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  • Interview with The Violet Tribe

    Some weeks ago, I was made aware of The Violet Tribe (see this post) and have since gotten into contact with the ladies. They have graciously agreed to give an interview and share some information about themselves, The Violet Tribe, and their other projects. This interview is actually a translated version of the original German one, which can be found on my German steampunk blog.


    Violet Tribe Groupshot

    But now, on with the interview:

    Traveler: When did you found The Violet Tribe and when did its members start dancing Tribal Bellydance?

    BIANCA: We’ve been plotting devious things since the remarkable summer of 2009. One reviewer of our first CD had this to say: „Ravishing Collection of Curios“: It sounds like two tracks are playing at once.
    No better way to describe it!

    ARZO: Well, I was inspired to start Tribble Dance when I was watching this episode of Star Trek TOS. You know, the one with the cuddly little furry animals. That’s quite a while ago… 🙂
    SVAHARA: I’ve started in 1999 dancing bellydance and have been teaching it since 2005.

    ANNUN: I’ve been dancing since I was 16, but got into Tribal Bellydance only in 2005.

    Traveler: Is the name connected in any way to Rachel Brice’s The Indigo?

    ANNUN: No, that’s because of the band Violet. Biance has worked with the band as a singer and musician for many years, just like Dr. P. The Violet Tribe is the daughter of Violet so to speak.

    SVAHARA: Bianca likes to dance and she wanted to combine dancing and music. It is fairly common for dance ensembles rooted in American Tribal Style to call themselves tribe. And by the way: Indigo is blue-purple, violet tends more towards magenta *removes scholarly glasses* 😉

    Traveler: How did you get together?

    ARZO: Bianca picked us up from the steet, tempered us with rapidly changing temperatures and finished it of with good music.
    BIANCA: Yep, I couldn’t stand their slacking anymore! 😉

    Does the tribe have a fixed set of members or is there something like a core with varying guest musicians/dancers?

    ANNUN: Yes, there is a core but we like to invite other musicians and dancers.

    SVAHARA: Thus far, the members have not changed, only Miriam left to concentrate on her studies to become a professional dancer.
    The Violet Tribe in Action

    Traveler: Where can we find you on the web? (Note, all sites are in German, since the Violet Tribe is a German band)

    SVAHARA: On MySpace, Facebook and pretty soon, we will also have our own homepage. 😉

    BIANCA: The domain is already online, but it is referring to our Myspace Page: www.thevioletribe.de .

    ARZO: I’m online at www.serpent-blanc.com (my studio) and www.tribal-signs.com (my book).

    ANNUN: I’m a freelance dancer, lecturer and choreographer, you can find me at www.henneth-annun.de

    BIANCA: Lily also works as a freelance dancer and lecturer, she’s online at www.bianca-stuecker.de. It is a rather spartanic site. Only my CV, Projects and upcomming shows are on there. It will be completely redone, though.
    Some info about my dancing is also available here: www.bianca-dance.de. And the band violet has its own page, too, of course: www.violet-net.de

    Traveler: Are there any other projects you are involved in andif so, where can we find information about them?

    ARZO: Oh, I’ve got a bunch. The tribes Terpsichoré and Verdandi, Gothic Tribal with Penthesilea, Gogo Dance with Flesh & Blood. Also some solo projects regarding Gogo, Burlesque, Pole Dance and Postapocalyptic… I’ve tried to collect the most important ones on the site of my dance school.

    BIANCA: Apart from TVT and Violet there’s the medieval music ensemble Violetta, I’m performing together with Dr. P, my electro project VaNi, I hardly have time for this one, unfortunately. 2007 my first novel „Schaulaufen für Anfänger“ was published in paperback by Fischer and right now I am working on my dissertation at Folkwang University of Arts in Essen in music. I’ve worked as a choire conductor for a few years, and for the future, I’ve planned workshops for medieval song. The links are on my site.

    Traveler: How did you come with the idea to fuse tribal bellydance and Steampunk?

    BIANCA: Rather unspectacularly in my case: Via Abney Park.

    SVAHARA: If you want to develop your style and you already love vintage, the next step is the Victorian Age. And since I love movies with an apocalyptic theme and Rock and Heavy Metal, I feel right at home with steampunk.

    Traveler: Would you call yourselves steampunk bellydancers?

    ARZO: Ummmmmh… yes? Yes!

    SVAHARA: Not exclusively. A lot of other styles influence my dancing: Gothic, Orient, Pop, Zirkus, the 1920s, Baroque, Burlesque, Balkan, Gypsy, Pirates, Flamenco… Just to name a few. We are rather multi-facetted and use everything which inspires us.

    ANNUN: To be honest, there is no definition how Steampunk Fusion Dance (or what ever you want to call it) is different from other Tribal Fusion Bellydance styles. Is it enough to dress up steampunk style or dance to steampunk music? I guess, things are still developing.

    BIANCA: Such a definition is also missing for steampunk music, the one unifying element right now is the theme and the lyrics and not the musical style, I think.


    Traveler: Who came up with the idea for The Steam Song?

    BIANCA: I wanted to do something steampunk themend, because, as far as I know, there wasn’t anything like it in Germany. The album was a pure musical playground, so a steampunk piece had to be on it, since this was something new, untested, unconventional and therefore very intriguing.

    Traveler: Are there any plans for more steampunk themed material?

    BIANCA: We plan very little – that’s the beauty of it! Steampunk still has a lot of potential, especially in the dancing scene steampunk costumes are really en vogue right now. Via the visual component, musical inspirations can always come in. And if you are listening in real close, you will hear some steampunk elements in Grand Hotel

    ARZO: There are some more steampunk-compatible musical pieces, like „The Mad Professor´s Had An Overdose“. I also have the desire to dance to the ticking of a clock. A lot is coming for our listeners… We have not exhausted the potential of our inspirations, yet.

    Traveler: Where do you get the inspirations for your music and costumes from?

    ANNUN: We are a rather spontaneous and every single one is a constant inspiration to everybody else. Sometimes all it needs are weird conversations on Facebook. That’s how we came up with the name of the title „Schleifchen aus Stahl“ (“Ribbons of Steel”)! It began with an idea for a cool, metal-like outfit, like the one we had seen a fellow dancer wear and we had the idea to create something similar for a photoshoot. The next thing was “But please add ribbons.” “Ribbons of Steel.” And tadah! That’s the title (OK; this was a heavily abridged version of how it went 😉 ).

    BIANCA: Actually, it was like this for the whole „Grand Hotel“ album: Everybody wanted a specific theme they would interpret in dance and then I started arranging the music. That was one great experience! Via the keywords from “outside” a number of songs were created I would not have come up with without the inspiration of the tribe. 🙂

    SVAHARA: Books, movies, dreams, other artists, music… I wanted a baroque piece on the CD and also wanted a fitting costume. I was looking for very specific fabric: I thought of golden and dark red velvet, like I’ve seen in movies. I could not find anything, so I created something myself: I took an old lace blanked, prayed it with gold colour, put some glittery fake jewels on it… Done! 🙂

    Do you feel a special connection to the gothic or another scene? Are there any differences within the tribe?
    BIANCA: I was socialized dark from a very early age, and even though you don’t see it every day anymore, there will be no change in my feeling of belonging to the gothic scene. This is simply something that’s not going away 😉

    ARZO: I’m definitely gothic, too. And in my case this means allround-gothic: medieval, industrial, electro, Trauerweide (untranslatable, sorry), Neoromantic. (but please: No red wine and bad poetry) When the Zwischenfall (a popular alternative/gothic club in Bochum, Germany) burned down, a big part of my youth went with it.

    ANNUN: There are some differences. Concerning music, I’m listening to everything, and preferences change, depending on how I feel and where I am in life. Apart from this, I belong to the dance scenee, i.e. oriental dance and Tribal Fusion Bellydance.

    SVAHARA: I guess, everybody’s focus is slightly different. But everybody can work with everybody else and this adds to the dynamism and creativity of our band.
    Speaking for myself: I like the gothic, steampunk, medieval and vintage scenes.


    Traveler: Thank you ladies, for your time, we will surely meet again online and I will be in touch concerning the European Steampunk Convention.


  • Carnal Machines: Double Interview

    On the 22nd of April this year, I posted a rather harsh review of Carnal Machines here. I also mentioned three stories int this collection I actually really enjoyed. Two weeks back, D.L. King, the editor of Carnal Machines got back to me. She not only very graciously accepted my criticism, for which I pay her my highest respect, but also got me into contact with Kannan Feng and Teresa Noelle Roberts. They are the authors of Deviant Devices (Kannan) and Human Powered (Teresa).

    So I had the opportunity to interview both ladies and this is what they had to tell me:

    Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What got you into writing, who inspires you, are you creative in other ways?

    I literally don’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing with words. I dictated my first little stories and poems to my mother because I didn’t know how to write yet. At times when I can’t write, I get a little crazy.
    As for what inspires me, it would be easier to say what doesn’t. Folklore and history are constant sources of inspiration, but I have notes for a thriller based on a session titles at a professional conference for government IT professionals, notes for a erotic erotic novella based on a gay couple with elaborate tattoos I saw at the beach the other day, stories based on a chance remark I overheard on the street.
    Between writing and my day job, I don’t have much time for my other creative pursuits. When I have time, though, I belly dance, knit, cook, and garden. I’ve been known to dabble in costuming, though I’ve lost patience with it lately, and I’m involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism, where I research 11th century Arabic Spain. (In other words, I’m a very busy geek.)

    I’m a queer writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I started writing professionally in 2007, and haven’t really looked back since. Laura Antoniou, author of The Marketplace series, is likely my biggest inspiration when I’m writing erotica. I’m not really happy unless I’m making something, so I also knit, cook, make jewelry, and sew. Sometimes I write poetry, but this is typically considered a Bad Idea on my part.

    Where can we find you on the web?

    www.teresanoelleroberts.com is my website and blog. I moved my blog there only recently; older entries are at www.teresanoelleroberts.blogspot.com. I’m also on Facebook—look for me by name. I love it when readers ask to friend me.

    My home on the web is at kannanfeng.wordpress.com, where I talk about writing. I talk about writing there, both what I’m writing about and how I do it.

    Is Human Powered (Teresa) and Deviant Devices (Kannan) your first steampunk story?

    Human Powered is my first published steampunk story. I have one more making the rounds, and several in my head.

    Deviant Devices is my first published steampunk story, but it’s a topic I think about a fair amount. Steampunk is one of the playgrounds that I desperately want to play in. It puts together my love of world-building, history, and of course improbable machinery.

    When did you first hear of Steampunk and who got you into contact?

    I first heard about steampunk as a movement in the early to mid 90s, through Arisia, a speculative fiction convention based in Boston. I’ve only dabbled at the edge of the subculture, but I’m intrigued by the imaginative reinvention of history—not to mention the fabulous clothes.

    I can blame everything I know about steampunk on Grace D. Palmer, who is a talented artist and one of my best friends. For a long time back in 2004, steampunk was just this weird thing that Grace did and made art about. She’s still my go-to person for good steampunk world-building.

    What other stories or novels of you have been published and where can we find them?

    I’m the author of the paranormal romances Lions’ Pride (Duals and Donovans: The Different Book 1) and Foxes’ Den (Duals and Donovans: the Different, Book 2), both from Samhain Publishing, and the fantasy-romance Seasons of Sorania Cycle: Lady Sun Has Risen; Rain at Midsummer; Threshing the Grain; and the newest, A Satyr for Midwinter, all from Phaze, as well as two standalones from Phaze, Restraint and Pirate’s Booty. You can find them on the publishers’ sites or at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. I’ve had close to a hundred short stories published, mostly but not exclusively erotica, but I’ll spare you that list.
    If that’s not enough, I also write with my friend Dayle A. Dermatis under the name Sophie Mouette; we’ve had one novel (Cat Scratch Fever) and a number of short works appear under that name.

    I’ve got Lord of Misrule, which is an erotic novella from Circlet Press. In a nutshell, it’s about demonic possession and queer men having sex at a sort-of 18th century university. I also have an erotic cyberpunk novella forthcoming from Torquere Press, as well as several short stories available from Circlet.

    What was your first published story/novel?

    I had several pieces of literary fiction published in the eighties, when I was twenty-something and trying to do the serious, angst-filled writing one does at that age, instead of telling the fun genre stories I prefer to read. One was a serialized novel—very Dickensian concept! Unfortunately none of those are still available.

    The earliest story that’s still in print is “Soaring with Eliana,” a lesbian erotic fantasy, in the anthology Stars Inside Her. That came out in 1999. Writing about hot women with wings, I realized I far preferred fun, sexy and touched with the fantastic to dour and serious and I haven’t looked back since.

    In which other settings have you published? (as in: fantasy, sci-fi, pulp, modern, historic).

    Contemporary, historical, fantasy, pulp/noir…am I forgetting any? 🙂

    In what other genres have you published (romance, crime etc)

    Most of my publications qualify as erotica or erotic romance. The solo books, with one exception, have fantasy or paranormal elements. Some of the works published as Sophie Mouette are erotic comedies, mysteries or caper stories. I’ve also had a few pure fantasy stories published, the literary fiction mentioned above, and two books of poetry.

    Is there a format, setting or genre you prefer?

    Almost all my work has elements of romance and sexuality, although it’s not all explicitly erotic. If I can work in something fantastical, be it pure fantasy elements such as magic or shape-shifters, or aether-based steampunk technology, so much the better.

    I want to be a novelist. I really, really want to be a novelist. However, I seem to think in short stories. I am working on this. As to genre, I’m squarely a speculative fiction writer; if I don’t have improbable airships, chthonic horrors, or ancient and petty gods, I feel like I’m missing out.

    Was it hard to get your first piece published? How many tries did it take?

    I’ve been publishing regularly since my late teens. Since that was practically the Dark Ages, I don’t remember the pain too clearly, though I’m sure there was some. Since then, I have garnered my share of rejections, and still do, even with approximately a hundred published works (not counting the poems).

    I’m incredibly spoiled. The very first piece I sent off was accepted by an online publication. That’s not to say that there haven’t been ups and downs since, but getting my work published for the first time was remarkably smooth.

    Is there something you consider difficult about writing?

    What I find most challenging isn’t writing, but the publication and marketing process. I’m shy, despite the fact I write about sex incessantly, and putting myself out there to sell my work doesn’t come naturally to me at all. Writing is hard, yet somehow natural to me.

    I have this problem where I don’t always recognize what kind of character I’m writing about. I once wrote what I thought was a character who was roguish and charming. As it turns out, he was a psychopath who creeped out all of my first readers. (All two of them). Beyond that, I also have a bad habit of never thinking about what my characters look like.

    Do you follow a strict schedule when you write?


    I try to make myself write every day. It doesn’t necessarily matter what it is on, and of course the deadline is sacred, but as long as something gets written, I’m a happy camper.

    Do you prefer a certain environment for writing (in the garden, kitchen, Starbucks etc.)

    I have a home office, but these days I do a lot of work on the commuter train. It’s hardly an ideal environment, but after a wretched year of wasting the same two hours a day commuting by car, I look at train time as stealing back part of my life from the evil necessity of the day job.

    I’m a dedicated laptop user, so I tend to be pretty mobile. Sometimes, I want a little sign that says “Freelancer at Work.”

    Anything I forgot but you would like to tell us?

    I recently learned that if I’ve written something that I think is hilarious or romantic, I need to run it by other people. Chances are passingly good that I just wrote something horrifically creepy.

    Thanks again to both of you for your time and willingness to do this interview.

    Now I suggest you check out the sites Kannan and Teresa mentioned and delve a little into their other work. Maybe you volunteer for reviewing this creepy romance Kannan mentioned?


  • Interview with Lavie Tidhar on the Angry Robot Podcast


    Just wanted to share the following episode of the Angry Robot Podcast, since it is an interview with Lavie Tidhar and not sharing it would be an abomination.

    I am really looking forward to the release of The Great Game and am currently reading Ossama. Very different, but also highly recommendable.

    Theme song courtesy of John Anealio – find more of his awesome/twisted science fiction-themed music at SciFi Songs.

    Subscribe to the podcast via RSS feed or via iTunes.

    Direct download the podcast (MP3).