Friday, September 30, 2011

Steam-Powered II Roundtable! Jeannelle Fereira

Jeannelle Fereira has been published most recently in Not One Of Us #44 and Stone Telling #4, and wrote “A Thousand Mills Lofts Gray” in this anthology.

A two-sentence summary: 
Polly Clarke can buy anything she wants; Rachel Isaacson must work for everything she gets. The abstracts—optimism, hope, romance—they have to create for themselves.

How did your characters come to be? 
Rachel and Polly’s names—and the names of Rachel's parents and siblings, and their neighborhood—came from a 1910 census. I thought about Rachel first: what kind of young woman would live in this building, with her parents and younger siblings, unmarried at about 23? I was fairly sure what sort of job she would have and how she would fill her scant leisure time; then I just needed a love interest who was a near-polar opposite.

Why this setting? 
1910 in New York had very clearly delineated haves and have-nots. Introducing subtly advanced tech to the time period let me play with class issues, immigration, workers' rights, and extremely intricate costuming. 

You’re in an antho of lesbian steampunk stories. Obviously you are writing about lesbians. How does lesbianism fit in your setting? 
Well, Polly Clarke is from Boston, home of the Boston Marriage! And the lower east side of New York was a strange combination of tradition-bound immigrants with tightly stratified paths in life, and the “anything goes!” world of the populist Yiddish-language theatres. Both of my main characters have been exposed to underground gay culture, and Polly, who’s older, has had a long-term relationship.

What was the funnest, or most hair-tearingly frustrating thing about writing this story? 
The most fun/challenging aspect was deciding what kind of tech would find a home in what parts of Steampunk New York. Everything comes to New York first, right? But what advancements are experienced by a community who can’t really afford them, even when the innovations are taking center stage a few blocks away?

(If ya'll didn't know what a Boston Marriage was, I didn't either until I read her answers and looked it up. The more you know! See, steampunk can be so educational!)

(Don't forget to pre-order!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Steam-Powered II Roundtable! Stephanie Lai

Stephanie Lai is one of my fellow Malaysians, which kind of psyches me out! In this anthology, she wrote “One Last Interruption Before We Begin.” You can find Stephanie on Dreamwidth or on Tumblr.

A two-sentence summary: 
In post-Merdeka Malaysia, Shu Ping bustles through her life, drawn to a life of adventure but unsure if it’s what she really wants.

How did your characters come to be? 
Shu Ping came first, because I love turning points and Chinese-Malaysian characters. Everyone else came after, a natural flow of people she might have known.

Why this setting? 
I first created this universe in my short story The Last Rickshaw. Malaysian steampunk (and South East Asian steampunk in general) is not super common, and once I encountered it, I was hooked. I love expanding this universe, and every story is like a love letter to the island of Penang. It is a setting I enjoy revisiting.

You’re in an antho of lesbian steampunk stories. Obviously you are writing about lesbians. How does lesbianism fit in your setting? 
Shu Ping herself feels a need to hide her lesbianism, a reflection of older laws and colonial attitudes flowing through the setting. In a way, her story is one of working out which bits of herself she can put forward, and how she chooses to do so is somewhat political, too.

What was the funnest, or most hair-tearingly frustrating thing in writing your piece? 
I loved it all, for reals. My favourite bit was the creation of the MR, a made up building functioning as a stand-in for the building I really wanted to lovingly describe to the world, but which wasn't built until decades after my story was set. I hope other Malaysians will be able to guess the building.

As a friendly reminder, Steam-Powered II comes out October 26th! Getcher pre-orders thru JoSelle Vanderhooft!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Steam-Powered II Roundtable! Sean Holland

First writer in this series is Sean Holland. He runs the Sea of Stars resource site, an RPG setting which you can find out all about here. His story is “Playing Chess in New Persepolis.”

A two-sentence summary: A young and now broke mechaniker enters her mechanical chess set in the yearly competition hosted by the Persian Shah.  There she finds that chess is only one of the games being played.

How did your characters come to be? 
I wanted a Dutch main character, and so she is.  The supporting cast just sort of appeared, mostly a microcosm of Europe in this reality with a few characters from the Americas and Asia.

Why this particular setting? 
It really just sort of fell out of my head, I needed a story quickly and this is what came out.  Persia/Iran is one of those places that has always been important in the world but often ignored in the West, though, sadly, it is mostly a backdrop to the story.

You’re in an antho of lesbian steampunk stories. Obviously you are writing about lesbians. How does lesbianism fit in your setting? 
Skilled mechaniker are rare and valuable so are given some leeway, but period mores still dominate.

What was the funnest, or hair-tearingly frustrating thing about the writing process? 
Realizing at the end of writing and re-writing the story and multiple revisions, that the main character’s first name is never mentioned.

A random ramble? 
JoSelle keep pushing me to add more and more politics to the story, so now I have a twisting little political map of that world floating around in my head.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Steam-Powered II Roundtable! Editor JoSelle Vanderhooft

So! Remember when I said I'd start a series of Steam-Powered II writers answering a set of questions each about their stories? I thought it would be a fine idea to start this off with the fabulous editor herself, JoSelle Vanderhooft, answering a few questions on this series in general:

So tell us about your feelings for this anthology!

This is such a strong and diverse collection of steampunk stories, with tales set in India, Malaysia, Turkey, China, Persia, Africa, and all over the United States. I'm deeply honored to have been able to assemble it.

So why, specifically, lesbians?

The obvious answer is that I’m a bisexual who is oriented almost entirely towards women--a 5 on the Kinsey Scale, if anyone wants me to be more specific. I love writing and reading about lesbian and bisexual women, and this interest informs my editing. But obvious answers are usually boring and not entirely accurate.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Steam-Powered II Roundtable!

It starts tomorrow! I just wanted to warn ya'll. Over the next few weeks, every two days there will be a new author interview, everybody answering pretty much the same questions. You can totally ask the authors any question you like in comments (please remember comment moderation is turned on after 7 days) as long as you are Not-An-Asshole-and/or-Creepy. You can leave squeez and comments, you can link at will, and you can also repost content, so long as you link back to the author in some form (posts will have links to author websites).

I hope ya'll enjoy the posts, and will look forward to your further questions and comments!  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Steampunk Postcolonialist Out Of School!

Hallo readers! All three of you who are still with me, that is. 

Guess what! I've finished my M.A. Major Research Project! The final product is a cool 17,000 word thingum, entitled "Towards Chromatic Chronologies: Using the Steampunk Aesthetic for Postcolonial Purposes" in which I tear apart S.M. Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers (I got a lotta mileage outta that one), and to some extent Cherie Priest's Dreadnought, analyze the shit out of Karin Lowachee's Gaslight Dogs, and tease out the awesome of N.K. Jemisin's "The Effluent Engine" all in the name of getting a degree. I handed this in on the 15th, and since then, I've read and finished 3 books, written a poem, and attempted arranging my apartment into some form of livable space. 

So! That means since I am currently gainfully unemployed, it is back to business blogging about postcolonialism and steampunk, while I scribble up application forms for PhD programs (anybody want to rec me schools, I'd be much obliged), write new fiction, study for the GREs, and generally figure out what to do for the next year or so. 

Within the next few weeks months you can expect the following:

- Steam-Powered II authors answering a set of questions I posed to them, one by one, day by day, after's Steampunk Week, and ya'll can mosey in and ask them more questions if you so please;

- a review of Tobias Buckell's Crystal Rain. I am not convinced it is steampunk, but I am convinced it is an awesome book with all the cultural specificity that steampunk ought to have;

- a recap and review of Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy, because I just got GOLIATH today after much gnashing of teeth since everybody else and their dog seemed to have it;

- further gnashing of teeth at not being able to attend TGNESE, since everybody and their dog seems to have attended it;

- interviews with various steampunks of colour of my acquaintance. If you are / know a steampunk of colour who would like to be interviewed about your radical awesome POCness in steampunk, feel free to get in touch;

- con reports (I appear to be attending SteamCon, and perhaps TeslaCon. If you'd like me to appear at yours, you know the drill);

AND various rants and raves and thinky thoughts I've been having for the last few months with just no motivation / time to write them down. Get prepped; they're angry as all get-out. 

It's good to be back, Internet!