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A Fifty Year Affair with Dr Who…

Today I celebrate a fifty year love affair…and like all long term relationships, this one has been an emotional rollercoaster and reflection brings back bittersweet memories. I was eight and my brother was five when my mother plonked us down in front of our wobbly and unreliable telly …black and white only of course. The first eerie notes of the now familiar theme tune, the curious special effects and we were both hooked. Dr Who had entered our lives. He was our companion throughout our childhood, inspiring my brother to new heights of inspiration to torment me…the ‘cyberman’ hiding in the wardrobe, the imaginative use of my mother’s fur coat to be a Yeti. Life’s triumphs and turmoils, grief, loss and joy have continued on over next fifty years but the Dr has remained a constant. Like all relationships, there have been gaps… I turned away from the program during the Sylvester McCoy years, renewed my affair with the tragically underused Paul McGann.

Of course there have been favourite incarnations of the Time Lord, everyone has their Doctor. As a youngster, it was the adventures and monsters that drew me to the programme, William Hartnell’s Dr was too cold, too brisk for me. Patrick Troughton was ideal, eccentric, curious and with that missing warmth, the stories vivid, scary and great fun and he had the best of all companions, the courageous, ever loyal Jamie McCrimmon…played by the wonderful Frazer Hines. Tom Baker will always be the quintessential Dr…he had the quirky charm and sense of humour and played the alien in human guise to perfection.

And what aliens shared the screen with the Dr….from the improbably scary Daleks…oversized pepperpots with baubles yet they were utterly terrifying. My own personal nemesis…the Cybermen…and rather lame ones like the Wyrnn grub. a man crawling along the ground wrapped in green painted bubble wrap, conquering the Universe..very, very slowly.
Giant maggots, clockwork robots, stone angels, one-eyed beings with permanent bad hair days…fifty years of hiding behind the nearest cushion.

My favourite Doctors have been Patrick Troughton, Paul McGann, Chris Ecclestone and Matt Smith with David Tennant totally claiming my heart with his enthusiastic, impish , energetic Dr…allons y indeed !

Tonight I will revel in the 50th anniversary episode, along with so many wonderful friends who share my passion for a program that has endured, with such a precarious beginning and so many detractors. Just don’t expect me to watch the Christmas special…..I’m not ready to say good bye to Matt Smith yet !

….David Tennant

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In 2013, I was deeply honoured to be the first author signed up by Telos Moonrise, a new fiction imprint of Telos Publishing, a much respected and award winning publisher. In autumn, they launched my collection of Victorian and steampunk spooky short stories, Absinthe and Arsenic.

To the inevitable sneery cynics, this had nothing to do with my friendship with two of the people involved with Telos….they are a long established and highly professional company that will only publish work of the highest quality, friendship alone would not guarantee me a place on their team of authors.

I have always thought of myself as a novelist and not having the special skills to write short stories but I found myself writing nothing but short horror and steampunk stories throughout the year for commissions and discovered I love writing them. Oddly, the title, Absinthe and Arsenic came first before I had written a word of the collection.
I know this sounds a bit up myself and apologies for that, but I am truly proud of this collection and hope readers will enjoy the book as much as I did writing it.

Here is a review by author Neil Baker on the splendid website, Hellnotes

absinthe and arsenic cover

UK-based Raven Dane has had many short stories and poems published in horror and fantasy anthologies and is the author of several novels, including the critically acclaimed Legacy of the Dark Kind series and her award-winning series of steampunk/occult novels featuring Cyrus Darian, the third of which she is currently writing.

Absinthe & Arsenic is a collection of (mostly) ghost stories chosen or specially written for the anthology by Raven Dane. She has selected works ranging from one of the earliest in her writing career (The Attic Nursery) through to very recent short stories, including an excerpt from her award-winning novel Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron.

All of the stories in Dane’s outstanding collection are rooted in the late 19th century, and it is evident that she is an enthusiastic student of the era. The terminology and speech patterns she utilizes, along with descriptive passages that swirl like fog from the pages, create wholly believable settings dripping with atmosphere into which she threads effectively chilling ghost stories.

The collection begins with a terrifically bleak pseudo-zombie uprising in The 10.15 to Lealholm and then settles down into traditional Victorian ghost stories that could have been ripped from the spines of the penny dreadfuls of the time, such is their authenticity and Dane’s skillful prose. There are no weak entries in this collection, but my personal favorites were In Insomnium Veritas, Worse Things Happen at Sea, A Taste of Almonds, Ghostlight and Heart of Brass – each of the tales being unique despite their shared timeframe.

Although ghost stories are usually things of an intimate, whispered nature, I found the two tales that book-ended the collection, The 10.15 to Lealholm and Heart of Brass, to read like film synopses, the former feeling like a 60’s Hammer period piece and the latter like an early Del Toro film by way of Poe, which made the reading of them even more enjoyable.

This accomplished collection of short stories from Raven Dane would be an excellent introduction to readers who have yet to discover her work.

David reading Absinthe

me and sis

dragonhat

Leeds Steampunk eventI am so behind in reporting events this year….so much as happened in a blur.

There was a fun signing session at Forbidden Planet, London with fellow Telos Publishing authors, Sam Stone and Stephen James Walker…and a delightful gathering of friends and new readers who turned up to support us.

I had a wonderful time at the new must attend event The Nine Worlds Geekfest as a guest author with Jonathan Green, Stephen Hunt and Toby Frost at the Steampunk Central section of this excellent new Con. Held at two Heathrow adjacent big international hotels, it was packed with enthusiastic attendees, author and media guests and was so well organised, it was hard to believe it was the first ever event.

And of course,there was the ever awesome Weekend at the Asylum in Lincoln, Europe’s award winning, biggest steampunk convivial. There were two launches for Telos authors, my collection of Victorian spooky stories Absinthe and Arsenic and the every dashing Kit Cox’s Dr Tripps Kaiju Cocktail…an a strange and truly awesome novella I thoroughly recommend. I know there were over 2000 magnificently
attired steampunks in Lincoln, I know the wonderful organisers and volunteers put on another truly memorable event. Sadly , a personal tragedy unfolding back home that I could do nothing about, meant it was all a teary-eyed blur to me. Thank goodness for all the photographs taken at the long weekend, otherwise I might of thought it was all a vivid, multihued and fantastical dream.

Somehow I even managed to get to Leeds for the day (thank you British Rail) for a charming steampunk event in their fabulous central library and art gallery. What a building…Victorian civic pride immortalised in stone and glass plus beautiful rebuilt Victorian tea room full of deliciousness.

I am busy going with the inspirational flow of a new novel at the moment, the first time in over a year, so apologies for these brief reports…. take my word…they were all really good, impeccably organised and fun events and can thoroughly recommend them!

Photos…. David J Howe of Telos Publishing reads from Absinthe and Arsenic, also with Sam Stone and Kit Cox.
Me in my Dragon Hat at the Weekend at the Asylum
My sister Claira and me at a terrible café while waiting for the Forbidden Planet signing..they took so long serving us, we legged it !
The stylish poster for the Leeds Steampunk event

New friend Ralph Carr with a copy of one of my books, author and publisher David J Howe all about to be assimilated by the Borg

New friend Ralph Carr with a copy of one of my books, author and publisher David J Howe all about to be assimilated by the Borg

The nearest I will ever get to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones !

The nearest I will ever get to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones !

Wales Comic Con 2013, Wrexham

My second visit to Wales Comic Con  as a guest author  was even better than the year before, I didn’t think that was possible as 2012 was amazing enough. At the rate this event is growing, we could have a contender to rival the USA’s awesome Dragon Con ! In fact I keep accidently typing World Comic Con instead of Wales….perhaps a premonition?

Jaime Milner, organizer extraordinaire and his hard working, happy and friendly team created a near perfect Con for all fans of SF movies, TV, comics and books .  The team had urged people to buy tickets in advance but the huge number of people arriving without tickets and preparing to queue for as much as three hours seemed perfectly happy to do so and waited cheerfully for entrance to a one day event now grown into two large buildings at Wrexham University.

Jaime has the awesome ability to get great media guests, the biggest draw to the event. He had the entire Red Dwarf crew including both Hollys, cast members from Buffy, Star Trek, Twilight, Game of Thrones, Primeval, Dr Who and The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings among many other great shows and films. Biggest queues were for Robert Picardo from Star Trek, Billy Boyd from Lord of the Rings, Nicholas Brendon from Buffy and Warwick Davis with his delightful family, all helping out. I am always astounded by the stamina and friendliness of these media guests, even after many, long hours of non-stop meet and greet and signing autographs, they remained cheerful and welcoming to their fans. I was very impressed by them all.

An enduring highlight of this event is always the wonderful attendees, so many resplendent in wonderful attire showing great skill and imagination. Among my many personal favourites were a fabulous, perfect Borg who must have parked the Cube outside in the car park and the nearest I will ever get to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones !

 Among the crowds thronging the well laid out aisles looking at interesting things to buy like big knitted Dr Whos and film-inspired jewellery, I spotted some extraordinary cosplay outfits  and professional look alikes including a jaw-droppingly accurate Jean Luc Picard.  The atmosphere of the event was exhilarating all day. I lost count of the number of lovely people I spoke to during the full on but thoroughly enjoyable day which sped past on warp factor ten. I even sold loads of books which is extra icing on the cake!

Big thanks to Sam and David for their ever-generous hospitality , to Fraser Hines for being such great company and to my lovely publishers  Andrew and Michele from Endaxi Press for being there to support me and my books.  You guys all rock! 

             And of course to Jaime and his team….have a well-earned rest then roll on Wales Comic Con 2014 !

the steampunk panel

Awesome is an over used and devalued word. I need something else to describe this years Sci Fi Weekender….freaking fantastic?

  I am absolutely exhausted from the event, a happy, smiley fatigue from spending so much time with over 5000 fun people. The organising team must be congratulated and warmly thanked…it was non-stop, seamless entertainment from the moment it started. Their seemingly endless stamina, friendliness and enthusiasm should be harnessed  as an energy source to save Planet Earth!

My biggest problem was getting to Pwllheli, in North Wales, nine hours on the train from Bucks…eek!  Again I was able to take dreadful advantage of the boundless hospitality of David J Howe and Sam Stone who put me up, took all my books to the event and generally spoilt me rotten. I was also able to get to know the beautiful American actress and guest star of the event, Chase Masterton, a real lady who is as gorgeous on the inside as her outward beauty. I also met up with lovely Frasier Hines again, he has always been  my favourite Dr Who companion and is great company in real life.

The venue, a Haven park in stunning coastal setting was a revelation. The excellent accomodation was fresh, spotless and luxurious…a real treat. With bright, early spring sunshine every day of the event, there was a definite holiday atmosphere to the event. And there was a Starbucks…so I could continue to fuel my addiction to caramel lattes.

 

With such an action packed program, the weekend went in a blur. I was on a line of tables among great people, firstly Robert Rankin with the effervervescent Lady Raygun, the Telos table with many of their authors. My table was also next to the King of Steampunk Jonathan Green, as always a delightful gentleman and wonderful company during the long hours of book promotion.

Jonathan and I were also together on the steampunk panel. This was so well attended, the auditorium packed solid with an enthusiatic and responsive audience.  We shared the panel with the irrepresible Rob Rankin and lovely Sam Stone at the table. A great success and so much fun to do. 
Other enjoyable panels I was on included one on fantasy world building, skilfully moderated by renowned author Paul Cornell.

The event attendees were awesome, incredible costumes, so much enthusiasm. One of the stand out costumes for me was one of the monsters from Attack the Block. How he managed to get the authentic -looking glowing blue fangs and spiky long black fur ! He had worked out how to fit an internal water bottle but not how to go to the loo…well, sometimes you have to suffer for your art!

Chase, Sam and David had the uneviable task of judging the cosplay competition, with so many brilliant entries, people who had put in so much dedication, imagination, humour and many hours careful crafting their costumes and props. The final ten were on the main stage on Saturday night and were popular choices of finalists judging from the enthusiastic cheers of the packed crowd.

Sadly I was too poorly to be able to take full advantage of the night events or maybe just getting too long in the tooth! I am determined to get fitter for next years extravaganza so I can join in and party all night. I was also soo busy to be able to catch any of the interviews with Chase, Frazer and Peter Davidson, Virginia Hey and the now legendary Rob Rankin/Brian Blessed interview. I hope someone has filmed them.

A big Gothmother thank you to the event organisers and support teams…you did an amazing job. Much respect to you all.

Also huge thank you hugs to Sam and David for looking after me ,to the Telos authors for holding the fort when I did panels, to Jonathan for your support and friendship, to the Rankins for being so fun and splendid. To the people who bought my books. To Kat and Lawrence and also my friends from the comic shop in Chesham for a lovely suprise reunion and to all the attendees for infecting me with your good natured spirit. An event to remember for the smiles….

The wonderful. high quality and stylish publisher Telos is starting a new fiction imprint called Telos Moonrise and the first book they will bring out is my Absinthe and Arsenic!
A collection of dark, creepy Victorian and steampunk short stories of which I am very proud.  I am over the moon that Telos has so much faith in my writing to take it on.  Absinthe and Arsenic will be in both ebook and paperbook form…publication dates to be announced soon.

Delighted and deeply honoured to be part of the Telos team.

My existing published books will continue to be with Endaxi Press who produce beautiful books with total dedication and professionalism. With a short story in an exciting collection by Spectral Press, The 13 Ghosts of Christmas, this has been the start of a busy and rewarding year.

I will also be working on the third in the Cyrus Darian steampunk series and writing a novella starring the submariner Tia Dakkar who appeared in Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde.

Below is the official announcement from the Telos website;

TELOS MOONRISE

After much consideration and planning, we are
delighted to announce the launch of Telos Moonrise, a new
digital and POD imprint for Telos, which we hope will expand to cover a wider
variety of fiction than we are currently able to undertake in the more
traditional publishing lines. Titles are planned to be made available in ebook
formats for Kindle, Kobo and Nook, and for those who still love books, all the
titles will also be available as print on demand paperbacks via
Amazon.

Consultant and editor for the imprint is Sam Stone, herself an
acclaimed and award-winning author, and she will be commissioning and looking
for titles in all four of the initial lines which are planned:

o
‘Steampunk Visions’: Explore alternate worlds, past, present and future in our
exciting new Steampunk range. There will be action, adventure and, of course,
superb gadgets.

o ‘Criminal Pursuits’: Look into the darkest depths of
the criminal mind and explore the darker side of humanity with our Crime and
Thriller titles.

o ‘Dark Endeavours’: Delve into the supernatural, urban
and dark fantasy, or the darkest horror imaginable. Or simply explore fantasy
realms and alternate worlds where anything can happen from myth and magic to
sword-wielding warriors.

o ‘Sinful Pleasures’: Brings sexual fantasies,
love or simply unbridled lust, with good strong stories, believable characters
and a large helping of erotica in all its forms.

Telos
Moonrise
launches with a ‘Dark Endeavours’ title: Absinthe
and Arsenic
, a collection of dark, mysterious and comedic tales by
award winning dark fantasy and steampunk author Raven Dane.

Details of
publication dates and other details will be available as soon as they are
confirmed. We will make submission guidelines available on the Telos site as
soon as they have been finalised, and when the range is opened for unsolicited
submissions. Please keep an eye on the Telos news page, and the Telos Facebook
page for details.

 

 

The reaction to the second Cyrus Darian book has been amazing…my bad lad is still weaving his spell over readers!  I found this one on Amazon today, from the lovely Eve Weaver, maker of beautiful jewellery and fellow steampunk. She is also the dashing Emilia Etherheart, my captain on sky pirate adventures at the Asylum…

 

First: a confession. Yes, I am a friend of Raven’s – occasionally I babysit for
her table when we’re at events together. All that means is that I write reviews
for people I like, whose writing I like. If I don’t like something, I’m not
going to review it.

CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH CYRUS DARIAN AND THE
TECHNOMICRON AND CYRUS DARIAN AND THE GHASTLY HORDE

This book picks up
immediately after Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, showing the events that
occur in London after Cyrus goes off for his holiday with the Lady. It explores
the political ramifications of the first book – Cyrus, never popular with the
Establishment as both a sorcerer and a foreigner – returns to find he’s fallen
completely out of favour and is now a target for assassination. And his house is
besieged by ghosts raised by his use of the Technomicron – hostile ghosts he
cannot control, even though they proclaim him to be their master.

Events
at the start of the book have rendered Cyrus largely powerless, a situation he
rages against in vain. The Lady, for reasons of her own, has relieved him of a
couple of important talismans whilst they were together. Even the protection of
Belial, a prince of Hell, may not be enough to save him. Fortunately one of his
rare shows of altruism returns to help him out – if Cyrus can obtain an object
called the Bane of Souls, he can build a device to rid him of the ghosts.
However, no good deed goes unpunished and his ex-ally Cambrian, revealed to be a
traitor at the end of the previous book, is once again after his life.

On
the run again, can Cyrus escape his past long enough to save his
future?

I enjoyed this so much I also have the Kindle version, though I
haven’t read that version yet.

I was delighted and honoured to have a short story accepted for the first ever Spectral Press Christmas Ghost story annual. Here is a review and an interview with me from the prestigious Ginger Nuts of Horror blog….

A Taste of Almonds by Raven Dane

After the first two rather dark and oppressive stories, the tone is further lightened with Raven Dane’s tale of a put upon husband, and his attempts to poison his vindictive wife, and escape to the warm embrace of another woman. This is another well written story, that manages to pull of the difficult task of creating a horror story that is both unsettling and funny at the same time. Both of these feelings come from the descriptions of Bleakley’s wife’s poison induced transformation from cold hearted woman to well, you’ll just have to read it find out.

This is a skill that a lot of authors don’t have, and the story never strays into silly parody territory, which helps to maintain the chill factor.

Today it’s the turn of Raven Dane. Her first steampunk novel won the Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, award. The first of a new series, it was voted Steampunk Novel of the Year by the international steampunk community. It is available in paperback and on Kindle from Prosochi.

An Interview With Raven Dane

Can you tell us little bit about yourself?

I’m the odd one that slipped through the net for this book. I am a dark fantasy and steampunk writer and horror is the genre I read avidly but do not write. A true child of the Celtic Twilight with an Irish mother and Welsh father, I live in an ugly but cosy housing association semi surrounded by stunning views of the Chiltern Hills in Bucks. I have always written, mainly failed and utter pants attempts at SF sagas during a disorganised and chequered career bouncing from journalism, shop work and training horses for film work. Everything changed when I switched genres to dark fantasy and was published in 2006 with the first of the Legacy of the Dark Kind series, Blood Tears. Blood Lament and Blood Alliance followed as did a scurrilous spoof of all things High Fantasy called The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire. I fell totally under the spell of steampunk in 2008 and after years lurking in the community’s shadow, launched Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, my first novel in the genre in 2011. For me there is no greater honour than to have the book endorsed and enjoyed by the international steampunk community so you can imagine my delight when it was voted Novel of the Year in September 2012 at the inaugural Victorian Steampunk Society Awards.

All my existing novels are with Endaxi, a wonderful, small but dedicated and highly professional press. I am still available for weddings, bar mitzvahs etc…

Why did you decide to submit a story to this anthology?

Desperation to have something published by Spectral Press. I remember giving Simon Marshall Jones a lift to a convention a few years ago and he mentioned he was thinking of starting a small press, even had the name ready. Within a few short years he has created an amazing company with such high standards and many excellent and desirable publications. Who wouldn’t want to have work published by such a cool team and with the inaugural annual ghost story collection!

Can you tell us what to expect from your story?

An evocation of the underbelly of respectable Victorian life where dalliance in the forbidden can have unexpected consequences….That sounds pretentious…it’s just a creepy story set in the days of gas lamps and hansom cabs.

What was the best and the worst Christmas present you ever received?

I remember the worst so well. I always looked forward to the present from my father, as I was a mercenary little cow. It was always something unusual, extravagant and expensive. Until the year he clearly lost the plot. One was a paperback book about the Who, not a band I have ever followed and a thing which while still wrapped up looked like a wooden dildo complete with balls. It was embarrassing to open in front of the family to say the least….it turned out to be a back massager…er…thanks Dad. The best? Probably the first present bought by my son with his own money…a two foot high, talking Captain Jack Sparrow model….always in pride of place by my PC.

Who or what would you least like to be haunted by at Christmas?

This is easy…the horrific spider babies from The Ash-tree by M R James. It was adapted in 1975 as a drama called The Ash Tree and was part the BBC’s brilliant ‘A Ghost Story For Christmas’ series. I watched it at a friend’s home and was so terrified, I had to be walked home by one of her brothers. Who I ended up going out with, so not all bad. That play freaked me out badly for weeks and being a big wuss, still cannot watch that episode after all these years.

Can you tell us about any future projects?

I am desperate to get on with the third in the Cyrus Darian steampunk series, in fact he is driving me crazy to get it started. But I also want to finish a collection of eerie and macabre short stories called Absinthe and Arsenic, all with a Victorian or steampunk theme. I have a finished alternative history/supernatural novel provisionally called Prince of Ravens which is set in 1066. Pagan magic versus steam-driven Normans where William the Bastard gets pecked to death by vengeful corvids. I am also working on a book set in 1950s Britain, very much in the vein of the wonderful black and white horror movies of the period such as the Quatermas films. Did I say I didn’t write horror?

Still on an all time high from Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron winning the inaugural Steampunk Novel of the Year award at this year’s Weekend at the Asylum, I was sent this fantastic review from The British Fantasy Society.

Cyrus Darian And The Technomicon/Cyrus Darian And The Ghastly Horde by Raven Dane. Book review

CYRUS DARIAN AND THE TECHNOMICON/CYRUS DARIAN AND THE GHASTLY HORDE by Raven Dane, Prosochi, p/b, £11.99/kindle, £3.08, http://www.endaxipress.com/

Reviewed by David Brzeski

Steampunk is huge right now, and these books have the added advantage of being Steampunk/Urban Fantasy crossovers. While they are set in a steampunk Victorian England, Cyrus Darian is an occult practitioner and his companion is a demon lord.

In the first book, various factions are looking for the Technomicon, a magical/technological tome of huge power, power too great for any man to hold. Several of these factions think Darian has it. Others want Darian to get it for them. Darian actually knows nothing about it, but soon decides it would be safer in his hands than anywhere else.

What follows is an amazingly complex story, in which these assorted groups of ne’er do wells try to put one over the others, or indeed kill them, in their race to own the dreaded book.

Raven Dane has an unrivalled talent for weaving multiple groups with individual agendas into a coherent plot.

Darian himself holds no delusions of altruism regarding his own character. He’s out for number one. Thankfully, what turns out to be best for Cyrus Darian is also best for the World.

In ‘Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde’, Darian returns home to discover that the destruction of the Technomicon was achieved just a bit too late and he has a few thousand restless spirits bound to him in eternal servitude. The spell wasn’t completed, so he has no clue how to control them, or even make them go away. The British Government are not best impressed and soon decide that the simplest solution would be the permanent removal of the focus of these spirits’ attention, ie: Darian. Again, there are numerous factions at work, including a government agent who sees the military potential of the restless spirits.

It gets complicated….

Darian and his friends flee to France, where they team up with the daughter of a well-known sub-mariner on a mission to Russia to retrieve a vital piece of magical equpiment.

I’ll write no more on the plot. Read them for yourselves.

Cyrus Darian is a fascinating character. In the first book, he’s very much the reluctant anti-hero, thrust into situations where he, through no fault of his own, finds himself working for the greater good of mankind. We like him. He’s cool and he has a Lord of Hell who dotes on him and a friend with the coolest airship and a dragoncat!… I want a dragoncat!

At some point during the second book in the series, I found myself going off him a bit. I liked some of the supporting cast much more than I liked Cyrus Darian. I realised that Raven Dane had written him so well that I was feeling the same misgivings about Darian as his friends.

The only thing stopping Cyrus Darian from being a true hero is himself. The idea that he might possibly be a good person and a trustworthy friend, who cares about anyone other than himself terrifies him. It’s so obvious in the effort he makes to sabotage his relationships with his companions. When one finds oneself attempting to psychoanalise a fictional character in a book in this way, the author must be doing something right.

There is a lot more to be discovered about Cyrus Darian and his motivations. I can’t wait!

Weekend at the Asylum 2012

Many decades ago, when a little girl, the very mention of the word ‘Christmas’ would make my heart race with excitement. I would lose sleep as the great day neared and cry when so swiftly it was all over. I grew up and such intense and thrilling special days became a thing of past memories.
Then steampunk took over my life and all those old feelings of excitement and magic returned with the annual get together known as the Victorian Steampunk Society Convivial, Weekend at the Asylum, Lincoln. Better known simply as The Asylum.

Three days in the company of the most warm-hearted, welcoming and splendid people, wonderful clothes, intriguing gadgets,  interesting events, downright brilliantly bonkers competitions, joyous parties and shopping for unique, handcrafted objects of beauty and desire.
Events? Everything from parades of the Third Foot and Mouth Brigade to hilarious jet propulsion races. Sadly none became airborne this year, it is only a matter of time!  The tension from the packed crowd over the finals of the Tea Duelling event had to be experienced to be believed. Forget football, tea duelling should be the UK’s national sport!

The elegant setting of the Assembly Rooms held fascinating discussion panels, book launches and readings. Author and all round dashing gentleman Kit Cox held a large audience entranced with a real Victorian slide show of his new book ‘ How to Bag A Jabberwocky’ and also gave a spot on, fascinating and hilarious master class on character building in novels.

The delightful Sam Stone launched two books at the event, the latest in her Vampire Gene series and her steampunk book Zombies at Tiffanys.   And the Asylum would lose much magic and sparkle without the presence of Robert Rankin and his lovely ,talented wife, Rachel Hayward, at the heart of the event in every sense of the term.

The Assembly Rooms also hosted the best costume competition, another fun and popular highlight. My personal favourite was a gracious lady who turned her mobility scooter into a Wellsian Time Machine.

Asylum is spread over several close sites in the beautiful medieval area of Lincoln. Organised by the extraordinary powerhouse of ideas and organisational skills that is Thaddeus Tinker and Lady Elsie, with a dedicated, hardworking team of organisers and volunteers, it is run with clockwork precision that never runs out of steam or gets a spanner in the works.
The result at the end is an exhausted organising team and nearly two thousand delighted steampunks from all around the United Kingdom and abroad with visitors from the Americas, Europe and South Africa. No mean feat.
The Asylum Weekend is a time to meet up with old friends and always end up a making many new ones. It is having an aching face with so much smiling and laughing. Going reluctantly back to normal life with a happy fatigue from having a good time….no, make that a bloomin’ amazing time and so many wonderful memories.

This year was very special for me and my publisher Endaxi Press. We launched the second of my steampunk series Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde on Saturday morning.
To my astonishment, my first steampunk novel, Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, launched at The Asylum was not just nominated but shortlisted for the inaugural VSS Steampunk Novel of 2011. I was up against well-established authors Gail Carriger and King of Steampunk Jonathan ‘Pax Britannica’ Green…no chance! But to be shortlisted with a debut novel in the genre by the people who matter the most, not some industry worthies but the actual steampunk community itself was mind-numbing and amazing.

Both Jonathan and I were bundles of nerves as the moment approached for the award announcement…when I heard Cyrus won, I nearly fainted with shock….it still hasn’t truly sunk in that Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron is Steampunk Novel of the Year…..
Earlier during the awards, a stunning painting by Vincent Shaw-Morton, called The Alchemist, Cyrus Darian won the 2d art exhibition competition at the Asylum. I had a joint celebration with the Shaw-Morton family at the end of event party….my bad, bad boy Cyrus had a great weekend!

Too many people to thank in person without the risk of missing someone out, but of course without Thaddeus Tinker, Lady Elsie and their team, there would be no Asylum.  Helping me so much at the event on a personal level, Jo Mathews, Sam and David J Howe, Darren Demondaz and Hayley Exhayle, Ian J Smethhurst , Eve Weaver and Steve Cotterill.  Group hug!

Image

Here I am proudly showing off Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde with gothic supermodel and good friend, Darren Demondaz