H.M.S. Chronabelle: An Extended Interview with Lady Almira

Lady Almi­ra, by Krista Bren­nan

After a brief reprieve, your favorite type­writer is back with more excit­ing mate­r­i­al from The Steam­punk Bible.  This week we will explore the world of the H.M.S. Chron­abelle and its illus­tri­ous crew mem­bers.  These four women have band­ed togeth­er to cre­ate steam­sonas that tran­scend time and space, cre­at­ing a imag­i­nary realm where any­thing is pos­si­ble.  We’ll start off with an extend­ed inter­view with Lady Almi­ra, a.k.a. Tes­sa Siegel, to dis­cuss her own views on steam­punk and the perks of liv­ing aboard an air­ship.

The Steam­punk Bible: What is your per­son­al def­i­n­i­tion of Steam­punk? 

Lady Almi­ra: Steam­punk is a genre and sub­cul­ture revolv­ing around retro-spec­u­la­tive sci­ence fic­tion. It asks the ques­tion: What if tech­nol­o­gy devel­oped at an implau­si­bly great pace dur­ing the Vic­to­ri­an Era? What if our advance­ments sur­mount­ed even the tech­nolo­gies of mod­ern day? The end result is a mar­riage of great advance­ment with clas­si­cal styles and man­ner­isms. Also, there are ray­guns.

SPB: How long have you been involved/interested in Steam­punk?

LA: I start­ed becom­ing inter­est­ed in Steam­punk when I was six­teen. I was a junior in high school and was drawn to the beau­ti­ful aes­thet­ic of the sub­cul­ture. Luck­i­ly enough, I was sur­round­ed with friends who were all equal­ly inter­est­ed in the genre, and we were all able to dive into the com­mu­ni­ty togeth­er. It is much eas­i­er to be a young steam­punk when you have oth­er steam­punks close to you. I con­sid­er myself very for­tu­nate to have had the crew of the H.M.S. Chron­abelle with me from the start.

SPB: What dif­fer­ences do you see between now and when you start­ed?

LAWhen I start­ed, the entire sub­cul­ture was small­er and most­ly under­ground. When you brought up “steam­punk” in a con­ver­sa­tion with a non-steam­punk, the response was inevitably con­fused. Now it’s become a bet­ter known thing — on the same lev­el as cyber­punk for the most part. I think the only rea­son that we (the Chron­abelle) man­aged to draw atten­tion in the com­mu­ni­ty was because we were such a nov­el­ty at the time. Active steam­punks were gen­er­al­ly in their 20s and 30s, so a crew of teenagers who actu­al­ly took the time to cre­ate and share was a bit of a sen­sa­tion. Now, the soci­ety is a great deal larg­er and there are many peo­ple our age who are doing much more inter­est­ing things than we ever did.

SPB: How did your crew come togeth­er?

LAWe had all known each oth­er for years before we went steam­punk; some of us had been togeth­er since mid­dle school. Cap­tain Mouse was the one who orig­i­nal­ly intro­duced it to us, and we all dove in for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. There was some­thing for each of us in the sub­cul­ture— lit­er­a­ture, art, tech­nol­o­gy, fash­ion. When it got to the point that it was part of our dai­ly lives, we decid­ed we need­ed to form an air­ship.

SPB: What is it about out­dat­ed tech­nol­o­gy – like diri­gi­bles – that appeal to and inspire you?

LAAes­thet­ics. I’m no sci­en­tist by any means. Mouse keeps me up to snuff on tech­nol­o­gy for the most part, but I’m real­ly in into it because it’s pret­ty. And more than that, I’ve always loved anti­quat­ed things. I col­lect rare books, I’ve had a vin­tage pock­et watch col­lec­tion since I was eleven, I enjoy spend­ing time in old build­ings, etc.

SPB: Why did you all decide to “live” on an air­ship?  What does it pro­vide for you that 21st cen­tu­ry real­i­ty can­not?

LA: Back when we first formed it, it was def­i­nite­ly an escape. None of us ter­ri­bly hat­ed high school, but I think every­one dreams of get­ting out while they’re there. So the idea of hav­ing a giant, beau­ti­ful retro futur­is­tic man­sion that float­ed us to exot­ic places, allowed us to all live togeth­er, and let us have adven­tures real­ly appealed to the group. Now that we’ve all been scat­tered to the winds, it’s like an imag­i­nary meet­ing place. We may be sta­tioned hun­dreds of miles away from each oth­er, but we’re still the crew of the H.M.S. Chron­abelle.

SPB: What is it about the steam­punk aes­thet­ic that appeals to you?

LA: Basi­cal­ly, every­thing. I sup­pose that’s a bit broad… the fash­ion and the tech­nol­o­gy are def­i­nite­ly impor­tant. Beyond that, the real draw is Vic­to­ri­an man­ner­ism. What’s real­ly won­der­ful about the sub­cul­ture is the com­bi­na­tion of a look with an atti­tude. Steam­punks are all about talk­ing well, dress­ing well, and act­ing well. These are all things that I real­ly appre­ci­ate as a young per­son in a fair­ly lazy mod­ern world. Steam­punk is often affect­ed, yes, but I am glad that there is still a place in soci­ety where man­ners and gen­tle­man­li­ness are still held to a high stan­dard. Hope­ful­ly, there will always be peo­ple who appre­ci­ate a good top hat.

SPB: Where do you all get your inspi­ra­tion for your cos­tumes, and can you talk about its influ­ences?

LA: Our cos­tumes were always about what we could do with a lim­it­ed bud­get. Stu­dents aren’t known for their vast funds, so we gen­er­al­ly had to make do with what we had (exclud­ing a few choice expen­sive pieces, such as my corset). We quick­ly learned the ben­e­fits of alter­ation and lay­er­ing. After this com­mon­al­i­ty, our per­son­al styles tend­ed to diverge great­ly. I always lean towards the “steam” side of steam­punk — I enjoy attempt­ing to incor­po­rate a cer­tain lev­el of Vic­to­ri­ana into my cos­tumes. Where­as, for exam­ple, Cap­tain Mouse and Lady Kodak tend­ed to lean towards a more “punk” feel. We nev­er quib­bled about which was bet­ter. The crew nev­er want­ed to insti­tute a uni­form of any kind.

SPB: Future of Steam­punk fash­ion?  Where do you see it evolv­ing to?

 LAOh dear, that’s a hard one. Peo­ple are get­ting more and more cre­ative and intri­cate every­day. It’s won­der­ful to see the crazy stuff that’s out there. I don’t know what the trend will be in the future, but I def­i­nite­ly see more post-apoc­a­lyp­tic styled pieces appear­ing. Things seem to be stray­ing more and more from the Vic­to­ri­an roots, which I think will lead to both some fas­ci­nat­ing cos­tum­ing and intense debates with­in the com­mu­ni­ty about the nature of the genre.

“H.M.S. Chronabelle: An Extended Interview with Lady Almira” was published in Interviews, Uncategorized.

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