Tag Archives: dieselpunk

Poe Launch Update

Merely This and Nothing More launched successfully. It’s been an exciting few days but the ride is not over yet!

Poe Launch Party Banner

We’re getting geared up for our online release party.  Starting on June 4th at 7:00 a.m. (PDT) some very talented authors, editors, and designers will be gathering to meet readers, play games, and discuss the anthology.  The Ultimate Release Festival may be an online event, but you can score some real, hold-in-your-hand prizes.  We’ll have games and giveaways throughout the two day event.

Why two days? Because we have a lot to celebrate!

Lia and Nils in the Pavilion Gardens.
Lia and Nils in the Pavilion Gardens.
Two members, Nils Nisse Visser and Lia Rees, put together our first ever face-to-face book launch at The Yellow Book, a steampunk pub in Brighton.
In addition to selling several copies, the festivities were attended by Peter Fawn, founder of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Prague. He not only purchased a copy for himself, but also one for Susan Tane of the Baltimore Poe Society.  We are beyond excited that copies of Merely This and a poster designed by Lia Rees will be added to two of the largest Poe memorabilia collections in the world.
Copes of Poe Goes Punk at the UK Launch.
Copes of Poe Goes Punk at the UK Launch.

“The Poe Society of Prague has at it’s core, over 15,000 items relating to Mr. Poe, including first editions and rare articles, but the main part of the collection focuses on the influences that Poe has had across all aspects of 20th Century popular culture.” (Edgar Allan Poe Society of Prague homepage)

Source: edgarapoe.com
Source: edgarapoe.com
That’s not all! In the days following the release, several reviews from readers appeared on Amazon and Goodreads.  From the UK to Spokane (and several stops in between), copies of Poe Goes Punk are finding homes. Check out some photos of some of our contributors, the book, and some Poe swag.
Author Holly Gonzalez in full decopunk cosplay and signing copies of Poe Goes Punk at a convention.
Author Holly Gonzalez in full decopunk cosplay and signing copies of Poe Goes Punk at a convention.

 

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Cards advertising the launch passed out by Carol Gyzander at a steampunk event.
Loaded onto a Kindle, in good company.
Loaded onto AR DeClerk’s Kindle, in good company.

 

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Andrea Hintz clings to her copy.

 

Author Virginia Stark's dieselpunk "King Pest" was inspired by Poe tale of the same name.
Author Virginia Stark’s dieselpunk “King Pest” was inspired by Poe tale of the same name.
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Friday Night Interviews: William J. Jackson

We have author William J. Jackson with us for this week’s Friday Night Interviews.  William, who has two books out, writes alternative history, punk genres, and more. Read on to see his insights on his take on how people view history and what makes attracts people to alternative history stories.

William J. Jackson author photo
Author William J. Jackson

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in southern Delaware and moved to South Jersey as a kid. In both places I grew to love nature, quiet, imagination and reading. Also, I may or may not be a robot.

What is your life like when you aren’t writing?

I drive for a living for Lyft, birdwatch, read, ingest comics, and try to understand what’s going on in the world. That last one…zoiks!

How did your life as a writer begin?

I began typing at three, and books got me wanting to write. Tabletop RPGs in ninth grade opened the door. From there I learned what works, what doesn’t, and later formed the basis of the Legacy Universe (The Rail Legacy).

Do you have a favorite genre to read or write?

Science fiction, but that typically ends up as a Star Trek novel. Lately it’s leaned toward the punks and the odd cozy mystery.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the people that influence you the most?

So, dead people. HG Wells, silent film stars. Seeing old movies and things were more interesting than anything in the present to me. Only when it mothballs to the past do I like it.

Have you always been interested in punk fiction or is this a recent development in your life?

Before they had names I loved mashing genres. Let’s keep in mind the original punks were pulps and superhero comics, which freely used other genres to tell tales.

What it is about the punk genres that inspires you as a creative?

The ability to discuss basic human issues, technology and the things of the past people would rather avoid. If you take a gander at how people view history, it’s all nostalgia or all horror. Really it’s both, so I need to showcase it. Steampunk especially. As fun as it is, many treat it as if only tea and attire ever mattered. We can use punks to not only cry ‘Gee Whiz!’ at the world’s imagined, but to learn from history, imbibe its lessons and use it to show us how to light the future.

The Unsafe Occupant book cover
Released Nov 2015

Of all the various *punk genres and subgenres, which one would you like to live?

Ah…as an asthmatic with acute allergies, and being multiracial…let’s go with cyberpunk. Sucks? Yeah. But they have antihistamines and AC. There’s a real adventuresome outlook lol.

2015 was a busy year for you–two books published just a few months apart! Would you tell us a bit about them and that process?

Both are in the Legacy Universe, where an alien element mutated a Missouri city, but each book is set forty years apart. An Unsubstantiated Chamber is in that city, the Rail, in 1886, and begins to tell the tale of the Rail’s darkest days. Anybody in history class ever get told about the Rail from 1884 to 1905? Look at it that way, as history and you have dusted off a time confessing what happened in those days after Heroes were slain by the government. The other tale, Perilous Ping, is a short story in Asia. The Sky War has come, and far from the Rail a new hero will be made, very reluctantly. I like writing things in different orders, not unlike George Lucas starting Star Wars in the middle of things. As time passes I get to fill in the historical gaps.

An Unsubstantiated Chamber book cover
Released July 2015

Your stories fuse steampunk and superheroics. What inspired this blend of genres?

Loving superhero comics and understanding they inspire. It did for me as a kid looking for role models in a world where men primarily pursue cash and pleasure. Superheroes, done well, teach hope, law, right, camaraderie and bravery. But while searching for the next RPG story to run, I came up blank wanting to generate my own hero universe, but divergent from Marvel and DC. A dream as simple as a steam locomotive passing by me clinched it. Victorian Justice Society! Then it hit me, as many things in comics bugged me (no one stays dead, retconning). Why not make time pass, and show how the legacy of the first Heroes not only changes things, but how it rises and falls.

You often urge readers to know their alternate history. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, can you give us the William J. Jackson definition of “alternate history”?

I’m glad you asked, because I watch a movie, right? I exit the theater, and hear kids talking about say, Star Wars. They begin comparing scenes in the film with actual events, what they know of history, etc. But! Come to the average Joe with a direct history question and the eyes roll. People react like they’ve been transported back to high school exam time. Humans relate better, in a way, to heavy subjects indirectly. Know alt just, and either way, you suck up some history. Then, the person is more open to real history.

What are the challenges of writing alternative history?

Research. Also, research! It takes time from writing, so often it is as frustrating as it is instructive.

You’re active on Wattpad. What has your experience been like?

Great! I never thought Down Jersey Drive-shaft would get over 600+ eyes on it thus far. And as my first dieselpunk story I worried how that community would view it. For those who read it by the way, it’s about to go down! Just saying…

How did you end up getting involved with the Writerpunk group and Writerpunk Press?

The Duchess of Deco, Dame of Diesel, Holly Gonzalez! She pointed the way, and I’m grateful getting a nod from a great writer like her to join Writerpunk.

What anthology are you helping with or hoping to help with? What inspired you to work on this specific project?

Writerpunk is doing one taking punk versions of classic literature. I just joined up when word went out, AND just finished Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Boom. Talk about timing. My tale will be the atompunk version, starting similar, then taking a left turn at kaiju-infested Albuquerque. Also, Scribblers Den is on its second anthology, Den of Antiquity, the connective tissue being short stories contain a Den, inn, etc. Jack Tyler. Scribblers Den, thesteampunkempire.com. Sign up, y’all. We discuss it all there, especially the craft.

What you have taken away from working with Writerpunk Press and the Writerpunk Facebook group?

A welcoming invite first off, and willing to take everyone’s ideas when questions are posted. I like that. But then, artists are more democratic than other folks.

Do you have anything else you want to tell our adoring public or add to this interview in any way?

Read indie. Review indie. Tell your friends about punk genres, indie authors. Drop info at small bookstores.

William J. Jackson is a dreamer, writer and fine purveyor of alternate worlds. He waxes and wanes between realities, bringing back tales of hope and daring for the bored, gray masses. Swing by Twitter, Facebook, or his blog to find out more about his work.

 

Friday Night Interviews: Virginia Carraway Stark

This Friday Night Inteview features a woman of many talents: Virginia Carraway Stark! Getting an early start on writing, Virginia has had a gift for communication, oration and storytelling from an early age. Over the years she has developed this into a wide range of products from screenplays to novels to articles to blogging to travel journalism. She has been an honorable mention at Cannes Film Festival for her screenplay, “Blind Eye” and was nominated for an Aurora Award.

Virginia took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with us about punk literature, Starklight Press, what inspires her creativity.

 

Virginia Carraway Stark

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My friends call me ‘Adventure Girl’. I am extremely adventure prone and have been learned to accept that the curse of an interesting life is upon me. I graduated from high school and emancipated myself from my family when I was 16. I dropped out of some of the best universities in Canada to travel the world. While traveling I continued to write. I made some money with writing travel blogs and articles but mostly I just wrote.

I have been run over by a speeding taxi and walked away. The year before that I nearly died from blood loss and had emergency surgery. I had a really tough childhood which if you’re interested in you can find at www.ihavememory.wordpress.com  I am an outgoing, extroverted person and I love to take on new projects (and finish them), I love working with people and I really like not getting run over by taxis.

If you’re familiar with the ’16 personality types’ I’m a strong ENFJ (If you don’t know about it Google it, it’s so accurate it’s freaky). ENFJ’s are the protagonists and this is a good way to sum me up. I am loyal and strong willed and I stand up for myself and my friends. I believe in finding the good in everything and try to learn from the curve balls that the Universe seems to enjoy throwing in my direction.

What road did you walk to become a writer?

I was an imaginative child with a lot of imaginary friends and I saw the world through eyes that saw magic and wonder everywhere. I have never grown past that. I still find wonder in everything and I still have imaginary friends. I tell people stories, especially my friends who love to hear about the things I come up with. Sometimes when a friend of mine has been sad they have curled up on my lap and said, ‘Could you tell me a story?’. Of course I comply!

One of my friends told one of her friends about my stories and he happened to be a movie producer. He asked me to write some of my stories into screenplays. I refused on the basis that I had no clue how to write a screenplay but he persisted and offered to help me out with the things I didn’t understand. I agreed and spent the afternoon curled up at the library with a pad of paper and a book on ‘how to write screenplays’. The first screenplay I wrote for him he pitched to someone who loved the aspects of Asian mysticism I had put into it and he offered up gobs of cash to the producer. After that Rowdy Roddy Piper and Nick Mancuso and helicopters and extra explosions were added. The movie was called, ‘Blind Eye‘ and it went on to the Cannes film festival where it made a good impression. A new investor asked me to write ‘The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens‘ which starred Rowdy Roddy Piper again, this time as a magician.

I decided I really preferred plain old writing to screenplays and switched to writing. I was nominated for an Aurora Award (The Toadstools of Rire, a short story in another person’s universe was involved in that).

My husband and I had witnessed some unfortunate writers lose their worlds and their rights to their characters. My husband wanted to protect my writing as well as his own and the writing of others and so he decided to start Starklight Press as a way to share worlds, writing and to generally promote while keeping writing safe for the authors who wrote it.

This lead to a huge blossoming of writing and publishing, not just with Starklight but with many other presses as well. I also wrote a lot of scientific articles that took medical papers and broke it down so lay people could understand it as well as about scientific breakthroughs and other factual articles. I worked for the National Paranormal Society for several years and started a Journal of the Paranormal called Outermost that has received far more publicity then I intended from my humble ideas for a start to it.

I have a lot of publications and books out and am working on many more projects at this time. I try to keep a cohesive listing of these on my ‘about me‘ part of my website www.virginiastark.wordpress.com because there are a lot of them!

chicksoup for the soul with author

Have you always been interested in punk fiction or is this a recent development in your life?

Writing punk fiction is pretty new to me. My first actual Steampunk was written for a Christmas Starklight Anthology featuring Steampunk and my second one was my “King Pest” from Writerpunk Press. I love it! I am currently working on ‘Anne of Black Fables’, an urban punk version of the classic, ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and a cyberpunk version of Othello for next year’s Shakespeare anthology from Writerpunk Press.

How did you end up getting involved with the Writerpunk group and Writerpunk Press?

Apparently I caught someone’s eye at Writerpunk Press. I received a private message from Lia Rees who said she had read one of my interviews and thought I would be great to work on the Punked Poe Project. I jumped in with both feet and had a blast and now it keeps going!

What anthology are you helping with or hoping to help with?

Poe, Classics and hopefully the next Shakespeare anthology. Othello is a cyborg in my version and Iago is one of those hacker types who hangs out on 4chan and other underworld creep places. I feel this clarifies his motives in subverting Othello. Most of the criticism of the play circulated on Iago’s apparent lack of morals in corrupting Othello but I felt putting Iago into the context of a hacker would make him explicable to most people because there are so many hackers who just enjoy mayhem for mayhem’s sake.

What inspired you to work on this specific project?

King Pest inspired me to write in the Diesel Punk genre because it fit the post war component of Diesel Punk and the Spanish Flu that decimated the world compared well to the world of plague depicted in King Pest.

Star Trek Cosplay
Star Trek Cosplay

What it is about the punk genre that inspires you as a creative?

I like mind puzzles and moving things into worlds that are reminiscent of here but in a dimension slightly off is a fun way to let my brain play.
For example, in Anne of Black Fables I had to think: Why would people in an urban setting be upset about Anne for being a girl and being different. I had a good think about things and decided that in the modern era and decided that a modern Anne would probably be diagnosed with Asberger’s or Autism (they’ve been combined into one now in the new DSM-5).

It’s things like that and finding a translation for things that really excites my creativity. What if Othello had been a Cyborg? Let’s find out…

Of all the various *punk genres and subgenres, which one would you like to live?

This is a really hard question to answer. I think Urban Punk but the thing about the punk worlds is that they aren’t by and large very nice places. Part of the punk aspect is that life isn’t optimum and people are set apart from the mainstream. A lot of punk is about chaos and anarchy. Punk is a genre I work with that I wouldn’t necessarily like to live there but it’s cool from a safe distance.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the people that influence you the most?

My husband is a HUGE influence on me. Whenever I have a problem that I’m trying to figure out I always go to him first to try to talk the problem out. We’ve also done a lot of collaborating on worlds and writing and he makes my mind blossom.

I love other writers to bounce ideas off of and the right internet writing groups can bring out the best of my creativity while other groups are really suppressive.

I’ve always been a reader. I grew up reading Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, Lewis Carroll and by the time I was about to move into elementary school I was into Stephen King and later a dash of Clive Barker. Piers Anthony, Mercedes Lackey, Andre Norton, Tanith Lee…

God, so many good authors out there and I learned so much from all of them!

better tales from space pic with author

Do you have a set routine when you work?

Nope. I prefer to sit in my favorite chair with my laptop and a nice drink and a view outside of the birds who come to visit the bird feeder. BUT that isn’t my set routine by any stretch. I’ve written whole scenes that have suddenly come to me on my iPhone notepad function. I write on napkins and notepads, ANYTHING that will hold up to pen or pencil can fall victim to my writing.

I worked at Starbucks for awhile and between making lattes I used receipt paper to write on. I was so good that I could make a latte with one hand while still jotting notes with my other. I’ve used my hand or arm in a few rare cases but yeah, anything will do when it strikes.

What is your favorite genre to read/write?

I like the supernatural/paranormal/alternate dimensions or worlds, pretty much anything out of the ordinary. I have a tendency to include a bit of horror and writing in a strictly mundane world as part of a collaborative was one of the hardest challenges I had ever written. I also like science fiction. I generally put it all under the umbrella of ‘Speculative Fiction’ and let people wonder what that means, or rather speculate on what that means bwahahaha!

You are the editor in chief and “wearer of many hats” at StarkLight Press. Could you tell us a bit about StarkLight and your role(s) there?

I guess I’m a bit of a talent scout. If I see someone I like the look of I will often approach them to get involved in a short story event or something else. I read the stories and make sure they make sense. That’s my main editorial job. We have a separate line editor, Sharon Flood who is our wonder woman. I have a good eye for finding holes in plots and asking why something was or wasn’t included.

I often handle the co-ordination of projects and arrange them, plot them out and pick a crew to work on them. I also do a lot of public relations and promotions. I have a passion for writing and at Starklight that translates into ‘doing all the stuff that needs to be done’. Sometimes that’s communicating with personalities, writing letters to ask well known authors to write forewords for our books or whatever pops into my mind as a good idea at the time. I have a lot of energy.

Cover of Hearts Asunder, a StarkLight publication
Cover of Hearts Asunder, a StarkLight publication

 

Does StarkLight have any new projects on the horizon?

So many new projects! Starklight Volume 4 is set to come out this month and then we will be accepting submissions for Starklight 5. We have six different collaborative works coming out, new novels, new anthologies (the next one is Shamrocks, Saints and Standing Stones which was an invitation only anthology for writers we’ve worked with and had fun with in the past).

There is always something new in the works and endless possibilities for fun if you are an author who works well with others and doesn’t take yourself too seriously. Pretentious writers aren’t really up our alley. We like people who are real in their writing and reject people who are unfriendly, unwilling to take constructive criticism or open their minds to new ideas.

What you have taken away from working with Writerpunk Press and the Writerpunk Facebook group?

This is one of the groups that I love. The people in it are fun and supportive of each other. I’ve learned a lot about the various genres of punk but I still have a lot more to learn. The premise of re-doing the classics like Shakespeare, Poe, etc was a really cool one and I love the concept–got my brain wheels turning!

Do you have anything else you want to tell our adoring public or add to this interview in any way?

Just, be real. Actually do the writing, don’t just talk about writing endlessly. Don’t be boring. There are 7 billion people on this planet. In theory each one has a story to tell so you’ve got to be exceptional to get my attention. You do this by not being a sheep. Be strong. Stand up for yourself and your writing and don’t let people bully you into being ‘normal’. Don’t be awful but and stand up for yourself in a reasonable way but don’t ever let people criticize you for your passion and don’t let them curb your energy because you aren’t fitting the mold.

Stories that fit the mold are the worst and writers who aspire to that frankly make me gag. Be yourself and believe that you’re one in seven billion who is worth sharing your voice and speak loud, strong and clear.

Virginia definitely speaks loud, strong, and clear! Virginia works with other writers, artists and poets to hone her talents and to offer encouragement and insight to others.  You can catch up with her on Facebook or  Twitter. Be sure to grab a copy of Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk on May 31st to read her dieselpunk story “King Pest”. </shameless plug>

 

Reviewers Go Punk: The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Science fiction and fantasy author Voss Foster is here to tell us about a young adult series filled with interesting creatures, a wonderful cast, and plenty of bio- and dieselpunk stuff.  Read on to hear his thoughts on The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

Leviathan Trilogy
The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
Reviewed by Voss Foster

I have a confession to make: I read books for kids. I know, shocker. Not just the super popular stuff like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games you need to stay culturally relevant, either. We won’t go into my full reading history, but I want to talk about one series. One that really grabbed me, and one that’s just dripping with punk-ish goodness: The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

The Good: It’s hard to pinpoint just one good thing about this series. I know, I know, that’s not terribly helpful. I just wanted to mention it. It’s not often I run across a series that I love as wholeheartedly as I did with these books, and this time without the benefit of any nostalgia from my childhood. For starters, with these books, you get two punks for the price of one! Dieselpunk and Biopunk are both strong influences, representing the two sides of World War I. The Clankers use technology for fighting and easing the difficulties of life, whereas the Darwinists utilize fabricated creatures designed for one purpose or another.

That includes the series namesake, the Leviathan itself. A massive air-whale that can match speed with the fastest Zeppelins in the sky. It’s where we spend most of our time during the series, and we see the other fabricated critters that live there. Hydrogen-sniffers to find leaks, flechette bats that… umm… drop the metal spikes they’ve eaten on the enemy, huge hawks to combat the Clanker ships, and the incredible messenger lizards that can precisely mimic human speech.

The characters are just as wonderful as the worldbuilding, too. Our two protagonists are about as different as it gets. Aleksander, the son of Archduke Ferdinand, and Deryn, a Scottish girl who disguises herself as a young man to get into the Air Service. While she proves herself and ends up on the prestigious Leviathan as a midshipman, Aleksander is just trying to survive and keep moving so he doesn’t get attacked the same way his parents did. The travails of the royal life, I guess. Surprise surprise, her secret doesn’t get kept forever. But it does make it through most of the trilogy intact, whichis a nice change of pace.

There are a slew of side-characters as well, including Nikola Tesla himself, but by far my favorite is Dr. Nora Barlow. The head keeper of the London Zoo (which has a lot more significance in this world, trust me), a renowned creature-fabricator, and Charles Darwin’s granddaughter. She’s your classic mysterious character, far too perceptive for the good of the other characters, and more powerful than her position with the Zoological Society would suggest. She’s the first to be suspicious of Deryn, and the first to figure out who Aleksander actually is.

There’s an awful lot more good, so much I can’t properly cover it, but I’m going to move on to the less than wonderful parts. Just trust me that this is a series worth reading.

The Bad: As tends to happen with books for younger audiences, things are a little different than they would be in fiction for adults. Given the situation they’re in—running for their lives, international spying, etc—the language is a little pleasant at times. But that’s not the biggest stumbling block for me. It’s the punches pulled. Specifically, the romantic punch. There’s a young, budding love between Deryn and Aleksander. And it drags on and on and on. Far longer than it realistically should have. The reader knows they’re bound to get together about halfway through the trilogy, but the characters don’t even get close to it until near the end. It’s aggravating, to say the least.

And while we’re talking endings

The Ugly: Oh, the ending. Now, it’s not bad. If it was, I would have used it in the “Bad” section up above. But it is ugly. It’s blocky and lacks the level of satisfaction I want for a three book commitment. Everything wraps up just a little too nicely, and a little too quickly. One second, the whole things is falling apart, and what seems like the very next second, everything’s taken care of. A huge looming problem is just brushed away instead of handled and, just like with the romance, it’s aggravating. But it certainly doesn’t ruin the books. Not in any sense of the word. It would take a lot more than a bit of an unfortunate ending to do that. I give these books a glowing recommendation, especially if you’re a fan of dieselpunk and/or biopunk. Not the most common punk-genres, so seeing them so well-represented is wonderful.

Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert, where he writes science fiction and fantasy from inside a single-wide trailer. He is the author of the Evenstad Media Presents series, The King Jester Trilogy, The Mountains of Good Fortune, and the Immortal Whispers Series. When he can be pried away from his keyboard, he can be found singing, practicing photography, cooking, and belly dancing, though rarely all at the same time.

Somehow, between his writing, singing, photography, cooking, and dancing, Voss still has time to connect with fans and he’d love to hear from you.  You can catch up with him on his website, Facebook, or Twitter. Be sure to swing by Amazon and check out his work.