Introducing Sante Mazzei of Sìon, The first Italian Steampunk graphic novel

banner-sponsorizzazioneI’m as big a fan of Victorian England as the next person but one thing I’ve been really looking forward to since I started this blog is the chance to explore steampunk in different regions in the world. I’ve already delved into Japan with my Steampunk in Animation series and now it’s time for us to start exploring Italy with Sìon, the first steampunk graphic novel set in Naples, Italy. Sìon is currently funding on Indiegogo and has almost a month left to go. Sante Mazzei, one of the writers involved in Sìon, has taken the time to tell me all about the creative process that brought this masterpiece together. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about this magnificent graphic novel as much as I have!

Can you tell us a bit about Sion

Sìon is a graphic novel set in a version of Naples that started to take advantage of the Vesuvius volcano as a source of geothermal energy. The use of electricity has changed the citizen’s way of life introducing new ways to entertain, travel, communicate and even kill. Our main character, named Sìon, is a physically mute Jewish man, taken from his community, who begins to investigate on several terrifying creatures spotted in the underground of Naples
What part of the story came to you first?
The setting was one of  the main things we worked on. We added electricity to a particular historical context and calculated every possible outcome.  We imagined a huge “Corona” around the Vesuvius volcano, in order to harness its energetic potential. The plot, in order to work, would have needed a setting as extraordinary and believable as possible.
Why did you choose to crowdfund this project? 
Crowdfunding gives authors the chance to express as best as possible their potential. We decided to have full control over our story, without censorship or cuts, and the materials and packaging that our graphic novel will be made with. We will use a never before seen kind of paper for a comic book, the Dolce Vita, allowing the details and lighting of the electrically lit setting to shine through the page. All this is made possible by working with industry experts like the international-level typography: FonteGrafica as well as Favini, a world leader in supports for innovative graphics. We believe that crowdfunding is the best way to give life to an idea, thanks to the participation of all fans. In this case, the birth of the comic book is not only an achievement for the authors but for all those that have supported the project.
You’re also working on a limited edition Sion board game. What convinced you to take on this ambitious project? 
The board game represents the possibility for the reader to enter the world of Sìon and take part in his investigations. We love role playing games and board games with strong and convincing settings. We saw in our comic book a perfect setting for a role playing board game, that will allow you to “live” Naples as we imagined it, hunt during the night, conduct research in our refuges, while a deus ex machina moves the creatures and the fate of the city. We love the ideas that we developed regarding the game and we can’t wait to know what our supporters think of them!
Are you planning to create more graphic novels in the world of Sion
Our graphic novel will be a self concluding story. The investigations of Sìon will come to an end. But the universe we created is huge and we would love to explore other aspects of the story and allow the reader to discover all of its details. When structuring a multi-faceted setting as ours, having to tell only one aspects of it turns out to be too superficial for the readers. So yes, we will confront other aspects of the city and of the universe that we created.
Sion_3What drew you into steampunk in the first place? 
We ourselves are readers of comic books, as well as lovers of games, movies, music and all other art forms. Steampunk has found a way to live within all of these, with masterful stories and atmospheres of great beauty. Lately it has grown a lot as a genre and we will give our contribution deviating from the ground that other authors have already laid.
What do you think is the most interesting part of the steampunk genre/culture?
We feel it is the introduction of a technology so distant from the historical period presented. It allows us to calculate social, political and economical implications of a society. The screenwriter of Sìon is an Archeologist who is currently involved in anthropology. He has always been fascinated by the social transformations that followed discoveries and scientific applications. For this reason Sìon has been envisioned from the beginning as a steampunk work.
Sion is live on Indiegogo right now. How are you working to keep momentum going throughout your entire campaign? 
We are hard at work in consistently publishing new content and details on the perks that make up our campaign. Pictures are grafico-percentuali-immagine-2worth more than a thousand words and it is for this reason that we prioritize illustrations and characters, as well as their descriptions. We hope that you will love our project as much as we do

Raising Steam

Raising Steam

Raising SteamAuthor: Terry Pratchett
Release: October 28, 2014
Series: Discworld
Genre: Steampunk | Fantasy | Humor
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 365
Publisher: Doubleday
Buy it here: AMAZON

Blurb

Change is afoot in Ankh-Morpork – Discworld’s first steam engine has arrived, and once again Moist von Lipwig finds himself with a new and challenging job.
To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.

Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work – as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital . . . but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse . . .

Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails . . .

Review

I purchased this novel in 2014 but did not read it until last month. This was not because I did not have the time—I always make time in my schedule for Sir Terry Pratchett and Discworld novels—but because I knew I would love it. I know this sounds strange so let me explain . . .

I have been a fan of Terry Pratchett’s work ever since college. I majored in English and was reading massive amounts of Victorian era novels, Elizabethan era plays, literary criticism of said works, and writing papers about all of it. Although I enjoyed it, I liked to take a break from reading “schoolwork” and read science fiction and fantasy. (Only people who love books truly understand reading something “fun” to take a break from other reading.) It was during this time that I first encountered Good Omens, by a friend who decided that I “needed” to read it. (She was right.)

After that I read everything by Pratchett (and his co-author for Good Omens, Neil Gaiman) that I could find. Discworld is still my favorite out of Pratchett’s series, and up until Raising Steam I read them as soon as I purchased them. But I held back . . . even though it’s the story of how the railway comes to the Discworld, a fictional world that evolved over 41 books from a rural, agrarian sword-and-sorcery type world with Elizabethan era influences to a pre-industrial Victorian era setting which was missing only the advent of the ingenious mechanical devices to make it a steampunk playground.

I held back from reading it . . . because it would probably be the last chapter of the story. In 2007, just years before he was granted a knighthood for services to literature, Terry Pratchett announced he had been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Despite this he continued to write. Raising Steam is the last adult novel set in the Discworld universe. In 2015, The Shepherd’s Crown, the last volume in his Young Adult Discworld series, was published posthumously: It was not complete at the time of his death. So Raising Steam is the last full work ever to be published in the series and, having read all of the novels except for The Shepherd’s Crown, it does seem to be in part a farewell to many of the characters of Discworld.

Spoiler’s Ahead

It is important to stress the fact that you do not need to have read any of the Discworld novels in order to enjoy Raising Steam. It is the only book in the series that can be considered steampunk, but if you enjoy a neo-Victorian fantasy setting of the grittier-sort, the books set in the town of Ankh-Morpork may peak your interest.

Pratchett focuses the narrative on two fronts—the creation and development of the railway in the Discworld’s major city-state, Ankh-Morpork, and the attack on inter-species progress by dissident dwarf groups.

The railway is developed first by Dick Simnel, the son of Ned Simnel who was featured in a previous Discworld novel, Reaper Man. Ned had created the Disc’s first steam-powered combine harvester, but died in an explosion. Dick was determined to learn from his father’s mistakes and worked with steam-powered machines until he created Iron Girder, the Disc’s first steam locomotive:

“You learn by your mistakes, if you’re lucky, and I tried to make mistakes just to see ‘ow that could be done, and although this is not the time to say it, you ‘ave to be clever and you ‘ave to be ‘umble in the face of such power. You have to think of every little detail. You have to make notes and educate yourself and then, only then, steam becomes your friend.”

Lord Vetinari, ruler of Ankh-Morpork, has the opportunity to stop the advent of the railway. He explains this to Moist Von Lipwig, the reformed conman who Vetinari employs to run such notable city institutions as the Post Office, Royal Mint, and Royal Bank:

“Some might say that it would have been easy for me to prevent this happening. A stiletto sliding quietly here, a potion dropped into a wineglass there, many problems solved at one stroke. Diplomacy, as it were, on the sharp end, regrettably unfortunate, of course, but not subject to argument.”

But Vetinari refuses to do so. He has worked over the course of the series to make Ankh-Morpork into a strangely benevolent dictatorship—one that encourages diversity and new technology that is beneficial to society.

“Mister Lipwig, I feel the pressure of the future and in this turning world must either kill it or become its master. I have a nose for these things, just as I had for you, Mister Lipwig. And so I intend to be like the people of Fourecks and surf the future. Giving it a little tweak here and there has always worked for me and my instincts are telling me that this wretched rail way, which appears to be a problem, might just prove to be a remarkable solution.”

The game is afoot after the railway receives Ventinari’s support. Simnel joins forces with a wealthy and influential member of Ankh-Morpork society, Mr. Harry King, and Moist finds himself not only negotiating for land rights for the railway but also working to develop the entire enterprise: Food, hotels, shopping centers, platforms—all of these aspects must be considered, and they are given the Discworld twist. Some of the dishes that are prepared for railway travelers, like Primal Soup, even sound quite tasty by our standards, and some, like Rat-Onna-Stick, do not (even if the rat is battered and fried).

But progress is not embraced by everyone, as Vetinari mentioned. Clacks-towers, which are Discworld’s answer to telegraph lines, are the first target of the dissident dwarves until they perceive the threat that the railway offers to their plan of overthrowing the Low King (the title for the ruler of the Dwarves.) The clacks-towers can only send messages; the railway has the ability to connect people everywhere. Some of the dwarves are up in arms against the modernization of the society, and people are being injured, and killed, in the battles.

It is interesting to note that Vetinari, who is a tyrant by his own words, believes that everyone is equal. There is no slavery in Ankh-Morpork; everyone—human, dwarf, troll, vampire, golem, goblin, and other assorted races—only answered to the law.

In Ankh-Morpork you can be whoever you want to be and sometimes people laugh and sometimes they clap, and mostly and beautifully, they don’t really care.

But this is not true of the entire Disc—and this is where the railway is headed. It is up to our heroes to make certain that the enterprise of steam is not derailed.

Raising Steam is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of the Discworld series, and I think it is a must-read for anyone who loves steampunk as well. It is a wonderful story full of twists and turns, humor, adventure, magic, neo-Victorian imagery, and, of course, the steam technology fans of the genre love so well. I will let Terry Pratchett have the last word with a short description of the main steam locomotive in the story, Iron Girder, and the beauty of her departure as the railway heads out across the Disc and into whatever the future has in store:

And the driver made his magic and the firebox opened and spilled dancing red shadows all around the footplate. And then came the rattle and jerk as Iron Girder took the strain and breathed steam for one more turn around the track as the goblins whooped and cackled and scrambled up her sides. And then came the first chuff and the second chuff and then the chuff bucket overflowed as Iron Girder escaped the pull of friction and gravity and flew along the rails.

Steampunk Animation Pt. 1

English DVD edition of one of my favorite steampunk movies, Howl's Moving Castle I may be obsessed with books but when it comes to steampunk I’m all about the visual media, especially when it’s animated. Almost all my favorite examples of steampunk are some kind of animation, whether it’s a series, a movie or a video game. There’s just something magical about the way animation brings steampunk worlds to life. I mean, airships are cool, but they’re way cooler when they’re animated. Or at least I think they are.

Most of the steampunk animation I’ve watched has been Japanese animation or anime. American animation is almost exclusively for children and tends to center around a relatively narrow handful of topics, but anime explores every genre. In fact, anime often goes to the extremes of every genre, including horror–both the gory and the psychological kind.

Some of the best known anime is steampunk. Howl’s Moving Castle is an anime movie based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones set in a wondrous steampunk setting. I’ve never read the book, but Howl’s Moving Castle was one of my first introductions to both anime and steampunk. Magic in the world of Howl’s Moving Castle can be either fun or dangerous and is both throughout the movie. Created by Studio Ghibli, one of the most well loved names in anime, the animation of Howl’s Moving Castle might be old but it still looks fantastic today.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is another Studio Ghibli masterpiece with a fascinating steampunk city. It’s not quite as well known as some of the other Studio Ghibli movies but it is just as awesome. This movie is a great place to start if you’re really into the lighter side of steampunk. Also, airships.

Want a series to dig into? Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an incredibly popular steampunk series set in a country called Emestrius, which uses a combination of steam technology, gear technology and of course alchemy. There is also a longer Full Metal Alchemist series but the story line in Brotherhood is much closer to the original manga and(at least in my opinion) more interesting. If you love steampunk because of the opportunities it presents for political intrigue, Brotherhood is one series you’ll adore.

Seven Samurai is a lesser known example of steampunk anime which takes the classic film Seven Samurai, adds magic and robots(it makes more sense than you might imagine) and transforms it into an awesome anime. It’s also the only anime on this list where the main characters are all adults, or at least all adult-ish, which brings me to another interesting point about anime:

Anime is not afraid to throw children into harsh situations. In fact, a lot of anime created for adults around adult themes still feature protagonists who are in high school or even younger. In some ways this is really awesome. I think stories about/for young people in our culture could use a lot more diversity, and creepy children… Well they’re the best at being creepy. On the other hand, I’d love to find more anime that centers around actual adults.

Of course, the Japanese aren’t the only ones who’ve created steampunk animation. Just last week a French animated film called April and the Extraordinary World was officially released in the US(I actually can’t wait to see this movie, check out the trailer to find out why). There have also been a handful of animated steampunk movies created by American studios such as Atlantis – The Lost Empire.

Over the next few months I plan to take a journey through the land of steampunk animation, reviewing animated steampunk series and movies I discover along the way. Most of it will be anime(I’m a bit of a fanatic) but I’m eager to explore steampunk animation from everywhere else in the world too. I hope you’ll enjoy discovering it with me!

Have you watched any awesome steampunk animation? Are you interested in discovering more? Let me know in the comments section below!

Author Interview | E. Chris Garrison is bringing #EqualityInLit to the world of #Steampunk by writing a story whose lead character is transgender living in world close to our own.

Conversations of Steampunk banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Pierre Rougier.

What is interesting to relate to you #SteamCav readers, is my introduction to the world of podcast radio was a spotlight and conversation in conjunction with Ms Chris via The Star Chamber Show in 2013. Since our first interaction on the podcast, I have been following her writerly career via her Seventh Star Press releases, the latest of which was “Blue Spirit: A Tipsy Fairy Tale” which I thoroughly enjoyed reading! It was spunky and hilarious with a serious undertone of drama which left me unable to put it down! I loved seeing the cheeky humour match so well with this fully realised Fantasy world where nothing is ever quite as it seems!

I recently received a bit of book mail from Ms Chris, and she enclosed a special surprise for me: my very own Transit King magic token! I cannot put into words how wicked delighted I was to receive this special piece of “Tipsy Fairy Tale” memorabilia as it has such a special role inside the story! If you want to get a taste for what is waiting for you in her Fantasy worlds, due check out my review of “Blue Spirit” via my #JLASblog showcase review

When I became a contributor of The Steampunk Cavaliers, I did not know where my adventures would take me on this newly conceived blog where my fellow bloggers are exploring the worlds of Steampunk; one thing I knew for certain, I wanted to highlight authors I’ve come to know who are carving out their own individual Steampunk worlds full of heart and with a bent towards giving readers a new appreciation for expanding the genre due to the stories they are writing.

This is why I wanted to interview Ms Chris and give our blog readers a chance to ‘meet her’ whilst finding out about her Steampunk serial fiction! Not only am I an enthused reader of her stories, I am blessed by her friendship. The following conversation was a true joy for me to bring to The Steampunk Cavaliers!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Trans-Continental: Girl in the Gears by E. Chris GarrisonTrans-Continental: Mississippi Queen by E. Chris Garrison

Book Synopsis of ‘Mississippi Queen’:

Ida and Duffy are back!

In the exciting follow-up to Girl in the Gears, the duo make their way to the Free City of New Orleans, where they plan to find some answers for Ida among the eclectic citizens of the dazzling city.

Instead, they find themselves “recruited” as bodyguards for the city’s Queen Mayor, who’s on the run from an invading force, and swept up the river aboard a very special steamship: The Marie Curie!

The current ahead is filled with spies, rogues, gunfights, and even an old flame or two. Can Ida and Duffy ride out the storm and survive long enough to find the answers they seek?

Play the book trailer for ‘Mississippi Queen’!

Play the book trailer for ‘Girl in the Gears’!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What first inspired you to the Steampunk culture and genre of literature!? Did you enter through it’s vortex by the creativity of it’s eclectic expressions and definitions or was there a specific reason why Steampunk spoke to your heart?

Ms Chris responds: This is a difficult question. I remember when William Gibson and Bruce Sterling published The Difference Engine in 1990 and I was riveted by the idea of an information age that came a century early, along with all the technological advances that went with that boom. It was a spectacular example of alternate history, and I wanted to see more.

I’ve watched the genre grow from rare curiosity to an ever-expanding movement in fashion and culture. I know brilliant cosplayers, makers, gamers, authors, and readers who love steampunk dearly. Steampunk worlds are full of endless potentials, possibilities, technological frontiers with a Victorian aesthetic, science fiction as Jules Verne would recognize it, even. It’s possibly the most romantic of the subgenres of science fiction, and often bridges the gap between scifi and fantasy.

Reality Check by E. Chris GarrisonI began to embrace steampunk more fully when I wrote Reality Check, which was published by Hydra Publications in 2013. Reality Check features several alternate realities, one of which was a steampunk world. My protagonist never calls the place “steampunk” however, he thinks of it as the “silly hat universe”, which is where my website and self-publishing imprint, Silly Hat Books get their name.

That same “silly hat” steampunk world of Reality Check is the setting for my newer Trans-Continental series, which began with Ida, the transgender main character, meeting Duffy, the mechanically-inclined rogue, in Girl in the Gears , and continues with my latest release, Mississippi Queen.

I love how you entered into the world of Steampunk – as this is one thing I am uniting through my conversations here on #SteamCav – to unearth how each author has arrived inside a genre which is actually it’s own sub-culture! There are so many lovely layers to Steampunk, it’s hard to pin it down directly to what first catches our eye and what becomes the mainstay of why we’ve staid invested in it’s sphere! I love how you had a cross-media interest in Steampunk before settling on writing a world which is Steam-based!

‘Reality Check’ is the one story I haven’t yet read of yours and of which I am growing more curious about each time I read a bit about it! I do find it quite interesting how you re-entered this world via the Trans-Continental series giving you a new way to continue setting characters & their stories inside a known world.

I do wonder what Verne would be expressing about where Steampunk has evolved and what he might feel is the best asset the genre & sub-culture has to give as we move forward. I also never knew this was the ‘back-story!’ to your Silly Hat Books – quite clever of you!

Speculative Fiction as a whole is lovely diverse in it’s selections of stories – as you know I fully support #EqualityInLit which includes stories of LGBTQIA; do you feel the Speculative realms are more inclusive to diversity than other genres or are they starting to open up the doors to new voices and literary lifestyles not previously seen now as a result of the commentary extending out of #WeNeedDiverseBooks? Or is the change separate from that movement?

Ms Chris responds: I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this more than on a personal level. As a person who’s always been different than other people I knew, speculative fiction has always felt more open and welcoming to me, as far as diversity goes. There just seem to be more possibilities for acceptance when you hang out with aliens, elves, monsters, wizards, and mad scientists.

Being different didn’t seem quite so different after all with wider horizons of the imagination. And I have found many friends and kindred spirits among other fans of speculative fiction, too. These days, as diversity can be expressed more openly, so too have authors and readers of science fiction been more open about their sexual orientation and gender identity.

As a transgender person, I used to read Jack Chalker because his characters often switched bodies, including swapping genders, but these days, I can find protagonists who are actually transgender like me, which is nothing short of miraculous to a child of the 80s like myself.

I definitely agree with you – the climate of communication about diversity and equality is a lively one right now in our living age, but it’s also, causing great milestones to make enroads in Literature as a whole. Readers are much more cognisant about what ‘Equality in Lit’ truly means and it’s not simply about ‘diversity’ by a singular definition but an inclusive umbrella of showcasing pro-positive story-lines across previous barriers of exclusion from both society and the literary world.

I think this is one reason I loved reading Science Fiction & Fantasy as a teenager – you could soak inside a world where a lot of different species and cultural identities were co-habituating and getting along with each other.  This was one draw for series like ‘Star Trek’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Battlestar Gallactica’ and ‘Babylon 5’ – of course I’m referring to the ‘originals’ of each of these series of which became a mainstay of my growing years.

Mississippi Queen marks the second installment of your Trans-Continental series featuring a transgender heroine at the helm of the Steampunk series. What inspired you to take on the steamboats and Mississippi river city of New Orleans in this sequel?

Ms Chris responds: Without spoiling Girl in the Gears much, I’ll just say that Ida and Duffy had great motivation to leave the East coast, away from New England and especially Dixie, and my thoughts followed the Mississippi River down to the Delta region, which I had already decided was a very open city, full of scum and villainy and also diversity, like a certain Cantina in a galaxy far, far, away. It may be an alternate universe, but New Orleans is still a partying town with a rich history and a militarily strategic location.

As for steamboats, the genre has steam right in the name. How could I resist including a steampunked-up, massive steamboat in this series?

I love how you broached talking about this particular part of the story and how it was inspired to be written. I visited New Orleans as a teenager and I can definitely concur with it’s enriched heritage, musical identity and it’s unique presence of being cross-cultural and artistically inclined to be individually rockin’ to it’s own beat. NOLA is a special place and it’s lifeblood has sustained itself despite everything it’s gone through – setting this story at her shores was a good idea as like you said – where else to find a Steampunk vehicle that could best a wicked awesome *steamboat!*?

I cannot wait to see how the steamboat played a pivotal role for transportation but also, how you eclipsed a knowing presence of it’s locale!

As you are open about being a transgender author, how important was it for you to write a story which would have an intrapersonal connection to your own spirit? How did you approach balancing your own personal journey with Ida’s? What did you want to focus on in respect to Ida’s transition and her life as a transgender adult?

Ms Chris responds: Well, Ida’s story, and her friendship with Duffy, came to me in a dream in late 2014. I woke up and scribbled it down and found the notes in the morning and started work within the next month. I did not want Ida’s story to be a mirror of my own. She’s bold and extroverted where I am shy and cautious. Ida is a soldier turned actress, I am a techie turned author. She dares to be herself in a world that lacks even a word for being transgender, while I made many compromises until the “transgender tipping point” where being myself was more accepted.

And despite all that, Ida and I have much in common. We’ve had to change the hearts and minds of people by living our lives, just as Duffy comes to see Ida as the woman she is despite never knowingly meeting a transgender person before, people in my life have come to understand what transgender means by having me in their lives. We’re more than the tragic victims that are the examples we see too often in mainstream media; I wanted to tell a story where the protagonist just happens to be transgender.

Isn’t it quite interesting how a story can be percolating inside our dreamscapes? It’s such a fascinating process how the stories alight inside our mind’s eye and then transfuse themselves onto paper; becoming this unique conduit of creativity and imagination. I love how your Trans-Continental series is stepping outside the known stereotypical role transgender persons are finding themselves reflected as in fiction and re-defining a better way to not only represent them but to have their characters have extraordinary adventures!

I love your approach to mainstream a transgender character and to give readers and other writers something to think about the next time they are choosing which trans story to read.

As Ida and Duffy’s lives start to intersect what was the most joy for you to bring their friendship to the heart of the series first revealled in Girl in the Gears?

Ms Chris responds: I love writing about Ida and Duffy. Theirs is the kind of friendship we all want, they’re opposites in many ways, and yet the complement each other nicely, playing off each others’ strengths, and bolstering each others’ weaknesses.

If you follow my books, friendship is a central theme of all of my novels. I think the thing that made me happiest was the turn of heart that Duffy had over time, how she went from misunderstanding Ida’s lifestyle as a disguise or a delusion to the realization that Ida has a truly female spirit burning within her, and loving her for it, rather than despite it. Meanwhile, Ida slowly lets herself become more vulnerable with Duffy, after a lifetime of being on her guard against discovery and derision.

I continue that bond in Mississippi Queen, only with some of their pasts coming back to haunt them even as they follow Ida’s quest to find others like her in the world.

Opposite personalities have the tendency to have the best longevity in friendships; not always the case, but with enough frequency to be keenly appealing to acquire. I think you’ve set their friendship up to have not only a realistic open communication between each other but to talk about things that are relevant to our living world as well. It’s good to have challenging conversations in fiction but also, to show how friends can love each other as they are whilst accepting differences don’t have to separate us but can unite us together.

I also like the suspense of your novels next to the friendship elements because readers who are familiar with your style, will note that there is something that has to be become known as the story proceeds forward – a drop of suspense with a strong friendship at the core of the story is what brought me into your stories. I also like the light-hearted humour and the cheeky bits, too!

As this is a series being published under your own Silly Hat Books, can you talk for a moment what your plans for the publishing line of stories you’ll be focusing on in the future? Will you become a mainstay in the Steampunk genre or tackle new variants of Sci Fi & Fantasy as your inspired to create new stories?

Ms Chris responds: So, I do plan to write at least one more Trans-Continental book, though I doubt I’ll be able to walk away from Ida and Duffy so easily, there will likely be more. I may also return to this steampunk world in sequels to Reality Check, or perhaps as the setting for other, unrelated stories. There’s a lot of potential here.

But am I sticking to Steampunk as my sole genre? Definitely not. I have my urban fantasy stories set in the world of the Road Ghosts and the Tipsy Fairy Tales that is also wide open for other characters and stories, and I’d like to revisit the alternate space-age “Moon world” in Reality Check someday. I do like to explore many speculative genres, but I like to think my stories have some common elements that make them related in ways that transcend genre.

I hadn’t personally felt you would (writing only Steampunk stories) but to serve as an introduction to new readers, I felt asking this question was warranted as it allowed you to talk more about your writerly life as a whole. As I had mentioned earlier, I love how you’ve found clever ways to carry forward a known world of yours whilst giving readers more to chew on with the characters’ lives! It’s such a lovely surprise for a reader to find a small extra extension of a story and/or a curious new tidbit of insight on behalf of a character they’ve come to love – I think whatever you choose to do will be met with a happy heart and smile from your dedicated readers!

I love how your ‘transcending genre’ and building such a lovely style of written worlds as to attract a heap of readers who are each seeking ‘something unique’ and will find something to enjoy from your collective works!

What did you appreciate the most about being in complete control as a self-published author with the Trans-Continental series vs seeking traditional or Indie publishing options?

Ms Chris responds: As you say, control is the big thing for me in self-publishing. I love working with indie publishers, I’ve done great things with Hydra Publications and Seventh Star Press, and will continue to work with them in the future. But Trans-Contiental, with its transgender themes, I felt I needed to do that project myself, using all that I’ve learned in working with the small presses and the short story collection I helped put together as part of the Speculative Fiction Guild.

I think this is the sole benefit of publishing through self-publishing means – it allows a writer to have such a depth of control not to be equally matched elsewhere. More and more authors I know are choosing this route for the same reasons you’ve outlined. Some of whom are cross-published like you are with either a Major Trade or an Indie Press or Pub, whilst navigating certain stories and/or series outside of that scope for their Self-Pub endeavours.

I believe we should each listen to our intuition when it comes to make these choices and if we feel it’s the right path for us to take at that particular junction, then to be fully confident in pursuing it! The readers will celebrate your industrious moxie and the sparkfire of a story that might curate it’s own niche to reside inside.

You have a charitable heart and have already promoted a charity donation attached to the first story Girl in the Gears which benefited a Transgender outreach charity last year; will you be continuing the legacy with each new installment whilst focusing on a new charity for Transgender youth and adults?

Ms Chris responds: To launch the Trans-Continental series, I donated the first month’s sales of Girl in the Gears to the Trans Lifeline (http://translifeline.org ) to help them on their mission to help prevent the alarming number of transgender suicides that happen. After that, I set up a personal monthly donation to that cause.

I am not doing fundraising with the second book, though of course my sales will help offset my costs in that regular donation. I highly encourage fans of this series to help out however they can, whether through donating to a transgender-supportive charity, and/or by supporting transgender rights by writing to local, state, and federal legislatures who put forth anti-transgender bills. That kind of thing is why the Trans Lifeline is necessary.

I definitely concur with everything you’ve shared – and I do believe change is coming forward to where Equality will be granted to everyone. Your examples of what readers can do to help is encouraging and I hope you’ve inspired more than one reader here today.

How did you approach writing the Trans-Continental series? Did you outline the full breadth of the series or are you allowing it to organically knit together per each installment your writing? How many installments will there be?

Ms Chris responds: I am just making this up as I go along. I can say with the first book written, I had only a vague plan to send Ida and Duffy to New Orleans, and that I wanted a few other specific elements (characters, events, locales) to factor into it. When I got there, the characters led the way, and the plot grew organically around that. I did have to do planning as I went, a little like madly laying down ties and rails as the train comes barreling down the tracks. But do I know what happens in the next book? Not really.

Again, I know where I want to send the characters, in a general way, I want a few specific things to happen, and I want Ida to be confronted with a very difficult personal dilemma, but the details will have to work themselves out when I sit down at the keyboard. I have faith in my characters, they’re pretty clever. They haven’t let me down yet!

I’m very organic in my approach to writing as well – I don’t like to know the whole picture of where a story or a character in particular is going to take me. Half the joy for me is sorting all of that out as I move along in the chapters but I also, don’t write a story straight-forward start to finish; I tend to move around and tuck inside different corners of the story’s heart. I also have the same initial musings with me as I begin – a few small elements or points of reference but then I allow my imagination to take over. It’s the best way to proceed, as you get to have the adventure alongside your own characters! Rock on!

Your writings always include cheeky humour and strong story-lines which include life lessons and/or a shift in a character’s journey; did you want this series to be more comedic or dramatic in comparison to your collective works?

Ms Chris responds: I really love to mix comedy and drama. My dark urban fantasy Road Ghosts Trilogy features humor through the personalities and banter of the main characters, even in the most dire of situations. I set out to make the Tipsy Fairy Tales lighter and funnier, and while Skye’s mishaps and observations did provide plenty of comedy, the stories have been darker than I set out to write all the same.

With Trans-Continenal, I set out to write something even faster-paced and episodic in nature; like old serials or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. There’s humor in there, it isn’t in my nature to write something deadly serious without some comic relief. But it’s primarily a series about two famous friends and their adventures, out of the frying pan and into the fire, another fine mess, and so on. So I suppose I intended this series to be dramatic, with a comedic flair, which seems to be my specialty.

Laughs. Yes, I think it’s your trick of the trade – to sort out a way to have a very dramatic story read with such a heart of comedy at it’s inner core! You do blend the two quite well as you pull back when it’s necessary and you pull inward as well. It’s a tricky balance to have narrative be equal halves of comedy and drama, but you’ve excelled at this quite well! Champion!

How did you settle on a timescape to place your series and what drew you to that particular era to explore? Was it the technologies or the backdrop in History that motivated your choice?

Ms Chris responds:  Well, the thing I do not come out and say in the series is that it’s not an alternate history; it’s an alternate reality. That is, time branched off somewhere in the past; the silly hat world of Ida and Duffy isn’t in the 1800s, it’s now in a world where alchemy continued its proprietary bumbling progress, instead of the more open and organized progress of science that began around Newton’s time in our world. It was an alternate to the world we know in Reality Check and I continue to use the assumptions and “what ifs” I started with when I wrote that book.

Why did I pick a steampunk / victorian styled era for this story? I really wanted to get to the essence of what it is to be transgender, and having read about the transgender people that have been recorded in our history, I wanted to write about such a lone spirit, finding her way in a world without any role models, labels, or preconceptions. She’s a one woman revolution, defying the world’s notions of male and female, to be who she knows she is inside, on her own terms. I couldn’t do that in a modern era, and in the future, I’ll be somewhat of a dinosaur as the technologies surrounding transgender transition become more and more advanced. So, instead, I picked Steampunk for its possibilities and its simplicity.

Alternative Reality – yes, that is quite befitting, I think! Sometimes I am uncertain which attribution to attach to which story as more writers are genre-bending with such finesses as to ‘trick you’ out of realising the style and methodology of the craft your reading! I do admit – even though I evoke out a bit of a way of speaking about a specific story, I never find myself limiting where that story can take me or how further it can go even without putting a specific tag on it’s style. I love dancing through genres, as you know, and so for me, I like noodling out the specifics from a pure curiosity angle!

Such a clever way to talk about Ida and also, the whole of her story as it evolves through Trans-Continental! I think you’ve summarised her very well! Esp when you called her a ‘one woman revolution’! Quite apt!

Which authors in Speculative Fiction are writing stories similar to yours which are exploring characters we do not readily see being featured but are being championed by readers? Who would you recommend reading next after a reader picks up your series?

Ms Chris responds: They say to write the story you’d like to read. I couldn’t find stories out there like this, with characters who happen to be transgender, rather than telling another story of transgender transition or worse, all-too-common tragic victimhood. I would like to know the answer to this question myself.

If your readers have suggestions, I will gladly pick up some new books to read!

I honestly wished I had known of others myself – as I’m new to seeking out #DiverseSFF as it’s not that I’m not keen on reading more stories featuring LGBTQIA characters or even POC or culture, my problem is seeking out the SFF stories which are not overtly violent or drowning in vulgarity as I struggle with finding a cosier middle ground for the main umbrella of the Speculative worlds as a whole. I love hard science fiction for it’s brilliant technologic explorations but I also appreciate soft science fiction for it’s gentler elements that can turn introspective and/or give a lighter side of the genre that is worth exploring, too. Therefore, if I stumble across more authors and stories and/or if we get commenters who are sharing stories I would be thrilled to peaches to find them, too!

How do you renew your spirit outside of research and writing!?

Ms Chris responds: My books have a theme of friendship for a reason. My spirit is enriched and renewed when I get to spend quality time with friends and family. Trading jokes and personal stories, playing show and tell with bits of our lives and loves, warming each others’ lives with affection and care.

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E. Chris Garrison (who also publishes as Eric Garrison) is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. Chris lives in the Circle City with her wife, step-daughter and a cabal of cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

E. Chris Garrison

Chris’s novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction onAmazon.com during a promotion in July 2013.

Her supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy, published by Seventh Star Press. These novels are dark and humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession and even sinister fairy folk.

Chris’s short story, “Drag Show” appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine.  Her flash piece, “Dark Reflection”, appeared in the Indiana Horror 2011 anthology. Chris’s Tipsy Fairy Tales short story, “Seelie Goose” was included in the A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court anthology. “Christmas Special”, a Road Ghosts / Tipsy Fairy Tales short story, was a part of the charity anthology, Gifts of the Magi: A Speculative Holiday Collection.

Site | @ecgarrison | Facebook | GoodReads

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I am so very appreciative to Ms Chris for sharing her heart and the spirit of her writerly life with all of us today! It was a joy to get to know more about the Steampunk side of her career but also, the heart of what is motivating her to compose the stories of the Trans-Continental series! I love celebrating authors and books, but this is a special moment to be celebrating a friend’s new release! 

The second installment ‘Mississippi Queen’ released

on 13th of March, 2016!

The paperback edition will be forthcoming!

Kindly leave your comments, thoughts and musings in our comment threads, as I am quite sure Ms Chris will be positively delighted to hear what you have to share!

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In closing, I’d like to give a s/o to our dedicated new readers of whom are happily providing us wicked sweet feedback via #SteamCav posts and/or are interacting with us on Twitter! Bless you! Also, if you’ve enjoyed this convo between Ms Chris and I, kindly know I listed a bit about what I’m seeking during my interview features on our Policies page.

We thank you for taking this journey with us and hope you will continue to be a part of our growing story here on The Steampunk Cavaliers where we are striving to create community and interaction within the Steampunk tribe!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO INTERVIEW YOU ABOUT YOUR STEAMPUNK SENSIBILITY AND WHY THIS IS A WICKED FAVOURITE GENRE OF YOURS, KINDLY CONTACT ME VIA #JLASBLOG!

{SOURCES: Book Covers for “Reality Check”, “Trans-Continental: Girl in the Gears”, “Trans-Continental: Mississippi Queen”, book synopsises, author biography and author photograph of E. Chris Garrison were provided by the author E. Chris Garrison and used with permission. Conversations of Steampunk banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Pierre Rougier. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com.}

Copyright © Jorie Story of Jorie Loves A Story as a contributor piece on behalf of The Steampunk Cavaliers, 2016. All Rights Reserved.