Interview with Ay-leen the Peacemaker – Part 2

Welcome back for part 2 of our interview with Ay-leen the Peacemaker, the creator and writer of steampunk blog, Beyond Victoriana, “…a blog about multicultural steampunk and retro-futurism–that is, steampunk outside of a Western-dominant, Eurocentric framework.”

Part 1 can be read here.

AA: You’ve been a speaker at some conventions recently; how did that come about and what were those topics?

AtP: Convention speaking came about when I initially got involved in the steampunk community. My friends who also were interested in steampunk (a group formerly called the Penny Dreadfuls, but now are running separately as the SS Icarus and The Wandering Legion) performed at various sci-fi, anime, and gaming cons as steampunk convention speakers. I’d help them out and we’d hold a series of panels about Steampunk 101, costumes & props, steampunk in the media, etc.

I still help them out at cons in this manner, but since starting Beyond Victoriana, I’ve gotten a chance to focus on my specific interests in steampunk. I’ve run two panels in the past with assistance from Jha: “Steam Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana” and “Envisioning a Better Steam Society: Steampunk & Social Issues.” Both premiered at Steampunk World’s Fair to great success. At the moment, I’m also traveling with my “Steam Around the World” panel; I’ve just presented it again at ConnectiCon this July in Hartford, and I’m hoping to work with Jha again soon at another con later this fall (not announcing it now ‘til the details get worked out, but cross your fingers!)

Airship Ambassador: Speaking of the Steampunk World’s Fair in May. What did you think of it and what were your favorite highlights?

Ay-leen the Peacemaker: This was the first all-steampunk convention I attended and I thought it was spectacular! There was just so much going all at once: performance, music, workshops, lectures, demonstrations, dancing, readings—whatever you wanted to go at a con times a hundred. The entire hotel ended up being taken over by steampunks, and I never felt like I belonged more anywhere at a convention than I did at SPWF. And not only was there an outburst of creativity at the fair, the people in general were more courteous and friendly than I had met up with at other types of cons. No unwashed, “con zombies” or “geekier-than thou” attendees there.

My favorite highlight really was the music. Usually, a convention has a band or two playing as an alternative to going to the masquerade; SPWFs had dozens of musicians playing multiple times throughout the weekend. That was a great idea; so if you missed out on one performance you could see a performer again later on. And it gave the performers great exposure too. I ended up seeing about four or five different bands, and I usually never go see music at a con.

I also had the opportunity to hang out with some really awesome people. It felt like every steampunk who I had met touring across New England, New York and New Jersey, hightailed it down to Jersey for the fair. I also got to meet Jha face-to-face, which was a moment full of squee. Jake von Slatt brought his bus in, and we ended up having some really fascinating discussions about cultural appropriation. And I also connected with the folks at Outland Armour. They had lost a good portion of their stuff during the Tennessee floods that happened earlier in May, so my steampunk friends took part in a fundraiser for them and the Red Cross. Plus, there were the amazing folks who attended my panels, who brought so much insight and who were such great listeners.

In a nutshell, I can’t wait until next year’s!

AA: Sounds like a great experience and now I’m really sorry I missed it! Between the blogs and conventions, what kind of feedback are you getting from people?

AtP: I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about Beyond Victoriana, which is great, and offers to contribute, which is even greater. ^-^

I also gotten feedback that conventions should give my panels more time—I always end up going over and having people continuing the conversation outside. Which is what the best sort of panels/discussions should be doing anyways.

AA: Here’s the Wish List question – if you had unlimited access, time and budget, what is one item you’d leap at to blog about or do?

AtP: Well, let me mention that if I had the money, I’d give my blog a technological booster shot. It is actually fairly nice as it is, but I would love to have my own web server and upgrade my blogging platform to a more professional standard.

As for blogging, I would take the time to do more heavy cultural analysis work and media analysis of steampunk. I mean, I’m already doing it now, but that’s squeezed between all my other commitments. Sometimes I feel that affects the quality of my work.

I’m currently starting the grad school application process in part because I like analyzing patterns in society and art and would love to dedicate more time to that. Specifically I’m looking into performance studies, a field where I’d be able to combine my love of subculture/fandom, theater, new media, community interaction, and identity politics all into one crazy artistic/academic dish of intellectual goodness.

AA: With your writing and editing experience, what advice or suggestions do you have to people who want to write their own blog?

AtP: Well, I already gave my four big blogging bits of advice before, so I’ll just say this: writing is like good wine—it gets better with time. Same applies to blogging.

AA: Aside from Beyond Victoriana and conventions, what other steampunk things are you involved with?

AtP: Oh, too many to name!

I have a lot of different sorts of steampunk friends, but I’m mostly involved with The Wandering Legion. But since they are based in the New England area, I have a whole other group of New York/NJ people who I know as well.  My con touring around New England has become more of a “work-hobby,” though, while my NYC stuff is more “fun-hobby”. That, however, is slowly changing the more I get recognized for being in the steampunk scene. For example, at Book Expo America, I got stopped by a reader while wandering the floor – and I wasn’t even in character or in my steam gear. It was quite startling to be noticed “in my civvies!”

I also make various blogosphere contributions when I can; in the past, I had contributed to both Racialicious and Steampunk Magazine with articles about multicultural aspects of the subculture. I’ve also contributed to the online magazine All Things Steampunk and will have something for Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders. In addition, I have hard-copy publications; in the fall. I have an academic article coming out about steampunk fashion co-written with Jha, and also a couple of articles based off interviews I had with Jeff Vandermeer fir his latest Steampunk anthology and The Steampunk Bible. My current listing of steampunk writings can all be found on Beyond Victoriana under “Press & Publications.”

On the more artsy side, I’m currently working on a collaborative photoshoot project that will be unveiled later this year. Plus, I’ve modeled for artists doing steampunk projects (some of which are being displayed at the Steampunk Bizarre in Hartford, CT this July).

AA: Looking beyond steampunk, what other interests fill your free time?

AtP: Hmmm, I’m a theater geek and have dabbled in performance, political theater, and playwriting. I’m a big sf/f reader and manga/anime fan too. And my sekrit interest? I’m actually a Russophile; Russian was one of my majors in college and I studied abroad in Moscow during college. My dream novel, actually, is to write about werewolves in the KGB. ^_^

AA: Wow, those are some wide-ranging interests. Do you find any overlap or influence of those interests with your steampunk writing and activities?

AtP: I think all of my interests have bled into how I approach steampunk, especially how it relates to my thoughts about performing identities. Even my interest in Russia, too, is reflective. Russia was viewed for a long time (and still is, by some political thinkers) as the great “Other” in geopolitics, as something that Western countries were Not. Even now, Russians still debate about how their country should interact with “the West” and doesn’t consider itself entirely Western or Eastern, but a cultural blend of the two.

AA:. It has been really great talking with you and getting to know you better. Thank you again for making the time for this interview. Are there any final words you would like to share with our readers?

AtP: Thanks for taking the time to interview me, dear Ambassador, and thanks to all you readers out there!

If anyone wants to drop me a line, I can be reached at attic.hermit@gmail.com. ^_^

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Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 9:04 am  Comments (1)  
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Interview with Ay-leen the Peacemaker – Part 1

This week, we have part 1 of 2 of an interview with Ay-leen the Peacemaker, the creator and writer of steampunk blog, Beyond Victoriana. I first came across Beyond Victoriana while writing the Getting Out of London post, and read the guest posting by Michael Redturtle. With each new posting, I learn something new and gain a better, wider and more balanced perspective.

 

Airship Ambassador: Hi Ay-leen, you’ve been keeping very busy lately with work, blogging and conventions, and I wanted to thank you for taking the time for this interview. Let’s start with basic terms – How do you describe steampunk

Ay-leen the Peacemaker: That’s the big question at the moment, isn’t it? To me, steampunk is being defined on two different levels: how people use it and the relationship it has with other subcultures and pop culture as a whole. Aesthetic-wise, I define it as a “science fantasy” inspired by 19th century styles (I first heard this word from Whisper Merlot of the SS Icarus and have seen others, like Steampunk Scholar Mike Perschon take on a similar definition with his term “technofantasy”). Culturally, steampunk is a nascent post-modern subculture that has been used to question the norms of modernity and the progression of technology in industrializing societies.

Yeah, can’t you tell I’m an ideas sort of gal?

I also view art as a reflection of one’s relationship to society and how society treats people. Thus, I’m very much interested in the political nature of art. I’m quite fond of the Catastrophone Orchestra and Art Collective’s steampunk political definition of “colonizing the past so we can dream a better future.” Essentially, steampunk is about history and its subversion. Not only subversion on a technological level— with steam-powered computers, dirigibles, and shiny brass ray guns—but on a social level too. Steampunk is chance to re-write the typical white, male-oriented, European- dominated past to reflect voices that had been silenced, ignored, or oppressed. Moreover, it is the creative opportunity to question the modern standards created by the legacy of Western cultural hegemony.

 

AA: With that interest in the art and possibilities of steampunk, how did you get started with Beyond Victoriana?

AtP: Beyond Victoriana was first conceived as a pet project back in during the summer of 2009. I had been emailing my friend Jha (“Jaymee”) Goh for a few months about how cool it would be to have a space for marginalized peoples in the West and from non-Western cultures in the steampunk community. At that point, we were knocking about an idea of starting a Ning community, but I couldn’t make the time commitment of maintaining a social network site (which is why I really think highly of those who do). And it was that point when I really wanted a space where people of color and allies could post content that directly addresses the issues of race, representation, and the challenges surrounding the cultural relationships between West and the non-West in steampunk. There’s steampunkdebate on LJ and the occasional history post by G.D. Falksen on steamfashion, but neither had the right focus I wanted: a space that can be used as a credited resource and platform to investigate these issues.

And then Jha outed my project plans on Tor.com, and so I thought, “Well, now I have to commit to this project!” ^-~

 

AA: Isn’t it great to have friends who forcibly encourage us to follow up on our potential? LOL. With a guiding idea in place, what became the defined focus of your blog?

AtP: The nutshell explanation on the blog says it best, so I’ll start with that:

Beyond Victoriana is a blog about multicultural steampunk and retro-futurism–that is, steampunk outside of a Western-dominant, Eurocentric framework. All of the steampunkery here focuses on non-Western cultures, underrepresented minorities in Western histories (Asian / Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, First Nation, Hispanic, black / African), and the cultural intersection between the West and the non-West.”

However, I also want to add that Beyond Victoriana also encourages guest contributors and is not just me on my aethernetz soap box. I strongly believe in the power of the mind-meld, and I, personally, have an insatiable curiosity. So, if someone wants to contribute to Beyond Victoriana with an essay, an interview, a review, or whatnot, I’m more than happy to offer Beyond Victoriana as a platform for them to use.

Essentially, by focusing the content on the “fringe aspects” of steampunk, I hope that the blog would give greater credibility to the idea of multiculturalism and recognize the challenges that it faces in fandom and steampunk.

 

AA: Those are all great goals and personally, I think they are being achieved and certainly give people something to think about. How did ‘Peacemaker’ become part of your moniker?

AtP: Well, I can tell you two different stories to this one. The short answer: it’s actually the name of the gun that I use at conventions. Ta-da!

The longer answer: I first got into steampunk through cosplay and Ay-leen the Peacemaker initially started off as my steampunk character persona (aka steamsona). She is a Buddhist assassin-for-hire from the colony of Tonkin who carries around a huge Chinese steam-powered hand cannon as her signature weapon and is paid to shoot French imperialists (or anyone else for a Large But Reasonable Fee).

A lot of steamsonas you see in the steampunk community are based off of types from Victorian pulp fiction and steampunk literature (and almost all of them based on Eurocentric caricatures): the Airship Pirate, the Edisonade, the Explorer/Adventurer, the Upper-Crust Aristocrat, the various Military types, the Wildean Fop. There aren’t any equivalent “Asian types” (or any type that can be coded as specifically non-white) in steampunk—unless you count the detrimental stereotypes that were created in the Victorian era like The Dragon Lady, the China Doll/Geisha Girl, Fu Manchu. Steampunk is problematic that way, I think—the fact that it revels so much in pulp fiction and in glorification of the Western-European ideal while also overlooking why that Western-European ideal exists in the first place.

So I didn’t want to be a walking Asian stereotype, or become “Eurocentric-inspired” by taking on a typical steampunk type, or be a more “historically accurate character” like a coolie or a railroad worker or a rice farmer.

I wanted to invent a steamsona that I wished actually existed in Victorian pulp fiction that had relevance to my life. Someone tough and kickass, but still larger than life and ridiculous. I admit my love of anime played a big part in why Ay-leen is an assassin who carries a huge gun and dressed in awesome clothes other than the utilitarian black a real assassin would don.

 

AA: That is a great way to think about creating a new character, or characterization – a well established archetype reimagined in a more personalized environment based on your own experiences and background. And for steampunk, I love that your steamsona is a formidable force in fabulous outfits! Back to the writing, how did previous experiences prepare you for blogging?

AtP: I’ve edited for college newspapers and literary magazines and I currently work in publishing, so I have quite a bit of writing and editorial experience. And, like any child who grew up during the Internet Age, I’ve already been blogging since I was a teenager. But Beyond Victoriana is the first blog I’ve maintained that had a “serious” focus with an intended audience outside of friends and family. I admit I was intimidated by this blogging process but am slowly getting more comfortable in the role. I only hope that this is also reflected in the work that gets out there!

 

AA: With that writing and editing background, what do you think are the qualities a person needs to be successful in this type of position?

AtP: Wow, you make it sound like I actually get paid to do what I do! ^_~

Anyone can blog, of course, but to do it well and to do it in a way that captures an audience I think you need four things: organization skills, perseverance, community engagement, and passion.

Organization is key, because you want to be sure you have a consistent flow of quality material for your audience or else you’ll lose their attention. Perseverance is important because building an audience takes time. By community engagement, I mean constant interaction both with your audience and, in my particular case, with people you want as contributors. You don’t expect to post something and have people come running to read it automatically, after all. You have to go out and read other people’s work too and share with them so they will share with you. That’s the key to a successful blog: one that can form a community around itself.

Most important, though, is passion. I started Beyond Victoriana because I was interested in experimenting with and expanding the current conception of steampunk. I’m really surprised and grateful all of the attention the blog has gotten and I’m glad to have gotten to know some wonderful people because of it.

 

AA: I think your passion really shows in your writing and dedication to having new content. What are some challenges of maintaining your own schedule and standards for the blog?

AtP: Being disciplined. I really admire bloggers like Mike Perschon, Evangeline Holland of Edwardian Promenade, Cory Gross of Voyages Extraordinaire, and Matt Delman of Free the Princess for being able to come out with great intelligent stuff at a set schedule. And I know it’s because they are super disciplined and focused writers.

Because the intent of Beyond Victoriana is to serve as a community platform as well as a personal one, I do plan posts in advance, but I also want to maintain the blog’s flexibility for outside contributors.

Time management is also another challenge. As I mentioned before, I make no money off of any of my work for Beyond Victoriana, but dedicate a lot of time to blogging. At the same time, however, I’m also balancing a real life job, a social life, and my other writing (which I hope to make money off of someday…) Plus, I know as much as I love to blog, that it is only an interesting side hobby so I try not to let that encompass my entire life (though that can be hard!)

 

AA: To balance things out, what are the rewards of publishing Beyond Victoriana, what do you look forward to?

AtP: My rewards so far are entirely self-motivated: I feel proud when people respond to the blog in a positive way. And I also get a lot of pleasure being able to interact with people—interviewing authors, working with contributors, brainstorming about a certain topic at midnight.

 

AA: With the wide variety of topics and guest blogs, how do you prepare for a post? Where do the ideas come from?

AtP: Beyond Victoriana is very open, conceptual-wise. I mostly write posts inspired by things I read or see in the media or the current steampunk community. I also try to keep a record of historical content that people can use as a resource.

But the best moments are when I’d be walking through the library or reading about something totally outside of the steampunk community and find something that hits me as being absolutely relevant to Beyond Victoriana and worth blogging about. I adore serendipity.

 

AA: Aside from guest writers, do you talk with other bloggers or authors to trade ideas?

AtP: I certainly do! Jha Goh has been a close intellectual comrade-in-arms in the steampunk community, actually, (I laugh when people think we’re the same person!) I personally keep in touch with the folks at Steampunk Magazine, Steampunk Workshop and Mike Perschon (and keep track of several steampunk blogs/websites too). Lucretia Dearfour of The Wandering Legion is also someone I constantly bounce ideas off. I’m not too fond of forums, but work much better with email and G-chat when talking with fellow steampunks. I’ve also gotten in touch with several professional sci-fi authors and editors through steampunk, which has been very exciting too.

There are also blogs that I follow that aren’t steampunk but inspire me a lot in my blogging work.

Racialicious – A site dedicated to the examination of race in pop culture

Threadbared – A blog run by two fabulous clotheshorse academics Minh-ha Pham and Mimi Thi Nguyen, who discuss fashion and politics

Tor.com – The online magazine & sci-fi blog site.

SF Signal – Another standard when it comes to sci-fi websites.

Bibliophile Stalker – Charles Tan, Filipino writer, editor & blogger keeps tabs on the SF/F world and conducts great interviews with the best in the business.

World SF News Blog – Run by author Lavie Tidhar, this is another great resource about the international state of sci-fi.

 

AA: With all the great content you’ve published so far, what are some of your favorite pieces and people on Beyond Victoriana?

AtP: I like learning, and so the best contributions I’ve gotten or requested are about topics I know very little about. Then later on, when I’m working on editing the piece with a contributor, it’s a very exciting and interesting journey for the both of us.

I feel the same way about interviews, because I love hearing people’s stories.

 

End of Part 1 (A cookie from Ay-leen to everyone for getting through all of it.)

Join us next week for Part 2.

Click here to read the rest of the interview

Part 2

 

Published in: on July 18, 2010 at 8:25 am  Comments (13)  
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Interview with Jha

This week, we have an interview with Jha, the creator and writer of steampunk blog, Silver Goggles.  Jha is one of the bloggers I first came across after starting this blog, and it has been a real pleasure getting to know her.

Airship Ambassador: Hi Jha, thank you for doing this interview with me and sharing your thoughts amidst your busy schedule. Starting right at the beginning, how do you describe steampunk?

Jha: Hiya! Hm, big question. I tend to focus on steampunk in its literary and aesthetic forms. Steampunk as a literary genre is a combination of science fiction written during the Victorian era by the likes of Verne and Wells and a spin-off of cyberpunk in the 80’s by the likes of Gibson, Sterling, Moorcock and Jeter. Steampunk as an aesthetic is retro-futuristic, drawing inspiration from fashions of eras somewhat long-past, adapted with materials of today.

AA: When I was writing the Getting Out of London post and doing my research for it, your interview with James Ng was among the first I read, which then lead me to your own blog and reading everything you had posted there. How did you get started with Silver Goggles?

JHA: Oh, a long story. Silver Goggles began as a pet project after writing for Tor.com‘s Steampunk Month, when I realized that I really wanted to explore marginalized narratives in steampunk, fiction and subculture. I’d already been writing occasionally about steampunk on my main blog, Intersectionality Dreaming, and like Mike Perschon of Steampunk Scholar, I wanted a placeholder for materials I would eventually use for my master thesis.

AA: Talking about that exploration, what is the focus of your blog?

JHA: From the About page of my blog: “The purpose of Silver Goggles is to deconstruct narratives in steampunk, with a particular focus on the issues of colonialism, imperialism and politics, as they appear within steampunk literature and/or roleplay, in order to de-center the traditional Eurocentric focus.”

AA: I find each of your posts creative, informative and even inspiring. How do you prepare for a blog post? Where do the ideas come from?

JHA: Nawh, thank you! Various ways, really. If it’s a review, I think about what I want to say about a book, and think about the racialized narratives within it (if there are none, I will comment on that too). Other types of posts are usually reactions to something else I’ve read, written, or seen in the last few days.

AA: After reading each new post in your blog, I always learn something new, either about the things I don’t know – and want to – or about myself and the things I could incorporate into who I am as a person. What would you like people to know, learn, question, or otherwise take away from your blog postings?

JHA: Short answer: Oppression is bad, mmkay.

Long answer: History, society, and thus fiction and the stories we tell are varied. There are many narratives in a single timeline, and it is important to seek as many of them out as possible, because it is enriching on several levels to know the stories of various peoples all over the spectrum of humanity. It is never just a story. It is never just a dress. The meanings imbued in these speak to us and for us; they tell us about ourselves.

AA: What kind of previous experiences prepared you for blogging?

JHA: I’ve always been a writer. Years ago, I was a forum moderator. Coming to university, I found I had many opinions. I also do a lot of reading in the social justice sphere, which is where I learned to deal with detractors and trolls.

AA: As a writer, then, what qualities have served you well and what might help a person be successful as a blogger?

JHA: Academia has helped me immensely, especially my degree in English, which had me writing a lot of focused essays, and response papers. But people’s experiences vary. I don’t really know what makes a person successful as a blogger, because bloggers define success in various ways. For me, it’s just having an opinion, and the willingness to put that opinion out there.

AA: In writing an ongoing blog, what challenges have you had to deal with?

JHA: So far, I’ve not had many challenges to my blog. I’ve had to dole out the cluebat, but that’s what the Reading List is for now. Writing blogposts should be a challenge, but I take it easy on my blog and post when I can, rather than on schedule, to keep things relatively stress-free.

AA: On the flipside, what are the rewards of your writing, what do you look forward to?

JHA: I like fanmail! Various people from all over the world have contacted me about my work. Famous people like me. I get the impetus to go out and meet people at places I otherwise would have shrugged and sighed about not going to. I get asked for my opinion. It’s exciting.

AA: Do you get to talk with other bloggers or authors to trade ideas?

JHA: Oh yes. I chat with Ay-Leen of Beyond Victoriana fairly often. On occasion, I email Mike Perschon of Steampunk Scholar and Cory Gross of Voyages Extraordinaires for their invaluable opinions. Sometimes, James Ng will spring a picture on me and since we both grew up in Asia and are living in Canada, we discuss our observations on the differences between the two places. I’m also in contact with Allegra Hawksmoor of Steampunk Magazine. I love these people and name-drop unashamedly, because I don’t think they get recognized for the incredible work they do nearly often enough. One day, I will dare to just ping Jeff Vandermeer out of the blue for his opinion on stuff, because he is quite awesome like that.

AA: With the variety of postings, do you have any favorite blogs, topics, and people on Silver Goggles?

JHA: Everybody on my blogroll and everything I’ve written. I’m proudest of my essay on imperialism and kyriarchy in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I want to write more on macro-issues in steampunk.

AA: You’ve been a speaker at some conventions recently; how did that come about and what were those topics?

JHA: For Steampunk World’s Fair, Ay-Leen knew Whisper Merlot, and she’d already been bouncing around the idea of a panel for social issues in steampunk. This would logically be accompanied by a discussion of non-Eurocentric steampunk for us. I didn’t really expect to be a part of it, but since Ay-Leen and I had already worked on an essay together on this, it made sense. It’s my first con too; previously, I could never find the justification to go out to conventions just to hear people speak, see pretty costumes, and get up to con shenanigans.

WisCon, however, I blame the incredible Deepa D. for making me take advantage of the Carl Brandon Society‘s Con or Bust! fund, specifically for fen of colour. She also got me to sign up for panels. I’d been wanting to go to WisCon for the last few years, and since it was right around the corner from Steampunk World’s Fair, and I was jobless, I saw no real reason to not give it a try. I was on the Politics of Steampunk panel, as well as Strangers Writing Strange Lands, which was about the challenges of writing non-US/Canada settings for US/Canada markets.

AA: And yet another reason for me to regret not being able to make it to the Steampunk World’s Fair last May! What did you think of the convention and what were your favorite highlights?

JHA: It was ridiculously awesome. I did not get to do as much as I would have liked, because that weekend I was nursing a sore throat, leftover from a cold a few days prior. I have depression as well, so interacting in general is hard for me, but the sore throat really did me in. I did, however, get Professor Elemental’s autograph and I got to see his final show! It was hilarious. Meeting wonderful people is also always a blessing, despite my issues. Being able to hang out with Ay-Leen, Jake von Slatt, K. Tempest Bradford, and the wonderful folks from Weird Tales, was so extremely fantastic. I look forward to seeing them again in the future.

AA: It certainly does sound like you’ve met a lot of great people, and I heard that your panels at SPWF were jam-packed full of people for a standing room only attendance. There were also some good photos posted on Flickr. What kind of feedback are you getting from people about the blogs and convention panels?

JHA: Good ones, mostly. Particularly the Social Issues Roundtable, which was a hella lot more popular than RSVPs showed.

AA: Looking at your wish list, if you had unlimited access, time and budget, what is one item you’d leap at to do?

JHA: So many things. But I think, most of all, I would travel around the world seeking out local retro-futuristic literary scenes. Learn a lot of languages, maybe, so I can read them in their beautiful, unadulterated forms. Not that there’s anything wrong with English, but the English-language hegemony needs to stop being so self-important.

AA: For the people reading your blog and thinking about writing one of their own, what advice or suggestions would you offer?

JHA: I can only share what I’ve learned from others – Set boundaries and rules, and stick by them. Your blog is your space; you don’t have to deal with freedom of speech shills from trolls who are only out to silence you. If you are talking from a specific context, tell your audience first, because otherwise someone is going to misconstrue something somewhere. If your topics are quite specific and require background reading, prepare a list of links for your audience to read at their leisure so you don’t have to keep answering questions.

AA: Aside from Silver Goggles, what other steampunk things are you involved with?

JHA: I write stories. Sometimes I write non-fiction.

AA: I just read your story, Between Islands, after I saw a link on Beyond Victoriana and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m already looking forward to further adventures with those characters. Looking beyond Silver Goggles, what are your interests outside of steampunk?

JHA: Thanks again! I don’t have a lot of interests outside steampunk per se; a lot of them factor into steampunk a great deal. I’m a huge fan of scifi/fantasy in general. I make a mean chocolate cake. Every November, I do NaNoWriMo. Like most normal people, I like movies and music. I’m heavily invested in anti-racism (obviously), feminism, and disability (particularly mental health), all of which become part of intersectionality.

AA: Do you find any overlap or influence of those other interests with your steampunk writing and blogging?

JHA: Always. That’s how I do what I do.

AA: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. Are there any final words you would like to add?

JHA: Hi! /winslow

Published in: on July 11, 2010 at 8:43 am  Comments (11)  
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