Wednesday, November 4, 2015

An Interview With Derek Tatum - The Origins of #Dreadpunk

The Punkettes are thrilled to introduce you to Derek Tatum, the man behind the recently coined term "Dreadpunk". We reached out to Derek via twitter and he very graciously agreed to an interview.

Q1 - Welcome to the blog! We're so excited to have you here! How does it feel to have coined the term "dreadpunk"? We sort of feel like it's history in the making. In case you hadn't guessed yet, we here at The Punkettes heartily approve!

Thanks! It feels kind of odd to have coined a term that people have started to use. I knew it had arrived when I started hearing it used by people who I've never met. I guess there was more of a need for it than I imagined.

Q2 - Can you tell us a bit more about the moment you proposed the term "dreadpunk"? What triggered the thought at the time?

I've long been a fan of horror/dark fantasy with a pre- through early 20th century setting, but presented with a contemporary sensibility. I was at a local science fiction/fantasy convention in January when the name "shudderpunk" came to me. Obviously cyberpunk and steampunk are the most prominent, but I was also seeing mannerspunk, stonepunk... but probably the biggest trigger was seeing D.B. Jackson's "Thieftaker" novels being described as "Tricorn Punk." I haven't read those books (sorry, David!) but the author is a cool guy with a sense of humor, and I thought, half in jest, "maybe I can create a name for period-piece contemporary Gothic horror." I had seen the term "costume horror" before, but I wasn't crazy about using that. My first choice would have been Gothic-Punk, but that term was trademarked by White Wolf Games back in the 1990's. I assume someone still holds that trademark.

I pitched the name "shudderpunk" to a friend of mine, but she thought I was referring to the things on windows. "Dreadpunk" was next; I told some of my writer friends, and it stuck. Sooner or later, someone was bound to do it, so it might as well be me.

Q3 - We have our own opinions on why dreadpunk is vastly different from gothic horror (and why dreadpunk needed its own name), but we'd love to hear yours:

It's better to think of dreadpunk as a subset of Gothic horror rather than a separate genre altogether. I coined dreadpunk specifically to refer to works created within the past 25 years that utilize a period setting, though as a website, casts its net a little wider than that. Another reason is because some works do tend to lean more towards historical urban fantasy, while still using Gothic imagery. But I've never seen it as a wholly "new" thing — just a modern extension of an old one. 

I'm curious to hear your take.

Q4 - What do you think puts the punk in "dreadpunk"? What about the dread?

Honestly, I never put a lot of thought into what made it punk; like I said earlier, it started off as a more tongue-in-cheek term. The contemporary approach likely plays a lot into it. Some of my friends say that the punk comes in when they subvert traditional Gothic tropes.

The "dread" in "dreadpunk" comes directly from the penny dreadfuls. Dreadpunk sounded better than shudderpunk, Edgar Allan Punk, or Grand Guignol Punk.

Q5 - You talk about Crimson Peak, Penny Dreadful and Tim Burton on your blogs. Can you tell us a few more of your favorite dreadpunk movies and books?

Showtime's "Penny Dreadful" in my current go-to example for describing to people what I mean by dreadpunk, though I don't want to give people the impression that the term is exclusively used to describe fans of the show. While Tim Burton's overall career has not fallen into what I'll call "proper dreadpunk," "Sleepy Hollow" and "Sweeney Todd" absolutely do. I keep waffling on spinning Burton and related material into its own blog. But "Sleepy Hollow" was a major inspiration behind me looking for a term to describe this more contemporary style of Gothic horror (and, also, why I don't lean on the word "Victorian"). The current Fox series "Sleepy Hollow" has been grandfathered in because of its source material, though it's moved pretty far afield. Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula" was another inspiration. I liked aspects of the short-lived NBC series "Dracula." The "Wolfman" remake from a few years ago was flawed but I really enjoyed it.

As for books, my friends Leanna Renee Hieber, Cherie Priest, Delilah Dawson, and Clay and Susan Griffith appeared on the notorious dreadpunk panel at Dragon Con.

Dreadpunk is not an absolute; crossover between genres and subgenres is expected, but works I would consider dreadpunk are first and foremost horror or dark fantasy.

Q6 - Do you see dreadpunk aesthetic as being very different from Victorian goth? If so, in what way?

Dreadpunk is an entertainment aesthetic rather than a subculture. There's been some confusion on that point, so I wanted to clear it up. If someone wants a subculture, I recommend they investigate the classic and Victorian Goth scenes.

Thanks for joining us, Derek! To learn more about dreadpunk, you can check out Mr. Tatum's website here

Monday, October 26, 2015


The clockwork screams, the cogs groan,
No tick-tocks, no hands roam,
Blood stained innards upon the grounds lie,
In the place where MURDERERS go when they die...

Cain stood back and looked over Gnomon, a machine of immense proportions, large enough to fill Grand Central Station, twiceor so he was told. It was his design, his life's work of extraordinary purpose. When complete, Gnomon would change everything. So far, only one Gloom could pass through unharmed. And that wouldn't do. Cain had legions of Glooms needing the machine.
He clutched the metallic frog atop his walking stick and did the Lindy Hop dance step toward a rusted clock arm. He leaned against it, his black coat tails dusting the ground. Littered around him were spare metal chronograph parts of various shapes and sizes, anything they could salvage. To onlookers it would appear a mash-up of clock innards. To Cain it was the most glorious sight to behold. It was as if these recycled time divisions held their purpose in Gnomon all along. Perhaps they had. 

His eyes trailed to the capsulator, seated high above the machine, lifted on stilts of ruble, things of no usebroken springs, little metal numbers, glass. The capsulator swelled and contracted like a lung filling with air. It was the heart of Gnomon, the way in. It wasn't supposed to act this way. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. 

At the base of the behemoth machine, the Contractor worked, humming to himself as tufts of grey hair swayed with the bobbing of the man's bulbous head. He was an unusual man, the Contractor. A cripple, hunched at the back and bent at the waist from years of work, his left arm absent flesh to his elbow. He bore a scar from ear to ear, cutting his nose in half and giving him the look of a perplexed pig. Like all Glooms, he was fated to live eternity with the scars he bestowed on others while alive. Cain made a mental note to ask the man about them sometime. 

All curiosity aside, his looks didn't concern Cain. It was the man's extraordinary talent that he sought. The Contractor was a genius. He spoke to metal as though it lived and breathed. He could build anything with his handswell, hand and clockwork handthat's what Cain was counting on. Besides, if unusual looks were reason for alarm, then Cain should never take in his own reflection. He too was a Gloom, and half of his perfect face was missinga small reminder of what he had done. In its stead was a mechanical mastery, perhaps the most fantastical clockwork anyone had seen. He wore his face with pride, each click of his metal nostril reminding him of his accomplishment of merged flesh and machine. 

Cain cringed as the Contractor wrapped a loose chain from the pulley component around his skeletal arm. It had taken him far too long to come up with a system that would give the hunchback use of the damaged limb. But he had, and it was a work of art. Even from this angle you could scarcely see the metal screws twisting into ligaments that allow the Contractor to move his fingers like a puppet master. It would be a pity for that to be ruined. 

Cain adjusted his weight onto the balls of his feet and turned when he felt a tug on his sleeve. It was his body servant Napoleon. 

"Sir, we best be on our way." The squat man shifted his stance and his pointy mouse-like nose wiggled as he sniffed. 

"Not yet, I need to be sure the Gatherers can re-enter the capsulator."

"I'm sure they will, sir." 

Cain waved his walking stick in a circle. "It's the sanitarium harvest. It would be a shame if we lost our chance to take those lifetimes. The sick are ripe for plunder." He leaned against his stick, looking down on his servant. "We're on a tight schedule you know. We need to double our crown-wheel supply." 

"Yes, sir. I know, sir." 

Cain took a step forward in time to see the hunchback's fingers slip. The Contractor clung to the chain and called to his assistants, "Get to the thrunge-plate before she blows." He snapped his bulbous head toward Napoleon. "Get Father Cain away from here!" 

Before anyone could move, a small child, a coggling, slithered out from under a large copper-pieced boiler. Whether boy or girl they could not tell, for he/she/it was covered in sludge. 

"Oy, Sir, there be a problem at Gnomon's heart." The child raised their goggles revealing two white circles in which little eyes blinked.

"Didn't you hear what I said?"

"Sorry sir?" 

"Nevermind," the Contractor grumbled. "Just get to the capsulator, find the thrunge-plate and shut it down." As if it was not obvious from his size compared to the tiny child's, he added, "I can't fit back there." 

Before the child could leave, boiling droplets rained down on them, followed by a reverberating hiss as steam sliced through one of the twelve chimney tourniquets. They looked up in time to see another coggling, smaller than the first, slide down the rafter and apply pressure to the fissure with an old rag. Bolts loosened and flew past the child, creating a shower of metal as it ricocheted off Gnomon. 

"I can't hold it, sir!" 

"Get down from there," the Contractor yelled, "she's gonna blow!" 

From between the piles of clock parts, a coggling appeared carrying a large metal pendulum. He raised it above his head and ran towards a patchwork gong suspended between two hollowed grandfather clock bodies. The momentum of the collision set forth a long resounding hum that thundered through Gnomon. It startled Cain and he stepped back on his toes. 

The child dragged the pendulum behind him and backed away. Then, once again, lifted it above his head and ran. Cain listened as matching sounds echoed off Gnomon. Soon he could distinguish at least fivefive coggling's, somewhere in Gnomon, sounding an alarm. 

"Sir, please, it's not safe here," Napoleon repeated, his buckteeth clattering.

Cain tugged on his freshly ironed white collar and waved him away. "Go prepare the Elephantorius for return. Don't forget to have the men wind it this time." 

He watched as his body servant nodded and shuffled off, then turned his attention back to Gnomon.
A spray of steam blew Cain's dark candlestick curls whipping about his face. He sheltered his true eye and watched the capsulator shift off its stilts and descend. A slow roar of whirling metal headed down atop the copper-pieced boiler, atop the small coggling. He slid forward, coat tails flapping, and extended his arms, his furthest reach, toward the child.

But the capsulator continued to fall and the behemoth Gnomon inhaled, sucking the coggling deeper into the machineaway from Cain.

"No!" he cried as Gnomon collapsed in a metal crunching spectacle, sending a thick grey steam-cloud in its wake, burying the child in a graveyard of hope, twisted metal, and time.


I'm so excited to share this bonus chapter from my latest work with you. A LIFETIME... is an Urban Clockpunk novel available to read for free online. 
                                                                                     xo- Rebecca Sky, the Clockpunkette

A 16-year-old girl, suffering guilt from the death of her sister, is given 12 hours to live when pieces of her lifetime are stolen. Determined to repay her debt before she dies, she makes a deal with the Time Keeper to travel to hell to take back the stolen pieces of her soul.

In his clockwork palace, the Father of murderers stews over his dwindling supply of soul powered parts. And in small town Echo Lake, the daughter of an atheist taxidermist and a Hindu yogi, recovers from the murder of her sister by forming an unlikely friendship with a boy in a coma.

Through the boy she learns that the dead still exist, and that bad souls have been coming back and stealing parts of people's lifetimes—hers included—leaving her with a strange heart shaped clock, that's counting down the hours she has to live.

But because she can see the clock, she can fix it.

To do so she travels to the place bad souls go when they die in search of a replacement part. There she learns that the boy in a coma is somehow involved with the murder of his father, and the Father of all murderers.

They must work together on an adventure of a lifetime, against the enemy of all lifetimes, to find her missing piece, the truth, and possibly a little love.

Will they find her part? Or will her last second run out?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Review of Crimson Peak

Ever since the very first teaser picture of Crimson Peak, I’ve been chomping at the bit to go see this movie. Finally, accompanied by two good friends (one of them being Rebecca Sky, my fellow Steampunkette) I got the chance.

First off, let me say that the visuals are stunning. The pictures they advertised with, the eerie red on black and the tattered, ghost-like moths and blood spatters, pretty much let you know exactly what to expect. The way they did the ghosts was exceptional. They’re almost 3D in some strange way (no, I didn’t see it in 3D and forget) perhaps because of the way they seem to be drifting away a bit at a time, how a kind of crimson mist drifts and curls out of them at all times. It’s a new take on ghost graphics, and I found it refreshingly disgusting.

 There are a few especially horrifying ghosts who have pieces of their faces missing and such, so faint of heart need not apply.

The costuming is brilliant. I especially enjoyed the scene that was part foreshadowing, part fashion statement, where the sister, Lucille, is wearing a black lace hat shaped like a ghostly face. There is not nearly enough internet chatter about the face hat? WHY NO FACE HAT? Also, where can I get one of these?

The plotline was interesting for me, up to a point. I was intrigued by the fact that the main character, Edith, is a writer. She talks about Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) and Jane Austen, and is working on her own gothic story. Part of me wonders if “Edith” is any tribute to Edith Wharton (House of Mirth, GHASTLY book). In any case, there’s a number of interesting references to life as a writer. She is dismayed to have a publisher tell her that her manuscript “needs a love story”, and at one point tells her father (played by Bobby from Supernatural, btw) that she needs to type out her manuscripts because her writing is “too feminine”.

SPOILERS AHEAD: The part that lost me a bit was the brother/sister relationship. In a way, I think they did it pretty well. There was enough foreshadowing that I guessed what was going on, (incest plotline is a gothic staple) but from the sounds of it, much of the audience did not. There were more than a few disgusted gasps from around us. Though there had to be some foreshadowing to make it click (instead of just coming out of nowhere) I was disappointed that I saw it coming.

There was a few great little details that thrilled and disgusted me, the locks of hair from the missing women, the imagery of the poison tea (beautiful tea cups, by the way) and the way the red clay stained everything was both beautifully eerie and symbolic. But I was almost hoping for a little more, maybe that the siblings knew the house was haunted (I thought they did at first and were recruiting Edith for something like a sacrifice). The “after her money” thing is old hat for me.

I also wasn’t sure why a brother/sister murder team would keep a trunk full of evidence in the basement. Even if it is locked, it just seems like a bad idea.

All in all though, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I will be seeing it in theaters at least once more, as well as encouraging anyone within earshot to go see it. Most of all, I want to see MORE of these Victoria gothic movies, and if Crimson Peak doesn’t do well, we’re telling Hollywood we don’t care to see more.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Dieselpunkette Reviews: Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

This book has been on my TBR list for years, and I finally got around to reading it. Honestly, mostly because it finally showed up available electronically. (The other Punkettes have differing opinions, but I do love my e-books.)

This book was like firefly, but Dieselpunk. And I say that as a fan of Firefly. (If you haven't watched Firefly and don't know what I'm talking about, it's on Netflix, you need to go watch it, right now. I'll wait.)

It's not at all that it felt like a ripoff. It's a combination of the fact that the story centers around the mismatched crew of an airship, all of whom are running from something, and their perpetually broke captain, and the style of humour. The humour plays off the characters and provides much needed lightheartedness to what is at times a story that gets pretty damn dark. And a giant metal steampunky golem with the mental capacity of a toddler. 

Darian Frey, Captain of the Ketty Jay is not particularly sympathetic at first, which is likely why the author chose to open the story with the viewpoints of several other characters - ones new to the crew. Frey is a bit of a womanizer, and irresponsible as hell. There's a reason he has trouble keeping a crew together. By a third of the way into the book he'd become one of those characters that I couldn't wait to see him punished, and yet still felt sorry for him, even if it was just a little bit. He's one of the most dynamic characters of the story - he changes a lot in the course of it, and his emotional arc was beautifully handled.

Several of the crew members have their own character arcs, some seem complete by the end of the book, and others, like Crake, look like they'll probably continue into later books, which is cool.

The biggest criticism I had was disappointment  that there weren't more female characters. There was Jez, and she was a good character, not a trophy, a character in her own right and all, with her own emotional arc, but the only other two were Frey's ex-girlfriends. I thought, of a seven person crew, you could have one more female character. Frey not liking the male members of his crew to be distracted by women was really a copout excuse.

The setting is very dieselpunk; all lighter-than-air aircraft, though the smaller ones sound like they move fast like heavier-than-air aircraft. They're filled with "aerium", doing away with having to fuss about the specific properties of hydrogen versus helium; though it sounds more like helium, based on it's lack of flammability. Hydrogen - well, it's flammable to the point of being not really fun. you can't have a prolonged fight scene in a hydrogen filled aircraft, stuff goes boom way too fast.

On that point, I had to force myself to overlook the spot where they flew the ship into a storm and came our of it up over the top of the storm. Which - thunderstorms typically top out around 30 000 feet, which is 20 000 feet higher than the point where you need either oxygen, or a pressurized cabin. Later events made it very clear the cabin was not airtight. Pilot brain twitched.

But take it as a testament to the rest of the book that I enjoyed the rest enough to overlook that little bit. By the end, a crew thrown together by chance and necessity pulls together as a team. It was an easy read, a fun romp, and I'm looking forward to getting to the next book.

Ten cylinders.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Little bit of Jabber, Tête-à-Tête, and a Whole Bunch of FREE PUNK READS!

I recently interviewed a multi-punk-genre, short story writer who posts his punk pieces for readers on wattpad--a free online reading and writing site that a lot of us Punkettes use. He was nice enough to link us to an extensive list of free readings at the bottom. Here are my favorite questions and answers from that interview!
                                -Rebecca Sky, The Clockpunkette 

The Clockpunkette: 
Tell us about yourself.

My name is Gavin. I’m married with four children and live in south west England with my family, a dog called Arthur, and a cat who loathes me.

I am self-confessed Science Fiction geek, and I work for Wattpad running their team of 150 volunteers and looking after various sectors of content. This means I get to describe myself to puzzled border control officials in Toronto as a professional reader of odd fiction which is very satisfying.

Most days I can be found in the corner of my dining room hammering away at my keyboard, listening to music, drinking too much coffee, and meandering around the darkened corners of the Wattpadiverse (This is a little like Pratchett’s L-Space, but with fewer wild Thesaurus roaming the aisles.)

The Clockpunkette: 
What inspired you to write in the 'punk genres?

 There’s a wonderful place called The Pub on Wattpad, and some time ago a great lad called Dan (AngusEcrivain on Wattpad) decided that it’d be kinda fun to have a short story contest - or Smackdown as they’d termed in The Pub - with varying rounds comprising the wonderful sub-genres of Science Fiction. Through those I’ve written various ‘punks’ including Cyber, Steam, Diesel, and Deco, and the more I do, the more I enjoy them. 

The Clockpunkette:  
What 'punk genre is your favorite to read/write, why?

 I love Cyberpunk. It’s got that great element of grittiness to it, where everything seems hardwired together, and it seems more potentially real in some ways, perhaps because it’s not far from where we are now. As technology continues to evolve, Cyberpunk and the worlds created around it are ever changing, and I find that rather exciting.

The Clockpunkette: 
If you had to live in any 'punk world, which would it be and why?

I love the idea of Greenpunk. No dystopia or tweaked past, Greenpunk is the here and now, but with a technological conscience. A place where we should perhaps be, or wish to be.

I suspect I’m the king of wishful thinking on this one, but I think it’d be just cool to live in a place where we’re almost there, almost at the point where we’re surviving on technology that isn’t sucking the soul from the world, but rather trying to apologise to the ghosts of the past in a constructive way.

And now I shall burn my soapbox and fry some hotdogs on the ashes of my self-righteous punkness.

The Clockpunkette: 
Would you rather be an airship captain or a cyborg?

Airship Captain, but not on Earth. And can I be both? Aye, I know, kinda greedy, but can you imagine being a cyborg version of Long John Silver on an airship? Now that would be kinda cool.

And no, I’m not choosing =P

The Clockpunkette: 
Tell us about your punk stories. Where can we read them?

You can find them on Wattpad.

There’s Wired - - which is a Cyberpunk story that won me one of the Smackdowns on Wattpad. I suspect this one’s my favourite, mainly ‘cos I really enjoyed writing it. It’s a universe I keep meaning to dip back into…

Steampunk – Meet Bernard - - this one was kinda silly, but was written on a Wattpad off-site day. The entire staff of Wattpad had a day sat in a Café, writing. Except me, ‘cos I was only part-time back then and got a message at about 5pm telling me I had 2 hours to write a story to 3 prompts pulled out of a hat. Thankfully it was steampunk at least.

Steampunk – Under Pressure - - a daft story to another odd little prompt. There are numerous great little challenges happening all the time, all over Wattpad and the wider web. They’re a great source of inspiration, and a good challenge too.

All of the following were all written as part of various smackdowns, and I really enjoyed all of them, particularly Quoth the Raven which is set in a dystopian London abandoned by the rest of the world.

Surprisepunk – Click -

Surprisepunk – Skin Deep -

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Gavin. I look forward to checking out some of those smackdowns! -Rebecca

*steampunk art by

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Announcing Some Spectacular Punkette News

Prepare to be amazed!

We have some exciting news to share with everyone.

It's been a little while. Okay, it's been a long while. But the Punkettes have some really cool stuff going on, so we thought we'd post an update on a few things, as well as share some exciting news!

First and foremost is the addition of two new Punkettes! We have K.T. Hannah joining us as The Cyberpunkette, as well as Adelyn Sterling who will be taking on the moniker of The Mythpunkette (you can find an awesome post about Mythpunkery over here).

In related news, E. Latimer will now be taking on the mantle of The Dreadpunkette, since she realized that's pretty much what she's been writing all along (expect a very long post on this later).

In Clockpunkette News...

The Clockpunkette, Rebecca Sky recently teamed up with Wattpad and Skillshare to put together a FREE online course about Writing for Online Engagement. The class peels back the curtain on online writing and teaches frameworks, techniques, and strategies for establishing, engaging, and growing a community around your work. Key lessons cover today's writing landscape, tips for serialized fiction, merchandising individual stories, and marketing your work to build your personal brand — all to help you find success. It’s perfect for creative writers, fanfic enthusiasts, bloggers, and beginners curious about publishing and self-publishing today. This welcoming class will empower writers of every level to confidently write fiction online. You can take the course for free here:

In Dreadpunkette News...

The Dreadpunkette, E. Latimer has teamed up with Patchwork Press to release a mythology based YA fantasy novel about Norse giants, mad queens and Ragnarok. BRRRRR. To get your Frost on, learn more about it here.

Stay tuned! In the next couple days we'll be doing a post on the fabulously macabre genre of Dreadpunk, the story behind its origins, and some awesome Dreadpunk recommendations.

photo credit:">Alysium Dance Theater.</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>