Home > Keith Melton Interviews People, Keith Uses Paint, Wicked Awesome > Amazing Mari Fee Steampunk Interview of Wonder!

Amazing Mari Fee Steampunk Interview of Wonder!

June 20th, 2011

Mari Fee is a trooper. It seems like years ago that I lured her into doing an interview for the Scribbling Ninjas blog. She (unsuspecting and innocent) said yes. We did the interview—see below. I (unsuspecting and innocent) asked her what she wanted for her MS Paint artwork. Oh nothing much, she assured me. Just a steampunk octopus fighting bears with archeology tools while wearing boots on an airship…

Yeah. Not exactly simple.

It took me forever to finish drawing this. I kept pushing it back. I’d work on it a little, get frustrated because it sucked, and tried to pretend it didn’t exist. Tried to pretend Mari Fee didn’t exist. Suffered guilt. Couldn’t sleep. Starting drinking. I mean, starting drinking more. Life became exceedingly busy. I had edits to do. I had to shave my cat. I had to buy a barbeque. And THEN assemble it. It was easy to put off drawing that thrice-accursed airship. The airship that mocks me, even now, with its uninspired mediocrity, cementing in my mind forever the fact that I will always be a substandard MS Paint artist, and even angry bears cannot save the entire work from reeking of the banal.


But aside from that, everything’s peachy. Please read on and enjoy the interview with the wonderful Mari Fee. Info on her novella follows the interview. And you should seriously consider picking it up, because it’s good stuff.


Anyway, here’s the art. Don’t judge me. I’ve done that enough for the both of us.

(It’s a bit huge. Too large for this template. I’d click to see it in better detail.)

And here is a closer shot of the octopus and bears. Just because.

Keith Melton: (loaded question alert!) First off, why steampunk?

Mari Fee: Why not steampunk? Do you have something against it? 🙁 Steampunk likes you, you know.

Keith: I have nothing against it. Steampunk and me—we go waaaay back. At least six months. Which is 10,000,000 times my usual attention span. So anyway, will you be writing more steampunk? What do we have to look forward to?

Mari Fee: I have plans for a steampunk-archaeology mash-up in Egypt, with airships and archaeologists and hieroglyphics and possibly mules. It’s not quite ready to start writing yet, though. But when it is, it will be glorious.

Keith: Do you own custom goggles? (I was going to ask about corsets, but I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. I know how uncomfortable I get when people ask about my custom corsets…)

Mari Fee: My fiancé courted me by buying me a pair of mass produced welder’s goggles from a gas station. <3 As for custom corsets, I’m rather envious that you have one and I don’t. So is the fiancé.

Keith: When did you start reading steampunk? Do you remember your first contact with the genre?

Mari Fee: Oddly enough, I do! About 10 years ago I picked up this totally rad book by Martha Wells called Death of the Necromancer, and it turned out to be a pseudo-Victorian fantasy mystery adventure with dead fairies and pistols and explosions. TOTALLY AWESOME.

Other than that, I grew up with a well-thumbed copy of Journey to the Centre of the Earth and the complete Sherlock Holmes. Gotta have the basics.

Keith: Did you light something on fire when you received your Bluebeard’s Machine contract offer?

Mari Fee: No, although my fiancé did offer to buy fireworks. Basically anything is an excuse for fireworks.

Keith: You tend to write shorter stories, by your own admission. Do you have any plans to go novel length?

Mari Fee: Lots of words is scary! I’m having to retrain my brain to think in longer plots – my first instinct is tight and tidy stories. Chips and beer help sustain the imagination when the going gets tough – so yes, I’m currently attempting something novel length. So far it’s longer than Bluebeard’s Machine, which I count as a win.

Keith: Admit it. You became an archeologist because of Indiana Jones, didn’t you?

Mari Fee: Absolutely. 96.72% of archaeologists trained after 1981 are there because of Indiana Jones. The other 3.28% are weirdos who actually like counting lithic flakes and identifying fish bones.

Keith: Please talk about indie music. What great bands am I missing?

Mari Fee: Just the bands that haven’t been invented. Those bands are the best because they haven’t sold out yet.

I’m more of a song person than a band person, but songs by total sell-outs that I’m currently rocking out to include Black Day in December by Said the Whale (http://radio3.cbc.ca/play/band/Said-The-Whale/Black-Day-in-December) which has a mermaid and wonderful sounding ‘r’s, and Buffalo by The Phoenix Foundation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5rh4LR4dbI) which is apparently huge in New Zealand but relatively unknown in my neck of the woods so therefore still indie. I can justify if I want to.

Keith: What’s your idea of a perfect story?

Mari Fee: The perfect story is the one that surprises me with its perfection – the random book I picked up because it looked cool and fun, which then then totally proceeds to blow my mind so hard I needed a cigarette afterwards. And I don’t even smoke.

But if someone wants to write me a mystery noir adventure set in the 19th century with romance, cryptic letters or books written by dead people, lots of the paranormal, international travel, and a good dose of surrealism and/or humour I’ll love it to pieces. Not that I’m specific or anything.

Keith: I love history. I’m fascinated—what does a heritage conservation consultant do? (This question may seem random to most readers, but I assure them it is completely relevant.)

Mari Fee: Basically, it’s protecting heritage buildings and historic sites through documentation – researching a place’s history, discovering why and if its heritage (versus just old – not everything old needs to be saved!), and writing it all down in formal documents for use by governments and other planning agencies. My favourite part is the research – it’s like archaeology, but with 100% fewer bears!

Keith: Steampunk’s popularity is exploding. Why do you think this is? [Keith interrupts the interview to interrupt himself: Notice how dated this question i?. Steampunk is now super-huge. Bigger than YA, except that nobody will acknowledge this fact and unscrupulous cads doctor the sales numbers in a wide-ranging conspiracy to discredit the genre. …Or maybe I’m wrong.]

Mari Fee: A lot of it is nostalgia, I think, especially for North Americans who aren’t always in touch with their own histories. I think in a lot of ways it also addresses a cultural unease with technology. Most of us don’t know how our computers work and are helpless when the power goes out, and the fixability of steampunk tech and the self-sufficient DIY ethos in steampunk is appealing.

Most importantly, though, steampunk is cool. There’s adventure, romance, awesome clothes like bowler hats and bustles and umbrellas with ruffles, crazy technology, and an unexplored world – the Amazon hasn’t been mapped, Africa hasn’t been fully explored, and Europe itself is still a mysterious mystery.

Keith: I know exactly what to do when the power goes out. Light fire, turn over cars, and loot stores while wearing ruffles. But moving on. I love steampunk clothing. Do you have an example of a favorite outfit?

Mari Fee: This one:

http://beatonna.livejournal.com/135788.html <– see the first image. (one a side note, I am 100% sure that’s what roosters say 100% of the time)

Seriously, though, I don’t have a favourite outfit…. Unless it’s what Mal wears on Firefly, which isn’t really steampunk but is still totally steampunk. And involves tight pants. Mmm.


Keith: Why do you think being called “jerkface” is the most romantic thing ever?

Mari Fee: … you don’t think being called “jerkface” is the most romantic thing ever? But the fiancé told me it was the sweetest term of endearment ever invented!

Keith: Oh, it totally is. I merely hoped to steal it and use it as my very own.

Keith’s Rapid Fire Questions:


1.) Favorite musical artists and/or genres of music?

Mari Fee: Said the Whale, Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, Dandy Warhols, jangly music with great lyrics, danceable music, and music with bacon in it (see Joy of Cooking by Old Man Luedecke – http://radio3.cbc.ca/play/band/OLD-MAN-LUEDECKE/Joy-of-Cooking).

2.) Food you hate most? (If it’s not Jell-O, skip this question and/or lie.)

Mari Fee: Jello with nuts in it. Nuts are the evil assassins of the food world. A walnut almost took me out two years ago, but thankfully I managed to bust its kneecap with a folding chair before punching it in the face so hard it flew to Mars.

Or maybe onions. Onions somehow convinced the entire world that they’re food. And they look like tapeworms.


Keith: Speaking of which, can you imagine tapeworms suspended in a red gelatin dessert? And the whole thing wobbling nefariously? That’s pretty frickin’ horrific.

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to sleep tonight…


3.) Would you rather go to outer space or deep under the ocean (where you may or may not own a secret steampunk-style lair and a submersible you use to fight giant squids)?

Mari Fee: Bottom of the ocean. There’s more to see, and quite frankly giant cephalopods are way smarter than any moon-man. I’d much rather have a cephalopod to tea.

4) What would be your ideal vacation?

Mari Fee: A 3 year jaunt around the world on someone else’s dime.

Keith: What is the question you’ve always wanted to be presented in an interview but have yet to be asked? Please feel free to answer that question here:

Mari Fee: ……


Keith: Good answer. Good answer. Thanks again, Mari, for coming out to play!


Readers! Check out Bluebeard’s Machine by Mari Fee!


Love, science, death. She is all three.


A Silk, Steel and Steam story.


Determined to discover what new experiment is stealing her husband’s attentions, Annette Parker ventures into forbidden territory—his study—only to discover a secret he would kill to keep. She is his fifth attempt to clone the original Annette and, according to his journal, he’s planning a sixth…after he dissects her dead body.


Unsure of who or what she is, she assumes a new identity and flees to the Orkney Islands and her last hope. The man she once rejected.


Isaac Ward’s first instinct is to get this mysterious “Miss Ada” out of his undersea laboratory—and out of his life—before he repeats the mistakes that drove him there in the first place. Her wild stories and stubborn insistence that they’re true wear his patience thin, but it doesn’t matter. She is as irresistible as the tide.


Then the truth appears right outside the portholes of his lab, stripping away her dubious disguise. Exposing a secret that could kill them both…unless Isaac abandons the science he knows for a second chance with the woman who broke his heart.

Product Warnings

Contains mad scientists, wanton murder, identity crises, and boiling hot underwater sex. Submersible instructions not included.


Click to Buy Bluebeard’s Machine Here!

Keith Melton Interviews People, Keith Uses Paint, Wicked Awesome , , , ,

  1. June 20th, 2011 at 12:58 | #1

    Ack! I love Bluebeard’s Machine. It’s wonderful. Mari, this:

    “have plans for a steampunk-archaeology mash-up in Egypt, with airships and archaeologists and hieroglyphics and possibly mules.”

    Reeeeeeaaaalllly? *puppy eyes*

    Good interview. But Keith, well. I think I may need to do a follow up post to school you in what a real steampunk octopus fighting bears with archeology tools while wearing boots on an airship looks like.

    *draws a circle*

    *gets distracted by potato chips*

    Eh, never mind. We’ll let it stand for now.

  2. June 20th, 2011 at 14:23 | #2

    It’s in the works. 🙂 I’m currently researching, and man-oh-man do I ever love that place/time! Archaeology was so exciting back then!

  3. June 20th, 2011 at 15:38 | #3

    @AlishaRai I agree. Mari’s concept sounds exceedingly intriguing. I also love the whole ancient Egypt motif. Couple that with steampunk, and I’m hooked.

    @MariFee Thanks again for doing the interview and being so much fun. Also, thanks for your patience. *And* (believe it or not) for such a challenging art request–although I mock “bitched and whined” in the post, it was very fun.

  4. June 20th, 2011 at 19:19 | #4

    Oh Mari, yes please hurry and write that story! And Bluebeard’s Machine is awesome. Everyone should read it. (hear that everyone? Go buy!) PS I still really like Henching. I told my writing buddy how cool it was.

    Keith, that airship is AWESOME! And that’s before we even get to the steampunk octopus fighting bears. <3

  5. June 21st, 2011 at 00:26 | #5

    @Devin Aw, thank you, you’re too kind. And I 100% agree with you that Mari should hurry and write that story *AND* that people should pick up Bluebeard’s Machine. ^_^

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  1. June 20th, 2011 at 12:51 | #1