Literary Cosplay

Before the term “cosplay” came into common use, I always loved Halloween as one of the times I could create a costume and become someone else for a day. Nowadays, pop culture conventions also provide a fun excuse to dress up. Of course, most people who dress up for conventions make costumes based on their favorite television shows, movies, or comic books. A creator has already designed the costume and it’s up to the fan to make their own version. Likewise, most commercial Halloween costumes are also based on these same mass media heroes. However, novels can also be a great source of costume ideas and they often provide a wide latitude of ways to interpret characters. This can be especially useful if you’re looking for materials you can grab from a thrift store or something you can create with some simple make-up effects.

I have been known to dress up in outfits inspired by my novels. Back in 1993, I went to a Halloween party dressed as a Rd’dyggian (pronounced Red-dye-chian) from my Space Pirates’ Legacy novels. The Rd’dyggians are aliens with orange skin and a purple mustache-like array of tentacles under their noses. On top of that, they like to wear long, flowing robes. I was able to create a version using some face paint, hair dye, and some odds and ends from the closet. I didn’t match the Rd’dyggians from my novels perfectly, but I was close enough that my friends who had read the novels understood what I was supposed to be. Those who hadn’t read the novels still understood that I was some kind of alien.

I will note that when I first got into science fiction fandom, costume contests were a big part of conventions. You can still find contests, but an important element several years ago was that most of the people who dressed up created costumes based on favorite novels they’d read, rather than favorite visual media. This allowed them a lot of creativity in how they interpreted their costumes. These days, most of the literary-inspired costumes I see are at steampunk conventions.

As a steampunk author, I often dress up for the conventions I attend. It’s rare that I dress up as a specific character from my novels, but I do like to wear clothing like I describe in my novels. Here I am from an event last week, where I went to Ruidoso to speak about my Clockwork Legion Novels to the Fortuitous Book Club. The club at the recommendation of my dear friend, Margo McKee, read my novel Owl Dance. What’s more, Ruidoso is in Lincoln County, the heart of Billy the Kid Country. So, while I didn’t dress as a specific character from the novels, I did put on an outfit that said Wild West steampunk. Most of the outfit is just western wear, which is easy to find in New Mexico, but topped up with a pair of goggles and a cool steampunk looking watch. Of course, my outfit also evokes the feeling of the old Wild Wild West television series starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin, which was one of the inspirations for my series.

If you’re looking for an original costume this Halloween, or want to find something new and unique for a pop culture or science fiction convention, I encourage you to look no further than the pages of your favorite novel. See what it inspires you to create. If you want to look at my novels for inspiration, click the links below to learn more about the series:

A Contract, a Convention, and an Interview

Last week, the run-up to Phoenix Comicon was a perfect storm that kept me from making my usual Saturday morning post. That said, this particular storm really was perfect in that it involved some excellent news. I just signed the contract for the ninth novel I wrote, The Astronomer’s Crypt. The timing was such that we were able to announce it publicly for the first time during the “Tension on Every Page” panel. Of course, it’s only been two weeks since I turned in my tenth novel, The Brazen Shark. Neither book has a formal editing/release schedule yet, so it’ll be something of a race to see which one is released first!

The convention itself was a blast. I was on several excellent panels and got to meet lots of great people both at panels and at my table in the exhibitor hall.

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One thing different this year from previous years was that all the celebrity autograph sessions and photo-ops happened on the third floor instead of the exhibitor hall, so I’m afraid I never really got to see any of the movie and TV stars who were in attendance. That said, I did get to see some really terrific costumes throughout the weekend. Here we see samurai Batman, a terrific rendition of Wolverine, and Calvin and Hobbes. If you click the photo, you’ll get a larger view.

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Finally, one thing I love to do at conventions when I have the opportunity is to give stuff away. I held a drawing for a basket of books, including These Vampires Don’t Sparkle, A Kepler’s Dozen, and Revolution of Air and Rust. All one had to do to enter was sign up for my mailing list. The lucky winner was Edward Pulley. Here we are hamming it up for the camera.

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Of course, if you missed me at Phoenix Comicon, or just didn’t get a chance to attend, you can still click this link to sign up for my mail list. You may ask, what’s the fun in that, since the drawing’s over? Well, besides being the first to hear about news, updates, and special offers, you’ll also be among the first to hear about any giveaways that are happening in the future.

Finally, I’ll wrap up this week’s post by mentioning that Jack Tyler, the founder of the Scribbler’s Den group on the Steampunk Empire has interviewed me about Lightning Wolves. Drop by and learn a little more about me and read a short excerpt at: http://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/850545-David-Lee-Summers