Tagged character study

The Lord Akeldama Style Meme

Posted by Gail Carriger

A little while ago, Gentle Reader,

I collected a bunch of questions for Lord Akeldama, for his occasional Dear Lord Akeldama column here on my blog. Most of these, I found, were about fashion and style. Some were more suited to a kind of meme than the Good Vampire’s usual verboseness.

So here, for your sharing and answering pleasure, is the result:

1. Blondes or brunettes?
2. What do you think of mini top hats for men?
3. Boxers or briefs? Boxer-briefs?
4. What is the greatest fashion disaster you ever witnessed?
5. What is your favorite color?
6. What period of history did you think had the best fashion sense?
7. What is your favorite fabric?
8. Ruffles. A do or don’t?
9. Hat or no hat and if so, which and when?
10. Where do you acquire your wardrobe?
11. Zip then fasten… or fasten then zip?
12. What would you say is a modern day crime of fashion?
13. Leggings as pants… Yay or nay?

I assembled them thus, and asked the good vampire himself in a rapid-fire manner.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the result:

The Lord Akeldama Style Meme:

1. Blondes or brunettes?
Never ask a vampire his favorite flavor, would you wish to eat the same thing every day?
2. What do you think of mini top hats for men?
Why would a gentleman show himself to be smaller?
3. Boxers or briefs? Boxer-briefs?
4. What is the greatest fashion disaster you ever witnessed?
The wrong gentleman in knickerbockers.
5. What is your favorite color?
6. What period of history did you think had the best fashion sense?
French Rococo.
7. What is your favorite fabric?
8. Ruffles. A do or don’t?
A discretionary tale.
9. Hat or no hat and if so, which and when?
Hats are worn outside. To protect one from the sun, of course.
10. Where do you acquire your wardrobe?
From my tailor, obviously.
11. Zip then fasten… or fasten then zip?
12. What would you say is a modern day crime of fashion?
13. Leggings as pants… Yay or nay?
We’re back to knickerbockers.

Please feel free to share and answer for yourself, Lord Akeldama would be proud.

Want to ask Lord Akeldama a question? Join the Chirrup

{Gail’s monthly read along for June 2017 is Local Custom by Lee & Miller.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Allen & Ginter (American, Richmond, Virginia)
Trail Arms, from the Parasol Drills series (N18) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands, 1888

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Tea Caddy in my Office

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Give Them Bread, Not Muffins or Cake

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Victorian Writing Advice

Book News:

Evaine’s Books, Books, and More Books says of Prudence:

“Another rollicking romp through an alternate Victorian world full of fun and adventure and wonderfully clever banter.”

Quote of the Day:

“Gentlemen are more liable to baldness than ladies, owing no doubt to the use of the hat.”

~ Victorian Etiquette

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

Romancing the Inventor: New Character Imogene Hale (Behind the Magic)

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, Romancing the Inventor has been out for a day, no news for you yet, Gentle Reader, because, well… it has only been a day.

So I thought I’d give you a look at Imogene Hale and the character design boards behind this book. You can see the full boards on Pinterest, but I know not everyone has it.

Imogene Hale

In the Book

Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed.


Creating the Character

Imogene started out as a kind of cool snooty blond (you know, Genevieve’s type), but that wasn’t working right for the story and I couldn’t really feel her, I wanted her warmer and more grounded, more English rose and less, well, Angelique.

I went to Tess of the d’Urbervilles for inspiration, added backbone, soul, and a certain depth of self-guidance and understanding. Genevieve, after all, likes willful ladies. The thing is, Imogene had to be what Genevieve needed more than what Genevieve wanted. Imogene also must be her own self and person, and not just a Pygmalion built for Genevieve to adore.

When I made Romancing the Inventor Imogene’s story, and it was her voice that began to dominate the narrative, everything fell into place. I wrote half of RTI on a writing retreat in the space of a week, typing out 8-10k days (NOT NORMAL) and it was all because of Imogene talking to me.

Maude Fealy Wikipedia

A lot of Imogene’s physical appearance was drawn off the American silent film actress Maude Fealy (sometimes spelled Maud) who has a soft etherial dreamy beauty that made me think of Imogene. I also collected images of maids and downstairs female staff to understand posture, clothing, and so forth.

This novella is part Imogene discovering herself, and what she needs and how to ask for what she wants. And half Genevieve learning to love again, and to trust.


I’ve done character studies of Genevieve before, she was first written more as Q for Alexia, meets dandy meets mad-scientist trope (with a Gail twist). I’ve taken inspiration for her from diverse sources: George Sand & Colette, Vesta Tilley, Audrey Tautou’s Coco, and many more. Like Imogene, it took me writing her out in Changeless to finally understand what would make her more of a person and less of a foil. However, I feel like writing her as Vieve, before she grew up and had her heart broken, is a gift most writers don’t get. Because I could build her a foundation of delight and wonder which Imogene might remind Genevieve has still buried within.

Not that Imogene wants child-Vieve, because yech, but because one of the best things about love is that it can remind you to hope.


The inspiration board for Romancing the Inventor.

That’s all for today my darlings! A reminder I have a Facebook live this Sunday, you can ask all the questions you want of me then.

Nov. 6, 6:00 PM PST | Facebook Live Q&A

Q&A with Gail via Facebook Live on her Author Page. A spoiler free chat about Romancing the Inventor and much more.


{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 . . .

1879 Édouard Manet was born #OnThisDay in 1832. Here's "In the Conservatory" from 1879

1879 Édouard Manet’s “In the Conservatory”

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

In Memory of Sheri S. Tepper

In Memory of Sheri S. Tepper

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Jonathon Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“The story is always better than your ability to write it. My belief about this is that if you ever get to the point that you think you’ve done a story justice, you’re in the wrong business.”
~ Robin McKinley

Book News:


Some Steampunk Gadgets off one of my boards.

Quote of the Day:

“No, Hobbes, nailing a live octopus to a wall is impossible, everything else is merely difficult.”
~ Simon R. Green

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

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!

Your Favorite Parasolverse Character Paired with a Movie (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Just a fun thought experiment, Gentle Reader.

Fan Art Characters by _cosmashivah

If X is my favorite character, what should I 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 2016 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?

Book News:

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


Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!

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.

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 & Crossdresser (Special Extras)

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 famous 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.

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

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  

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 a_victorian_silver_officers_pouch_and_belt_of_the_leicestershire_yeoma_d5356508hIllustration-Thackeray Whip ArtModernArtFlower Forma Dress white-wolf Icy branchwhite-pebbles nicholas-nickleby sword AHdnsoem Blond HikeLoneTree copy Young Vic


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Breathing Life Into Characters

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

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

Behind the Magic ~ In Which Gail Get’s Into It About Sundowners

Posted by Gail Carriger


I had an interesting question from my Swedish publisher, Gentle Reader, addressing the subject of Sundowners. They were hoping I could sort it out for them.



“Alexia also suspected there were a few sundowners left among the ranks, though not used much anymore.”
~ From Soulless

Later on in the book Lord Maccon is referred to as the “chief sundowner”.

One editor felt that there was a certain difference between the two uses of the word. The other thought it was just one of the authorities that Lord Maccon had – to kill supernaturals.

As ever the reader it welcome to interpret my universe however they see fit. My intent, however, is that “sundowner” specifically means a person authorized to kill supernaturals. A sundowner doesn’t necessarily have to be a supernatural himself (or herself). Chief sundowner does not mean “the person in charge of all the other sundowners” instead it implies “first” or “primary” or “best of the best.” This also means he would have the ear of the queen. Chief sundowner is an achieved position, sundowner (alone) is an ascribed position. (Look at me pulling out the Anthropology 10l.)

Sundowners were originally independent agents, not affiliated with the military or civil service ~ rather like a privateer vrs a pirate. In the old days when vampires and werewolves were hunted, sundowners would be granted a writ of authority from the government to murder as the would. Eventually, when supernatural creatures became part of everyday British life, and King Henry the Eighth officially recognized them, sundowners became less common and were absorbed into BUR, and probably into the secret service as well.

In Lord Maccon’s case, technically speaking, even as chief sundowner he should always go get (and be granted) permission to kill ahead of time. As happens in Blameless, this is not always the case. Necessity sometimes dictates he must go attain post hoc approval. However, the only way he could get away with killing the Potentate in Blameless without immediate imprisonment is because he is a sundowner.

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

Quote of the Day:
“Jennifer Hart was a fussy, middle-class woman, too old, I thought, for the fashionably short skirt and white net stockings she was wearing.”
~ Peter Wright, Spycatcher

© 2018 Gail Carriger | Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Site built by Todd Jackson