Thanks for visiting my blog again! It's been a little while since I covered a major steampunk topic. Another steampunk interview seems like an excellent choice. Every steampunk maker has a lot of knowledge and art that should be addressed to the public. Today, I'm sharing an interview with Michael McCoy. He's a steampunk maker and small business owner who creates jewelry, hats, and other accessories. If you're looking for accessories to include in steampunk cosplay, check out his business called Broken Arrow Steam & Gears. He's very knowledgeable about the steampunk genre and subculture, so I'm glad he was willing to share this information with us. You can read the full interview below. Have fun!
Q: Why did you become interested in steampunk?
A: Actually, it’s my Dad’s fault. When I was young he introduced me to H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and other classic science fiction authors. I read The Time Machine, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Invisible Man, The Lost Continent, John Carter of Mars, and all those great stories, and I fell in love with the genre. When I discovered the term ‘steampunk,’ I was already hooked.
Q: How long have you been operating Broken Arrow Steam & Gears?
A: I started Steam & Gears in 2013 and it wasn’t too long after that when my wife decided to join in making steampunk items.
Q: Would you mind giving a little description of your small business?
A: Steam & Gears is a hobby business for us right now. I make steampunk jewelry and my wife makes mini top hats, fascinators, journals, hat pins, and other accessories. While we have an online page, virtually all of our sales are at shows. We have sold at shows in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. As we grow, we are adding more shows, and hope to travel to some of the big shows in other parts of the country.
Q: Are you working on any special projects?
A: We are both busy making things for the next event we are attending at the end of this month. I also have a side project I’ve been working on. One day, I was trying to find an upcoming steampunk event that was within a reasonable distance from my home, and realized there was no comprehensive list of everything in one spot. So, I decided someone had to make the list, and why not me? I am administering a Facebook page that is trying to link every Facebook steampunk event in the U.S. into one list so that you can see everything that’s going on without having to look for hours to find each event.
Q: How would you define steampunk? Everyone in the steampunk community has their own vision of the genre.
A: Actually, that’s a very hard question, and I haven’t seen a short answer that is really complete. My short version is that it’s a steam powered history that never happened. Imagine we kept inventing things, but never went past steam and mechanical power – that’s where steampunk exists.
At first I thought steampunk was only Victorian sci-fi stories, but it is so much more. Steampunk has moved out of the written story and includes music, art, dance, clothing, inventions, and for some, a lifestyle. Like steampunk, the Victorian Era was very diverse, and so are the people getting into steampunk. During the 1800s, while we were putting electric lights into New York City, and the first steam powered cars were on the scene, the Wild West was taking place. And during this steam era, other interesting things were happening in the rest of the world. For instance, 1870s Japan had Samurai warriors. There is so much to work with. Steampunk adds to the definition of what steampunk is by creating something new. It’s exciting to see the new costumes and creations every time I go to an event.
And of course when you are trying to explain steampunk to a person who doesn’t understand what you are getting at, you can always ask if they saw the move “Wild, Wild West” and go from there.
Q: Do you have a favorite type of steampunk? Victorian, Wild West, post-apocalyptic, etc.
A: Yes, Victorian.
Q: Be honest. What did you think of the Mortal Engines film?
A: I enjoyed the movie. It’s set in a post-apocalyptical future and has some elements of steampunk. When I discovered it was based on a book, I went looking at the library and found that it’s one book in a series, so who knows? Maybe someone will take on the next book – or even the prequel trilogy. And the book is better (isn’t it always?).
Q: Are you looking forward to any steampunk events this year?
A: Yes! First up on the events list is Big River Steampunk Spring Faire in Hannibal, MO on March 30 and 31. We love the festival they have in the fall, and this year is their first spring festival, so we are excited to be a part of this event. Then we go to Old Timers Days Steampunk Festival in Van Buren, AR on May 18 and 19. We were fortunate enough to participate in their first steampunk event last year and are looking forward to see how it grows this year. There’s the first Annual Heavener Runestone Steampunk Festival in Heavener, OK on June 8 and 9. Heavener is known for its Viking festivals at the Runestone park, but this year they’ve added a steampunk event. We are hopeful it’s a big success. But the event we always look forward to is the Big River Steampunk Festival over Labor Day Weekend. This is a must-attend event in the Midwest and we love attending.
Q: Do you have a favorite steampunk novel or series of books?
A: I read a lot. I love the books by Wells, Verne and others that were the inspiration for the modern steampunk stories. I’ve enjoyed many steampunk series and books – here’s a few:
Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn
Tales of the Automazombs series by Toni Johnson
Carpenter and Quincannon series by Marcia Muller
The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel Wilson
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Pip Ballantine
The Custard Protocol series by Gail Carriger
The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor
The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy by Jacopo della Quercia
The Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest
The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin series by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr.
Burton & Swinburne series by Mark Hodder
Girl Genius Novels series by Phil Foglio
Daedalus series by Michael J. Martinez
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Clockwork Angels series by Kevin J. Anderson
Clockwork Dagger series by Beth Cato
Q: Have you noticed any changes in the steampunk culture recently?
A: I think that over the last year I have seen more people doing steampunk in different cultures – Asian, African, and Native American come to mind. Steampunk has expanded way beyond Victorian England and is so much more. And the events I attend are seeing more people in attendance each time as well. Steampunk is getting bigger and better with time.
Q: What are your thoughts on steampunk crossover projects with licensed properties, like Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, Star Trek, and such? I find them quite entertaining.
A: I love anything steampunk, so I have no problem with crossovers. I’ve loved seeing the steampunk photos people have made with the crew of Star Trek, and the steampunk versions of the characters from Star Wars. Dr. Who has always been a bit steampunk, and the 8th Doctor’s TARDIS was very steampunk, as well as the ‘reboot’ TARDIS until after Rory and Amy leave. Any time anyone remakes something in a steampunk image, it’s fun.
Q: Do you have any big plans for 2019?
A: Hopefully we'll acquire a larger vehicle, so that we can go to more festivals. We currently travel in a Prius (yes, the 10x15 foot tent, weights, lights, tables, product, clothing, etc., etc. in a Prius) and a larger vehicle would make things much easier. If so, we may plan on attending some the steampunk festivals on each coast. And who knows?
(And big plans always include the Big River Steampunk Festival. Check it out online, and make your plans to attend!)
That's the end of my interview with Michael McCoy. I really enjoyed talking to him and hopefully, you learned a lot of great steampunk details from him. He brings a lot of positive energy to the subculture and it's always nice to see new steampunk creations. I'm leaving a couple of links, so you can find out more information about his work. He's also the administrator for a Facebook page called All Steampunk Events. My blog is going to include more steampunk news in the near future. Keep checking back for more posts. Thanks a lot for being a great audience and I'll see you guys next week.
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