Monday, May 9, 2011

The Gaslight Gathering 2011

After a meal with friends and family post-signing on Thursday, I was off to California in the early AM Friday for The Gaslight Gathering!

I'd never been to California, so when James Hay asked if I would like to be a guest speaker and panelist at The Gaslight Gathering in San Diego, and seeing that it corresponded with my release week, why not? It was quite a gorgeous weekend. The Town & Country was a beautiful space with flora and fauna abounding, tumbling roses and trellises under which beautifully-clad men and women strolled. I was stunned by amazing costumes, warmed by the diversity of age and family status amongst the attending crowd, I learned many things from fellow panelists (I could listen to the utterly delightful Kim Newman, guest of honour, all day long and pick his brain about all manner of things even longer). I had the pleasure of paneling with Samantha Henderson and the chance to procure her Ravenloft novel Heaven's Bones - how can I turn down a fellow Gothic novel? I also made a friend in historian Michelle Hamilton whose knowledge of spiritualism and the Fox sisters, as well as some incredible ghost stories, made her a captivating delight to spend time and panel with.
I had the extreme pleasure of staying with and getting to know Dru Pagliassotti who was writing Steampunk Romance (Clockwork Heart) before anybody. She's an author I'd already long admired. I had such a great time chatting with Dru and hearing about her many interesting projects. She also looked amazing, check out her blog.
The lovely and kind Maria of Free the Princess was there taking notes and beautifully adding to the discussions, so be sure to follow Free the Princess for her rundown of the weekend.
Throughout the weekend I spoke on themes of the supernatural, ghosts and spiritualism in Steampunk and Neo-Victorian work, about culture and norms, about the issues and problems inherent in the era, about science and religion, and I was pleased by how interesting and thought- provoking the discussions became.
The danger of Steampunk/Neo-Victoriana is in romanticising Empire, colonialism, industrialization and ingnoring myriad, overwhelming social ills of the time. However an aspect that draws me to the 19th century is that it birthed some of the major progressive movements that carry us to this day, a counterpoint to vast injustices. The beauty of working within this genre now is offering up more diverse and alernatvie narratives from those who would have been silenced at the time. My dear Miss Percy Parker and my upcoming Natalie Stewart, 'unfortunates' in society whose voices never would have gained a mainstream audience, have a chance to give us a different view of how things could be, from their perspectives. I don't shy away from the constraints and conflicts of the day, my characters must work within them, towards a place of acceptance and solubility. As I said on panels, the romanticism within my stories come from the romances between the characters. I paint my Victorian London and New York as grim as they may be grand. It isn't interesting nor fair otherwise. We are no better than the Victorians, with our modern social ills and blinders. What can we learn from them for the better, what can we learn to avoid? Whose stories have yet to be told? What can we rewrite and how can we be more inclusive, inventive, sensitive, educated, corrected? I'm certainly always still learning. The diverse Steam-community, and places like Beyond Victoriana, a blog I mentioned often out West, provide wonderful ways to do so.
And yes, I flounced around in many black skirts, ever the perky Gothic gal and signed some books! I was thrilled as always to see the fine and friendly folks at Mysterious Galaxy. (They still have a few signed ones left! After selling out of Book 1, they promise to order more in and I left signed bookplates for insertion, so you can still get a signed set.) I came away with a new hat, parasol and fan. (The new hat and parasol are pictures) I'm a sucker for accessories. :)
Come back Wednesday for a Darker Still cover reveal!

1 comment:

houndstooth said...

Miss Leanna, you have a fabulous milliner, and I do so wish I had a hat as fabulous as yours! Your weekend sounds absolutely lovely!