Alex Keller's debut novel Haywired, a steampunk fairytale, was released on 1 September in the UK by Mogzilla Books. Alex maintains a blog at http://alexkelleruk.tumblr.com, where he discusses Steampunk, the life of a writer, and other assorted items. You can purchase Haywired at the Mogzilla shop, Amazon UK, and at Waterstones. Its sequel, Rewired, is due out April 2011 in the UK. Haywired will be released to U.S. readers sometime in 2011.
The Asylum was the first Steampunk convention I'd attended and I had no idea what to expect. I've never really been one for conventions to be honest. I've nothing particularly against them, but I've never been a big fan of group things so I've avoided them like the plague. I've always preferred my own company rather than being stuck in a crowd, but I was genuinely pleasantly surprised by the Asylum. I had a really good time. It looks like I've made quite the mistake.
What first struck me were the costumes: they were incredible. The effort people had gone to was tremendous. I don't really know much about the Steampunk community and I thought that maybe a few people would really make the effort while the majority would just be in jeans and t-shirts with a slightly steampunky feel to them, but wow was I wrong. I wore a pair of brown trousers, a shirt, and a waistcoat, and I felt massively under-dressed. However, there was no ostracising because I hadn't gone to the lengths most others had. Every person I spoke to, and I mean everyone, was friendly and talkative.
Anyway, to keep this concise, there were a couple of things that really blew me away. First of all, people actually bought my book. This was AMAZING. I'm proud of Haywired and extremely happy with the reception it has received on the review circuit, but what I found incredible was that people, real flesh and blood people, were prepared to part with their hard-earned money to get a copy. And they even wanted me to scrawl something barely legible in it as well! It felt very strange being in this position but I'm delighted they wanted my signature, let alone the book itself.
The second thing that felt very strange was having Mr Robert Rankin on the stall next to me. I knew he was going to be there, but I thought he would be in some closed off area for him to perform whatever person magic he wished, not be sitting at the stall next to mine looking like an ordinary mortal. I have to admit, I didn't speak to him much as I was a bit star-struck, but he seemed like an incredibly nice guy. He and his wife got involved in all the events that were going on, and on the one occasion when I did pluck up enough courage to speak to him, he was very friendly.
I do come away with a few regrets though. As this was my first convention, I was a bit cautious. There was a ball on in the evening and I thought that might be a bit too much for me, but once I was there I was disappointed I hadn't signed up. On Sunday, everyone was saying it was great! Oh well, there's always next year.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Alex has pictures of The Asylum up on his blog, http://alexkelleruk.tumblr.com. Scroll down a bit and you can see a photo of Robert Rankin and a slideshow of other pictures Alex took.