Tagged character study

Fun With Survey Results

Posted by Gail Carriger

So about a month ago I ran a survey. I thought you might like to know some of the results. I didn’t mean to be trixy, though I was. I was trying to get at some specific information, and meanwhile learned some other good stuff too.

So my survey included round-about questions, warm up questions, and “I’m just curious” questions.

So would you like to know more about you?


Here we go!

First thing to remember with an online survey is that is it self selecting: People who answer are likely to enjoy surveys and be online regularly. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how many of my readers do not fall into either or both categories.

The survey was up for 2 weeks and c.2680 took it, some multiple times, and some skipped questions.

About You & Social Media


I actually would have guessed this, after a conversation on the Parasol Protectorate Group on Facebook delved into this territory. Since I’m published in various overseas territories, this isn’t too surprising. Oddly enough this was not an elimination question. So long as you read English and read electronically, that’s all I was really looking for.

Here’s a bit more about you, from raw sales data: (so above is volunteered via the survey, below is my actual sales distribution for the ebook of Poison or Protect).


So, despite the fact that Australia beats out everyone else roundly on social media by reach (except US & UK) Germany actually buys slightly more of my ebooks. I have a big fan base in Germany, and it’s common knowledge that, if possible, the Germans will read the original English language version, but that they would go for ebooks? And more than Australia? Fascinating.

I’d also like you to note that non-Amazon (Kobo, Apple, Nook) accounts for less than 13% of my sales. No, I’m not going to go KU exclusive or anything silly like that, but please see why I don’t stress when it takes Nook twice as long to get everything posted? And why I usually put Amazon links on my social media? It’s merely a matter of statistics, and trying to make the most people I can happy.

Back to the survey…


Speaking of Facebook, almost 78% of you said you were on Facebook everyday. This tells me a lot about your age, gender, and kinda surprised me. (Although, frankly, Facebook also tells me such things.) I mean, I’m on FB all the time, I didn’t know others were like me! Shouldn’t be surprised, after all I’m my own demographic.


This was interesting as well. The Chirrup went out first so I think that partly accounted for why it had the highest draw. The Facebook Page and Group pulled pretty evenly, and taken together FB accounted for more than the Newsletter. Twitter (which accounts, normally, for almost 50% of my Klout) was a measly 9%, which I think is partly because of its real time disappearing act (I didn’t pin the survey tweet) and because most of my major interactions are with other writers and peers on Twitter. The neck-to-neck nature of blog post v Goodreads was interesting. Firstly, it told me I should give Goodreads a bit more love. I may do a giveaway in future. Also, it told me that my blog posts have less reach than I thought, possibly because of the immediacy of other social media venues, possibly because the very idea of the blog is fading. You’ll still find me using it (as per right now) but I may allow myself a less strict schedule going forward. Right now I do 3x’s a week author blog posts (2x’s Retro Rack) and I may pull back a bit on those, free up more writing time.


OK  so this was fascinating. The 14% who don’t do Social Media, I presume you come from the Chirrup or Blog (*waves*) I’m afraid I can’t really tailor things to you going forward. (Carry on as you are, please. I love you. I won’t forget about you.)

About 60% like to read but don’t want to participate. This pertains to an old staple of the Internet (like the 1% rule). 15-20% engaged commenters is actually pretty high (its usually more like 10%, but I suspect willingness to take a survey skews this), with 60% passive consumers, and the remaining 20% either not there at all or some other option. This tells me a lot about the voices I’m hearing from. I get the opinions and interactions of 20% of my online relationships. A 20% voice of the people, if you will. Is that an adequate representation? I certainly hope so.

About You & Reading


Almost 70% said they read electronically. So I’d say that’s very well reflected in my recent sales data from Poison or Protect. It’s not how my traditionally published data falls out. I think this reflects more on my online survey than my general readership, but then you are also my reach when I self publish a new novella so… come here my babies, let me hold you.

30%, however, is no small number. It certainly tells me going forward I should continue producing print editions.

I really wish I’d divided this survey question into three answers, with audiobooks separate. I’d like to know what percentage ONLY does audio, as that is proving a difficult field to hoe. Much as I love audio, I wonder if it’s truly worth my while or if I just happen to have a small cadre of audiobook readers who are super noisy.


20% of you read a new book of mine within 24 hours! That’s amazing. And 40% within the first 2 days. And 30% in the first week. That 90% read in the first week! No wonder I get feedback so quickly. That is truly remarkable. I was utterly shocked. What will this help me with? Developing a spoiler policy for the PP FB Group among other things.


Read life balance. I’ll just say to that 52.6%… solidarity and I salute you.


This one made me a little sad, actually. Even if it’s not my book, the single nicest thing you can do for an author (aside from buying their book in the first place) is to leave a review. Doesn’t have to be more than a few sentences. It doesn’t even have to be positive. Why? Because these days careers genuinely live or die based on the number of reviews. I’d rather a nice review than a good cup of tea… and that’s saying something!


Random Moments of Interest


This was sweet, that 77% would like to come see me if only I was visiting locally. About 20% have seen me at least once, and the remaining don’t do live authors. (I know. But I’m horribly witty and I tell secrets in person. Just saying.) Since I can’t actually travel everywhere, and I have put it to the vote in the past, I don’t quite see a way to see more of you. I’ll keep trying, though.


I can’t tell you how happy this made me. The wikia was so much work to get up to speed. To know half of you use/used it is a profound relief.

For Your Information


For the 38.8% mystified by this question an ARC is an advance reader copy. It is a digital or print copy of the book released before the actual release date (sometimes prior to the final editing pass, when it can also be called a Galley/Uncorrected Proof). These are provided to reviewers and publicity publications so they may review the book closer to when it comes out to better capitalize on publicity.

My guess is that 15.4% who answered yes also guessed what I was after with this survey.

Oh and 130 of you were Librarians or Booksellers! Hooray. I love you guys.

So what now?

Thank you to everyone who participated, I learned a lot! Mostly about how to better do surveys.

What’s Next?

Part the First:

I’m looking for no more than 10 people. Yeah, you mostly guessed why. Familiarity with the universe (reread patterns for both series and if you’re totally caught up) got me down to 500, familiarity with certain software platforms/social media musts eliminated a further 250. Communication skills, an ability to work on Word, and turn around times were also key, which left me with 40 possible. So, I may adore you and you may have been perfect at a different time in my career, but… I’ll be sending out tentative emails to 5 shortly.

Part the Second:

A few of you guessed this one. For this, I want to interact in a specific way online. That plus my own personality quirks and your reading speed meant I whittled responses down to 1000. Then I used frequency of reread and online engagement to get it down to 500. After that I went hunting for variety. I wanted people comfortable on lots of different corners of the internet. Eventually, I settled on 40 possible. These will likely get special requests via email to proceed further.

I need to draft these next stage emails carefully. But expect a ping this week, check your spams!


{Gail’s monthly read along for October is The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey.}


  • 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.


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 . . .


1870s mid Fashion Plate via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Octopus Meets Underwater ROV – Tentacled Tug of War Ensues

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Delightful History of Steam Technology podcast

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

How to Write (and Not to Write) an Author Bio

Book News:


Fan Art Lefoux Akeldama Tea

Quote of the Day:

“Touched, by his hands and his body and his unintended mercies, I needed my distance back.”
~ Glitterland by Alexis Hall

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

Characters & Their Movies (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Just a fun thought experiment, Gentle Reader. And I may need your help…

If X is your favorite character, what should you watch?



Characters I struggled with…


  • Lord Maccon ~  Needs to be Scottish, obvs, but is Outlander too… Outlanderish? Thoughts?
  • Ivy Hisselpenny ~ Ridiculous hats and extra silliness. I considered Stiff Upper Lips (hats not big enough).
  • Dimity ~ As challenging as Ivy in her own sparkling way.
  • Percy ~ He’s just so Percy, he wouldn’t approve of any of this.
  • Soap ~ Too difficult! Save the Last Dance maybe?

Your suggestions welcome!

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

nion Magazine Date-  Friday, September 1, 1848 Item ID-  v. 33, plate 57

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
19th Century Lost Connections and Lonely Hearts

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Is Freelance Writing as Great as it Sounds?


  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: With developmental editor. Cover art commissioned. Release date to come.
    Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art photo.
    Gail’s second foray into hybrid land, LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?


Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 


 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:

A quick Finishing School doodle. Sophronia fighting Monique in
Waistcoats & Weaponry.

Quote of the Day:
“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Sophronia & Her Sisters ~ Character Study (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Here’s some fun insider trading information on the Finishing School books, Gentle Reader. In Waistcoats & Weaponry, you finally got to see how big Sophronia’s family really is. I myself come for a rather small family, so I ended up needing to do a bunch of research, interviews, and such to get a handle on what it means to have siblings.

The Temminnick Children

  • Nigella
  • Octavia
  • Ephraim
  • Gresham
  • Petunia
  • Sophronia
  • Humphrey
  • Hudibras

A large family was intentional. I always wanted Sophronia to come from a stable, if mildly disinterested, middle class background. In YA, removal of family ~ orphaning ~ is so common I wanted my main character to be the opposite. In Sophronia’s case I was thinking of the marvelous children’s book, Molly Moves Out but also books like Little Women and Pride & Prejudice.

One of the side effects of thinking about this, is that I started to collect images that reminded me of Sophronia and her sisters growing up together. I thought you might like a look at some of them, Gentle Reader…

Frederick Cayley Robinson, A Winter Evening, 1899 via British Paintings tumblr

There is something about the sense of boredom in this picture that I always imagine was endemic to young ladies of the Victorian Era. If you were a female born into a family that earned enough money you were obliged, frankly, to do very little. How hard this must have been on ladies of bright and vibrant minds or particularly sociable dispositions.

“Diffidence is very becoming to young people, and to those who are new to the world. But it is hardly credible that it should produce a painful taciturnity in persons who have passed from youth into maturity; and who have enjoyed the advantages of education and of living in good society.”
~ The Ladies’ Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie’s Behaviour Book
by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

In the image above, I see Sophronia as the youngest in the room, because you get that sense of sympathy mixed with observation that will become a hallmark of her character. The clothing and hair is appropriate to a slightly earlier time period, perhaps four or five years before Etiquette & Espionage. Note that only the one lying on the bed has her hair up? She is the only one out in society, the other two are still in the schoolroom as their hair is plaited (in a braid). The look about the face and the coloring is pretty near exactly how I imagined Sophronia and her family.

The Rain It Raineth Everyday – Leonard Campbell Taylor 1906

Here we have an image set a little later in time, perhaps the 1860s (or a very fashion forward 1850s), with the heightened wide skirt silhouettes. Again, this picture highlights the boredom of the time period, particularly on a rainy day when one can’t even go for a walk. I also adore the cat on the lap. That’s exactly how my cat sleeps in mine.

via the-garden-of-delights tumblr: “The Sisters” (1839) by Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1793-1872)

Perhaps not Sophronia herself, but two of her older sisters before Sophronia was born? These young girls have their hair already up, are they practicing or were they put out into society very young? Or perhaps they simply have young faces? The round, rosy-cheeked, child-like face was considered the height of beauty in the early Victorian Era, and is more how I imagined Dimity than Sophronia or her family.

Dressing in the Nursery

This was one of the first images I collected before I started writing the Finishing School series and I’m afraid I didn’t keep the source. There is a key scene in Waistcoats & Weaponry where Sophronia, Dimity, Petunia, and Petunia’s friends are all dressing together. This picture, I think, subconsciously informed that scene. It reminds me so much of my own youth, getting dressed up for various costume events with my friends.

Enchantment – James Elder Christie

A much later period painting. Perhaps of Sophronia and a little childhood friend? As I was conceiving Sophronia’s character, I found myself attracted to paintings of girls reading. Particularly reading outside: it represents a juxtaposition of her character, I think. She likes books but she also likes the adventure and activity in the wide world.

In the end, Sophronia doesn’t read all that much in my stories once she gets to Finishing School. So it’s likely I was more putting my childhood self into her past (as I was always to be found with my head down in a book but outside). I also used to adore reading out loud to my friends, a few of whom even put up with it. But my little friend Megan and I would spend hours on Choose Your Own Adventure stories. I would read, she would choose, both of us were happy.

Ada Thilen (Finnish painter, 1852-1933) Reading

Most of my youth was spent reading outdoors. I would pack a lunch and take to the hills, or the cliffs, or punt out in my little boat (Tersky) and find a quite space on the lagoon where my parents couldn’t disturb me and simply read all afternoon.

I know most readers are full of memories of indoors, curling up by the fire. But I was a California Coastal nerd child and my mother had an expat’s love of sun and sand, believing strongly in healthy outdoor living. She would chivy me outside every summer day, and the only way to guarantee I stayed there was with a library book (or ten). (Sadly this has also resulted in near constant mole removal in later life, I have over a dozen scars and near on 100 stitches at this point. Yes she made me wear sunscreen, no I wasn’t diligent about it.)

James Carroll Beckwith (1852-1917) The Embroiderer

This is more expected practice for young ladies of Sophronia’s time. I imagine this is one of her older sisters, one of the good biddable ones.


And here is a fashion plate of her sisters when they are older ~ all grown up and well dressed with pretty hair and pretty manners. You see what Sophronia has to contend with?

“Girls who did not need to go out to work had no break for mark their passing from childhood to adolescence: they were often children up until they married. Louise Creighton had barely been out for a walk alone until her marriage in her twenties – if she wanted to go anywhere she had to be accompanied by her governess; if the governess was not avialable she bribed her young brothers with sweets to go with her.”
~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. 52)

{Gail’s monthly read along for October is Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Conseiller des Dames & des Demoiselles
Date-  Saturday, September 1, 1855 Item ID-  v. 37, plate 91

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Tea and coffee set designed by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
A Multi-Function Clip That Hides a Toolbox in Your Hair

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
11 Ways to Make Your Life a Little More Like a Jane Austen Novel (Without All Arranged Marriages and Oppression of Women, Of Course)


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft. I am so screwed. It just keeps going.

Gail Carriger’s Books! 

 The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny


The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (forthcoming)

Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
Christine of Cannonball Read 7 says of Etiquette & Espionage: “I thoroughly enjoyed my journey to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s with Sophronia. The writing is smooth, the characters intriguing, and the names ridiculous. (Lord Dingleproops, really?)”

Quote of the Day:
“You’re overmatched, Mistress.”
There was silence, and then a blaze of green light washed over the clearing.
“I’m still alive,” said Llannat’s voice. “You have to win this fight. I only need to keep from losing it too soon.”
~ Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald, The Price of the Stars

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

Which Gail Carriger side character would you like to see star in their own story?

Posted by Gail Carriger


Blogger is super tetchy about embedding polls into a post, but I am very curious so I have widgeted in one in the side bar for you to take, if you would be so kind?

/________________ Right there, see?

I am contemplating future side scribbles, my dear Gentle Reader, and I figure who better to ask then you? Of course, I am a willful creature and one of the reasons for me to do side projects is so I can write whatever I feel like for once. So I may ignore you entirely in this matter. However, I still really want to know which side characters would you like to see get their own story? You can pick as many as you like.

I’ll leave the poll up for a month or so.

Also feel free to leave a comment bellow if I have left anyone out, or if you have more to say on the subject.

{What is Gail’s Book Group reading for January? Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1923  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Images of Sewing Outdoors 1800-1900s

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
“Maccarony Cheese” Cooking in the Archives

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
What I Do as a Librarian


Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last Releases November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order. Edits stage.

Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First Release date March 17, 2015 available for pre-order!

The Books! 
 The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
 The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Shae Has Left the Room says, “Basically, if you want all the hijinks and escapades of the previous two books with a slightly more mature stable of topics and a slathering of swoony but not too serious romance, you’re going to love Waistcoats & Weaponry.”

Quote of the Day:
“Fish, to taste right, must swim three times – in water, in butter, and in wine.”
~ Polish Proverb


Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Finishing School Character Study ~ Agatha (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Agatha is one of Sophronia’s friends. She shares are room with Sidheag and, at first, is a little overcome by Sidheag’s brashness and Sophronia’s boldness. But she is perceptive enough to realize when someone has a good heart. The other three begin look after her as if she were a kind of pet. Secretly, Agatha is quite wealthy, and it is her father who wants her to be trained by that special kind of Finishing School.

Winding Way Socks in Old Maiden Aunt Superwash BFL 4ply in ‘buttermint’

“Agatha Woosmoss, daughter of the noted railroad baron.” The chubby girl looked up quickly from her shoes, nodded, and then returned to her intense scrutiny of her own feet.
~ From Etiquette & Espionage

The first train into Grimsby – a Romantic view of the coming of the railway. (from Perkins)

Agatha Woosmoss was small, round, and redheaded with a freckled face that wore a perpetual expression of distressed confusion, not unlike that of a damp cat.
~ From Curtsies & Conspiracies

General Description:
Red hair, slightly curly (usually falling flat), white skin with freckles, eyes probably green, chubby, smallish, rather dumpy. Blushes a lot.

From the Little Princess Movie, and painting (source unknown)
Lady Edith

(Speaking of which, have you seen Edith with Googly Eyes on Tumblr? We live in a world full of genius.)

I always imagined Agatha might blossom a bit, but she will always remain slightly timid and unsure of herself. She struggles with Finishing School lessons, but she does try hard, for her family’s sake.

George Clausen’s 1880 painting Schoolgirls, Haverstock Hill

I love this picture, it’s many years too late for my books, but it’s so Finishing School. I imagine that Dimity is at the front in the blue, with the parasol, Sophronia is next to her in black, plotting, Sidheag walls behind in the blue with the black hat, and Agatha is the timid one with the red band around her hat, Monique is in the the pink. 

Agatha has pretty terrible taste in clothing but a whole lot of money to spend on it. Thus she tends to buy rich fabrics in awful muted color combinations exactly wrong for her complexion.

The girls, upon occasion, will be shocked to round a corner of an evening and encounter her wearing something like this:

1850 Dressing Gown  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Here’s the kind of thing she would wear during the day to lessons and such:

1847-1850 Afternoon Dress The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1850 Arch The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For evening, and under Mademoiselle Geraldine’s careful guidance, she might wear something like the following. Yes, it’s an little old fashioned in fabric, and simple, but well made and costly.

1850s Evening Dress  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And after Dimity got hold of her and made sure she fancied it up a bit.

1850s Evening Dress  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I, of course, have a terrible weakness for red heads. I blame Anne of Green Gables. Agatha, as with everything at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, is probably not what she seems. Or is she?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Suit  Jacques Doucet, 1895  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Redheads in Jane Austen.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Disco Ball Pizza Oven

Your Writerly Tinctures . . . 
A Question of Book Trailers

Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third. Waiting on copy edit pass.
Curtsies & Conspiracies
~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Out now!

~ Soulless Vol. 3: (AKA Blameless) Available serialized through YenPlus. Out now! 
~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Delayed. Why? Begin rewrite in 2014.


The Books!


The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series!
Please DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
The Finishing School Series: Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies
 $0.99 ebook only short stories: Marine Biology, My Sister’s Song, and Fairy Debt

Book News:
Update on the calendar project. (Was a kickstarter.)

Quote of the Day:


The Incomparable Vesta Tilly ~ Victorian Actress (Behind the Magic)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Vesta Tilley was an actress famous for her cross dressing stage performances during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.  She retired in 1920.

She performed before Queen Mary by Royal Command in 1912. The queen is reputed to have averted her eyes the entire time because she thought a woman in trousers was the height of indecency. I guess no one warned her that the 1920s were immanent.

I can’t claim Vesta Tilly as inspiration for Madame Lefoux (that can be laid squarely at the door of George Sand). But I just discovered Vesta Tilley. I think she may be the inspiration for one of the characters in the movie Tipping the Velvet, which I recommend if you are interested at all in the subject of Toms in Victorian England. Highly fantasized, of course, but still fun.

 Publicity still from IMDB

Vesta was not alone in her daring stage exploits. A number of actresses pushed the bounds of propriety in a myriad of different ways. Although Vesta seems to have been one of the most famuous for cross dressing in particular.

It’s a great sadness to me that I never had the page time or plot direction to elaborate on the character of Mabel Dair in my books. She’s based, loosely, on the Jersey Lilly.

Lillie Langtree was, so far as I can guess, an absolute battleaxe of a female who blew through a cornucopia of rich and powerful male lovers, was friends with Oscar Wilde, and lived well into her seventies. There’s an indifferent but absorbing mini-series from the late 1970s on her life,. If the actresses of the Victorian and Edwardian era interest you, it’s worth a peek. The costumes are marvelous.

If it’s the cross dressing you’re after (and really, who isn’t?) there’s the hilarious You Rang M’lord featuring one of the most iconic female cross dressing characters of the small screen, in the form of Sissy. And if you can tolerate Julie Andrews, there is always Victor Vitoria.

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1862 Promenade Ensemble   The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Minoan, I think. Form the BM.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Forget steam: Some Victorian era machines were powered by dogs.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
A fun look at book cover art featuring THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NYC by Mur Lafferty  

Book News:
I talk about nothing but tea on the Tea Rage podcast. Learn about what really gets my goat regarding tea.


Character Study ~ Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


 Happy Monday, Gentle Reader. I’ve a busy week with my Sword & Laser interview and some associated business that puts me up north and off the internet most of this week. So, I have assembled for you, a character study! I know, I know it’s been a while. But bellow you will find a collection of images that remind me of Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings.

“Lady Maccon whirled to glare at the man who dared to interrupt her mid rant. The gentleman in question was both tall and broad, although not quite to her husband’s scale. Lord Maccon was Scottish-big; this gentleman was only English-big – there was a distinct difference. Also, unlike the earl, who periodically bumped into things as though his form were larger than his perception of it, this man seemed entirely comfortable with his size. He wore full officer formals and knew he looked good in them. His boots were spit-shined, his blond hair coiffed high, and he boasted an accent that very carefully was no accent at all. Alexia knew the type: education, money, and blue blood.”
~ Changeless

Manga Channing

Major Channing enters our collective lives in book two, Changeless. He is introduced in a rather spectacularly negative fashion but by the end of Blameless has his roll as reluctant hero. Channing is one of those character who spawned from his own name, the moment I had it I knew what kind of person he was. At least outwardly.

“No wonder he was so very full of himself. One would have to be, laboring all one’s life under a name like that.”
~ Changeless


Of course, he is far more than the arrogant blue blooded officer that Alexia dislikes instantly. Alexia, however, being Alexia, never quite manages to get over that. Fortunately for us, Prudence is not so willfully obtuse. But you will have to wait to find out more about Channing . . .

Here are Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings’ stats:

1. Long blond hair
2. Sculptor converted to werewolf during Napoleonic war
3. Toff accent
4. Pale blue eyes
5. Tall, handsome, lanky
6. Skilled swordsman
7. Respected by his soldiers and fellow officers

Here are a collection of images that remind me of Channing. Sometimes literally, sometimes they tie to his hidden personality, the mysteries of his past, and some of the reasons for his abrasive personality.

20629-white-marble-angel-sculpture-1 ArtLakeMiskoga copy 220px-Chesterfieldcoat_oct1901 a_victorian_silver_officers_pouch_and_belt_of_the_leicestershire_yeoma_d5356508h Benedict-Cumberbatch-as-C-008 Pink Mannor Illustration-Thackeray Whip Full-moon ArtModernArtFlower HardwickParkL Forma Dress white-wolf Soldier Lightskirt Icy branch sharpe derbyshire Pretty Flirt white-pebbles nicholas-nickleby sword AHdnsoem Blond marblehead HikeLoneTree copy Young Vic


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Breathing Life Into Characters

Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Release date Fall 2013. Writing rough draft. Bombay, officers, flirtation, old friends, tea & the real reason for the visit uncovered at last!
Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Title changed. Awaiting copy edits.
Etiquette & Espionage ~ Finishing School Book the First: Release date Feb 5, 2013. Working promo schemes to begin September.
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 2: (AKA Changeless) Reviewing chapter by chapter, each drops on YenPlus by subscription. Print release tentatively Dec. 2012.

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

The Omnibus hardback editions are limited run through the SciFi Bookclub only.

The manga editions, Vol. available in print, Vol. 2 by subscription to YenPlus.

Most short stories available in ebook form world wide!

The first Finishing School book ~ Out Feb. 5, 2013

Book News:
Changeless Reviews
Someone love it!
Team Nerd Reviews

Quote of the Day:
“A parasol boasts more virtues than the eminently practical one of shading the eyes from the impertinent rays of the sun. It gives an air of smartness to the summer girl.”
~ Parasol quote from a 1909 newspaper

Dear Lord Akeldama ~ A Hypothetical Situation

Posted by Gail Carriger


Yes, Gentle Reader, it is Dear Lord Akeldama time!!!

In which Lord Akeldma is given a Scenario by the Troublesome Black Cat, Nicholas Lou . . .

The Woolsey Hive’s latest scientific dastardly plot strikes… as a horde of zombified/mechanical/automation/simulacra [whatever] moths descends upon Lady Maccon, her husband, his Beta, Madame Lefoux, and Mrs. Tunstell [Possibly her husband if you prefer as well] leaving them all devoid of clothing to the merest scrap of fabric, with a upcoming event that they have no choice but to attend. [Assume, of course, that their wardrobes were similarly savaged by such a truly brutal attack, and mercifully, both Conall’s misshapen cravat and Ivy’s supply of hats were victim as well. Your own closet, I would assume, was better defended, as is pertinent below]

Enter the infamous and ever-fashionable potentate to save the day! After, I’m sure, commissioning several of your drones to produce some tasteful artwork and sculpture that no doubt would leave Alexia in stitches and Conall searching for his Tue Tue… [And possibly Lyall looking to obtain one]

You have the majority of the Parasol Protectorate at your mercy, with little choice but to accept your choices for their wardrobe, the whole of your vast closets with ready tailors to adjust for larger frames, and your army of drones to make sure everything goes just so, whether or not the wearer has skill at dressing themselves.

Of course, even Madame Lefoux, despite whatever colorful French phrases she could offer during this process, could be dressed at your whim for whichever gender you decided. Also, assume that whatever ‘offenses’ might occur in this process will be forgiven. [They most likely would, but assume that choices such as daring to force Lefoux into a dress would not result in an eventual octomaton on your doorstep.]

Do paint a proper picture? Or at least an outrageous one?

What would I put them in? Ah indeed, what a question you ask, naughty kitten noir.
Alexia: I’d love to see her in wine velvet and cream embroidered brocades. I’d have Biffy concoct something for her from my own 1700’s collection and the bedroom curtains.
Lord Maccon: Oh, silver, black, and white silks, very fitted, very crisp.

Madame Lefoux: She so often chooses for muted colors, I want to see her in royal blue and black, and defiantly a dress. She has such a lean frame a gown would drape beautifully.
Professor Lyall: He so often goes for somber browns I’d like to try him in something more flashy, perhaps emerald green and gold.
Ivy: Chocolate and cream, I think that would suit her complexion perfectly, and she could use the subtlety.
Tunstell: It matters not so long as he continued to wear such tight trousers.

Ki asks:
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – I do hope to not offend, but I have begun the process of recreating the fantastic orange, yellow, and pink creation from the beginning of Soulless to wear for Seattle Steamcon IV. My only concern regarding this amazing outfit (aside from the sincerest hope that I can do it any sort of justice), is this: when wearing it out of doors, should there not be an accompanying hat? I ask with utmost seriousness, as we all know just how important it is to have just the right hat.
It should indeed have a hat. I should opt for a top hat in a matching shade, my sunset peach, perhaps with a band about it in a contrasting color. Or would that be too much? Oh, dear, what am I saying, it’s NEVER too much!
(And as an aside, if this indeed does not offend, and/or if you would be interested to see it, I am more than willing to promise pictures as soon as the outfit has been completed.)
Of course! I absolutely insist!

tsgeisel asks:
I am a firm believer in the theory that some items *transcend* fashion – that they are never in-style, nor are they out of style, that they exist independent of it. That no matter where or when you, these items will be around. I include among these Hawaiian Shirts and Argyle Socks. While I recognize that people have differing opinions as to whether this is a good thing or not, you who have seen so much in the world of fashion, what items would you include on such a list?
Jewelry darling, lots and lots of jewelry, the classic Hermes scarf, oxford style shoes, a beautiful red dress, a stunning grey suit, a sweet smile, and, of course, a glass of bubbly.

Jami asks (/rants):
Considering some women are forbidden by their religion from showing any bare arms from the elbows on up, others like myself just should not show their upper arms for the good of humanity, and some, even though they have lovely upper arms, just don’t like showing them – why is it that every single formal gown out there is sleeveless?! And why do the ones that at least come with a jacket or those awful bodello coats that only really work for body types that are not mine look like they were made for some 80 year old dowager?!
Oh ever fashionable and clothing wise Lord A, only you can bring light back into my heavy heart with a pithy answer to my dilemma. Even if I can’t find an elegant yet sexy (without my risking a Janet Jackson moment) formal gown in a deep rich purple and instead have to get my now too large black gown from three years ago taken in – at least I know you can make me smile again!
Seriously, dude, why is it so hard for the designers to make a formal gown with sleeves?!

Dude? Ah hem!
Let me see, my dearest boysenberry. You must strike out on your own in this matter and buy (duh duh duh dum ~ separates!) I suggest one of those terribly fetching embellished little cardigans, you know with all the beading and sparkles. A cream cashmere, or a pale purple to go with your royal purple. Perhaps a fitted blazer might do as well, velvet, because velvet is lovely. Or how about one of those pretty lace Nataya jackets, they have a bit of stretch to them and will dress up any gown, and they come in plus sizes. They aren’t cheap but you only have to buy the one. (To which Gail adds, my friends at Dark Garden often carry these.)

Lord Akeldama by Matt Harrison @matchoo28 on Twitter

Sassy Gay Octopus asks:
What is your opinion on fanfiction? Do you love the idea that very soon there will be dozens, if not hundreds, of erotic stories of you? Do you hate it? Why?
Me dearest poppet, what care I so long as I am appropriately dressed? And, of course, so long as it takes an appropriately long time to get me undressed.

Have a question for Lord Akeldama? He may have answered it already or you may leave it in a comment below.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Lesbians and Cycling: an Illustrated History

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .

plissemain folder

Deportment & Deceit ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Done with word count but not book. Lord Akeldama just showed up, dam him! He’s not supposed to be in this series!
Etiquette & Espionage ~ The Finishing School Book the First: Release date Feb 2013.
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 2: (AKA Changeless) Have seen cover sketch for cover and it is fabulous!
Timeless ~ Parasol Protectorate Book the Last. Out now!
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Release date Fall 2013.

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

Book News:
Soulless reviews . . .
In very grand company.
Another review.
Defective Geeks.
Winning over a reluctant anti-paranormal reader.
Joplin Library.
A quick succession of busy nothings.
Madame Guillotine is a convert.

Quote of the Day:
“If you have never said “Excuse me” to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time.”
~ Sherri Chasin Calvo

Books Used to Research Timeless (Behind the Magic)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Today I present to you, part of our occasional series of DVD extras . . . some of the books I used to research Timeless. A quick warning before we start, Gentle Reader, the books I used are kind of spoilers for the arc of this last Parasol Protectorate.

Ancient Egypt Lithographs by David Roberts, R.A.
Roberts visited Egypt for the first time in 1838 and sketched much of the area, including archaeological sites, while he was there. He continued to do so on several subsequent visits. I used his sketches as a jumping off point (all be in 40 years early) as to the look of Egypt during Victorian times. This book was also valuable when writing my Alessandro’s short story, The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, the Mummy the Was, and the Cat in the Jar (as yet unpublished).

Eyewitness Books, Desert by Dr. Miranda MacQuitty.
I use the eyewitness books a lot, they make for a good quick peek into the food and environment of a given time or place. They shouldn’t be devalued because they are children’s books but instead be viewed as great jumping off points. You can get them at any library, but I chose to buy mine.

Eyewitness Books, Boat by Eric Kentley.
I need more from this book on early transatlantic steamers but it at least gave me many of the terms and initial ideas I needed for Alexia and Conall’s sea journey. I ended up doing a lot of research into the Titanic. Even though it was built years after Timeless the massive amount of online information gave me insight into passenger manifests and the arrangement and titles for ship’s staff and officers on board any liner.

The Rape of the Nile by Brian M. Fagan.
I read this book while researching the dawn of archaeology for a class back in my PhD days, and liked it so much I went out and bought it to own. It has flaws. Fagan dwells over much on Belzoni (obviously as the result of his own PhD work, or personal passion) and does not cover the rest of early Nile excavation in as much detail as I would have likes. But what he does do is cover some of the changing attitudes and politics in Egypt at the time of Victorian occupation, sufficient to my needs, so that I became familiar with the political climate and personalities and travel requirements of the antiquities market in the late 1870s. I also use a brief bit of information from this book in Etiquette & Espionage.

Living In Ancient Egypt by Norman Bancroft Hunt.
Similar to the Eyewitness books but newer, this book was one of a series I was given to review by Horn several years ago. I hung onto it because like the Eyewitness books I thought it might provide a good stepping stone and quick guide to the time. It helps that I already know a lot about Ancient Egypt. (For years I was going to be an Egyptologist before I went into Materials Archeology instead. I worked at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum as a volunteer during and after my undergraduate work.)

Ancient Lives: Daily Life in Egypt of the Pharaohs by John Romer.
Possibly my favorite book about Ancient Egypt ever written. Despite its name this is more a chronicle of the excavations at the famous tomb builders village (Deir el-Medina) outside of Thebes. Decades old know, this still stands as one of the best and only excavations of artisan daily life, and one of the few within the Valley of the Kings.

Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh by Joyce Tyldesley.
An old publication from 1996 so we must admit that much additional information has been added over the years. However, this book provided the basics I needed for my fictional reconstruction of Matakara’s character (and name, of course). I drew her personality, appearance, and a selection of drones from the information in this book.

I also had a copy of National Geographic’s September 1998 special on the Valley of the Kings. Much of the information was outdated or popularized into uselessness but the photographs of the landscape and maps of the valley were invaluable.

Some Inspiration for Alexia in Egypt . . .

Phoebe Apperson Hearst

Sara Yorke Stevenson

Amelia Edwards


Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .

Deportment & Deceit ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Done with word count but not book. I’m going over length, very unusual for me.
Etiquette & Espionage ~ The Finishing School Book the First: Release date Feb 2013.
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 2: (AKA Changeless) Have seen cover sketch for cover and it is fabulous!
Timeless ~ Parasol Protectorate Book the Last. Out now!
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Release date Fall 2013.

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

Book News:

I’m deeply honored to be able to say that I received FOUR Polidori awards for Excellence in 2011: Best Novel for Heartless, Best Audiobook for Heartless, Best Manga for Soulless, and Best Comic/Manga Adaptation of a Vampire Book/Series, also for Soulless!
Thanks for voting for me everyone!

Quote of the Day:
“Books are embalmed minds.”
~ Bovee

Ivy Abroad (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


So it’s no spoiler by now to say that Ivy ends up having to go to Egypt with Alexia, in Timeless. I thought you might like to see some of the inspirational costume pieces behind some of her (and Tunstell’s) travel and stage outfits . . .

Ballets Russes Cléopâtre costume ca. 1918 via The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Fancy dress costume ca. 1925 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mon Pescaud “Maharaj of India”; Mon Pescaud “Queen of Sheba”

Paul Poiret fancy dress costumes ca. 1913-1914 via The Kyoto Costume Institute

And some lovely Egyptian- inspired jewelry from the time.

Victorian Egyptian Revival Necklace 1stdibs.com

Egyptian Revival Bracelet 1880s 1stdibs.com

Egyptian Revival Comb 1905 1stdibs.com; Egyptian Revival Purse 1920s 1stdibs.com

Egyptian Revival Bracelet 1900 1stdibs.com

Egyptian Revival Ring 1880s 1stdibs.com

Fancy dress costume ca. 1925 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Shoes

Book News:
Timeless Teaser Fan Art

Quote of the Day:
“Never take your pet dog with you on a call. Many persons have great objection to animals entering their drawing-room, and others have fear of, or antipathy to, them.”
~ Etiquette for Ladies, c. 1850

© 2017 Gail Carriger | Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Site built by Todd Jackson