Hello, little ones! Welcome to the steamier side of Nerdy Minds, and by that I do not mean where your filthy little minds went. No, in this tea room you will find all things Steampunk. And now brought to you by yours truly, Krista Cagg. And yes, I do take requests, thank you.
For my first trick, I thought I would interview some personas that I’ve had the dubious fortune to encounter. This first lout is brash, rash and fantastically amusing. I adore him in ways that might be illegal in a few red states! To be honest and fair, I haven’t read his book yet, but to my knowledge he hasn’t read mine either, so we’re square on that.
Behold and marvel at the strangeness that is Brian Thomas, author of Steam Powered Tales of Awesomeness!
Reading through your website, one can’t help but notice a certain sense of humor that shines through. With that in mind, I hesitate but ask all the same: Tell us about Steam Powered Tales of Awesomeness.
Basically, while I LOVE science fiction and fantasy literature, I generally DON’T like steampunk fiction. This is a problem for me because I LOVE steampunk and the concept of alternative history fiction, but by 2008 I just wasn’t feeling the literature. A firm believer in “If you want something done right…” I decided “right” was to “write” what I felt I was missing and hope others were missing it too.
I wanted pulpy adventure, ridiculously violent combat scenes, and mockery of all the negative aspects of the early 20th century that I wasn’t seeing elsewhere. More importantly, I wanted to see realistic human nature at play in alternative history, and not some squishy utopian nonsense that real humans will require generations to reach and could never happen in a “Victorian” style era.
Steam Powered Tales Of Awesomeness is a growing collection of steampunk fiction whose main intent is to entertain…not preach. The alt-history it presents was created to be believable, its characters often humorous, and it is never allowed to take itself to seriously.
How did it all come about?
I decided it would be a WONDERFUL idea to coerce my closest friends into dressing up in paramilitary alt-history uniforms and stomp around in public mocking the colonial ideals that MOST of the nations of the early 20th century embraced. From the very beginning, Steam Powered Tales Of Awesomeness was to be more than a series of pulp stories–It was going to be a platform for live performance, and a showcase for my prop building, costuming and sculptural works. The Imperial Amerikan Air Corp (The IAAC) was created to provide a live presentation of the characters and concepts that would be portrayed in the books.
It was also created to get me free drinks at events and provide an excuse for me to be an ass in public.
So far it’s working!
Who are the fingers manipulating the strings?
From the very beginning, my wife and friends were critical in helping build the entity that is the IAAC and SPTOA. I also took on a writing partner in Raymond J. Witte. It’s been huge having a (another?) talented writer to bounce ideas off of and help flesh out the universe we fondly call “the Girthverse”. Ray has been the catalyst for several creative bursts and his own talents really shine through his own stories. We are both often surprised how well we actually work together and how together we really increase each other’s creativity. Of course, I usually have to fix most of his stuff…!
Ray has a similar sense of humor, similar tastes in fiction and storytelling, and while his style is quite different from mine, I think we blend rather well.
That could be from all my fixing though…!
Really though, I was never looking to have collaborators in this project. As a professional artist and designer, I have to deal with “teammates” in my professional life, and I was really looking to do this alone, but I couldn’t have gotten the results I have without the other members of the IAAC to inspire, support, and in many cases pitch in their own talents to the cause.
Who is your muse/What inspires you?
John Waters once told me in college over a beer that “part of good art is that it gets its own attention.” He also told me to try and get pictures of celebrities picking their noses in public so I could sell them to the tabloids. Yes, wise words indeed.
I’m also a huge fan of Andy Warhol and Robert Heinlein’s views on art, society, business and giant soup cans.
I get creatively inspired by all kinds of things! I’m a huge geek… a histora-geek, military-geek, gamer-geek and pop culture geek.
What are the future plans for Steam Powered Tales of Awesomeness?
To date, we have done short films, costumes, props, public appearances, art works and a book.
I plan on more of all that!
Ray and I have started on a more “graphic” treatment for some of our tales (all those years spent in art school) using my current favorite blend of 3D software and manipulated photography… and I am tackling a new short film full of robots, puppets, monsters and finger food!
The other BIG project is our new book Tesla and Edison VS. The Black Hand! This came out of our fairly popular panel on Tesla and Edison and its examination and dismemberment of what most people think they know about these two… uber geeks. When you START with the FACT that one of these men was an extreme OCD in love with a pigeon…
Will you be considering other contributors?
No. I was an only child, and I have enough trouble sharing my toys with Raymond!
Okay, Bill Stout does most of our “furniture” pieces, and my minion, Jarrod Clark, helps from time to time with creature builds and molding making… and Bev sews everything… and I’ve got two other very talented photographers in Donna Babij and Kate Frey… and we added a belly dance troupe to the mix… but no, no other contributors damnit!
What (I cringe to ask) do you do for fun?
We (the IAAC) are all former medievalists, and I still like hitting other people with sticks! I’m a classically trained sculptor, and if I’m not pushing clay, I’m pushing virtual clay in a 3D program.
I’m also into competitive napping. I have ribbons!
Anything else you would like us to know?
Raymond J. Witte is a very talented writer and valued partner.
There is no Santa Claus, but Herschel the Chanukah Goblin is real!
We randomly put blotter acid on some of our book pages, so if you lick our book you can really see a skylock!
…and I really prefer cake to pie!
Yes, thank you Brian. We will get right on sending you some Hummingbird Cake. Hold your breath…heathen.
For more information and purchasing, please visit the Steam Powered Tales Of Awesomeness site.
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