Gail Carriger Tells a Story about Steampunk & Finding a Hair Dresser in Australia

But first, a new interview with Kevin on Writer’s Grove:
KH: I know that your books are primarily written to be entertaining—at which they succeed magnificently—but I also enjoy the subtexts of various culture wars. Alexia’s Italian heritage and her soulless condition mark her as “other” in Victorian London, and she becomes associated with quite a few “others” during the course of the series. Most often she fights back against intolerance with superior fashion and manners, and I appreciate the light handling of weighty topics and that the books do not ignore the prejudices of the era (and indirectly shine light on our own). To what extent are you consciously exploring these themes?
GC: I do tend to prefer to take as light a hand as possible with even the most weighty of matters. I enjoy frivolity in all its many forms.

So before I tell you about Saturday, I have to tell you about a week earlier. The original plan was to meet up with the Prannish in Melbourne, travel around Oz for a bit, then end up back in Melbourne for the convention. Well the Phrannish was thwarted by airline shenanigans (as is so often the case) so I ended up with a day to waste in Melbourne.

What does Gail do?
Go shopping!

Specifically on the hunt for vintage clothing. After a couple of tries, I ended up in the Oz version of Hot Topic (new vintage) buying a very cute red hat. The young lady ringing me up looked to be an interesting sort ~ blue hair and a pleasant demeanor.

Noting the key about her neck, I asked, “Do you know . . . steampunk?”
The eyes brightened, the smile became more genuine. “You want, Wildilocks,” says she. And gives me directions.
Some 20 minutes or so later, winding my way through the CBD district and into a lost little alley I found said destination. The store turned out to be a mix of goth and burner with a little steampunk thrown in, but at the back of it was . . . da da da dum . . . a hair salon!
Full of suspicions I ask the lovely lady behind the counter, “Do you do vintage hair?”
Without missing a beat she says, “Of course.”
Still suspicious, because really it isn’t something your standard hairdresser learns how to do properly, I throw lingo at her, “Like: finger waves?”
“And victory rolls,” she replies, throwing lingo right back. “I’m Kat.”
“Kat, you are a godsend. Oh, this is the best thing ever! I’m attending a convention and I need my hair done properly.”
“The upcoming one, science fiction?” says Kat, making the appointment.
“Yes, I’m a writer.”
“I’m a big podcasting fan, myself,” says Kat.
Me. “No? Rally? I’m a complete podcast junkie. Have you heard of Mur Lafferty?”
Her, practically fainting with excitement. “Mur? Mur Lafferty?”
Me, proudly, “Yes, I’ve met her.”
“You’ve MET Mur!”
“I was on her show. Twice. You know, she’s going to be at the convention? You should come meet her.”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t. I’d make a fool of myself. But we will find a way to fit a hair appointment in for you. Somehow.”

And thus Gail makes a hair appointment for a 1940’s style updo, for the Saturday before the Hugo awards. In Melbourne. How incredibly cool is that?

Now, back to the Saturday of WorldCon.

What I wore.

I arrive, bright and springy of a morning (OK so on about 3 hours of sleep) and ready to rumble. First up, a real actual panel!

Panel: Best SF Novel You’ve Never Read
Technically speaking we were supposed to confine ourselves A. to Sci Fi and B. to the past 10 years. To be fair, one of my fellow panelists ignored these rules first, but I ignored them more frequently. Since I’ve spent the past several years reviewing 6-12 YA books a month, I deviated both into YA and into Fantasy. And since my sense of times is only slightly better than my sense of direction, the 10 year restriction was bound to get ignored whether I wanted or not. (I like to say my sense of time stops at about 1890. Which does me very little good in real life.)
I recommended the following books:
Sorcery and Cecelia
The Eyre Affair
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
The Price of the Stars: Book One of Mageworlds
The Native Star
The escape pod series Union Dues
And I can’t find my notes with the others, but I think that was it.

After that I had a signing. And there was a line. No, really. A whole line. For me. I’d never seen anything like it.

Then I grabbed a bite to eat and ran off to my hair appointment! Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen (well, mostly ladies) it was marvelous. My hair is of the indifferent layered modern short cut growing out split-end fine and straight variety. Yet Kat of Wildilocks managed to roll and tease and arrange it into the most amazing updo. And then spray it into place so that it did not go anywhere for two whole days. Result: beautiful victory rolls, a side-swept fingerwave fringe, and more fingerwaves at the back. My hair has never before looked this good. Nor will it again, I suspect. A genius. You, Melbourne, are lucky to have her! Go make an appointment. Such artistic skill in one’s own city? I am green with envy, green I tell you. During the course of the hair I tried to persuade her to come to the bar that night to meet Mur. Sadly, Kat never did. And Mur, to whom I told the whole story, was rather looking forward to it. She wanted a picture of herself and Kat and my hair. Ah well, next time.

I returned to the convention feeling very swanky indeed, just in time for my delightful Academic Panel: Fantastic Females: Reworking Feminism in Women’s Fantasy. Now I was a little frightened, feminist panels can get combative. But this one went beautifully, well moderated and delightful. An alternate perspective.

Saturday night was for fun! A great herd of us (podcasters, friends of podcasters, and the like) traipsed to the nearby mall for cuisine of choice. (Always a good plan when there are children to feel. They can have pizza, I can have sushi. And excellent pork buns. And chocolate.)

Then it was back to the bar (sans children), fortunately not blessed with overly loud salsa music this night. Mostly we just hung out gossiping, eventually trailing off to the George RR Martin party. This event happened to be occurring in the most inappropriate place on the planet: a hip hop club in a casino. Did I mention the management of this convention was a bit, well, weird? Exhausted and unwilling to endure overly loud music in an overly hot bar full of geeks who, had they showered, must have done so some time in the distant past, I excused myself well before Pete started pulling rabbits out of hats. But that’s his story to tell.

Today’s Adventure says, “I love, love, LOVE this book.”
SPOILER ALERT! Soulless and Changeless 2-for-1 review from Unordinary Tales, “The series is simply a delight. It reminds me of how Jane Austen would have written the super-natural; just because you happen to drink blood doesn’t you have to be rude.”
Even bigger SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first. 50 Book Challenge says, “Another delightful installment in The Parasol Protectorate series! The wit and humor that defined the first two books is back in Blameless, along with the delightful Madam Lefoux and dependable Professor Lyall. Alexia’s adventures in France and Italy kept the book moving at a fast pace, and the alternate settings between England and the Continent were handled quite well. I never once felt lost when the story shifted from Europe back to London. All in all, this was a fantastic romp through Victorian England and the Continent replete with fabulous inventions and quirky characters!”.

Quote of the Day:
On Aphrodite’s island all I found
was a token gallows where my image hung . . .
Lord give me strength and courage to behold
my body and my heart without disgust.”
~ Horusev

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