There was no single 'best moment' of the Steampunk World's Fair, where I was in attendance as a Guest Author, but rather a host of fabulous moments woven together that made one blast of a whole. (Now to be clear to the purists in the house, my books are not technically Steampunk as I employ no gadgetry but paranormal fantasy. But since I'm in the Gaslight Gothic / Victorian camp and rather taken with the year 1888, I'm kindly adopted in.) But what is Leanna's favourite part of all Fairs and Cons? Dressing up, of course!
My dear friend and fellow author Mary Rogers and I set off on the wilds of NJ Transit for Piscataway. You know its time to get the party started when about half an hour after we sat down in the cafe to await our room, steampunk Bobofet arrives. Mary took over the Pendragon suite by looking fabulous in an aviator jacket - none of us were letting her walk away without the entire outfit.
Huge thanks to the inimitable Stephen Segal who contacted me to be a part of the Library of Lost Literature sponsored by Quirk Books and Weird Tales, and held, beautifully enough, in a little library. I read from The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, second in the Strangely Beautiful series, prime-time on Friday night, attended by a most fabulously dressed contigency. (Thank you to my dear Lady Cordelia for this photo!) Stephen brought in amazing talent and Mary and I had the pleasure of attending many readings, throughout the weekend, all of which fascinated me. And after Ben Winters' read, I truly cannot wait for Android Karenina. Clever, fun and intriguing. Digression: Stephen also impressively guessed my favourite Doctor Who episode. (I am a legacy fan, the Baker years as shown on PBS were formative, thus Doctor Who counts as my longest running obsession.) But then again... I'm never as mysterious as I'd like to think I am. Is it obvious my favourite Doctor Who epsiode would be the one with vampires where Romana gets mesmerized, kidnapped, bitten by a bat while laid on a bier dressed in a long white Gothic-novel-esque robe as food for the big bad vampire? Okay, so maybe that's obvious. Still, I was very impressed that without missing a beat Stephen declared "State of Decay!" (File that one away for Obscure Leanna Trivia). And I went Squee. Come see me as Romana along with Stephen in mid-regeneration, The Princess Alethea as a yet-unnamed-companion-of-her-choice, and even The Master himself at DragonCon this year. I just found a little straw hat today at Target. So Romana's schoolgirl costume with the red tie it is. End of Digression: Back to the fair.
There was a Queen of Steam drag show, and there was what was purported to be and what I believe started out as a Penny-Dreadful poker game to raise money for the out-flooded Outlanders but devolved into eating raw potatoes and other such amusements. I somehow returned home with a potato amidst my belongings.
There was even homemade absinthe in a transformed hotel suite (Oh-mi-goodness amazing) prepared by the fabulous Von Hedwigs of The Steampunk Family, who are without a doubt the most consummate and charming hosts ever in the history of host-dom. See here the Von Hedwigs and the stunning acoutrements of their lovingly crafted absinthe.
Emilie P. Bush kindly asked me to be on a panel dealing with women and women's roles in our respective work. Her Chenda and the Airship Brofman is a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award! Huzzah!
And one of my favourite aspects of the Fair? The panels on multiculturalism and "Beyond Victoriana" run by bloggers Ay-Leen of Beyond Victoriana and Jha of Silver Goggles. These panels, while only allowed time to scratch the surface of issues one really needs a lifetime degree of digesting, were laid out with beautiful ground-work, simple rules of respect and profound intellectual fodder. It made me so very excited to be a part of the "Retro-Futurist" community - a word I've taken from the wonderful TempleCon I attended earlier this year, a community that not only values cosplay and fantastic invention, but in making the world a place where everyone has a voice and can be valued, provided there is respect, sharing and understanding. If historical fiction, fabulous costuming, art, culture and the past and present crossroads of the world interests you, be sure to follow Beyond Victoriana and Silver Goggles. Amazing resources, fabulous women, who, like Steampunk, are happening now. The weekend afforded me the opportunity to show my enthusiasm for clothing, issues, literature, irrepressible ideas, new and diverse voices, the aesthetic of Steampunk and the chance to reaffirm why I write historical novels with my own paranormal twist; my Gaslight Gothic Fantasies. I was reminded by those I met this weekend that these are my people. People who are not afraid to wear fabulous hats and reinvent the world.