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!

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