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Gail Interviews Emma Newman (Brother’s Ruin)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Today, Gentle Reader please give a hearty welcome to the fantastic Emma Newman!

Emma is many things: a delightful author, a fantastic narrator (I should know, she narrates my book Romancing the Inventor), a stylish dresser, a killer podcast hostess, and a fellow tea lover. I have been interviewed on her fantastic podcast, Tea & Jeopardy (which is how I learned of her gorgeous voice and fell in love with singing chickens).

So please join me in welcoming her to tea with me, on this rainy day. We’ll be talking about her and her new gaslight fantasy novella, Brother’s Ruin (which I have chosen for next month’s book group read along.)

About you, the Author!

Tea or coffee and how do you take it?

First thing in the morning, in order to be able to form a coherent sentence, I require coffee with milk and two sugars (or sweeteners are fine). Once I have become functional (I am not a morning person) it’s tea (my first love) for the rest of the day, and I take that with milk.

Describe your personal style for author appearances.

I design and make the clothes I wear to conventions and signings, purely because it helps me to manage massive anxiety in the lead up to the event (i.e. I can channel the terror of being in public into “ack, will I finish sewing this outfit in time, oh heavens, it’s midnight the day before!” instead). My style leans towards formal, highly structured tailoring at the top with long flowing lower halves, often drawing heavily upon a variety of historical periods ranging from early Georgian to late Victorian. The only period I can wear from the 20th century with any confidence (and comfort!) is the 1950s as I have a hourglass figure. I once joked to my husband that if one is supposed to dress for the job one wants, I seem to be aiming for low-key historical fantasy queen. The only thing I don’t have is a crown. Which is probably just as well, otherwise it would be a bit silly.

[Gail could not approve of this more if she tried. SO rare to find a fellow author who also loves to dress. I should say, I don’t have the anxiety thing. But I do stress out packing before a trip and my stress dreams are always travel related.]

If I were to observe the writer beast in its native environment, what surprising thing might I see? What does the environment look like?

Oh, it is a terrible mess. I try to keep my desk tidy but it ends up looking like Indiana Jones’s desk in The Last Crusade. Whenever I finish a big project I like to have a huge clear out, and just before I start a huge project I clean everything again. Over the course of writing a novel the mess slowly accumulates, as all of my brain is going into the book. So I suppose you could deduce exactly where I am in the first draft by the state of my desk. I suppose the knitted chicken tea cosy that sits on my desk sometimes (when he is not needed for his primary job) may raise an eyebrow (gift from a wonderful Tea and Jeopardy fan). The knitted alien facehugger may also cause a squeak of surprise, knitted by the same wonderful lady and given to me as a birthday present.

If you drive, what do you drive?

I drive a horribly practical and boring black Ford Focus. This is because I had to grow up and sell my extraordinarily fast and fun Fiat Coupe when I became pregnant. When I no longer need a sensible family car, I am going to get something sporty again. I love driving and fast acceleration. I’ve always wanted to try rally driving or track racing.

No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)

I fear I am at a disadvantage, being British, as I am not entirely sure what a sugar cone is. Here in the UK, we tend to get one sort of plain cone (but we get a bajillion types of tea readily available everywhere, so I guess that is compensation). I like very fancy vanilla ice cream, the top of the range stuff where you can actually taste the vanilla. I would probably go for the sugar cone if I had the opportunity, because I love sweet things.

[Gail’s judgement: vanilla in a sugar cone means quirky, but probably not actually dangerous.]

What’s most likely to make you laugh?

I laugh often and heartily. Something absurdist usually does the trick for a hearty laugh, like Monty Python, or a particularly well placed film quote. I am allergic to any but the most subtle puns, sadly.

[Gail highly recommends the Tea & Jeopardy blooper reel. If you want to hear Emma’s gorgeous laugh.]

Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what’s your poison?

I am far from a connoisseur of alcoholic beverages, but I do love a good cocktail, one that is creamy and dangerous and contains Kahlua or Baileys, something like that. If there are no cocktails available, a sweet white wine will do.

Emma’s Bio

Emma Newman writes novels in multiple speculative fiction genres. She won the British Fantasy Society Best Short Story Award 2015 and Between Two Thorns, the first book in Emma’s Split Worlds urban fantasy series, was shortlisted for the BFS Best Novel and Best Newcomer 2014 awards. Her science-fiction novels, Planetfall and After Atlas, are published by Roc. Emma is an audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated, Alfie Award winning podcast Tea and Jeopardy which involves tea, cake, mild peril, and singing chickens. Her hobbies include dressmaking and playing RPGs. She blogs at www.enewman.co.uk and can be found as @emapocalyptic on Twitter.

About your book!

What should readers eat while consuming your novel?

For Brother’s Ruin, I would recommend a cream tea. The scones should be fresh, with a spreading of jam (preferably strawberry) and then a generous dollop of clotted cream. Being Cornish, I would recommend Rodda’s clotted cream. If anyone tells you that the cream should go on before the jam, I can assure you that they are wrong (there are very few subjects that I will declare such a forceful opinion on publicly, but this is one of them). The correct ordering of jam and cream on a scone is very serious business, especially for someone who is Cornish.

[Gail entirely agrees, although her training comes from Devon, so: salted butter, then jam, then clotted cream. Because, you only live once…so far as we know.]

What form does evil take within its pages?

The same form that it takes in the present day; men filled with greed who are willing to put their own profits above the health and wellbeing of anyone else, especially the poor.

Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?

Magus Hopkins, without a shadow of a doubt. Why? Well, he is very handsome but he has hidden depths that only I know about. I confess, I developed a little bit of a crush on him whilst writing Brother’s Ruin, and its sequel. I have given myself a stern talking to about it.

What’s your favorite period in history and does it influence your worldbuilding?

That is such a tricky question! I find so many periods fascinating and draw from them in all of my work. I do think the 1850s (Brother’s Ruin is set in an alternative 1850s London in which magic, instead of science, has driven the industrial revolution) were utterly fascinating. There had already been so much social upheaval due to the industrial revolution, which in turn had an impact on the law and social attitudes and the effective invention of our modern cities. There were massive forward strides in engineering and science alongside the brutality and horrors perpetrated by the British Empire. So many contradictions and interesting juxtapositions across all levels of society!

I am also fascinated by the tensions between the industrialists and the nobility in that period too, and that is definitely something that has directly influenced my worldbuilding for the Industrial Magic series. At that time in the real world, many of the most successful industrialists were far wealthier than the landed gentry and the political, social and legal jostling that took place at the time reflected so many aspirations and frustrations on the parts of the industrialists and the fears of the nobility.

In the Industrial Magic series, no one from the nobility has manifested magical ability, so the industrialists are the ones who hold magical power, and it is that which has driven their industrial success. I established this so that I could explore the tensions between the two groups of people writ large, so to speak. I plan to explore that more later in the series, should more novellas be commissioned. (I really hope so, as I have so many more stories to tell!)

Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?

Hrmmm, that’s tricky, as I would dearly love to give Magus Ledbetter a solid punch to the jaw, rather than a slap. But if I was only allowed to slap him, I’d make sure it was a really good one.

Without spoilers, what’s the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?

I think the part when the magi arrive to interview the heroine’s family and they all snip at each other is fun. I really enjoyed writing that part, especially the way that Magus Ainsworth refers to the others and warns the heroine about Magus Hopkins. She is a character I would like to write more about in the future too.

If your story smelled of something, what would that be?

I would like to say a musky, warm, vanilla laced scent, but I would be lying. It would smell of city dirt and coal dust, perhaps with a hint of freshly baked bread on the breeze; gritty, yet with an element of something homely and comforting too.

 Brother’s Ruin

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice.

Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect. When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city. Brother’s Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman.

Gail’s Thoughts

As I said, I also chose this book for next month’s book group read along. I was lucky enough to get an early review copy and I really enjoyed it. I love Emma’s worldbuilding and the way the Magus system is used to explore class disparity in Victorian London, but without being in-your-face about it. A quick and enjoyable read and well worth the $3.99 price point.

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


  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: Beta read (fifth draft).
    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 in Audiobook. 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 . . .

VictorianTrends.com @FreeVintagePics Two young #Victorian women in #summer dresses from July 23, 1886

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

1895 map of South Africa

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

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

Podcasts for Characters (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


There are some authors out there who listen to music while they write. Soem of them even make soundtracks for books. I am not one of those authors, Gentle Reader. As a former dancer I find myself wanting to twirl about too much when music is on.

I listen to a lot of podcasts however, mostly when I am driving, exercising, shopping, running errands, cooking, eating . . . Yeah, pretty much any time I am not writing. In fact, you might call me a podcast fangirl. This is one reason I love Balticon so much. So I realized recently that I associate certain podcasts with certain characters, in a Peter and the Wolf kind of way. Which is to say, they not only seem to tie in together but if I know that character has a scene coming up I will sometimes rearrange my podcast listening schedule to coincide.

Here’s the association:

So if one of those is your favorite character, I wonder if you would like the associated podcast. And I’m curious, do you associate certain music with my books or characters? Do you use music when you are writing?

Timeless: Galleys done, Timeless now in production. The release date on Amazon has been corrected.

Etiquette & Espionage: Working fourth pass edits. Release date Fall 2012.

The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Prudence floats! Release date sometime 2013.

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

Book News:
A bunch of Soulless reviews.

All About Podcasts (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


My dear Gentle Reader, you may know (or have noticed) that I am an avid podcasting fan. Recent online conversations have tempted me to provide you with a list of some of my very favorites. Here they are:

Writing/Story Related

  • Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing
  • Dragon Page
  • I Should Be Writing
  • Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcast
  • Writing Excuses

Human Interest

  • The Moth Podcast
  • NPR: StoryCorps
  • This American Life
  • All in the Mind
  • Savage Love Podcast

Academic and Educational

  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Get Fit Guy (Q&DT)
  • Money Girl (Q&DT)
  • NPR: Planet Money
  • The Nutrition Diva (Q&DT)


  • Brass Needles
  • Geekson
  • Out of the Coffin
  • Slice of SciFi
  • STEAM Geeks


  • The Bugle
  • Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4
  • Judge John Hodgeman
  • NPR: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
  • Scotland’s Funny Bits
  • The Smartest Man in the World

Because I am Weak

  • Answer B!tch Audio Podcast
  • Blow Hard
  • Erotica a la Carte
  • Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews
  • NPR: Car Talk

Depends Upon the Guest/Topic

  • Functional Nerds
  • Geologic Podcast
  • Litopia
  • The Nerdist
  • The SF Signal

Most Missed

  • Survivor Guide
  • Stephen Fry’s Podgrams
  • Polyschizmatic Reprobates Hour
  • Memories of the Futurecast
  • Shortcomings Audio
  • The Perfect Ten
  • Radio Free Burrito

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
You know you want it. The Tentacle Mustache!
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Literary Agent on Sending Ideas to Clients.

Timeless: Back from editor, off to Gamma (who is taking it to Israel). My book travels where I haven’t!
Secret Project F: Plod plod.
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!

Interview and give-away over on My Bookish Ways.

Quote of the Day:
“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.”
~ Will Shetterly

Gail’s Top 10 Favorite Podcasts for Improving Your Life (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


In honor of the New Year and all those New Year’s Resolutions that come with it, I am offering up some finds, Gentle Reader, that I am hoping might help you with your endeavors.

1. Make It Green Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for an Earth Friendly Life ~ Resolved to be more green? This podcast will help you out in under 10 minutes a pop. Sadly, now poddead, most of the information (from 2008) is still relevant and applicable. And, look on the bright side, at least you know you can start and finish it. I haven’t made my way through them all yet, but she does answer such pressing questions as: Which is better, plastic or paper bags?

2. Classical Mythology podcast ~ Hoping to appreciate classical art more, visit museums, or improve your understanding of the ancient world? Give this podcast from Learn Out Loud a try. It is comprised of biographical information on the Greek pantheon, 15 mins long or less. That said, if you really want a good basic understanding of Greek mythology you can do no better than to read D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.

3. The History of Rome ~ If you resolved to learn something new in 2010, how about the history of Rome in 20 minute bites? Mike Duncan goes in depth, covering extra details that neither High School nor colleges would have had the time to deal with. As an added bonus, he has a chocolate-smooth voice that is ridiculously easy to listen to. I suggest you spoil yourself by combining this with a marathon watching of the best historical series ever to hit the airways: Rome. Feel like you know enough abotu Rome? Why not try a podcast detailing the history empire that US schools seem to always skip over: 12 Byzantine Rulers: A History of the Byzantine Empire.

4. Friday Night Comedy podcast from BBC Radio 4 ~ Trying to stay abreast of current events but can’t face the depression of actually listening to the news? Try this 30 minute British comedy show. It switches between The Now Show and The News Quiz. Information about world events disseminated through humor, for those who favor the Daily Show over CNN, this is your podcast. If not try . . .

5. Global News from the BBC ~ 25 minutes long, several times a day, it will fill your catcher up fast, but if you want to stay abreast of international news, there is no better podcast out there. Usually covering only three or four stories, you can easily fast forward through the ones that don’t interest you. British reporters have no problem actually reporting on occurrences off their island, and no difficulty asking politicians the hard questions and expecting non-evasive answers. Who knew?

6. Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life ~ Whether or not you resolved to improve your finances this year, you should listen to this podcast. Everyone in the US should listen to this podcast. Like the others in the “Dirty Tips” series it presents information in under 10 minute bites. Laura Adams explains, simply and easily, such things as the difference between and Roth and a regular IRA, how to improve your credit scores, and home office dedications on your taxes. Being a west-coaster I must admit I found her accent a little annoying, but her information is entirely worth it.

7. NPR: Planet Money Podcast ~ One of the few NPR shows produced exclusively for the podcast world, and the only thing from NPR to make my top 10 list. They haven’t quite got that part down yet, but they sure do have a high production values. 20 min or less, 2x a week, this podcast started as a means of explaining the US economic troubles using laymen’s terms and simple analogies that everyone could understand but has become much more than that. No current event is too big, or too small, for these guys to tackle ~ from the recession, to a fruit stall in New York, to the Somalian pirates. The economy is not a topic I would generally follow, but there is something about this podcast I simply adore, and it is one of the first podcasts I listen too. And, most of the time, it isn’t depressing either.

8. The Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous ~ Are you one of the millions of people who resolved to lose weight this year, or get fit? This is your podcast. Weekly tips in under 8 minutes that are easy to understand and well researched. Monica goes into everything from the myths about coffee drinking, to how much vitamin D you should be taking, to overviews of the current fad diets. I love, love, love this podcast. She has a great voice and she talks nice and fast.

9. The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills ~ The Greeks and the Romans taught oration in school, and (like proper grammar) it is a lost art to the American education system. I teach university classes and the thing that frightens my students the most is not finals, but class presentations. Which is why I always make them present. Public speaking is a real art form that can only help you advance in life professionally or personally. I have used Lisa’s 6 minute tips for class lectures, small talk at company parties, interviews, and discussion panels. No mater how good (or bad) you think you are and talking in front of an audience, this podcast can only help. Invaluable.

10. Savage Love Podcast ~ I dither over which relationship podcast is my favorite, but usually settle on Dan Savage because of his snarky no-holds-barred (literally) attitude. I don’t always agree with him, but it sure is fun to listen to him rant. This is a calls-based advice show, so it is not the place to go if you are looking for specific answers to questions on sexual health, relationships, or sexuality. However, you will learn new things, run into someone with the same problems, and laugh a lot. He co-hosts with experts on occasion, to answer more complicated medical or D/S questions. Dan is gay and open/poly/kink friendly, so if you offend easily this is certainly not the podcast for you. I suggest the intermittent “Speaking of Sex” podcast from Planned Parenthood instead. I also recommend the Polyamory Weekly podcast, whether or not you are poly, for some good relationship and communication tips.

“Now Gail,” I can hear you asking, “What if I resolved to be more fashionable? You, of all people, should be able to help me with this.”

There, I am afraid, the podcasting world falls short. There were a number of excellent video podcasts covering the catwalk shows but they all seem to podfade within a year. You can catch my occasional segment on Brass Needles, but it only covers knitwear. If I were to do a podcast, I’d do a “Quick and Dirty Fashion Tips for Being More Stylish and Better Dressed.” But I’m too busy to start a new project now, so I keep hoping someone else jumps in. The Product Girl faded two years ago, and I’m not interested in pods that focus on makeup. Also, they tend to be large file video, rather than small file audio tips, or they focus on some kind of product promotion and aren’t objective. I’ll keep looking and let you know if I find a good one.

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