Tagged urban fantasy

Gail Carriger Interviews Lauren Harris About Unleash

Posted by Gail Carriger


My dear Gentle Reader,

Please join me in welcoming my dear friend Lauren Harris to the blog today for tea and a chat. Funnily enough, Lauren has already made her debut here on this blog, I talk about her as my fellow fangirl squeeing over Mercedes Lackey in this post: Behind Romancing the Inventor: Blame Mercedes Lackey

About Lauren, The Author

Tea or coffee and how do you take it?
I drink both equally. Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening.

Coffee: Americanos are best, but drip coffee is what I make at home, usually freshly ground and in a French press or pour over. If not espresso, it MUST be either a dark roast or a full-bodied medium with low acidity. This is possibly the only instance in which I’d refuse a blond.

I take it with half and half or heavy cream. The only time I will get a sweetener is if I get an iced coffee, in which case I add two pumps of either vanilla or toffee nut. Iced drinks are rare for me, though. I like hot drinks.

There are very few exceptions to my coffee rule, one being if there are no other hot drinks available or the only other hot drink available has “Liptons” or “Luzianne” in the name. I live in the South, so this happens more often than one might hope. As the quality of drinks go down, so do my coffee standards. I’m usually not so much of a snob that I would rather go without.

Tea: Ceylon or Assam-based black teas. Much to Gail’s distress, I still take sugar in my black tea, along with milk. Favorites are English Breakfast, Earl Gray (someone get Gail the smelling salts), and Chai. Twinings is the favorite, loose leaf when I can get it. I’m also not mad at green tea or mugicha. You can’t live in Asia for any length of time and not get a taste for it. White tea can scamper off to whatever dark, flavorless hole it came from.

[Gail: I have tried my dears. I have tried.]

Describe your personal style for author appearances.
It depends on whether the appearance is at a convention or elsewhere. Usually, it’s at a convention, in which case, one might encounter me in street clothes (usually edgy or casual), or some manner of corset. Sometimes both!

If I were to observe the writer beast in its native environment, what surprising thing might I see? What does the environment look like?
Notebooks! I still like to write longhand. RSIs from work are making this more difficult, but it’s still one of my favorite ways to start books. For some reason, it helps me to tap into the characters and the world more deeply. I’m sure it’s a psychological trick of some kind, but I don’t care. Most of my beginnings and some of the more difficult scenes tend to be written in notebooks first.

If you drive, what do you drive?
I drive a gunmetal gray Prius C named Padfoot.

No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)
Chocolate in sugar cone. How is this a question?
[Gail: Lauren is judged to be entirely sane. Except that she questions my question.]

What’s most likely to make you laugh?
A truly clever play on words. My roommate informs me that my most “satisfied” sounding laugh is when *I* make a truly clever pun.

Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what’s your poison?
Very partial to Vodka Collins, Cape Cod, Moscow Mule, and Mojitos. Sangria and red wine is also an option. Absolute nos are: anything with pineapple juice, tequila, absinthe, or jaegermeister. I will make an angry bunny face.


Lauren was raised by an impulsive furniture mover and an itinerant TV News professional in a string of homes up and down the East Coast of the United States. Eventually settling (sort of) in Raleigh, NC, Lauren befriended a band of whimsical nerds who found themselves de-facto beta readers for her scribblings.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied English and Classics, Lauren moved to Tokyo, Japan for three years. While there, she studied Japanese, taught English, and fell in love with the hot drink section in the vending machines.

Now, Lauren balances a day-job of Cardiac Ultrasound with her passion for writing and other creative pursuits. She is the author of The Millroad Academy Exorcists novella series and an Assistant Editor at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. Her narration and voice acting can be heard on Audible.com, EscapePod, and various short fiction podcasts.

About Lauren’s book: Unleash!

What should readers eat while consuming your novel?
If possible, Korean bulgogi. Keep those iron levels up for spellcasting.

What form does evil take within its pages?
Sinister Scottish Sanguimancer. Also, Sorcerers. A more esoteric evil is absolutism.

Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?
The cute Korean love interest because I had the power to make him an excellent kisser, so I did. Also, he is mischievous and funny and looks like Lee Minho in my head.

What’s your favorite period in history and does it influence your world building?
Classics was one of my areas of study in school, so I am partial to the Bronze Age, but I’m also a big fan of the Middle Ages. Most of my high fantasy stories are set in some analog of our 600 -1600 ACE.

Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?
Said sinister Scottish Sanguimancer, because he’s the reason my poor heroine has had such a terrible life. She’s been magically enslaved to his human trafficking ring since she was three years old.

Without spoilers, what’s the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?
The most fun parts for ME were the big disasters. I like to let people kiss and then have everything explode. Sometimes literally.

If your story smelled of something, what would that be?
Freshly sharpened pencils. Our heroine is an artist, and that slight tinge of blood scent to hot graphite feels suitable.

Unleash by Lauren Harris

Orphaned. Hunted. Pissed as hell.

Helena Martin doesn’t know who she hates more, the sorcerers who fired the magic-laced bullet or the gang-lord master who used her mother as a shield. It’s not the price she expected for escaping magical slavery, nor is the unstable power now pulsing in her veins.

Caught between her former master’s hunters and the Guild Sorcerers determined to kill them, she finds a safe haven at a dog rescue willing to take in a different kind of stray. But Helena’s newly-unleashed power is a beacon for her enemies. And they’re threatening the first place she’s ever thought of as home.

[Incidentally Lauren and I share a cover art designer, Starla.]

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is Radiance by Grace Draven.}


  • Poison or Protect Audiobook.
    Status: Battling ACX. (AKA Audible/Amazon)
    Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?


The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Allen & Ginter (American, Richmond, Virginia)
Fatigue Dress, from the Parasol Drills series (N18) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands, 1888
Commercial color lithograph

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Lord Akeldama nick names from Kelly Schneider‎ via the Parasol Protectorate Facebook Group

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

World seems a big dumb at the moment, so no smart links to offer. You guys have any for me? Something interesting about tea or octopuses or the like?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

~ Somerset Maugham

Book News:

Heartless Shelf in Gail’s Office

Quote of the Day:

“I often feel sorry for people who don’t read good books; they are missing a chance to lead an extra life.”

~ Scott Corbett

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

Interview with Rhys Ford, Author of this Month’s Coop de Book

Posted by Gail Carriger

This months book pick is Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford. This is a great urban fantasy with some fast paced action, stellar world building, and lovable (if snarky) characters.

I invited Rhys round for a visit, so we could get to know her, and her book, a little better.

About you, the Author!

Tea or coffee and how do you take it?

Oh God, coffee. So much coffee. For brewed, I like a medium roast from Pumehana, a coffee plantation in the Ka’u District of the Big Island or Major Dickason’s blend from Peet’s. At Starbucks, a Trenta iced coffee with cream, vanilla and an add shot or two. When possible, a double Vietnamese hot or cold, I’m not picky.

Describe your personal style for author appearances.

I tend to be very laid back. Teeth and hair brushed, Chucks, jeans and a comfortable t-shirt or blouse I was feeling when I got dressed that morning. Some makeup but not too crazy. Usually appearances go hand in hand with cons and a long day in comfortable clothing goes a long way in retaining sanity.

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

I actually write in the living room with headphones on. The house is fairly quiet and I’ve got a bit of everything in the room. Lots of geek stuff, art ranges from a Flaming June litho to Azeazelbunny by Ursula Vernon. There’s swords that I’ve somehow ended up and a Pludwhump, also from Ursula. A couple of dog beds mostly used by the cats and a red-blond cairn terrorist at my feet.

(Gail would like to note in one of those odd twists of small world-doom Ursula is a friend of hers, and a very particular friend of her very particular friend, Mur Lafferty.  Because fandom is tiny, and the more you pro, the tinier is gets.)

If you drive, what do you drive?

I drive a black on black 1979 Pontiac Firebird with a stock 301 engine and a lovely high powered stereo to keep me company on the California freeways.

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

Are you kidding me? Jesus. Hell. Um. Chocolate on a plain cone. No wait….hell. This is too hard.

(Pronouncement. Author, but entirely sane. Very good.)

What’s most likely to make you laugh?

Something absurd. The oddest thing makes me laugh. Like Hyacinth Hippo and Ben Ali Gator dancing in Fantasia cracks me up. They’re so much in love. She is his whole life. My sense of humour tends to skew a bit dark but I love a good laugh.

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

Oh that’s much easier than the ice cream. Whisky. Or Whiskey. I’m not picky.

About Rhys Ford, All Official-like

Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications. She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Tam, a diabetic black pygmy panther, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people

About your book: Black Dog Blues!

What should readers eat while consuming your novel?

Beef Chow Fun dry style, char siu bao or miso ramen with fish cake and tons of shoyu egg. And perhaps a Tsing Tao beer to wash it all down. Or a Spam musubi.

What form does evil take within its pages?

Oh that’s a question. I tried to make sure no species was branded as evil or good. The world’s a grey kind of place where that’s concerned and evil is a choice. It’s not like the old school D&D where a certain species of dragons was a set alignment. If you’ve got a soul and can rub two brain cells together, you’ve got to be the one driving your own destiny. That being said, the cat’s full on wicked. Can’t be trusted. Very sketchy. I would say the evil manifesting in Black Dog Blues and really, throughout the series, are the sins Greed and Envy. There’s a lot of power mad, dark-soulled people who really view the people around them as meat.

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

Did I mention the cat? Newt. He needs love. Poor thing’s a scrapper. He could use a kiss on the forehead. Preferably applied while he’s firmly wrapped in a towel and from behind so he can’t latch onto a lip or nose.

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

Dude, this is WORSE than the ice cream. I’d say it’s a toss up between the Edo Period in Japan and the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. I would say because both periods saw massive growth in the arts and technology but the political intrigue and machinations of clan / family heads were intriguing. A brutal, beautiful period full of pretty things and sharp teeth.

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

Probably Ryder. In the first book he pushes a lot because well, it’s his nature. He’s used to being in control and command but comes up against an immovable object in Kai. There’s a cultural learning curve Ryder has to go through and there’s no skipping any steps. For someone with a long life, he’s very impatient when he first meets Kai so he has to adjust his approach. Also, he carries a lot of sidhe cultural baggage that will eventually get himself killed because he won’t do X, Y or Z to defend himself.

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

Oh, I have two. Pancaking the dragon or sucking egg yolk. I can say that without spoilers.

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

It would probably smell of old pages, gunpowder, sulfur, cinnamon, gasoline, forests and Chinese Five Spice.

Black Dog Blues Official Blurb

Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in.

Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears. It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past.

And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.

But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.

And if you like Black Dog Blues, the second one Mad Lizard Mambo is also available.

Thank you Rhys, for stopping by. And I hope you, Gentle Reader, love Kai as much as I do.

{Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford.}



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 . . .

1883 Pierre Auguste Renoir (Fench artist, 1841-1919). Girl with a Parasol (Aline Nunes)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Emma Jane Austen (Food Reference List)

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Bra Size is a Myth

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Publishing Predictions for 2017 by agent Laurie McLean

Book News:

Alexia Polyvore Fan Art By Theamaia

Quote of the Day:

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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

Occasional FAQ ~ Why Do Books Release Later to the UK, Australia & New Zealand?

Posted by Gail Carriger


This is one of those blog posts, Gentle Reader. Like the Fat Chance of my Book Actually Being Made into a Movie post, I’m writing this one primarily so I can direct annoyed email + social media demands at it. Humans need a why in order to calm down.

Things A Lady Would Like To Know 1872

What follows is a great deal of why


I’m an Aus/NZ reader of your books, why does it always take so long to release here? Why do you hate people in the Southern Hemisphere?
Not my choice. Nothing to do with me.
Aus/NZ market is usually 2 weeks later than the UK, because that is how long it takes physical copies of a book to ship from the UK to the far reaches. Books have to get across the sea, and then overland into the shops. Shipping early, if even possible for the distributor, results in confused bookstores shelving the book for sale at different times before the ISBN is in their computer. This means errors at check out, possible litigation from the publisher if the book has a SOS (strict on sale date), and serious damage to the author’s sales figures and general sucess of the book.

But we always get it on the same release date if it’s a King, Simmons, Patterson, (name your preferred major white dude authorbeast), why not you?
I’m not that big a deal. Thanks for thinking I am.

Surprise! Laundry Jail.



So why don’t your publishers just drop the eBook at the same time in all English speaking territories?
My agent has a blog post touching on this. Other guesses: Because they are afraid that then no one would buy the physical book if it released behind the eBook? Because then all the readers of paper books would write emails to me complaining that I am punishing them for preferring the dead tree and why do I hate print readers so much? Because digital globalization is terrifying? Because rights and distribution contracts vary? Here is Charlie waxing poetical on the subject.


I’m a UK/Aus/NZ listener to your books, why does it always take even longer to release audiobooks? Why do you hate audiobook listeners?
Not my choice. Nothing to do with me.
I don’t know what’s up with UK audio distribution services. They seem to take forever. Or maybe it’s my UK audiobook publisher. If I were to ask, I can guarantee you that each would blame the other. Having minimal contact with Audible US via Crudrat, I can say that they are unusually painful to work with on these matters. Regardless, it seems about 2 weeks after print release before my audiobook drops in old Blighty.
Aus/NZ audiobook dropping can be as much as a month after US print release date if not more. I DO NOT CONTROL THIS. This has nothing to do with me. My guess is that, as an offshoot of the already challenging UK audiobook market, things are compounded down there. I don’t know what the audiobook market share is Down Under, but I should think small. Thus no one is motivated to fix it.

I really do feel empathy for you. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to get a hold of the book you want, in the medium you want, in a timely manner. (Don’t get me started on all the OP books from my youth that aren’t available as ebooks.)

As a traditionally published author, I do not have the power to affect this. And YES I have tried. SO HARD. It’s wrapped up in contracts, rights grabs, fighting for other things I really want as a creative, and sacrificing some stuff on the altar of others. On the bright side, you do get the book, eventually. Imagine being one of my Italian or Spanish readers?

Yes, it is monumentally frustrating. Imagine being on my end of this equation? Because, boy, there ain’t enough tea in England… or Australia.

Here have a photo of a cute cat, fuzzy blanket, and tea. Does that make it better?

Occasional FAQ ~ Things Gail Collects (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Things Gail Collects

  • Octopus ephemera
  • Shoes (specifically peep toes & wingtips)
  • Demitasse teacups
  • Baedeker’s, Terry’s, Baddeley’s, and Galignani’s travel guides printed prior to 1900
  • Ideas for making decorative canapés
  • Recipes for cakes that can be made with only a food processor

Information Gail Collects

  • Mythology from cultures and times her characters might visit
  • Images of vintage corsets
  • Anything about real historical female warriors
  • Custard recipes
  • Old Victorian menus


Proofs have arrived


Lilliput is excited about it.

{Gail’s monthly read along for February is Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper Book 1 by Tamora Pierce.} Review might be a little late, compressed edit and proof pass deadline is really killing me.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1857 shewhoworshipscarlin-tumblr Fashion plate, 1857, Philippines.

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  


  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Proof pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella. Reworking & trimming. Release date to come. Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.

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:
Books and Knitting says of the Finishing School series:
“These books are fantastic. Gail Carriger really knows how to create illustrious adventures with humor and action. Really, in my opinion, these books are never dull, a lot due to the great writing style Carriger has.”

Quote of the Day:
“It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”
~ Julia Child

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!

Occasional FAQ ~ Glance at Gail’s Library (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Glance at Gail’s Library

British Humor

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ~ Douglas Adams

My Family and Other Animals ~ Gerald Durrell

Sourcery: A Novel of Discworld ~ Terry Pratchett

Carry On, Jeeves ~ P. G. Wodehouse

Urban Fantasy

Moon Called ~ Patricia Briggs

Blood & Chocolate ~ Annette Curtis Klause

Tempest Rising ~ Nicole Peeler

Romance & Historical

The Tamarack Tree ~ Patricia Clapp

Warprize ~ Elizabeth Vaughan

Sorcery & Cecelia ~ Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer


Taming the Forest King ~ Claudia J. Edwards

Howl’s Moving Castle ~ Diana Wynne Jones

Timeshadow Rider ~ Ann Maxwell


The Elements of Style ~ William Strunk Jr, and E.B. White

The Deep Blue Good-by ~ John D. MacDonald

About & By Victorians

Queen Victoria’s Little Wars ~ Byron Farwell

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew ~ Daniel Pool

The Victorian House ~ Judith Flanders

Medical Common Sense ~ Edward Bliss Foote (1871)

A Thousand Miles up the Nile ~ Amelia Edwards

Baedeker’s Travel Guides

Things a Lady Would Like to Know ~ Henry Southgate

You can find Gail, her monthly book club, and a number of her favorite (& less favorite) books on Goodreads. You can also find many fun things to read via Gail’s Listicals on Amazon.

Occasional FAQ ~ Inside the Actor’s Studio Questions with Gail Carriger

Posted by Gail Carriger



Inside the Actor’s Studio: 10-questions

1. What is your favorite word?

2. What is your least favorite word?

3. What turns you on?

4. What turns you off?

5. What sound do you love?
The pop noise you make with your finger and your cheek.

6. What sound do you hate?
Screaming children.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

9. What profession would you not like?
Anything to do with bad smells.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Good God, who let you in?

Occasional FAQ ~ Gail Carriger’s Favorite Books (Occasional FAQ)

Posted by Gail Carriger



Gail’s Favorite Books

Want more?

{Gail’s monthly read along for February is Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper Book 1 by Tamora Pierce.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Morning visiting dress fashion plate, June, 1820 via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
New York Public Library Digital Collections

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
The Dangers of Serious Writer Voice


  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Edit pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella. Reworking & trimming. Release date to come. Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, featuring a grown up and several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.

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:
Etiquette & Espionage made the NYPL’s list of series to Binge On

Quote of the Day:
The fact is, Bertie, old lad, my heart is broken. I’ll tell you the whole story.’
‘No, I say!’ I protested. But he was off.
~ Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

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!


Occasional FAQ ~ Silliest Questions Gail Carriger Has Ever Been Asked

Posted by Gail Carriger



Silliest Questions Gail Carriger Has Ever Been Asked

Why don’t you have an English accent?
I’m not actually British. My mum is an expat, I spent many a summer in Devon, several months in London, and two years in Nottingham. I’d put one on for you, but my fake accent is really bad.

Besides eating your cat, what is your zombie plan?
I have this vague idea of escaping to Alcatraz, depending on whether the zombies can go under water. Otherwise, I think heading out to the coast to some obscure fishing village would bebest. Isolated, ready food source, and one can always take to the ocean if necessary.

If you could be any element on the periodic table, which would you be and why?
Helium. Because I’m a rare noble gas that makes people squeak on a regular basis.

What’s the hardest question you’ve ever been asked?
What’s your favorite fruit?

Have you ever been fishing for octopus? What’s your favorite way to eat them?
I’ve never fished for them, but I do love the story one of my professors told of his Greek fishing village and the treatment of octopuses there. Apparently, they slap them against the streets to tenderize them and hang them out on clotheslines. “You know you’re in Greece,” he used to say, “When you wake up to the sound of an octopus being slapped of a morning.” My favorite way to eat them is Greek style ~ grilled with lemon, olive oil, and fresh oregano. Heaven.

Thus far, have you been able to get through an interview without the word “steampunk” coming up?
Nope. But then, why would I want to?

What’s one random tidbit about yourself?
I find endless comedic enjoyment in the ridiculous: the Westminster Dog Show, rubber animals, string cheese, squid, that kind of thing.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
That jiggly leg thing particularly prevalent in men, or any similar hand tapping, twitching, etc. It drives me bonkers. I’ve been known to go up to perfect strangers and stress the delicacy and skill required to sit STILL. With friends, I’ll put my hand on said leg and then slowly but surely start digging the nails in until it stops.

Give us one embarrassing author moment:
I arrived for my very first in-person meeting with my agent with the back of my dress unzipped. The moral of this story? Always travel with a lady’s maid. The moral of the moral? Sell enough books to afford a lady’s maid.

What will you name the three monkey butlers we’re sending you for Christmas this year?
Eeek, Oook, and Ni. Because I am 1. afraid of monkeys, 2. enamored of Terry Pratchett’s Librarian (I know, not a monkey), and 3. a Monty Python fan.

What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?
Project Runway, closely followed by Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala and Marie Claire magazine. Sometimes I can be found indulging in all three at once.

How often do you wear your Victorian and Steampunk clothes around the house, just for yourself?
Dahling, who says I wear anything around the house when I’m by myself? Honestly though, I only wear full on Victorian costumes for appropriate events. I wear steampunk jewelry and little touches of steampunk garb most of the time when I’m going out.

Do you name each of your parasols?
Nope. I name my machines, but not my clothing or accessories. The car is Chanterelle, the computer is Hestia, and the iPod is Olive.

Can you tell us something about you we can’t see on your website?
I’m famous amongst my friends for a certain breakfast item called the “eggy cup.”

What’s your D&D Alignment?
Somewhere between Neutral Good and Chaotic Good last time I checked.

Any favorite vampires from lit, film, or TV?
I don’t think he really counts, but I love Dorian Gray. I have a real soft spot for Mina Murray in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman graphic novel series and I adore the character of Drusilla on Buffy. Not to sneak in werewolves, but I was turned to the furry side by Klause’s brilliant YA novel Blood and Chocolate.

Has your sense of humor ever gotten you into trouble?
More times than I can count. I always think I’m hilarious and will open my big mouth at the most inopportune times. Bubbly, let me just say, does not help with this problem.

Strangest dream you have ever had?
One of my favorites was a zombie attack dream where the zombies could be killed if I threw uncooked yams at them, at which point they turned into rock salt.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
This one.

If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Let It Steep: Chronicles of a Wierdo between Tea Breaks

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Boston Worldcon to meet Tamora Pierce.

Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin?
Walk into a bar on Mercury.

Johanna von Klinkosch wife of Prince Aloys of Liechtenstein
via antique-royals-tumblr


Occasional FAQ ~ All About Steampunk Goggles, Gaiters & Glory

Posted by Gail Carriger



The World of Steampunk: Goggles, Gaiters & Glory

To me there are two main kinds of steampunk. The first, which I shall be call, traditional steampunk, envisions a future as the Victorians imagined it. The writings of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are good examples. The second, which I think of as industrial steampunk, sees a far future world that harkens back to Victorian culture, for example a bustle dress made of Kevlar. There are also other temporal options like clockpunk (c. 1500s) and dieselpunk (WWII).

I write the traditional kind of steampunk, and my approach is two fold.

First, I postulate that it is through the presence of immortals that steam technology of the Victorian age diverged from our own timeline. Vampires are particularly interested in mechanics and so promote technological advancement beyond that of the actual Victorians.

Second, I try to remain true to the scientific theory of the day, however much modern scientists have debunked it. In Gail’s steampunk world the science is (at least internally) consistent, though occasionally mysterious.

by J Daniel Sawyer

Steampunk FAQ

What is steampunk?
Steampunk is a re–imagining of either the past or the future where steam technology never died, and electricity never dominated, and a Victorian aesthetic overshadows all. Think Jules Verne and hot air balloons flying to the moon.

What’s with all the dirigibles?
I think dirigibles (and other types of airships) are particularly appealing to writers of steampunk because they quickly show the reader the alternate nature of the author’s world, and because they represent the slow majestic dignity, and slight ridiculousness, of that time period.

How did you get into steampunk?
I came to steampunk first as an aesthetic movement. I’m a longtime fan of vintage clothing and Goth style; steampunk drew me in as a cheerful melding of the two. I also love seeing recycled technology used as jewelry, and other examples of how creative the maker community has become over the past few years.

What was it that drew you to steampunk?
My Mum is a tea–swilling ex–pat. I was raised on British children’s books (Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Borrowers, The Water Babies, Wind in the Willows) and I spent many a youthful summer in Devon and two years of graduate school in the Midlands. It was this, plus the fashion aesthetic, that first drew me to steampunk – the beauty of 19th century clothing but with a less ridged everyday feel. I adore the Victorian era. I used to make hoopskirts out of my hula–hoops as a child. I also love the makers side of steampunk – technology you can see working, rather than little silver iPods with all their functionality secreted away.

What is it about steampunk that particularly excites you?
The Victorian Gothic literature movement saw the birth of science fiction. The current steampunk movement is a weird kind of full circle, taking sci–fi back to its roots ~ I love that.

Most steampunk novels are set in the Victorian era, but why did you choose that setting for yours? What’s unique about the setting in your book?
I’m comfortable writing within the Victorian Era due to my own love of Victorian literature, too many BBC costume dramas, and ten years participating in the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. The Parasol Protectorate world is unique because, unlike many other steampunk novels, it doesn’t depict a dystopian future–past but instead a cheerful lighthearted one.

Where do you see steampunk going, or where would you like it to go? How much do you think it’s going to grow as a genre?
Steampunk is a unique movement in that it isn’t entirely literary – it has ties to the green movement, the maker community, historical reenactment societies, and the fashion world. Should it crest in popularity within all of these different areas at the same time, steampunk might well rise to the forefront of world counterculture. But I don’t think that is likely. Right now, I believe it has immense escapist appeal. With our economy in chaos, steampunk offers up an alternative lifestyle of sedate civilized behavior. Do I see that lasting? Probably not, but then no one attributed urban fantasy with much staying power either, so I continue to hope.

Can you think of a non–steampunk book that could be rewritten and make a good steampunk book?
Lawrence of Arabia? No, truthfully, I’d rather see original writers and debut authors take steampunk in new and different directions.  I melded my steampunk with urban fantasy and comedy of manners, how about some steampunk noir? The possibilities are endless – and so shiny and well dressed.

As one who is completely unfamiliar with steampunk, can you clarify for me which aspects of your books are considered steampunk?
My world is steampunk: an alternate 1800s England with new and different mechanicals, evil scientists, airships, docking spires, and attack automatons. The integrity of the alternative world is held together by the simple fact that I play by my own Victorian science rules (no magic). I didn’t want to overload new–to–steampunk–readers with too much gadgetry all at once. You might consider my stuff steampunk light as a result.


What exactly is steampunk fashion?
The current aesthetic movement (essentially the visual equivalent of the love child of a BBC costume drama and Hot Topic) emphasizes the importance of creativity, found object art, and the maker mentality ~ all of which I find very exciting. If you’re still curious, I did a blog post on the subject.

What one steampunk book would you recommend to readers who are unfamiliar with the genre but would like to give it a try?
I’m going to branch out and pick a graphic novel. There’s none better than the original League of Extraordinary Gentleman.


Your books feature a lot of steampunk technology, how much is based on existing technology, and how much of it is your own creation?
I’d say it’s about 50/50. I like to sneak in crazy Victorian gadgets that actually existed whenever I can, or modify them to suit my needs. Some of the technologies in my books are built out of flawed Victorian scientific theory that I made real. Some are more modern. There’s a cable transport in Blameless based off experimental US military research from the Korean War. But the rest of the time I just make things up, or go running to some of my techie or RPG friends with a plot problem that needs a steampunk solution.

I love the descriptions of all the inventions and the technology of Alexia’s world – are you a tech-savvy person? Does someone help you with that?
I’m a terrible neophyte and a very reluctant adopter of new technology. However, I am lucky enough to number many tech-savvy individuals in my life. Sometimes I create steampunk inventions from exacerbated actual Victorian gadgets, but other times I will call up one of my friends and beg them to have a conversation with me. “I need the invention to do this, but to have these limitations, and this kind of size. Any ideas? Oh and it should be funny.”

Why do you think Steampunk is appealing right now?
I have many theories on this. Part of the appeal, I think, has to do with our own sense of chaos and impending doom. This often causes people to look back and seek out time that was more ridged and controlled, full of polite manners and forms of address. Or a world that appears to have this.

What are the ingredients for a good steampunk novel?
There is a delicate balance to steampunk. You do need to do your research and know the language of the day, however, getting too flowery and Victorian can make your work inaccessible to a modern reader. It is hard to make everyone happy. There are always going to be readers who want hard science–orientated steampunk and others who can’t wade through all that techno–babble. I like to I write steampunk gateway drug. I also feel you can’t go wrong with comedy, that’s always lacking, even in the broader genres of SF/F, romance, horror, and mystery (steampunk has been classified under any of the above).

Which are the Gothic or steampunk novels that have influenced your writing?
I like the early Gothics: Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk, and later, of course, Austen’s lovely parody in Northanger Abby. I can take or leave most of the romantics although I’ll borrow their archetypes and mock them openly on a whim. Many of the Victorian classic Gothics annoy me, although I do love Jane Eyre and Poe (particularly Fall of the House of Usher). I tend to prefer to read lighter fair from that time period. Later on, Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray is deliciously creepy, but in the end I would say I’m more influenced by his playbill humor. I suspect this is because I write spoofs and not actual Gothic literature. As for steampunk, I do borrow from Wells and Verne but not directly, more for atmosphere than anything else.

Which are the Gothic tropes or aesthetics you utilize in your own writing?
I only nominally dabble in the terror/horror side of things, and usually interrupt it with macabre humor whenever possible. I like the mystery and supernatural elements so they are always pretty strong. You’ll see the haunted house/Gothic architecture/castle thing pop up occasionally. Most of the action takes place at night, because of the conceits of the universe, but again I will break a description with comedy and because of Alexia’s snarky take on life things never get too dark. I do borrow character archetypes a lot mostly to turn the into caricatures I can break down later: human eve, evil eve, and innocent eve all pop up and then get messed with. I don’t use a lot of Byronic heroes, so I guess you could say my men are more modern romance archetypes of alpha/beta. Although Lord Akeldama and Biffy together share the role of mocking Byron as he actually was in real life. I also avoid both the arte of the supernatural (magic and the occult) and ideas of angels/demons/devil. I feel the steampunk element takes out these concepts and replaces them with science and pseudo–science, secret societies, and dastardly experiments.

Are there any (Gothic) novels you have read recently and would also recommend to your readers?
I always suggest the Cask of Amontillado, which I think of as Poe’s best and cleanest works.

In your non-fiction piece for Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer),”Which is Mightier, the Pen or the Parasol?”, you touch briefly upon the various aspects of steampunk literature. For those yet unable to read this piece, which appears to be steampunk’s more enduring legacy: its subversion of past political/social views or its commentary on today’s modern society?
Oh, definitely its commentary on modern society. Whenever you get a combined aesthetic and literary movement with so many other aspects. One feels compelled to ask why it is being born right now, and what it may tell us about ourselves, our desires, and our feelings about the greater society around us.

How has your interest in steampunk affected the formation of your characters, what with Victorian mores and all. Speculate as to what they and their relative relationships would be like had they been born in another time, such as today?
The Victorian side of steampunk is vital to my characters and to my enjoyment of writing them. I experience gleeful joy when taking modern tropes ~ a strong urban fantasy heroine, barbaric alpha male, flamboyant San Francisco gay man ~ and making them play nice within an 1870’s British class and etiquette system. Suddenly my strong heroine has to cut more with her tongue than a knife, is worried about showing her ankles, and constantly seeks both a useful role in society and friends who value her intelligence and wit. My alpha male becomes a werewolf chaffing against the rules of polite society and proper dress. My flamboyant gay vampire borrows from both Oscar Wilde and the Scarlet Pimpernel, manipulating the threads of society over centuries, his relationships bittersweet and complex, allowing him to be more than just a gay BFF.

I genuinely feel that without the steampunk setting the characters would be less whole. They would need other ~ possibly more artificial ~ components and struggles, and frankly I don’t think I would enjoy writing them as much. I love the tension a Victorian world gives any kind of modern mind set. All my characters are struggling to balance their true natures against the pressures of society and in turn against modern sensibilities (informed, of course, my their creator who is quite definitely a creature of the contemporary world). This gives me a conflict of culture to play with and nothing is more exciting to me as a writer. It helps that the clothing back then was just so much more fabulous!



20 Random Things You Might Not Know About Gail (Occasional FAQ)

Posted by Gail Carriger


For you, Gentle Reader, here are 20 random things from a random mind trying to get this blasted book finished…

Imprudence research.


  1. While other kids played marriage with their barbies, I played divorce court. The stuffed animals were the jury.
  2. I cannot do any tongue-related tricks. Nope. Not that either.
  3. I listen to podcasts on 1.5x speed, so whenever I see a show live they sound all slowed down and weird.
  4. I do not play any musical instruments, but I always wanted to be a drummer.
  5. I’m always cold, until I’m not, and then I faint.
  6. I collected hot wheels as a kid.
  7. I don’t speak or read Spanish well, but I understand it pretty darn good.
  8. I owned a motorcycle for 20 years before I had an encounter with a dead possum and decided I had lost my edge. I still miss riding, but I don’t regret giving it up.
  9. I like to categorize people based on their preferred alcoholic drink and their car choices.
  10. I’m a better cook than I am a baker, but I really want to be a better baker so I practice constantly. However, I don’t really like to eat baked goods. The end result is I am constantly foisting them on others.
  11. I am easily creeped out by lots of things (puppets, monkeys, dolls, clowns) but I’m a master bug killer, and never squeamish about food.
  12. My maternal grandfather and I have the same eye color. I always identified with him because he’s the only other scientist in my family. Of course, I ended up an author.
  13. I have no sense of direction what-so-ever and I cannot remember names, but I’m magic when it comes to what was ordered at a restaurant the last time we were there, and an idiot savant with hotel room numbers.
  14. I am an extremely strong swimmer. I was a lifeguard and I grew up on the Pacific Coast so I adore challenging swimming. I feel happiest immersed in water and I’m obsessed with vanishing edge pools.
  15. At about age 8, I taught myself to throw side arm with a spin “like a boy” because I hated the “you throw like a girl” thing so much.
  16. I can identify almost every flavor of gelato… in Italian.
  17. I was on the swim team for distance but I was never fast. However, I have a textbook stroke because I used to teach for the Red Cross. I still practice side stroke, which I don’t think is even taught anymore.
  18. My nails grow fast, strong, and well. In junior high I had them really long and painted blood red. I thought it was so cool.
  19. Because of my previous career, I’m obsessed with ceramics and you’ll see me turn pots over to check the makers mark pretty consistently. Sometimes when they still have food in them.
  20. I’m a super taster. I took the special little strip test and everything, but don’t follow all the regular criteria (I like bitter, I’m not picky, etc…). I love tasting sauces and then trying to guess what’s in them.

In other news, this happened.

Look at the category… Hot New Resleases in Children’s Manners Books. For some reason I find this HILARIOUS.

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


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Moniteur de la Mode Date-  Thursday, August 1, 1844 Item ID-  v. 29, plate 2

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Octopus Steals Limelight at LEGO Treasure Hunt

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Role-Playing Teens Learn About History and Class

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  


  • 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.

The Books! 

 The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels.
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
Between the Blurb says of Prudence: “The world that Carriger has created is Colourful, filled with ingenious inventions and a wonderful blend of Steampunk and paranormal, with its own take on Victorian fashion and etiquette.”

Quote of the Day:
“We’re planning to go visit Darvell and get ourselves killed,” Ari explained. The prospect didn’t seem to be bothering him much. “Want to come along?”
“You’re all crazy,” Llannat said. “Am I invited?”
~ The Price of the Stars: Book One of Mageworlds by Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald

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

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