Author Gail Carriger Interviews One of Her favorite authors Patricia A. McKillip

My darling, Gentle Reader, I am WILDLY delighted to welcome Patricia McKillip to tea at my blog today. Patricia is one of my author heros, I have loved her work for as long as I can remember and she is still one of my idols.

I was honored to be asked to write the foreword for the latest release of The Forgotten Beast of Eld, one of my favorite books of all time. (And it’s first time in ebook form!) And because I am an uppity bit of baggage, I asked her to drop by here for a little interview.

Please join me in a very warm welcome to the marvelous Patricia A. McKillip!

About You, the Author! Patricia A. McKillip

Tea or coffee and how do you take it?

Coffee: black, preferably French Roast, and as soon as possible after my eyes open.

Describe your personal style for author appearances.

High heels and a mustache. Just kidding. Mostly boringly tidy.

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

You might see about one foot by three feet of empty Formica table space on which I write. The rest of the room is full of “stuff”: knickknacks, thingamabobs, little things given to me over the years, awards, books, CDs, candles, a glass octopus that I call Jeeves or Mrs. Darcy, depending, small vases, windup toys, a wooden backscratcher, this’s-and-that’s on the walls, including a Green Man face from Bath, artwork by one of my sisters, and magic wands made by another sister for her dance class. Possibly the most surprising things would be the college-ruled binder paper and gel pens that I write my first drafts—oh, heck, all my drafts—with.

If you drive, what do you drive?

I drive a 1999 red Chevy Metro with a stick shift.

Vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone?

Chocolate in a plain cone.

(Gail pronounced Ms McKillip perfectly sane.)

What’s most likely to make you laugh?

Old M*A*S*H episodes. P. G. Wodehouse. My husband’s eyebrows, upon which owls could roost, when he waggles them at me.

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

Since I’m ancient and try to stay out of trouble, a nice cold glass (or two) of Chardonnay.

I believe this might be the original cover.

About Patricia McKillip

Patricia Anne McKillip was born in Salem, Oregon (USA) on February 29, 1948 – a leap year baby! She started writing at 14, and according to the notes in the Riddlemaster trilogy,

“she has been writing ever since – except for a brief detour when she thought she would be a concert pianist.”

The House on Parchment Street has a neat quote about how she started writing,

“In a fit of boredom one day when she was fourteen, she sat down in front of a window overlooking a stately medieval church and its graveyard and produced a thirty-page fairy tale.”

She went to the College of Notre Dame, Belmont, and San Jose University where she earned a BA in English. She then went on for a MA at the San Jose State University. McKillip then moved to San Francisco, then to the Catskill Mountains in NY, then Roxbury, NY and now lives in Oregon.

She won the World Fantasy Award in 1975 for The Forgotten Beast of Eld, the Locus Award in 1980 for Harpist in the Wind (Riddlemaster Bk 3), and the Balrog award in 1985 in the short fiction category for “A Troll and Two Roses”.

About your book (The Forgotten Beasts of Eld)!

What should readers eat while consuming your novel?

Dunno. There’s not much food in the book, except for basic stuff like mushroom stew.

What form does evil take within its pages?

The most complex evil is in my heroine herself, who makes some bad decisions because she is angered and hurt by other people’s evil toward her.

The mass market edition Gail owned as a child.

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

Certainly not my hero — I’m old enough to be his grandmother. But I wouldn’t mind kissing the baby, Tam. I grew up with younger siblings; by the time I was seven, I knew how to fold a cloth diaper. I’ve always loved babies.

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

I’ve researched various bits of history: the pre-Raphaelites (“The Gorgon in the Cupboard”), Edith Wharton’s and Henry James’s time (“Edith and Henry Go Motoring”), plumbing in late medieval times (“Knight of the Well”); my latest research has been about Thomas Malory and the Grail legends (Kingfisher). I like doing research and most often do way more than I have to, because it’s easier and more fun than writing the tale.

One of the most accurate covers. (Possibly influenced by the Pern books?)

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

My heroine, sometimes, for talking too much. Me, sometimes, for writing seemingly endless descriptions.

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

I don’t think there’s much humor in The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. A line or two here and there, maybe. If you blink, you’ll miss it.

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

Mountain air. Ancient books. Mushroom stew.

The Forgotten Beast of Eld

Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no-one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the exquisite and mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But Sybel’s solitude is to be shattered when a desperate soldier arrives bearing a mysterious child. Soon Sybel will discover that the world of men is full of love, deceit, and the temptations of vast power.

[Gail’s dishonorable mention to the following two covers: one one because of the hair (?) the other because of all the fantastic beasts in this amazing book, unicorns are NOT among them.]

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for September is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900s via steampunktendencies

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Me at about the age I first read McKillip & now

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Young Victorian Croquet Player

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

For New Indie Authors: What I Would Do if I Were Starting Today

Book News:

Traveling Through Books says of Romancing the Inventor:

Carriger strikes again; she has yet to disappoint me with one of her pieces, novel, short story, or novella. This novella is a long-awaited story featuring Genevieve Lefoux. Madame Lefoux is one of my favorite characters in The Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School Series, so it is extra nice to get yet another glimpse of her later in life- after the Parasol Protectorate Series has ended.”

Quote of the Day:

“I saw all.
‘Jeeves,’ I said.
‘I see all. Do you see all?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Then flock round.’

~ Jeeves and the Impending Doom by P.G. Wodehouse

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? There’s a wiki for that!


Posted by Gail Carriger

5 Responses

  1. Jella said:

    Thank you for this! Love your questions, although the answers ( with all due respect) somewhat dull here and there. Hope to read more!
    Have you ever made an interview like this with yourself? I’d love to do one with you in the future!

    1. Gail Carriger said:

      I never have, and I am generally open to interviews, particularly silly or fun ones. Drop me a calling card!

  2. Ann Brookens said:

    I was going to say that that “earliest” cover you show is not the one that I purchased in 1974. However! NONE of these covers look familiar to me! Either my memory is at fault (entirely possible, I’m afraid) or there is yet another cover out there!

  3. Susan Wilkinson said:

    I enjoyed the interview done with a light touch. This was the first fantasy book I ever read, when I was in high school. I really liked it, reread it almost every year. My book has the blonde in purple with the copyright date of 1974 by Atheneum, third printing by Avon from 1975. I used to write in my books the place and date of purchase, bought it in 1978 if I decipher the thick ink right.

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