Tagged archaeology

Occasional FAQ: When Gail Was An Archaeologist

Posted by Gail Carriger


One of the things that often comes up on Facebook Lives (one tomorrow, March 14, 4:30pm PST on my Author Page) and in person events, is my past as an archaeologist. So here, for your edification Gentle Reader, is me answering some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.

What’s the 411 on Gail Carriger prior to becoming the author we all know now?

I was born in small town California to a British expat gardener with a tea habit and a woodworking Dane who sidelined as a philosophical scribbler. I spent summers in a small town in Devonshire with my grandparents, and matured with a burning need to investigate the past and escape to other small towns all around the world. Hence archaeology. I ended up back in California with too many advanced degrees, a tea habit inherited from my mother, a scribbling habit inherited from my father, and a dreadful penchant for gadding off to foreign countries in hot pursuit of fascinating ancient artifacts – dragging both habits ruthlessly in my wake.

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer?

Let me see, the order would go something like: library page, nursery plant waterer, nanny, PA, telecommunications specialist, software QA, book reviewer, museum docent, bartender, teacher, archaeologist, university lecturer, adjunct faculty, and now author.

What is your university degree in?

I have a BA in Archaeology (with minors in Anthropology, Classics, Theology, Geology, and Philosophy), a MS in Archaeological Materials with a focus on inorganics, and a MA in Anthropology with a focus on ceramic artifact analysis. I got a book contract and left academia 2 years before completing my PhD. Oddly enough, I have few regrets.

Can you tell me a bit about your archeology work?

While I have some field experience I’ve spent most of my time in the laboratory sticking artifacts into very expensive instruments that go “beep” (XRD, SEM with EDX attachment, and finally an ISP-MS acid prep). I’ve worked on artifacts from Egypt, Italy, Greece, Britain, Italy, North America, South America, and the Islamic Empire (North West Syria). The last excavation I was connected to was in Peru, and I did work at a field lab there. You can find out more about my archaeological interests on my Archaeology Pinterest board.

Chokepukio, Peru, my last archaeology site

How has your background in archeology influenced your writing?

It’s made me very concerned with details, and very conscious of how material objects reflect culture and can be used to bring setting and characters to life. Readers may notice that what people wear and own is almost as important as what they do and say in my books. A career as an archaeologist and academic has also given me good research skills, a respect for deadlines, a fascination with historical cultures, and, most importantly, the ability to subsist entirely on instant soup.

How does your background in archaeology influenced your steampunk?

Archaeology has its provenance in the Victorian era, so I’ve studied the time period in an effort to understand my own discipline. This has helped me grasp the mindset of the scientists of the day. Archeology has also led me to approach the entire genre differently. Steampunk is, by its very nature, alternative history, but we archaeologists work by interpreting existing facts. I went with the premise that all the strange and absurd facts of real history could be explained away as the meddling of vampires and werewolves. This included the weirdest historical event of all: the expansion of the British Empire.

Self holding a sml Aribalo pot from Chokepukio

Have the locations you visited for digs inspired any scenes or details in the books?

The Etruscan excavation site the Templars take Alexia and Madame Lefoux to visit for a tomb picnic in Blameless is based on the first site I ever excavated in Northern Italy. Similarly, the descriptions of Florence are from my own memory. I drew on a lot of my research from when I was connected to an Egyptian museum for Timeless and Imprudence and The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t. Neither my Syrian site nor my Peruvian site have appeared in my books… yet.

{Gail’s monthly read along for March is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.}



Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900 cgmfindings- Art Nouveau Advertising Parasol „Fiumaner Reisstärke“ 1900 Austria

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Gail Carriger’s cat, Lilliput the Bean, versus a very beat-up paper bag, and a slightly smaller less beat-up paper bag. An ode in two parts, featuring co-star Zanie rattling mouse. (Her favorite toy.)

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Clothes as Historical Sources: What Bloomers Reveal About the Women Who Wore Them

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Authors Fear Accusations of Cultural Appropriation

Book News:

Sidheag wins!

Quote of the Day:

“I don’t remember deciding to become a writer. You decide to become a dentist or a postman. For me, writing is like being gay. You finally admit that this is who you are, you come out and hope that no one runs away.”

~ Mark Haddon

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!

On Learning to Let Go of the 10% ~ Writing Tips for NaNoWriMo (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, fooling around on Pinterest recently I came across this image, Gentle Reader:


It’s cute right?

Except it’s also WRONG. Archaeology Kitten would say: straighten up that scarp. Walls, on a dig, are features of the site. (That is: they’re something immovable from the target culture that archaeologists are excavating and will leave in situ. Artifacts are objects archaeologists are digging up that may be moved off the site. Here ends this Arch 101 lesson.) Test pits, like this one, have SCARP not walls.

OK, so what does that have to do with writing?

What this meme did was hit up against my very specific area of expertise. I’m an archaeologist, so all I saw was an error in terminology and therefore I didn’t find it funny. Or cute. I stopped relating to it entirely.

Look. I devoutly believe that it’s my responsibility as a writer to get everything I can correct, or as correct as possible to existing  truth or fact (if known). Which is to say, I strive for accuracy not precision.

And then stop.

Here’s the rub for us perfectionists (and most writers are): there are things you will get wrong without realizing it. There are things you will type that you didn’t even know you had to research. There are things outside of your control, (like when an editor ignores STETs).

This is will result in the 10% rule.

10% of the people reading your book will notice this kind of mistake and 1% will care.

The healthiest thing you can do as a writer? Learn to let go of that 10%.

10% of the people who read your book will find a mistake of some kind. Sometimes they find what they think is a mistake, but isn’t. Sometimes they will leave a bad review because of this. Sometimes they are the type of person who likes to take umbrage. About 1 in 100 of those people will actually write an email or leave a comment (for example, see here). (If you’re self-pub and they love your books, you might consider recruiting said individual to beta read for you, but I digress.)

It was a long road for me, but I’ve learned to accept that the 10% rule is always in place. The more readers I have, the larger the number of people who fall into that 10%.

Why accept it? Otherwise you’d never get a book out of me.

Gail Carriger Cat Lilliput Stopping Her From Writing

There is always someone out there who knows more about that specific thing than I do*. And if I infringe on their expertise, then they will get upset and it will impact their enjoyment of my book.

I can try to forestall this by inviting experts to beta read for me. (For example, I had an academic expert in 1890s India read over the second half of Prudence. I also have a horse expert and a gun expert on call, because these are not my bailiwick but come up a lot in the Victorian era.) I know some authors put teams of fan-experts together to consult regularly, particularly if they write military or procedurals and haven’t been in service themselves.

But in the end, I write fiction, and I want to write it quickly (well, as quickly as possible). That means learning to relax about the things I didn’t know to research, or didn’t catch.

(Although, I’m ridiculously proud that so far I haven’t gotten one expert error letter for Poison or Protect. No, that’s not an invitation.)

Gail Carriger Poof Pass Tea Cat

Which is ABSOLUTELY not to say that a self-pub author should allow herself to cop-out on copy-edits and proof passes. I devoutly believe that authors MUST hire a professional for one if not both of these steps. However, I am saying that learning to relax about the 10% expert nitpicking will make you a much less neurotic writer.

Relax. Your primary job it to write it, and finish it. Let go of the 10%.

But it’s still SCARP.

Your archaeology expert, signing off.

Back: Chokepukio (Wari - Inka) Fore: Hacienda (Colonial)

P.S. Yeah we authors tend to keep track of each other’s expertise. And yes, so far, a half dozen of my author friends have called me to ask me about archaeology stuff for some project or another. So there is that resource too.

* Thing I actually do know more about than any other human? SEM analysis of 8th-12th century Islamic glazed pottery from an industrial production site in Raqqa, Syria. For which I am the world’s last standing expert, and likely to remain so, as the site no longer exists.

{Gail’s monthly read along for November is Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger. Oh don’t look so shocked.}


  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: Rough draft completed. Lay away this month. First pass red through starts in December.
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.


Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Fashion plate, 1877, France she who worshipscarlin tumblr

Fashion plate, 1877, France she who worshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Gail's Carousel With Romancing the Inventor at the front

Gail’s Carousel With Romancing the Inventor at the front

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“A morning visit should be paid between the hours of two and four p.m., in winter, and two and five in summer.”
~ Etiquette for Gentlemen
{those are my kind of hours}

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”
~ Howard Aiken

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
~ Thich Nat Hahn

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


My Sister’s Song New Cover!

Posted by Gail Carriger


My dear Gentle Readers, I am delighted to announce that my very first professional sale, the short story, My Sister’s Song, finally has it’s new cover art!


Designed by the amazing Starla Hutchton. This one is done with all stock art, pretty nifty.

This is the first story that I ever sold to a professional market (Sword & Sorceress). In addition to the new cover it has updated formatting inside, but otherwise the story is unchanged for those who have already purchased it.

The warrior Mithra must repel a Roman legion alone and armed only with one very tasty weapon.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a short story about a woman warrior set in ancient times. To protect her lands and her tribe, Mithra comes up with a sticky solution to an impossible problem.

BUY IT FOR $0.99

Directly from me here in .mobi ,epub or .pdf

On Amazon for Kindle

On Barnes & Noble for Nook

On Apple for iBooks

Or on Kobo for…uh… Kobo



This story is most closely based on my Archaeological past. It’s also a bit funny but you can totally see how my writing as matured and changed.

{Gail’s monthly read along for September is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair.}


  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Working proof. Releases Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something new and different for Gail, contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.



My Sister’s Song

The warrior Mithra must repel a Roman legion alone and armed only with one very tasty weapon.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine Wednesday, July 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 57

Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine Wednesday, July 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 57

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The 1880’s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Airplane Passengers as Explained by their Pants

Book News:

Book Bin Display

Book Bin Display

Quote of the Day:


Hilarious typo in WorldCon programming.

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!




Occasional FAQ ~ Gail’s Morning Routine (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello Gentle Reader, I often get questions about what my day is like as a full time author. So here, for your mild amusement, is my morning routine.

  1. Wake up, stumble out of bed, greet the cat, make tea.
  2. Put tea to cool, great AB, stumble to computer.
  3. Open my desktop, review or write the day’s blog post, publish, paste links onto social media.
  4. Check through email for new activity, urgent matters, and major action items.
  5. Remember tea. Drink it.
  6. Move to iPad and couch. Cradling tea like the lifeline it it.
  7. Twitter check over feed, DM, and lists.
  8. Make more tea.
  9. Cat honors me with lap time.
  10. Feedly blog consumption, find interesting things for Twitter and blog posts, catch up on industry news.
    Here are links to some of the articles that caught my attention yesterday morning and why:

    1. A mysterious teacup ailment on Tea With Friends ~ I actually answered her question, it happens to be exactly my (archaeological) area of expertise.
    2. Trader Joe’s Raises the Bar on What’s Good at Trader Joe’s? ~ I read this blog because I do most of my shopping at TJs. I don’t always agree with the authors’ taste (they lean sweet) but if they endorse something and it fits my general diet preferences I will usually make a note to pick it up. Because I travel I am always looking for bars, and lower sugar content on this one piqued my interest.
    3. Join The Geek Girl Gang! on The Nerdy Girlie ~ I really like the t-shirt she had in this post, and I generally pay attention to what the Nerdy Girlie is wearing. I love her style.
    4. CC Loves… on Couture Carrie ~ I like this series in particular from this blog, it’s a nice insight into current fashion trends off the runway and touches on my own personal aesthetic.
    5. Dress 1910 Collection Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via OMG that dress! ~ I’m always interested in western historical clothing that shows non-western influences because of how often my characters travel,  also these garments provide insight into trade, cultural misappropriation, imperialism, and colonialism.
    6. The Difference Between a Travel Alert and a Travel Warning on Lifehacker ~ because I travel so much this kind of information is invaluable.
    7. This Charger Should Be Bundled With Every Smartphone on Lifehacker ~ I’m always looking for better travel kit. I already have a fold-able two prong one but it’s a bit big so I decided to buy this one on Lifehacker’s rec for $10.
    8. Details on LAX’s Agreement to Add Gates on The Cranky Flier ~ I fly in and out of LAX pretty regularly so I’m interested in what’s going on with the expansion there.
    9. On Fiction University, Indie Choices: Writing in Multiple Genres or Specializing ~ since I’m writing a not-Parasolverse m/m paranormal romance I thought this worth a gander.
    10. A Practical, No-Nonsense Guide to Earning Passive Income Online via Smart Blogger ~ almost everything I do career-wise right now (that’s not writing) is in an effort to drum up passive income. Because if a freelance creative can count on a reliable steady paycheck, stress levels go way down and the freedom to create goes way up.
    11. You Should Probably Ignore Your Friends’ And Family’s Career Advice on Fast Company ~ because I want the excuse to do just that.
    12. To suggest a book written for young adults has any less merit than the classics is sheer snobbery via The Passive Voice ~ I happen to agree with the headline, so I was curious about the article.
    13. Spotlight and Giveaway – The Gate to Futures Past by Julie E. Czerneda via The Qwillery ~ I don’t participate in giveaways (I prefer to buy what I want to read without obligation) but I perked up at this because I have read Julie’s stuff in the (way) past and I didn’t know she was still writing. Also, I love space opera. Turns out this is the second one in the series so I jetted over to check out a sample of the first one: This Gulf of Time and Stars: Reunification #1.That’s a pretty average morning read for me, some fashion stuff, bunch of travel and book business things, occasional tea and food related. Just the alternate to your old-standard morning paper, I suppose.
  11. After Feedly, I check Facebook Pages app. FB regular on mobile just isn’t good enough to handle my volume, plus it’s a overwhelmingly UI. So I wait until later to use the desktop. (This is why interaction with me via my Author Page is always faster.)
  12. Scan through Tumblr. Post, Repost/Schedule, investigate recipes.
  13. By this time the AB departs for work, smooches all round. I eject the cat from my lap in order to feed us both breakfast and the day officially begins.

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.}


  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Working copy edit. Release date Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something new and different for Gail, contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.



Marine Biology

A short tale of seduction, selkies, and sushi.

Alex is a werewolf with problems – he’s unexpectedly alive, he’s quite definitely gay, and he’s been ordered into a partnership with one very flirty merman.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine Tuesday, September 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 72

Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine Tuesday, September 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 72

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Lilliput and her crochet cactus doppelganger.

Lilliput and her crochet cactus doppelganger.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

How Does an Octopus Camouflage Itself?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

What’s that Smell? Cordite vs. Gunpowder vs. Propellant

Book News:

The Custard Protocol in French

The Custard Protocol in French

Quote of the Day:

“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Intellectual Salon ~ Ptolemaic Egypt & Court of Fives

Posted by Gail Carriger


Today, Gentle Reader, the Occasional Meeting Intellectual Salon (OMIS) welcomes the glorious Kate Elliott to this blog. Kate is the esteemed author of this month’s book pick and I invited her ’round to give a presentation on the research behind Court of Fives.

You likely know that my former profession was archaeologist. Although Egypt was not my specialty, I did work in an Egyptian museum for five years and Ancient Egyptian culture has always been one of my passions. I know that you, Gentle Reader, must have an interest in history or you wouldn’t really like my books. So naturally I figured this would be an excellent subject for the Intellectual Salon.

Take it away, Kate…

When I think of ancient Egypt, I think first of mummies, pyramids, pharaohs, King Tut, and the amazing tomb and temple paintings that have survived millennia.

Consider this Isis with wings from a tomb painting. So glorious.

Wiki Commons

In the Western world, ancient Egypt has long been famous and revered as one of the great civilizations of the past. It was considered old to the scholars and writers of classical Greece and Rome who explored and wrote about it, and who named the Great Pyramid of Giza as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Later, in early modern Europe, Egyptian motifs became popular in interior decoration and building styles. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in the early 19th century–an inscription in three languages–led to the modern decipherment of hieroglyphics, which allowed scholars to translate the inscriptions and texts of the Old and New Kingdoms. Egyptian archaeology became all the rage, especially after the 1922 excavation of the nearly intact tomb (and gold treasures) of King Tutankhamen by Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon.

So when my spouse and his co-director received the concession (permit) from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities to work at the site of Tell Timai, I was both excited and a tiny bit disappointed.

Tell Timai has no pyramids or massive, monumental statues.

I love these Ramses II statues at Abu Simbel. This guy did not have confidence issues:

Wiki Commons

In fact, Timai became important long after the Old and New Kingdom Egypt famous for its monumental architecture and elaborate tombs. In the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great, one of his generals (Ptolemy) established himself as king of Egypt, taking on the title of pharaoh as well. He established the Ptolemaic Dynasty, named after himself, and ushered in the Greco-Roman period when Egypt was ruled first by Macedonian kings and queens and later by Roman overlords. Timai became a regional capital at this time, and remained important as an administrative center for centuries.

But because I often help my spouse by proof-reading his abstracts and conference talks, I began to absorb some of the history and archaeology and I became intrigued by this cosmopolitan period of history when people moved around the Mediterranean Basin with remarkable freedom. I had studied the Hellenistic Period (as this era is called) in college, and had found it fascinating then, but moved on to other historical obsessions since. However, the more I learned about Ptolemaic Egypt, the more I began to see the cultural interaction of that time as fertile ground for a fantasy setting.

Here are five things that influenced the writing of Court of Fives.


One: The Soldiers and the Wars

A Ptolemy I coin, wearing a diadem to mark him as ruler of Egypt, with an eagle grasping a thunderbolt on the reverse side:

Wiki Commons

Once Ptolemy established himself as ruler, many Macedonians and Greeks flocked to Egypt to make their fortune and to serve in his army. The life story of Jessamy’s father is directly inspired by this.

Ptolemy and his descendants fought multiple wars against other post-Alexander kingdoms established by former generals, including at least six against the Seleucid Empire to the east (where Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran are now). The description in Court of Fives of ongoing wars after the breakup of the Saroese empire is modeled after the on-and-off again wars following the death of Alexander the Great and the breakup of his short-lived empire.

Two: The Dynasty

Wow, those Ptolemies were unpleasant people though. The dynasty lasted 175 years, and during that time the various descendants connived and murdered with an “anything goes” mentality that is almost impressive if you don’t think about how awful they could be. While they did make marriage alliances with other kingdoms, they were particularly infamous in the larger Greek world for a string of brother-sister marriages that allowed them to tightly hold on to power within their family.

Here is a romantic portrait of Berenike II, who had soldiers kill her first husband, Demetrius the Fair, when she discovered him sleeping with her mother Apama. She promptly married her cousin, Ptolemy III. After the death of her husband, she was murdered by her son, Ptolemy IV, who by the way married his sister Arsinoe III. I can’t make this stuff up.

via Tumblr

Late in Court of Fives, Kalliarkos makes a brief speech about the terrible behavior of the princely classes toward each other, and every example he glancingly mentions is based on a real incident that happened somewhere during the Hellenistic period.

Three: Separate Legal Traditions

During the Ptolemaic Period there were two separate legal systems. One followed Greek law. It was imported into Egypt and set into place by the new rulers, and all its proceedings took place in Greek, the language of the conquerers. In this legal tradition, for example, women could only be represented in court by a male guardian. However, although indigenous Egyptians were clearly second-class citizens in Ptolemaic Egypt, a parallel Egyptian tradition carried on alongside the Greek legal tradition, for Egyptians dealing among themselves, and those court documents were written in Demotic, a late written version of Egyptian. Women could represent themselves in the Egyptian legal tradition.

Here’s an example of Demotic:


I borrowed both the idea of women’s inferior legal status in Greek culture and that of women having a more equal legal status in Egyptian culture by making the Saroese culture very regressive about women while the Efean culture, what you see of it, is suggestively much less sexist.

By the way, the Romans were much harsher rulers than the Greeks. After Rome made Egypt into a province of the empire, for a while it really was against the law for a Roman citizen to marry an Egyptian. I stole that directly for the book.

Four: The Queens

However, speaking of women, here’s a really interesting thing about Ptolemaic Egypt and in fact the whole Hellenistic period. The only Ptolemaic queen we tend to hear about is Cleopatra VII, infamous for her sexy wiles and unwomanly ambition.

But Ptolemaic women took an early and important role in ruling Egypt, in becoming patrons of the arts (important for propaganda purposes), and in controlling the royal treasury and other acts of public largesse. Even though women had a clearly inferior legal status to men under Greek law, that didn’t stop these women from ruling as influential co-queens, as regents for children, and in several cases alone, and in fighting tooth and nail over the throne with their brothers and uncles.

Many royal inscriptions mention both king and queen, as if they are equal partners, which means that even if they were not in actuality it still suited the purpose of the royal household to be seen as such by those they ruled.

For example, Arsinoe II had a tumultuous career. She ruled as queen twice, first of Thrace and Macedonia through marriage to Lysimachus and later as co-ruler of Egypt with her brother Ptolemy II. Deified after her death, she was identified with the horn of plenty and had temples built around the Mediterranean to her in her aspect of patroness of travelers, a divine quality she borrowed from Isis. In fact, at Tell Timai a statue of the divine Arsinoe II was found as part of a temple dedicated to her that once stood in the city.

From the Met, here’s a statue of the deified Arsinoe II, with cornucopia. Notice the blend of Greek and Egyptian stylistic traditions. This statue is similar to the one found at Tell Timai (the one at Timai lacks arms and head).

From the Met

In tribute to these remarkable (and ruthless) women, I gave Efea a tradition of co-ruling kings and queens.

Five: The Battle of Raphia

Remember Arsinoe III, Ptolemy IV’s wife? In 217 BCE she famously accompanied her brother into Syria to fight the Seleucid emperor Antiochus III, and in the Third Book of Maccabees is said to have been crucial to the Egyptian victory at Raphia by exhorting the army to fight when it was wavering. She also wisely promises to give each man 2 minas of gold if they win the battle.

Here is a stele that shows Ptolemy IV on horseback at the battle with Arsinoe encouraging him on.


Raphia proved to be a great victory for Egypt, and the high point of Ptolemy IV’s reign (he was later assassinated and his infant son raised to the throne by “loyal advisors”).

There’s another interesting tradition about the battle of Raphia that comes from the Greek writer Polybius. He claims that Ptolemy IV “by arming the Egyptians for his war against Antiochus, took a step which was of a great service at the time” (that is, in order to have enough troops to fight the enemy). For a long time this comment was interpreted as meaning that, under the earlier Ptolemies, Egyptians were not allowed to serve as soldiers (an interpretation many scholars no longer agree with). Certainly after Raphia there seems to be an increase in Egyptian influence in administrative matters in the kingdom, and there were other consequences too (which I won’t go into here), but for the purposes of Court of Fives, I used this suggestive tidbit as part of the backstory of General Inarsis and, indeed, as a way to show the very unequal social stratification between foreign rulers and conquered indigenous peoples.

~ ~ ~

My husband is still working at Tell Timai (five weeks every summer), and even if the site doesn’t have pyramids and mummies, what it does offer is a window into a unique period of Egyptian and Mediterranean history filled with all the best kinds of story seeds that any writer could possibly desire. I can’t wait to show you all book two, in which a whole new set of seeds gets to bloom.

For now, I leave you, Gentle Readers, with thanks for reading this rather long post, and with a cool photo of Tell Timai from the air:


Wow! Thanks Kate so much for this. It’s utterly fascinating; I now find my own poor attempts to reflect 1890s Egypt rather inferior. But then, I felt that way reading Kate’s book.

I hope you all are enjoying Court of Fives, and that if you haven’t already picked it up that this insight will encourage you. Really. So. Good. As a reminder I am running a giveaway of Court of Fives, Waistcoats & Weaponry, and the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce through September 13.

{Gail’s monthly read along for September is Court of Fives by Kate Elliott}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Henri Matisse (French artist, 1869–1954)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
15 Most Creative Books from Past and Present

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Survey finds Millennials Most Irked by Bad Grammar and Spelling Slips 

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Book News:
Stacy of Lost in Librolandia says of Timeless: “There is just so much to love about this world and the characters that Carrgier has created within it. …I want to jump through the pages of these books and stay in this picturesque, Steampunk, Victorian wonderland forever.”

Quote of the Day:
“The only way to atone for being occasionally a little over-dressed is by being always absolutely over-educated.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

New Parasol Protectorate Short Story in The Book of the Dead!

Posted by Gail Carriger


So in addition to making the short story Fairy Debt available to you in ebook form, I have a bran spanking new Parasol Protectorate Universe short coming out in The Book of the Dead a Jurassic London anthology. (UK based but yes you can get it in the US.) The anthology contains 19 new stories all featuring mummies, accompanied by original illustrations. And it’s dedicated to the indomitable Amelia B. Edwards.

Yes, there will be an ebook and paperback of the whole anthology.
No, nothing is available online yet except the special edition hard back.

illustration by Garen Ewing

My story is called:

The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, The Mummy that Was, and the Cat in the Jar

This is this story’s first time in print anywhere.

It stars Alessandro Tarabotti!

If you have ever wondered about Alessandro’s character, his relationship with Floote, the origin of the God Breaker Plague, or how he met Alexia’s mother this is the story for you.

Plus it’s a sneak peak and some puzzles Prudence is up against in The Parasol Protectorate Abroad series.

The Book of the Dead releases as a paperback (c. trade size) and ebook on 29 October (links to come). I’ll blog more about those editions then, but first…

Right now a special limited edition hardcover is available for pre-order.

This is an ultra fancy hard back comes mummy wrapped and bundled with the ebook so collectors don’t even have to crack the casing. (However, entombed within is an exclusive additional illustration that will not appear in any other edition or format.)

There will be only 100 hand-numbered hardcover copies ~ with gold-embossed titles, midnight blue buckram covers, dark cream endpapers bound in cloth. Each copy will be sealed in wax and impress it with the cartouche of the Egypt Exploration Society.

the seal

Hardcover, pre-orders: £29.99 each.
Purchases limited to 2 per person.

Because I know many of my readers are US based, I managed to finagle a “secret” checkout code TEMPLAR for 20% off. This will be the only discount available for this particular edition and, if nothing else, it will help defray the cost of US shipping.

A portion of all proceeds from sales of The Book of the Dead will be donated to the Egypt Exploration Society. This is the UK’s oldest independent funder of archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt, dedicated to the promotion and understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture. (That’s partly how they got me to give them this story, my little archaeologist soul couldn’t resist. I don’t often do anthologies but this was extenuating circumstances. Or should I say excavating circumstances?)

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: “Some Words from an Egyptologist” by John J. Johnston (Egypt Exploration Society)
  • “Ramesses on the Frontier” by Paul Cornell
  • “Escape from the Mummy’s Tomb” by Jesse Bullington
  • “Old Souls” by David Thomas Moore
  • “Her Heartbeat, An Echo” by Lou Morgan
  • “Mysterium Tremendum” by Molly Tanzer
  • “Tollund” by Adam Roberts
  • “The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, The Mummy that Was and the Cat in the Jar” by Gail Carriger
  • “The Cats of Beni Hasan” by Jenni Hill
  • “Cerulean Memories” by Maurice Broaddus
  • “Inner Goddess” by Michael West
  • “The Roof of the World” by Sarah Newton
  • “Henry” by Glen Mehn
  • “The Dedication of Sweetheart Abbey” by David Bryher
  • “All is Dust” by Den Patrick
  • “Bit-U-Men” by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • “Egyptian death and the afterlife: mummies (Rooms 62-3)” by Jonathan Green
  • “Akhenaten Goes to Paris” by Louis Greenberg
  • “The Thing of Wrath” by Roger Luckhurst
  • “Three Memories of Death” by Will Hill

Illustrated by Garen Ewing
Edited by Jared Shurin

As you can see I am in fine company.

The Book of the Dead will be published on 29 October in three formats:

Limited edition (100 copies, exclusive through Spacewitch.com) – ISBN: 978-0-09576462-47
Paperback (available worldwide through Amazon and other retailers) – ISBN: 978-0-9576462-5-4
Ebook (available worldwide through Amazon, Kobo and other retailers) – ISBN: 978-0-9576462-6-1

I’ll let you know as soon as the other links become available.

More information at Jurassic London.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .


Your Infusion of Cute . . .

via Victoria Godwin Massengale FB

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Should You Diversify Your Writing to Avoid Burnout?

Book News:
What a new Alessandro short story isn’t enough?

Quote of the Day:

“The bottle rules the sensual world, but the tea-cup is queen in all the fair dominions.”

Around the Tea Table, by T. De Witt Talmage (c.1895)

Behind the Magic ~ Explaining History Backwards

Posted by Gail Carriger


This is a reboot of a blog I did back in September of 2009 when I was first launching Soulless into the world.

Back in my days as a practicing archaeologist, I was constantly distressed by history. This was, as you may well imagine, professionally terribly embarrassing, but the logic of history all-too-often defeated me. (Of course, this is because history isn’t logical.) One has only to look at the British Empire. I mean really, how did they manage it ~ one tiny island taking over the world (as Eddy Izzard has it) through the cunning use of flags?

My initial theory was that the British were on the hunt for better cuisine and simply occupied other countries as an afterthought. This is rather close to my theory on the Vikings. Why all that raping, pillaging, and slicing people open from the back to eat out their hearts? Clearly, the Vikings were suffering from a bad case of nose envy. Ever visited a Scandinavian country? Big tall strapping blonds ~ teeny-tiny noses. There they were and they just got jealous. “Look at all those other European countries, Urk! Nicer weather, more sun, AND better noses. Get ’em!” Plus all they had to drink was mead, terribly girly drink for big strapping blonds with horned helmets. “Nicer weather, more sun, better noses, AND ale!”

The thing was, that as I poodled about through my daily job, I constantly encountered some new form of oddball historical behavior. I visited Machu Picchu, an enormous “ritual” center perched atop a mountain no sane person would ever want to climb. I’m holding forth that it’s a Peruvian attempt to compensate for certain deficiencies in the stature arena. And before you slag me off for bias, many of my closest friends are short. And I keep threatening to take them to Peru to go shopping.

Now, back to England. It seems to me that another perfectly valid explanation for the success of the British Empire is that Queen Victoria had vampires (with all their years of knowledge) helping her strategize, and werewolves fighting in her armies, while the other European countries didn’t. At which point it became patently obvious that any such entirely absurd idea (yet nicely logical) would have to become a book. After all, I couldn’t very well write about the Viking nose issue, now could I?

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

Quote of the Day:
“A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog’s ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins.”
~ Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia, 1833

Monday Minutia & Ketchup

Posted by Gail Carriger


My dear Gentle Reader, I am puttering about right now dealing with Life. (It happens.) Rest assured all your authorial needs are being met, with the possible exception of an erudite and witty blog. Sufficient to say, I am moderately stranded in the middle of no-where with a rather slow internet connection, a ready supply of tea, and blustery weather ~ a writer’s dream.

I am still busy plotting the new fashion blog. It’s a pleasant restful alternative for my brain when it needs to chew on a plot point for a while without typing interference. My mind works in mysterious ~ mostly shoe-driven ~ ways.

This reminds me of a fellow author who once lamented to me, “I need a partner who understands that sometimes when I am lying on my back staring at the ceiling, that too is writing.”

I have also been temporarily distracted working up a presentation on experimental archaeology and ceramics for Reno WorldCon’s Thursday Art Night. I know, look a me, dabbling with the Other Side of Conventiondom. You’ll forgive me, won’t you?

In more book related news, the Fourth-day Universe website has nominated Blameless for a Literature Uni Award for Best Steampunk Book of 2010. The Awards show will be held on their YouTube channel on the 30th of May. If you’d like to vote for me (or anyone else) here is a link.

And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go lie on my back and stare at the ceiling.

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Random questions fielded by a Literary Agent.

Timeless: Third draft done and in to editor!
Secret Project F: It is ALIVE!
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

Parasol Protectorate Fan Art, from terrizae on Deviant Art

Quote of the Day:
“Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the yard and shot it.”
~ Truman Capote

Behind the Magic ~ Steampunk Panel Notes – Researching the Victorian Era

Posted by Gail Carriger


Here are some helpful links, Gentle Reader.







  • Old Newspapers
  • Local Government Archives
  • State Historical Societies
  • Library Periodicals Collections

We also briefly touched on the health benefits of beards.

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
A very Ivy Hat
Your Tisane of Smart:
The Nottingham Caves Project

Quote of the Day:
“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
~ John Lennon

Soulless Turns 1 ~ Upon the First Birthday of Soulless, Gail Blogs About Life After The Sale (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Soulless is One Year Old Today!

I know, Gentle Reader, doesn’t it seem like a millennia ago? But really, the little paranormal the could (my original name for Soulless) is a year old today.

Say “goo” Soulless-i-kin.


I’ve been sitting on the following blog for a really long time. At first because I wasn’t certain I should talk about it, and then because I wasn’t certain I wanted to. But I got it out and dusted it off to turn into a handout for this class I’m teaching at WordPlay next month and decided that no, it really was something I wanted to share with you all. Then I realized that today is Soulless’s birthday so I thought, why not?

Now, it’s probably only of interest to the writers out there, so I have placed it under a cut for your convenience. Nevertheless, I do hope some of you enjoy the journey, and perhaps learn something from my experience.

So Miss Carriger, tell us about what it was like After the Sale?

So the call came, the bouncing occurred, the lightning struck, what does one expect next? Here’s what happened to me.

  • 2 months of trying to find an agent culminating in agent.
  • 6 months of contract negotiations. Many phone calls while driving to campus (I was working on my PhD at the time), much pulling off to side of road, a few late classes, students begin to give me odd looks.
  • Decide on publishing house!
  • 3 months of contract negotiations. Contract not yet signed but Locus makes the announcement.
  • Meanwhile, I get Book 1 fixes from editor. I had been led to believe I might cry, so it is a nice surprise to find I can cope with equanimity. Of course, most of the edits were ones I knew I should do, but didn’t want to because I’m lazy. Mark my words; a good editor ALWAYS catches you out.
  • Agent asks for author headshots. I suggest the pseudonymic self. We approach editor about “a persona.”
  • Take headshots.
  • Visit Denver WorldCon and meet with agent, editor, publisher, and publicist. Feel like a real author for the first time.
  • My opinion is asked (!) on cover art. House likes Gail once they meet her, we discuss publicity and I offer to help any way I can.
  • Contract arrives! I sign it, send it back. Orbit announces to press. Champagne is drunk.
  • 6 months after completion of Book1, Book 2 due. I self deadline down to four months so I can give it to my betas before my editor.
  • Realize we have to come up with a series title.
  • I’m asked which authors would I like to blurb Book 1?
  • Am asked to write in-house cover copy. Have to figure out what this means without looking like a greenie goober. (Turns out this is the info on the back of the book, only for use within the publishing house for marketing and cover art and the like.)
  • Write acknowledgements and do an author interview for extras at the end of the book.
  • Also, could I have the first 7 pages of the Book 2 completed and shiny, for inclusion? Panic! All I have for 2 is a rough draft. Scrabble with betas to make first 10 as good as possible.
  • Via Facebook, I learn about possible cover from the model who may, or may not, be on said cover. There are no secrets in the internet age.
  • Month after signing, contract returns, plus advance. Hooray!
  • My release date is moved up to October 2009.
  • The Gail Carriger author website goes live. (My thoughts on the necessity of author websites.)
  • Start to plan a book launch party.
  • Receive copy edits to proof for the Book 1. Due same day as Book 2. Have to turn it around in a week to get it mailed back by deadline.
  • Stop halfway through beta edits on Book 2 to do proof. Drive up to Beta’s house, spend 24 hours going cross-eyed over copy edits, learning proofreader marks along the way. Much hilarity over my abysmal spelling and much arguing about relative merits of em dashes versus ellipses, how not to use a colon, and whether the semi-colon should be banned from the English language.
  • FeEx Book 1 proof back to publisher.
  • A decision is made on the back cover copy they elect to use the one I wrote. I’m flattered and will end up writing all my copy for the rest of the books.
  • Finish and turn in Book 2.
  • Publicist comes up with nifty paper doll publicity idea.
  • Publishing house offers to fly me to New York for BEA in May. Very honored and super excited – tea party!
  • Receive the cover for Soulless. I express an opinion. I worry this is probably not something I, as the author, should do. But can’t help it.
  • I receive bouncy email from editor loving Book 2.
  • I receive notes on Book 2. Manage corrections in a week, because there really aren’t many, ask for some clarification, turn back in.
  • Editor turns it around and back to me over the weekend.
  • Takes another week to put some clarification into Book 2 and add in some pace fixes.
  • Mummers are made about offering for Book 3.
  • Agent and I go back to discussing authors who might blurb Book 1. I come up with a list and track down agents. Always best to go through an agent.
  • Cover art is completed! Yay!
  • Get first blurb from Angie Fox New York Times Bestselling author of The Accidental Demon Slayer. It’s glowing, I’m glowing – shiny!
  • I’m told to shorten my bio for the book jacket. Check!
  • Get to see pdf of full jacket cover with spine and back flap. Love it because there is a little pink octopus. Then panic because URL for my website is wrong.
  • Official release date is October 1!
  • Negotiations begin for Book 3, review contract terms.
  • Meet with tax guy to deal with whole new set of tax issues a book advance brings along.
  • Receive typeset proofs for Book 1 this time with a 3 week turn around. Yes! But, boy am I getting sick of reading first book, did I really write this?
  • Write treatment for Book 3 over the weekend, plus blurb for editor, and deal details for agent.
  • Receive advance (on acceptance) for Book 2.
  • Talk more promotion for Book 1. Ruminate over paper dolls and teabags, order tiny parasols.
  • Cover is officially announced to wide world. Small buzz results.
  • I have my first podcast interview.
  • Write a short story in the same universe for possible iPod app or whatever.
  • Orbit sells French license (for Book 1) to Audrey Petit of Calmann Levy, probably for spring of 2011 – fantastique! What’s Soulless in French?
  • Soulless appears on Amazon.com – another mile marker.
  • I have my first guest blog.
  • I attend my last convention as a fan. It is oddly bittersweet.
  • Receive ARCs (advance reader copies) in the mail. This is really happening!
  • First bookstore, Borderlands, contacts me for a signing, arrange it for the weekend after launch.
  • Fly to BEA: whirlwind of signings, parties, and even interviews, fly back.
  • Small spit of reviews, some nice words from various big name bloggers, and it begins . . .
  • I go to LA for a friend’s book launch and get to meet my model in person.
  • GliIB Trade Show invites me to be in their Author Feast (mm, tasty little authors), radio wants to interview Local Girl Made Good, and World Fantasy gets back to me about Book Launch party.
  • Changeless (Book 2) is given a launch date, April 2010, and I start to worry about getting my fixes in. Blameless (Book 3) not yet turned in but scheduled for release November of 2010.
  • Orbit tells me my print run for Soulless. I am given to understand it is rather good for a first time novel.
  • I finish Blameless first draft and send it to betas.
  • I have my radio interview.
  • I receive Changeless copy edits. As I edit, I find fixes for Blameless. It’s the way of a series, I’m realizing.
  • More reviews start to roll in, as do some very sweet fan letters, and queries for more ARCs to be sent out. People start to ask for guest blogs and interviews and I am kept very busy and entertained writing all about myself. Such opportunity for rapier wit.
  • The awesome Soulless paper doll app launches.
  • I receive my box of actual books. I am delighted to see that the cover is more matt than on the ARC.
  • Only a few days later, my twitter spies report in that they have seen the book in stores on sale even though it is not yet supposed to be on sale. I panic and email my editor. She says that this is OK, they don’t have an SAS (or something) in place. I think, “British special forces – I should hope not!” But it apparently has to do with bookstores being fined if they distribute early. Twitter spies being to mutter, those who can’t find it on sale are annoyed, those who can are annoyed because they ordered it from Amazon and now they will have two copies. I begin to wonder if there is some crafty plan afoot causing people to buy 2.
  • We launch the sample of chapter one of Soulless podcast.
  • On October 1 the book officially goes on sale.

The Beginning . . .

So, this whole process occurred in fits and starts. There were months of silence while people were away, on vacation, or otherwise occupied. Then suddenly everything would happen in a few days. Mostly things happened over email, but at the beginning there were lots of phone calls.

The weirdest part is, it never ended. Until the book was in my hand, I spent the whole time convinced they were going to pull it. That something was going to go wrong. That any change I made would result in the book being dumped. In the end it was a little like resubmitting the poor thing over and over again.

Your moment of parasol . . .

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Steampunk fashion shoot
Your Tisane of Smart:
British Library puts Greek manuscripts online.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Bookends talks how to manage social media as a writer. I have some beef with the advise point # 1. As a reviewer, not an author, I believe EVERY author should have a website or blog with some kind of contact information, whether you are comfortable with this or not.

Audiobook review
SPOILER ALERT! Another series review. I still think a dislike of Changeless is more an indication of genre preferences than anything else.
Even bigger SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first. Green Absinthia says, “All in all; Blameless is a wonderful imaginative novel and definitely deserves a re-read, or two, over the coming fall and winter. A job very well done, indeed.”

Heartless: First draft with first readers. Final draft due Nov 1.
Timeless: Just an outline, making sure I pick up cookies and threads.
Secret Project F: Axed down and back with the agent.
CAKE in Space: Trunked.
See table of contents here, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded available for preorder, releases November 15, 2010.
Short story turned in. The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 available for preorder, releases October 12, 2010.

Quote of the Day:
“Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.”
~ Louise Brooks

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