils are released. Chop the tomatoes small, and heat up the oil or butter, not boiling but good and hot. Take the pot off the heat, put half the chopped basil into it and swish it about to scent up the oil/butter, then add all the tomatoes and put back on the heat. Don’t have the heat up high or you’ll burn rather than cook. Keep stirring the mix as this helps the flavours to seep through. When the tomatoes look/taste/feel ready take the pot off the heat and allow it to sit for at at least an hour to steep further.
When you want to eat, heat up the pot again but don’t boil, keep stirring and watching, as soon as it’s ready pour it into heated bowls and Bob’s your uncle J. I like to eat it with some fresh sourdough bread and good unsalted butter, and maybe a bit of grated cheese … Yummmm !
Oh how delicious, there is nothing better than good homemade tomato soup (it knocks the socks of the tinned variety every time!) Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you have a seat here by the fire. I hope your journey to our dimension was a good one?
Not too bad at all, got a bit bumpy flying over the M6, the turbulence there can be frightful, damned near fell off me broom and the cat got sick! But we’re all fine now, that cuppa you gave me sorted things.
Oh dear, the poor cat, I’m glad he is feeling better now though. Elen it is so lovely to meet another woman who deals in spiritual matters, here in Ire it is absolutely forbidden and I have to do all my work in secret which is a dreadful strain. Now why don’t I put the kettle on and you can tell me a little more about the work that you do ?
Another cuppa would go down grand, and the cat would love a saucer of milk now, says his stomach can handle it. We, he and me, don’t have quite the same problems you seem to have up here, not down in the Welsh Marches. It’s a lovely twilight land, between two countries and between two worlds, where the Faer folk are very happy to come and play with me and the students. I always have some students to pass on the work to, the old ways, and it’s such a lovely spot for writing too.
It sounds wonderful. I have had the very great pleasure of reading some of your books, including your newest release; Merlin – past and future Wizard, oh is that a copy you have with you there?
Yes, indeed, would you like it? I thought you might so I brought one along. Hmm … Merlin … well he and I’ve been friends all my life. Dad it was who introduced us, Dad’d known him too, when I was nought but a baby, and I began to find out about him through the stories. Where I live now is one of the places he was born and lived, we have our own Merlin-story but here we call him Dyfrig (you say it Duvrigg) which means water-baby because of how he got born.
I had heard a little about this Merlin figure from your world and thought him to be a fascinating mythical character but your book goes beyond these myths to show us a Merlin who we can engage with within the context of our daily lives doesn’t it?
Well yes, he’s not an academic construct and certainly doesn’t fit into those boxes. He really does want to get known again, to make friends with as many people as want to know him because he really can, and will, help us through this enormous crisis the Earth is going through.
He wants to know people – when they want to know him. He comes as a friend, an older and more experienced friend who has walked the path far longer than any of us humans. But he comes as a guide not someone who expects either worship or rule-book following. He works with each of us in ways we can do best. All we need to do is ask him. I say “all” but I do know how hard that can be, because we’re no longer encouraged to believe and work with our intuition, nor are we taught how to know it from our personal wants and desires. That’s part of what we learn with Merlin.
It seems that Merlin is a figure who can guide and influence us no matter what age we are living in but are the old stories as important as the new?
Yes, indeed. Merlin is just what the book-title says – the once and future wizard. He has been with us here on Earth since time out of mind, and he will be as long as the Earth still orbits the Sun. And, it seems to me from my lifelong experience with him, that he was around in the universe long before the Earth was formed and will be still after she’s gone. That makes him always here, always available to help … whenever we ask. And the old stories are still as important as the new. Our old ways are what I call “and/and” rather than “either/or”, they’re inclusive not exclusive. We are our personal selves and, at the same time, we are our spirit selves, the two are not exclusive, they happen at the same time – we call it walking between worlds.
Everyone’s spirit-life is always evolving. Nothing is ever set in tablets of stone, it’s always growing and adapting to where and when we are at this instant, so new stories are needed to fit with who we are now. But the old stories still fit too – if you read them properly and don’t try to dumb them down into whatever your “normal-box” is. Stories are one of the very basic ways humans learn and pass on wisdom to each other, and always have. Recent research has shown that our stories – the ones they’ve worked with – go back at least to the Bronze Age, that’s maybe 5,000 years ago! The old stories show us how to be, how to behave, how things really are, and how to relate with otherworld, as well as how to travel there. But we, and our stories, are as riddling and contrary as Zen, if not more so. To get the point, understand them, you need to spend time with the stories learning how to feel into them rather than trying to translate them into what you already know. After all, what’s the point of doing that? !!!
Throughout the book this dynamic, engaging (at times quite seductive) spirit of Merlin urges us to take up that liminal space between past and present and truly live ‘in the moment’… that is a very big challenge isn’t it, especially with all the pressures and insecurities of modern life?
Chuckle! Yes, he can be very seductive! That way of living, engaging all the time with the liminal, is very challenging for many modern folk. We’re so heavily caught up in the shibboleths of how we should be, according to the adverts on TV, politics, political correctness and all that crap! And it’s so scary for most people to dare to break out. This is the first hurdle my students have to get themselves over, and they do it too but it can be like ripping your skin off, like a snake shedding its skin. And getting used to the fact (yes, fact!) that otherworld completely permeates your everyday world is a huge step, but it does, and the students discover this for themselves with my help. That’s really important too, I do Merlin’s job in little, at my own small level, because I’ve walked the path a bit longer than my students. You always need that, someone you can really get on with who’s been doing it longer than you. That’s what being apprentice is about.
The Merlin I felt as I read your book, Elen, seemed to be firmly planted in the modern man-made world, but at the same time you show us his continuing rootedness in nature and the history of the land, do you think it is important that Merlin is able to straddle these, sometimes so opposing, spaces?
Oh yes, he’s the threshold, the doorway, the place between that connects us across the worlds. And he’s in the here-n-now with us just as much as in the “past”. An example – he called one of my students on her mobile phone last autumn on the workshop! LOL, it was hairy for her but she got it, worked with it and grew herself enormously as a result. And it made me smile. We too often want to get into the cutesy fantasy-stuff rather than reality, and Merlin’s all about reality. He’s in every particle of our Earth’s body as well as being with us in our everyday modern world – and/and again. Try this ancient picture of the goddess/god, it’s on a gold brooch from the La Teine culture …
Do you get it? The one head is the other but turned upside-down! And/and yet again J. One interpretation of this is Vivien and Merlin as lady and lord, the pairs of opposites which make the whole. We’ve forgotten that. We’re taught to think that things are “opposing” when in reality they’re two sides of one coin. We need to change this attitude and Merlin will help us with that. Being a threshold is how he does it. Come to me he says, step through me, now look back and I’m still here but different, the same but different. It’s a bit like light which is both particles and waves at the same time!
Your book was such an enlightening read, Elen, and I really feel I could pick your brains all day about this subject but I know you must be off soon, you have a talk to prepare for in London is that correct?
I do indeed. I’m doing an illustrated talk for Earthstars Sacred Space, at Steiner House in London on 24th Feb, and need to get on it J. It’s about Merlin and his relevance for us today too. If you want to come here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/events/1839244072988715/
Oh marvellous, I shall certainly try to come along, even if I cannot do the dimension hop in person I will try to tune in with Max and Collin’s Spirit Radio, it picks up most things from your world. Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Elen, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
Yummm! Let me give you a hand …
Wonderful, thankyou. I hope you will all join me in the kitchen next week when Steampunk author Liz Hennessy will be dropping in to give me a hand and talk about her book Grogory’s Gadget. Until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Helping me this morning is Morrigan, creator of the amazing steampunk and cosplay accessories at Terrible Mischeif Studios. Good morning Morrigan, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
Why yes, of course I love potato soup the most at this time of year, it’s hearty and feeds a lot of your little urchins!
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3-4 cups of peeled and cubed potatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup chopped ham or turkey ham
- In a large stock pot add potatoes, celery, onion, chicken broth and parsley flakes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until vegetables become tender.
- In a separate bowl mix flour and milk. Once it is well blended, add to soup mixture and cook until soup becomes thick.
- Stir in ham and simmer to desired consistancy!
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at some of your stunning creations, have you brought some along to show us today?
Of course, here are just a few examples of my work I specialise in metal wings and medals for airship pirates and captains of every stripe, but I also occasionally make jewelry, cosplay props, and art when the mood strikes me.
Your steampunk creations really are wonderful, what inspires you when you sit down to create each one?
I adore the creativity of the world of steampunk, so I try to imagine what someone who is a pirate, or an imperial merchant, or a wild free as the breeze captain might actually do in such a world of mayhem and machines, and I use bits and shinies to try and create something that that character might really wear in their everyday life, and then try to never make two pieces exactly alike so they an authenticity to them as a part of unique costume. Of course putting on some of my favourite steampunk music from Professor Elemental, Abney Park, and Steampowered Giraffe really gets the creativity flowing!
Ah yes, my dear, I recognise some of those name as Max and Collin often have their Tesla Radio tuned in to your dimension when I visit The Parlour! Splendid! And where do you source all those amazing materials?
I try to use actual vintage clockworks and parts as much as possible, most of which I get from the Europe and also from a local clock repairman who has a shop two doors down from mine in Tacoma, which is a really lucky break for someone in my line of work! Most of my centrepieces are just interesting things I collect up on my adventures in craft shops, bead stores, and reclaimed recycling places both on and offline, so I like to think of myself as a true scavenger!
How marvellous, you know I do think it is so important for a woman to be resourceful, especially when living in a post apocalyptic dystopia. Tell me, do you take custom orders?
Most Definitely, I do try to find ways to make peoples experience with me a real positive interaction with a a fellow cosplayer rather than a faceless business, so I try to accommodate in any way I can!
Wonderful! Now then, you also specialise in cosplay photography, would you like to tell us a bit about that?
I do, have actually been using photography as an art medium for several years, and I am expanding to include it in my geeky sphere as well. Mostly because it seems that most professional photographers that are offering it are quite expensive, so I’m just trying to be a more affordable option! Most of what I do however is professional editing of personal and candid photos people have of their cosplays, and I offer that service at very affordable rates as well, as my way of supporting the cosplay community 🙂
That’s marvellous! And where else can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?
We have a small etsy shop and a small brick and mortar shop in downtown Tacoma, as we sometimes frequent local shows and conventions, the info on all of our adventures can be found at our website www.terriblemischifstudios.com
Now I also hear that you are known as Captain Piper, would that be an airship you are captain of and if so do you ever use your creations to help you on your steampunk adventures?
Yes, I am officially known as Captain Aurelia Piper, I have a small independent trade ship the Mischief which I pilot around and sell my goodies, I call it my little gypsy ship! Our little shop in Tacoma is actually decorated as a small airship to represent her , and I usually dress as Captain Piper for events, and of course I use my own goodies and props for my cosplays.
And finally, the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang… which is the brew that inspires you more when you are creating, coffee or tea?
Quite important, surely, it is tea of course. I prefer strong oriental spiced black teas myself, they keep me awake and sturdy at the helm on those long nights keeping guard against airship pirates!
Of course! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Morrigan, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and see all your beautiful creations! 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?
Of course, thank you so much for the opportunity to meet and learn from a magical creature such as, and to share my story, I do hope we can get together again soon!
Certainly! It would be a pleasure to see you again my dear, now we really must give the orphans their soup before The Good Folk start their patrol (if they find us serving home cooked soup instead of the regulation issue tinned variety, they will have our heads!) Thankyou all for joining us today and please come back next week when Nimue and Tom Brown, creators of Hopeless, Maine, will be stopping by with some rather sinister smelling stew to share with us, so, until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!
Good morning! Albert Baker here, did you want some soup? You did? Well that’s fortunate isn’t it as this is a soup kitchen and… hic…and today I’m serving up some delicious Polish Wild Mushroom Soup from Ren Behan, click on the picture to see the rercipe…
and while that is simmering away I shall just pull out my knitting bag and do a spot of crochet. Today I am going to share with you a treasure trove of Whovian delights from Terry Matz at In The Loop Knitting
Right now, I must get on and serve this soup, see you again next week I expect, goodness me this Wizmas is dragging on isn’t it? Good day….hic…
Good morning! Albert Baker here, did you want some soup? You did? Well that’s fortunate isn’t it as this is a soup kitchen and… hic…and today I’m serving up some mouthwatering Moroccan butternut and goats cheese soup from Half Baked Harvest..
and while that is simmering away I shall just pull out my knitting bag and do a spot of crochet. Today I am going to try this marvellous Death Star cushion from Popsdemilk
Right now, I must get on and serve this soup, see you again next week I expect, good day….hic…
Good morning! Albert Baker here, did you want some soup? You did? Well that’s fortunate isn’t it as this is a soup kitchen and… hic…and today I’m serving up some deliciously creamy Chestnut soup from Willow at http://www.willcookforfriends.com
And while that is simmering away I think I’ll pull out my knitting bag… What’s that? You think a gentleman cannot indulge in a little crochet or tatting in his spare time? What century are you living in?!
Well today I am crocheting this lovely little octopus from Kali at The Friendly Red Fox to add to my stack of Wizmas presents for the little street urchins who come here to the soup kitchen…
Right now, I must get on and serve this soup, see you again next week I expect, good day….hic…