A long time ago before I was an author-beast, when I trudged the globe in pursuit of tiny fragments of pottery, I listened to even more podcasts than I do now. It’s a surreal thing to sit atop a mountain in Peru looking at mini Inca offering jars while listening to a Kiwi in one ear. (Even weirder when that Kiwi later ends up portraying a character based on you in a piece of sci-fi horror.)
One of my favorite podcasts was Tee Morris’ The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy (now long defunked). I also listened to Philippa Ballantine’s Erotica a la Carte (which seems to have faded away into the mists of sounds and time as well). Those of us who have been devoted to podcasting since the very beginning know the names of the first titans: Scott Sigler, Tee Morris, Pip Ballantine, Mur Lafferty, Steve Eley, Dan Sawyer and more ~ enough to fill a tarot deck. Oh there are young gods now, the Zeus that is Welcome to Nightvale, not to mention his comedian cup bearers with millions of listeners. Be we remember the titans.
|Tee & Pip at the Souless Booklaunch party, WOrld Fantasy 2009
If you turned over the Tarot cards of podcasting Pip & Tee would be The Lovers. Forged into a long distance union, not to be separated by seas and continents, they podcast first as fictional voices, then married, then coauthored a steampunk series, and now, perhaps most important to those of us who waited, bated breath, for the non-fictional Tee-of-extremes to return to our sad survivor-less ears, they podcast together once more. (See The Shared Desk.)
I’m lucky enough to have meet then both several times throughout the course of this great drama. Often I wish my life were as exciting and romantic as theirs. And hilarious. Throughout the course of our interactions whether via iPod, internet, book, or in person they have never led me astray ~ although they have, occasionally, led me to drink. They have a new book, Dawn’s Early Light, the third in their Steampunk Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series on shelves right now. So I invited them by for the silly interview dejour. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into their madness as much as I do.
Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine are the mad minds behind the steampunk romp that is The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. Their first title in the series, Phoenix Rising, won the 2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Tee and Pip released Ministry Protocol, an original anthology of short stories set in the Ministry universe. Now in 2014, following a Parsec win for their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, Tee and Pip celebrate the arrival of their third book, Dawn’s Early Light. Pip and Tee are often thought as one person — “Pippin Teah” — but their appearances debunk that. They enjoy their family time with their daughter watching Cosmos and Marvel Studios offerings, tea times at the Madison Tea Room, and shopping for shoes, corsets, and steampunk gadgetry from Brute Force Studios.
About you, the Authors!
GAIL: Tea or coffee and how do you take it?
PIP: I prefer a lovely Darjeeling. The setting should involve a scone with proper clotted cream and lemon curd.
TEE: When I’m in a tea mood, I enjoy a Prince of Wales which is a blend of China black. I also prefer it with scones (heated) and clotted cream, but I prefer raspberry jam. We have a place here in Warrenton called the Madison Tea Room we will take you to sometime. As far as my coffee, I like it very creamy with slight chocolate overtones.
GAIL: Describe your personal style for author appearances.
PIP: When it comes to author appearances, it depends on the venue. This week we will be in Richmond for The Writer Show and we have been requested to wear our steampunk best, so we shall. A good corset is a beautiful thing. Even for Tee who looks quite stunning in his. When we attend conferences and signings, we try to look our best in professional wear.
TEE: There’s a lot to be said for pressed slacks and a nice button up shirt. At cons, we do go casual, but that is primarily on account of the go-go-go nature of conventions. Pip’s got a talk coming up in April with the Library of Congress. I’m thinking Pip will be doing the jacket and sharp blouse pro look for that. I went with office formal for that talk when I was there.
GAIL: If I were to observe the writer beast in its native environment, what surprising thing might I see? What does the environment look like?
TEE: I’ve been posting photographs of my environment which could be described as an ADD Circle of Hell between the three monitors, the podcasting gear, and the cats stepping in and out of my sight lines. What you might be surprised by are the collection of books I’ve got surrounding me. Sure, I’ve got steampunk, but I also have movie scripts, graphic novels, historical references, and plenty of books on writing. Then I’ve got the inspirational texts, ranging from Shakespeare to the writings of Einstein, Hawking, and Tesla.
PIP: And now we’re watching COSMOS so Tee needs to add that to the library. I think if you were to be surprised by me in my writing environment, it would be the documentaries I tend to have playing when I’m either researching or writing. I feed on documentaries. The odder, the better.
GAIL: If you were to go fan addlepated over someone, who and what form would the addlepation take?
TEE: I hate to sound trendy, but I think I would do all fanboi over Tom Hiddleston. What pushed me into the black with him wasn’t his work in the Marvel, but in a little short film he did for his production of Coriolanus. He was preparing for the role, physically and mentally, and it took me back to my days in the threatre. Tom Hiddleston just comes across as extremely genuine and I dig that about actors who hit it big with the geeks. He “gets it” when it come to that popularity, but it was that connection with Shakespeare that tipped me over the edge. If I were to have the opportunity, I would want to talk Shakespeare with him. The dream: just kicking back and performing scenes off the top of the head. That is, if I weren’t slobbering allover him while basking in his awesome.
PIP: Two words — Idris Elba. He is a fine looking man with a commanding presence on screen, but in the casual photos and behind the scenes, he looks like a good bloke. I would probably be dumbstruck by him if we ever met. It would be like that moment when Kate Middleton met him. I would be thinking “OMG, I’m shaking the hand of John Luther and Stacker Pentacost, and you’re so crash hot Please, Luther, don’t — let — go.” A restraining order from the Elba estate may ensue.
GAIL: No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)
PIP: Chocolate on a sugar cone. (I gave up chocolate for Lent. What was I thinking?!)
TEE: Vanilla on a sugar cone. Vanilla and sugar, when balanced right, is a thing of beauty.
GAIL: Pip is pronounced perfectly sane, Tee slightly bonkers.
GAIL: What’s most likely to make you laugh?
PIP: The antics of cats, or my daughter, or both.
TEE: Silly things writers do on the Internet. I mean, they know we can hear them, right?
GAIL: Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what’s your poison?
PIP: Vodka. Chilled. The best I’ve had was in New York at the Firebird Restaurant where they made their own infused vodka. Most delightful.
TEE: Scotch, single malt, preferably 12 years or older. My favorite is the Highland Park 12 or the Balvennine Doublewood from the Sherry Cask.
Dawn’s Early Light It’s airships, hypersteams, and motorcars in this cross-country adventure in a race against time, mad science, and automatons. After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.
Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…
About your book!
GAIL: What should readers eat while consuming your novel?
PIP: As it is set in America, I think there should be sweet pies like lemon meringue or pecan pie. These are uniquely American to me.
TEE: I think a cookout would be in order. Hamburger and hot dogs. And beer. American-crafted beer. And as this is steampunk, it’s got to be slightly off-kilter, so Dogfish Head Beer…which I gave up for Lent. (DAMMIT!)
GAIL: What form does evil take within its pages?
TEE: Evil scientists. Death rays. And automatons. Let the party begin!!!
GAIL: Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?
PIP: I think I’m partial to Wellington. Let’s face it — it’s always the quiet ones that are the most exciting. (Granted, this means it’s a strange thing that I married Tee, but maybe he was an exception to the rule.)
GAIL: What’s your favorite period in history and does it influence your world building?
TEE: When you look at our writing, you see a lot of historic influences, even when you go back to our earlier works. I think it is less of a period that influences us and history on a whole. The stories of the past are almost too unbelievable to be true; but history is history and fact is fact. For example, we just found out on Cosmos that the Royal Society almost didn’t publish Newton’s groundbreaking theories on physics and mathematics on account of disappoint sales over their comprehensive history of fish. You can’t write up wackiness like this! History rocks our world!!!
GAIL: Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?
PIP: There were several times I really wanted to slap Felicity Lovelace. She could turn on “the bitch” when she wanted to, and her manipulation bothered me to no end. Then again, Eliza was due for a slapping or two as she needed to open her eyes with Wellington.
The difference between the two slaps — I could walk away from slapping Felicity. Eliza? I don’t know so much about that.
GAIL: Without spoilers, what’s the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?
PIP: Speaking of the two of them, the relationship between Eliza and Felicity was always a delight for me to write. They made me laugh and laugh often.
TEE: I think it was what unfolded in the Arizona Territories. From shootouts to talking about feelings, my face hurt from the amount of smiling.
GAIL: If your story smelled of something, what would that be?
PIP: The sharp tang of electricity. I mean, Edison and Tesla? Come on.
TEE: The sea, as we go from sea to shining sea in this adventure.
Dawn’s Early Light and the two prior Ministry books are available wherever fine books are sold. The Qwillery, one of my favorite review sources, has much to say about this new book from Pip & Tee. If you are still in doubts about it, I suggest you read the review.
April 2nd, I’ll be hopping on to play at Pip & Tee’s Facebook event party.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
|From the 2009 Launch Party
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
|Cat vrs. Octopu, via the Twitter
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
PROJECT ROUND UP
Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third. November 4, 2014. Cover art to come.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins in July.
Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Delayed. Why? Rewrite begins soon, release date March 17, 2015.
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
Audiobook of Crudrat
releasing end of April 2014. Find out more at crudrat.com
High Aspirations says of C&C, “Carriger weaves the character-arc into the plot so seamlessly that it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. And even though the action and pacing are reminiscent of classic genre novels, the style and voice bring to mind classic literature in a way that only an expert can manage.”
Quote of the Day:
“I first take a dive into the index, a second dive into the preface, a third dive into the four hundredth page, the fourth dive into the seventieth page, and then seize my pen and do up the whole job in fifteen minutes. I make up my mind to like the book or not to like it, according as I admire or despise the author.”
Around the Tea Table, by T. De Witt Talmage (1875)