Steampunk Road Trip – Watch City Festival

Next stop on the road trip, we are stopping in for a few words with Melissa Honig, the lead organizer of Watch City Festival.


Hello, Melissa! As Lead Organizer, what are some of your responsibilities?

Melissa Honig: I handle the relations with the City of Waltham and our sponsoring organization, the Downtown Waltham Partnership, and I work with a great team of volunteers to make this event happen.


Where and when should people head towards on their road trip this year?

MH: We are located in Waltham, MA. Our event will be held on Saturday May 12th, rain or shine.


This has been running for 8 years now. How has it changed over time?

MH: The festival originated as an event at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in 2010. They thought they’d get 300 people, and 1000 showed up, so they realized they were on to something! Since then the festival has moved outside and become a project of the Downtown Waltham Partnership, which puts on free community festivals and other events that bring people to Waltham.


As people explore downtown, what are they likely to find in the programming?

MH: We’ll have over 65 vendors, three outdoor performance stages, food trucks, circus acts, a carousel organ, a steam machine exhibit, and more surprises in store. We’ll also have panels and presentations over at the Waltham Public Library, our English Music Hall and Pub Sing groups in the back room of a local restaurant (what’s a pub sing without being able to purchase libations?), and live theatrical performances from the “Mrs. Hawking” adventure series. We also have activities just for children. And it’s all free! Well, except for the shopping.


Any notable people or activities in previous years?

MH: I can’t make any commitments as to who will definitely be here this year, but in the past we’ve had acts like Frenchy & the Punk, the Boston Circus Guild, and Karnevil. The English Music Hall and Pub Sing groups have been very popular. One of my personal favorites was the exhibit put on by the Boston University Graduate School of Archaeology, who came out and set up a “dig site” with a sandbox that kids could dig through to find artifacts, all in an effort to teach people more about archaeology. I like mixing real history in with our steampunk.


Ooohh, Frenchy and the Punk are always worth seeing live! What might a first-timer expect to find?

MH: As a free community festival, the attendees are a mix of steampunk fans and the residents of Waltham, although as the years go by we find more and more of the local residents are putting their steampunk outfits together! The Watch City Steampunk Festival is an outdoor festival which is on rain or shine, so be prepared for the weather. Downtown Waltham has a robust restaurant scene, so after our event ends at 5pm, stick around and have dinner along Moody Street.

For those in the community interested in attending, what are all the ways to follow convention news?
Voice Mail: (781) 499-2824

Ok, everyone, have your brollies and Wellies ready when you stop in at the Watch City Festival!

Follow the whole road trip on the Master Link List

Onward to our next destination!

Published in: on February 5, 2018 at 10:00 pm  Comments (1)  

Interview 107 – Boston Metaphysical Society Author, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Part 2

Welcome back for part two of our chat with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, author of Boston Metaphysical Society.

Read Part One here.


Airship Ambassador: Looking behind the scenes, how did you keep the characters relatable yet still grounded in the circumstances of the story?

Madeleine Holly-Rosing: By keeping the relationships believable and real. Storytelling is all about relationships.  I was on a panel last year with Tim Powers and Vernor Vinge at Gaslight Expo and Tim and I had a discussion on finding a truth, rather it be scientific or emotional, to ground your reader into the story. I hadn’t thought about it that way before but I realized when we talked that I had always done it. To explain a bit more, I try to have the science I use to be as accurate as possible. Most of the time I can’t for dramatic reasons, but it does help anchor the story. On the emotional side, I use kernels of my own emotional experiences within my characters to keep them true to life and relatable.

AA: Those both sound like good anchors – define the parameters of the world and characters and then maintain them. What are some of the interesting details within the world of Boston Metaphysical Society?

MHR:  As I mentioned before, trying to make the science accurate whenever possible and keeping Caitlin’s dialect true to her Irish background.


AA: What passage, paragraph, or scene was really memorable to write?

MHR:  Steampunk Rat is by far the most popular of the novellas I’ve written. Here is an excerpt from that:


Jonathan shrank under her gaze, for Beatrice Weldsmore was a fierce and unforgiving woman. Her face was as hard and pinched as her gray hair, which was tied up in various knots by gold buckles and wire.  Her body was wrapped up in much the same way.  She wore a full length bronze satin dress with a high bodice and a black corset laced with pearls. Skeins of copper wire wound their way up and around her dress, like snakes with no end and no beginning.

Unlike Medusa, Beatrice Weldsmore had no fear or regrets when she looked in the mirror.


I go into great detail about what the characters wear which is ironic since I hate to dress up.


AA: Someone is bound to cosplay this, now! It does sound pretty amazing. Was there any scene that you loved but which just didn’t work and had to be cut?

MHR:  Honestly, I don’t remember now. I have so many projects going on that when I have to cut something I do it with brutal efficiency and move on.


AA: What back story haven’t we seen yet?

MHR:  A rather extensive one. This is a huge world.


My novel, Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets, is going off to the editor this month.  The story starts five years before the graphic novel begins and features Samuel Hunter, his wife Elizabeth, and his father-in-law, Jonathan Weldsmore.  It’s about how Samuel, Elizabeth, and Jonathan deal with Elizabeth’s burgeoning psychic abilities while House Weldsmore must battle for its political and financial life.


There is also the House Wars. If you’ve read the graphic novel or the short stories/novellas then you’ll occasionally see references to the House Wars which is my version of the American Civil War.  If you’ve read, Hunter-Killer, the sequential art short story which is part of the trade, that incident was essentially Fort Sumter and the beginning of the House Wars.


My plan is to write a series of novels about the House Wars. My husband has been on me for ages to do it and it looks like I may actually be able to start mapping it out after the Kickstarter is over. In Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets, I introduce the reader to the political system of the Great States of America and how the economy is controlled by families called the Great Houses.  They have divided up the country into regions which they control.


In this alternate history there are two important differences to our own history: 1. The Chinese Exclusionary Act never occurred, and 2. After the war of 1812, our government started taking away civil liberties and overtime gave voting rights exclusively to the Great Houses.

AA: People may guess how #2 works out for the average person. #1 sounds interesting, and would likely have quite an impact as people come to the country. Any key messages in the stories for the readers?

MHR:  That there is strength in diversity.


AA: What was one memorable story while writing?

MHR: The only one I remember is the day my director friend suggested I change my period detective piece into steampunk.  I was sitting on one of the couches in Melnitz Hall at UCLA when he jumped over the back of the couch and plopped down next to me and uttered one word, “Steampunk.” I said, “What?” “Steampunk,” he said. “I think you should set your story in a steampunk world.”


Needless to say, that small event changed my life.

AA: And brought benefits to the rest of us as well! Someone needs to buy him a drink or a box of chocolates. With the Boston Metaphysical Society world being so large and sprawling, what kind of research have you had to do?

MHR:  Yikes! Quite a bit. The original research into this time period was when I was writing a script called Stargazer to submit for the Sloan Fellowship while at UCLA. The story was about Mina Fleming who came to this country from Scotland in the late 1800s pregnant, penniless, and abandoned by her husband. She got a job as a maid in the house of the director of the Harvard Observatory and he noticed her attention to detail. He hired her to become one of his female computers (yes, that is what they were called) and she eventually went on to develop her own stellar classification system as well as discover over 10,000 stars. That script did win the fellowship.


However, the research I did was exhaustive and I had to learn basic astronomy as well as what the details of that time period were. I had piles of books stacked in my office and found microfiche articles located in France from American magazines featuring articles about the female computers.


It prepared me well for Boston Metaphysical Society.


That alone sounds fascinating and worth an hour or two of conversation. Alas, we need to break here in our chat with Madeleine.

Join us for the next part when she talks about the writing process and crowdfunding.

Until then, keep up to date with news on the Boston Metaphysical website, and get your copy to read here.

Published in: on February 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm  Comments (2)