In Memoriam – Sue Watts


Sue Watts

April 27, 1959 – October 16, 2016

Sue was a pillar of the Michigan steampunk community and the other half of our favorite steampunk couple with Don Watts. Whether she was making beautiful costumes or sitting on the edge of a stage she always made herself at home and was the inspiration to many other women in steampunk. She will be sorely missed.


Age 57. Beloved wife of Don for 35 years. Loving mother of Kyle Charles Watts (Jenny Choate). Dear sister of Linda (Craig) Gross, Laura (Jeff) Bunker, Lisa (Joe) Walker, Paul Donovan, and sister-in-law Judy (Ron) Menig. Survived by many nieces, nephews and extended family.

Memorial Visitation

Saturday, October 29, 2016
2:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thayer-Rock Funeral Home
33603 Grand River Avenue
Farmington, Michigan 48335
In lieu of Flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, P.O. Box 4368, E. Lansing, MI 48826-4368 or
Michigan Humane Society, 30300 Telegraph Rd., Ste. 220, Bingham Farms, MI 48025-4507.

You are invited to leave your memories of Sue below.

All photos by Sergio Mazzotta


Thank you everyone, family and friends for all the thoughts well wishes, and prayers but also thank you for the stories of your experiences with Sue. We have had forty years of good times Sue and I, from our car cruise days to boating and fishing to gaming then float building and lately ren fair and steampunk. We spent nearly every day together and even when we were apart we were not THAT far apart. Sue was many things to a lot of people.. mother, wife, seamstress, baby sitter, etc, etc,….. but most of all she was my true friend. I will miss my friend. I love you Sue and always will.

— Don Watts


One of my favorite people in the whole world has passed today. On the second day that I opened my bookstore, Kyle and Jenny strolled into my life and it was practically love at first sight. Kyle was my annoying, but lovable little brother and Jenny pretended not to get annoyed as we fought all the time, like kicking and rolling around on the floor fighting. They brought many people into the store and helped make it what it was and of course they bought Don and Sue.

I won’t tell you how long I thought Sue didn’t like me. She would smile, but it was that tight-lipped one she did while she was still deciding about you. When she finally gave me that Sue smile and hugged me, I felt like I had won the lottery. When she loved you, she loved you no matter what. I cannot tell you how many times she and Don would help we with things at the multiple stores – whether it was painting, building, boxing, loaning me their tentacle beast to liven the place up, or just keeping me company on a slow night.

She could be fierce and crusty, but there was also a sweet shy side. She was loyal to a fault and I have never felt so blessed then to have been a kind of honorary member of this brilliant, quirky, beautiful family. I thank God that they came into my life and that I got to spend so much time with them and her. She was there when I had my kids and helped raise them in the store, She will always be in my heart. DonKyle, and Jenny – you will always be family to me and I will always love her and you.

— Salthiel Palland


You were a breathe of fresh air when I met you. You were the embodiment of a woman that I aspire to be in my later years. Your struggle was private, and I respect that so much. You were so talented, fun loving, strong, and one of the first friends I acquired in the Steampunk scene. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you, but at least I hugged you one last time at Michael’s memorial. RIP Sue, my heart is heavy, my eyes are not dry, and my thoughts are with you and your family. You were a beautiful, creative, intelligent, woman that had a unique style that only you could create. RIP SUE

— Vespertine Nova Lark


One of the first steampunk events I ever attended outside of Cincinnati was Steamtopia in Detroit. I was fortunate to meet Sue and Don Watts that night. At the time, Sue was still recovering from a treatment, but was kind and funny, and I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve ever spent with them, however brief. When Sue was not present at the Motor City Steam Con, I knew that she had taken a turn for the worse, because she would have been there with bells on if she could. This week, she lost her battle, and the world is a little smaller and colder as a result. She was a Grande Dame of Steampunk, and I know that she will be missed by too many to count. Cheers to you Sue Watts. I’ll have a drink in your honor.

— Stephanie ‘Fu’ Rogg


I’ve been very fortunate in that I have lost very few friends throughout my forty years of life.

Last night I, and the rest of the steampunk community, lost Sue Watts after a seven year battle with cancer. Many of us didn’t even know she was sick until she was moved to hospice.

I met Sue and her husband, Don, at a Detroit-area steampunk event when Mom was sick. I knew almost no one, and Don and Sue made sure the new girl felt welcome, had a shoulder to cry on, and had enough beer as I wasn’t aware it was a BYOB event.

They were two of my strongest supporters as I was going through Mom’s illness. I’m so sorry, Don Watts, and I’m going to miss you, Sue.

— Cassie Noble Beyer


So saddened to learn of the passing of Sue Watts today. She was silly, a gifted maker of gloriously strange stuff, quietly indomitable, brilliant, and and an incredibly sweet soul. She and her husband Don were part den-parents, part ring leaders, and part surreal mischief-makers in chief for those of us in the alternate history, Steampunk, and generally geeky worlds. Endless thanks to Don, her son Kyle, and found daughter Jenny for sharing her with us all. She’ll be missed bitterly but leaves the world a kinder, weirder, and more beautiful place for having been in it. G’bye Sue…

— Mike Zawacki


Published in: on October 24, 2016 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview with Author Peter Bunzl, Conclusion

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Welcome back to the conclusion in our talk with filmmaker and animator Peter Bunzl, who is the author of Cogheart.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

Read Part Three here.

Read Part Four here.

Read Part Five here.


Airship Ambassador: Many authors have a day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you ?

Peter Bunzl: I don’t have another job at the moment, currently I’m writing book two. I used to do freelance animation working on TV shows and commercials. I think it would be a bit crazy-making to work on a Children’s TV show over a long stretch and try and do your own creative work as well. I did it for a time when I was creating short films and it drove me up the wall. Doing shorter commercial jobs and working on your own thing is not so bad, because you can switch between the two projects.


AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?

PB: I’m obsessed with film. I see tons of films in my spare time. Not so much the Hollywood stuff, but old movies, indies, or foreign films and docs – films with a bit of quirk and style, rather than the hackneyed blockbusters. And I still enjoy going to the cinema over watching something on TV.


AA: How do those older films influence your work?

PB: Learning about screenwriting and editing and filmic storytelling at college, and from watching movies, influenced the way I tell stories. I want them to be cinematic and visual and packed with action and strong images, and I try my best to get those qualities into the writing.


AA: Films are a great hobby – what interests don’t you have time for?

PB: I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore. I do watch box sets though. Recently I binge watched Peaky Blinders and Penny Dreadful, both of which I loved. And Game of Thrones is ace too!


AA: Are there other fandoms are you part of ?

PB: I love animation – especially the old Disney and Studio Ghibli movies. As a kid I was a complete Disney nerd, back then you could’ve asked me anything about Disney and I would have probably known the answer, now, not so much.


AA: The Witches by Roald Dahl is one of your favourite children’s books. What is the appeal and attraction in it for you?

PB: The stunning way it’s written. The style is completely different from my book. It’s a first-person memoir. Those kind of book – told in retrospect by a character – always have a cracking opening line and The Witches is no exception: “I myself had two encounters with witches before I was eight years old.” It’s the sort of opener that makes you want to read on.


AA: What is on your to-be read or watched pile right now?

PB: The Uncommoners by Jennifer Bell which is a children’s book that sounds a bit like Unlundun or Neverwhere. Plus the second season of Penny Dreadful, which I’ve just downloaded to watch.


AA: Penny Dreadful is grand, isn’t it? Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

PB: My mum has been an artist all her life, she’s done commercial work and worked for herself and she’s always striving to create new things, whether it be textiles or painting or sculpture. She keeps going creatively, making things no matter what. She’s a big inspiration for me as an artist when it comes to maintaining your creative practice day in day out – through ups and downs – and ensuring your work is as good as it can be.


AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?

PB: Getting into film school – I learnt so much about creative storytelling and gained confidence there. Fear of failure – but the truth is you have to fail at a few things before you find one you succeed at.


AA: What is the best advice you’ve been given?

PB: Do what you love.


AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favourite food with tea, next location to visit which you haven’t been to yet, and which book would you like to see made into a movie?

PB: Chocolate Hobnobs for dunking. California. Riddley Walker.


AA: When you do interviews, what is something that you wish you were asked about but haven’t been?

PB: I can’t think of anything. This interview has certainly been quite thorough! About the only one you haven’t asked which I sometimes get is: “If you could have a clockwork mechanimal what would it be?” And the answer would probably be a dragon.


AA: Dragons are definitely cool! Any final thoughts to share with our readers

PB: If you read the book and enjoy it please let me know on Twitter @peterbunzl I am also available for school visits via my website. And I’d love to hear about any steampunk events happening around the country.


Thanks, Peter, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about the next book in this series!

Keep up to date with Peter’s latest news on his website, Twitter, and YouTube.

You can support Peter and our community by getting your copy of Cogheart here.

Published in: on October 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Author Peter Bunzl, Part 5

Welcome back to part five in our talk with filmmaker and animator Peter Bunzl, who is the author of Cogheart.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

Read Part Three here.

Read Part Four here.


Airship Ambassador: What do you consider your first real writing experience? Was it a school assignment or something you just did on your own?

Peter Bunzl: When I was a kid I used to write and illustrate my own stories and comics, my dad kept them all in a folder and gave them to me a few years ago. I adore them, they are far more fun than my school writing assignments, none of which I kept. Then, when I was a teenager, I got into animation, I used to write ideas for short films, storyboard them and animate one or two scenes.


AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

PB: When I used to write animated shorts, my ideas were always very visually oriented and cinematic. And they still are – I love magic realism and weird quirky story ideas – that’s the animator in me. Those things are essential to sustain a short story or film. But for a novel you need to learn to write stronger plots, dimensional characters and dialogue. It takes work, but I hope I’ve improved at those skills over the years.


AA: In your experience as a writer, what have been the hardest and most useful skills to learn?

PB: When to take criticism onboard, and when to ignore it! If it’s from your editor or a writing buddy – people who care about your growth as a writer – it’s probably worth listening to. If it’s from some random person on Goodreads, you should probably ignore it, and let it go (as the song suggests).


AA: Isn’t the first lesson as an author “Don’t read the comments!” ? What story would you like to write but haven’t, yet?

PB: I want to write a contemporary story about kids with magic powers, but I don’t want it to be like Harry Potter – the world would be quite different. I’d also like to write a third book with Robert and Lily set in the Cogheart world


AA: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?

PB: Procrastination is my biggest sin – thanks broadband! I have an internet blocker programme for when I desperately need to write. So I put that on, find a good music soundtrack and try and hammer through the scene that I’m stuck on. I try not to read back what I’ve written on a first draft because it won’t be pretty, and it’s best to get to the end before you start editing things or doing drastic rewrites anyway.


AA: You are speaking to the choir about procrastination. It’s a lifelong fight. How is London for writing?

PB: It’s good to be in London for events and publicity, you meet a lot of other writers and can build up a network and contacts. There’s tons of writing groups and talks and festivals and things going on. Sometimes writing at home can be noisy and distracting, but there’s always the library. Libraries are a superb place to go and write or do you edits, also to find books you’d never think of reading.


AA: In your experience, does it seem like readers prefer a print or electronic format?

PB: I think most children still read paper books. I prefer them too, because the artwork and design is such a contributing factor, plus a real book feels tangible and special – especially as a writer – there’s a joy of seeing your words on the printed page.


AA: It’s nice to have an ereader while traveling but I, too, like a good solid book when I’m reading on the couch of by the fireplace. Have you been affected by electronic piracy of your work?

PB: I haven’t yet, but I know other writers who get this a lot. Some of the stories I’ve heard about piracy are very depressing. Some internet platforms seem to make it quite difficult for authors to report piracy of their work, and I don’t think that’s helpful at all in the long run.


AA: Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for Cogheart?

PB: Nope. I’m not that famous!


AA: What? Say it’s not true! How was school for you growing up?

PB: I enjoyed primary school a lot more than secondary school, it was a much more creative environment and there was less pressure to work and to conform. I think that’s why I’m a little more comfortable writing for that age group. I don’t think secondary school encourages creative thinking, or at least it didn’t when I was at school, which is a shame, because that’s what will be of value in the future. Learning things by rote, retaining facts and figures – it’s not so useful nowadays, is it?


AA: Memorization only gets one so far. Your mother was a costume designer working on television shows and movies, and you were able to visit on set sometimes. How did those experiences help with story ideas and storytelling?

PB: My mum made the costumes for the animated series Postman Pat, and I remember as a child the director bringing the puppets round in little shoeboxes, with a drawing of what their outfits should look like and notes about their personality. One day we went to the studio and he showed us the sets and then ran some film through a Moviola – which is like a tabletop projector – and I saw all the characters moving. I think that started me off on my obsession with animation, and bringing my own characters to life in whatever way I could.


AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?

PB: I would be doing film and animation, which is what I trained in at art college and film school.


We’ll break here in chatting with Peter. Join us next time when he talks about interests and inspirations.

Keep up to date with Peter’s latest news on his website, Twitter, and YouTube.

You can support Peter and our community by getting your copy of Cogheart here.

Published in: on October 20, 2016 at 9:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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