Maybe you’re already registered for this year’s Realm Makers conference, or maybe you’re still deciding, but either way, we thought it would be helpful to introduce you to a few of the faculty members who will be joining us this year. Avily Jerome of Havok Magazine was kind enough to conduct an interview for us of this year’s Steampunk aficionado, Lisa Walker England. Lisa is up to her elbows in multiple narrative art forms, so we are very excited to have her perspective on the genre. Read on to discover a little more about Lisa’s approach.
And if you haven’t registered yet, remember, you only have about a month and a week left to jump on board. Every person who attends Realm Makers contributes to the awesomeness of the conference, we truly believe that.
In the meantime, here’s that little peek at Lisa’s style and passions.
A.J.: Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been writing? What do you do for fun?
L.W.E.: Hello, fellow Realm Makers! This is my first time to attend, and I’m excited to meet all of you. What attracts me most to this conference is its positioning of writers as “Makers.” Whenever possible, I try not to think about myself as a writer at all. I’m a Maker whose inventions just happen to be stories. My tools are usually words, but at any given time, I might use 2D or 3D illustrations, digital tools, and even physical objects to build my inventions.
Like many of my characters, I’m a nomad. I was born in Ohio, lived in Illinois and Texas, and now reside in Wisconsin. (What can I say? The cheese is amazing.) I’ve been writing since I first learned to form letters, but I drifted away from creativity as a teenager, only to rekindle the fire in graduate school. I was so excited about rediscovering creative writing, in fact, that I leapt out of a funded PhD program to pursue it.
Looking back, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that course of action, but I wouldn’t trade away what I’ve learned on that journey, either. In the early years, I faltered through my first terrible novels and found my way into the world of screenwriting, which opened doors in storytelling for business. Now, I divide my creative time between writing graphic novels (with my artist partners at City Beast Studio), showrunning the steampunk web series Aurelia, and writing steampunk fiction.
For fun, I write. Seriously. Outside of my day job (still in marketing), hanging out with my husband, knitting, and going to comic/steampunk conventions, writing is my life. (Well, there was that time I learned to drive steam tractors. But I guess that was technically “writing research” . . .)
A.J.:. I understand you’re teaching on Steampunk at the Realm Makers contest. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about Steampunk. Can you tell us about the genre? What defines it and what are some characteristics of Steampunk stories?
L.W.E.: If you ask ten steampunk writers what steampunk is, you’ll get ten different answers. One of the beauties of the genre is its celebration of imagination and innovation. The literary tradition of steampunk is closely connected to the fandom, which is almost completely DIY. Steampunks themselves continually define and re-define what that term means. It’s a whole crowd of inventors! That being said, my simplest literary definition tends to be: Steampunk is Victorian speculative fiction. It imagines scientifically-advanced futures (or alternate pasts) using technologies from the Industrial Revolution. (Steam-powered computers, clockwork time machines, etc.) Steampunk can be either science fiction or fantasy, depending on how you write it. And its whole host of subgenres revolve around other historical power sources (clockwork, electricity, etc.) that fuel unique, speculative worlds.
A.J.: Can you give us a hint of what you’re going to be teaching on? What can someone who takes your class expect to come away with?
L.W.E.: In my class, we’ll board the Airship Steampunk, shout “Huzzah!” and cruise into the literary clouds for a high-altitude view of the genre. We’ll examine some of its most famous examples, explore its key characteristics, peek into the related fandom, and raise issues to consider when working with steam power. I look forward to continuing the conversation in the halls of the conference throughout the weekend. And I’m especially excited about the “goody bag” each attendee will receive—including a resource packet for further inspiration, as well as an illustrated copy of The Realm Maker, a steampunk short story I’m writing just for the occasion.
Between now and May, I’d love to connect with you via my website, lisawalkerengland.com.