7 Common Questions on Gail’s Books

1. Who are some of your influences?
My strongest writing influences tend to be authors like Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, and P. G. Wodehouse. I also fall back on the gods of steampunk and urban fantasy, such as Jules Verne or Horace Walpole, and then use farce and comedy to play with the archetypes inherent in each.

2. There are many attributes associated with the octopus, why your fascination with this aquatic chameleon?
Octopodes are smart, cute, crafty, squishy and, when all is said and done, tasty. Can you think of a superior creature?

3. What’s the most positive thing a reader has said about your books?
Readers have been so amazingly kind, I hardly know where to start. I will say mail from librarians always touches me deeply. I had one email from a young lady in Bangkok who read one of my books during an uprising, and it helped her escape the horror. That was an amazing compliment.

4. The Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School books have both werewolves and vampires, what makes your books different from other supernatural novels?
There’s no magic. None at all. Instead, Victorian scientists are struggling to understand vampires, werewolves, and ghosts using the scientific standards of the day. This results in steampunk gadgets and crazy theories centered on the existence of the soul. In addition, the books are very lighthearted in their approach to the supernatural, possibly even silly (e.g. newly minted vampires suffer from fang–lisp).

5. I’ve seen your books described as comedy and urban fantasy as well, but to me, there’s a large dollop of mystery as well. What’s generally the impetus for the story, do you begin with the mystery in mind?
I actually don’t read mysteries. That was always my parents’ thing. But because of that, I was raised watching BBC mysteries all the time, so I suppose they leaked in. I’m not very subtle about it. Most of the time my stories are simply character driven dramas with lots comedy, and real mystery readers can figure out who done it easily. I don’t consider the mystery the impetus. For me the point is revealing how my main character figures things out, and how much trouble she gets into as she does so.

6. These books are very British, to the point where every time I read the writing, I hear a British person in my head. You seem to be American, how did this happen?
My mum’s a Brit (it’s probably her voice you hear) and I attended graduate school in Nottingham and spent summers in Devon as a kid, but I’m embarrassingly American. My US publisher is pretty strict about making sure all terms and words are Americanized. I dug in my heels about a few of the names, but a passing familiarity with Regency romances or BBC costume dramas is more than sufficient to understand the humor. I hope my books are filled with the kind of comedy that crosses cultural boundaries: farce, sarcasm, and indiscriminate irreverence.

7. Timeless is the last in the Parasol Protectorate series, how did you know it was time to end the series? Will readers get to see more of Alexia et al in the new series?
I’m the kind of reader who will not pick up a series until it is complete. I’ve been burned too many times before by a series (or author) dying early. It’s kind of morbid but I wanted to have one completed series under my belt, just in case. I like to end things, it’s very satisfying. It felt like Alexia’s arc was going to settle happily down at five books, so I stopped there. She and other characters from her series might show up in the Finishing School or the Parasol Protectorate Abroad but they will not be main characters.

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