‘Bring my shaving things.’ A gleam of hope shone in the man’s eye, mixed with doubt. ‘You mean, sir?’ ‘And shave off my moustache.’ There was a moment’s silence. I could see the fellow was deeply moved. ‘Thank you very much indeed, sir,’ he said, in a low voice.
Spring Morning by James Tissot c. 1875 (@metmuseum)
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
“The bottle rules the sensual world, but the tea-cup is queen in all the fair dominions.”
~ Around the Tea Table, by T. De Witt Talmage (c.1895)
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
~ Madeleine L’Engle
“Someone was trying to kill Lady Alexia Maccon. It was most inconvenient, as she was in a dreadful hurry. Given her previous familiarity with near-death experiences and their comparative frequency with regards to her good self, Alexia should probably have allowed extra time for such a predictable happenstance.”
Here are some fun blog posts and resources that tie to this book, researching Egypt & Africa during the 1890s, among other things. I love this book because it’s my “let’s find the source of the Nile” story. (Or in this case, the source of the werecats!)
Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community.
Imprudence was a Barnes & Noble B. Dalton and Locus bestseller. It was the first of Gail’s books since Changeless not to hit the New York Times. Buy me a drink some time and I’ll tell you more. In the end I used it to parlaying never having to do a book tour again, as they sent me on a 2 week tour-from-hell and didn’t get what they wanted (the LIST).
1893 General Gordans Last Stand Kartoum, occurred just before the events in the Imprudence.
Mid 1850’s Fern Fad: “Women collected and classified ferns, the cultivated and bred ferns, the made outdoor ferneries, the dried, pressed, mounted and framed ferns. They made splatter pictures of them.” ~ The Victorian House by Judith Flanders
Floote’s tank is often described as looking a bit like those ones for ladies who collected ferns or Wardian cases (a forerunner of the terrarium). I discovered this when researching Pteridomania or Fern-Fever, a craze for ferns that reached its height in the 1890s.
1867 Fashion Plate from Le Follet showing a small fern display case
“Milk is the great difficulty in travelling tea-making. It cannot always be easily obtained, and milk carried about with one in a bottle does not long retain its freshness in hot weather. Some people do not object to the condensed or Swiss milk one buys in small tins. It has the advantage of being extremely portable, but I must confess, personally, to finding its effect detestable in tea or coffee.”
The discovery of oxygen. I think there is a word for when multiple scientists discover the same important thing at (basically) the same time in disconnected locals (Kuhn would mutter something about dominant paradigms and the structure of scientific revolutions but that’s neither here nor there, unless you’re an entomologist, in which case it’s both) but I can’t remember what that word is.
“Ultimately Imprudence offers an interesting mix of silliness, real danger, and character development. Best of all is the resolution of longtime issues for Lord Maccon and Alexia, dating back to the last book in the Parasol Protectorate series, Timeless. Many authors stop a series, or slow down the time process, not wanting to age their characters. That’s simply not the case here. Ms. Carriger does go there, and she does it marvelously.”
“Imprudence firmly cemented the Custard Protocol series as a worthy successor to Parasol Protectorate. Filled with adventure, friendship and romance, this is an immensely fun ride, in a wonderfully amusing world.”
Every author has a process, after 10 years of careful honing mine seems to be:
Stare into empty teapot, frantically type 12 different sub genres at once, make myself sick on seaweed popcorn and sour gummies. Make fresh cuppa to recuperate.
So I took Rue to India in the first Custard Protocol book, Prudence. (Which the Read Along is tackling right now.) It was a lot of fun for the both of us. And, since it’s me, I also kept an eye open to the fashion world. India was an occupied territory during the Victorian times, and fabrics and fashion moved from there across the world and into the lives of Victorians in a myriad of ways. Here are some of the influential images, fashion items, and styles that come up in my books when India is involved.
1885 Visite Les Arts Décoratifs
Not all of the images I collected are strictly Indian. Some are from surrounding occupied territories or highlight other Silk Road influences. Nevertheless, they struck me as quite interesting, so I have presented them for you here.
Fancy Dress Costume Charles Fredrick Worth, 1870 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I dithered on how to show these. I went with some original historical clothing items, along with some Victorian and later takes on the same theme and, where possible, a modern fashion look. Also there’s jewelry! So it’s kinda a mess, but I still hope you enjoy it.
Pendant 1860 Bonham’s
17th-18th century The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1867 Les Arts Décoratifs
Pietro Yantorny, 1920 The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Evening Dress late 1910s The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
19th Radhakrishna pendant India, 19th century Christie’s
1855 via fashionsfromhistory-tumblr Dressing Gown MFA
Court Ensemble India (Lucknow), 19th century The Victoria & Albert Museum
1820 Turban The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Evening Dress 1893 The Museum of London
“This evening dress is decorated with net panels embroidered with gold thread and beetle wing cases from a species of jewel beetle. The panels were probably made in India where Madras and Calcutta were centres for beetle-wing embroidery made for the European market. The iridescent blue-green beetle wing cases reflect the light like sequins. This type of embroidery is found in British museum collections on dress, textiles and accessories dating from the 1780s until about 1930. Although Indian embroiderers introduced the technique, using it to decorate dress and domestic textiles, Europeans copied them, sometimes using the wing cases of a species of South American jewel beetle. This style of embroidery was also thought to be a suitable pastime for ladies of leisure, who were advised to use a Walker’s number eight needle and green silk thread.”
Dress Weeks, 1910 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Shirt India (Bikaner), 1850s The Victoria & Albert Museum
Opal Bracelet 1900 Christie’s
Fancy Dress Costumes Paul Poiret, 1913-1914 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Necklace India, 19th century Sotheby’s
Jama India, 17th century The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Court Robe India, 18th century The Victoria & Albert Museum
Necklace India (Rajasthan), 19th century Christie’s
Choga India, late 19th century The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Here are some fun blog posts and resources that tie to this book, like researching India.
Prudence was probably the hardest book I ever had to write, it hit the NYT through dint of being on special offer (I think) in both ebook and hardcover when it launched. This was the first time Orbit released me in hardcover and this series got confused (by bookstores) with my YA series as a result.
Introducing the Custard Protocol series, in which Prudence travels to India for Queen, country…and the perfect pot of tea.
Prudence was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, an Amazon Best Book Pick in Romance and Sci-Fi/Fantasy categories, and Library Reads pick.
When I started this new series I had to not only go back a see where I left things in the world, after Timeless (plus 20 years) I also hard to research what was going on around the world at the time. So there was a lot of background work to do before I even started the story.
Here’s what my desk looked like when I was doing that…
As I started actually writing Prudence, I realized it was not going to be possible for me to write this story while I was still writing the final Finishing School books.
This meant I had to ask my publisher for a delay. I talk all about this creative crisis in this blog post…
“It took just minutes to realize that Moira Quirk is the perfect narrator for this book, bringing the right sense of humor and tone to every character. Yes, indeed, some are rather over the top – Lord Akeldama most notably – but that’s exactly how Ms. Carriger writes the characters.”
Note: This resource is ongoing & updated, if a link doesn’t work or if you have other resources to offer (remember this is for fiction writers) please leave a comment.
I’ll be honest, Gentle Reader, I wrote The 5th Gender, basically, in the space of one week without internet. So while I was writing it. I just let it come…
So to speak.
In it, I’m dealing heavily with a completely alien culture.
I wanted to represent Tris and his people as very different from humans in every way. That includes modern approaches to gender identity, but isn’t limited to them. I should add it’s not a utopia either. Like any culture the galoi have some positives and some negatives about their society.
Part of my reasons for doing this is the profound neglect early science fiction writers (particularly those of my youth) had for social structure.
SF is eager to embrace a future with advanced technology but frankly poor at conceiving how culture might change. When, in fact, social structure, languages, identities, syntax, and definitions shift almost as quickly (if not more so) than technology.
Before you jump down my throat:
Yes there are good examples of this kind of sci-fi, but statistically they’re the outliers not the norm.
You’ll have to read The 5th Gender to find out the complexities in biology, identity, personality, socialization, and restrictions that surround Tris and his people, the galoi. It’s part of the story. Tristol’s human lover, Drey, has a journey of discovery throughout the book that ties the murder mystery to the galoi social structure.
I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m not going into detail as to how I am playing with these concepts in the context of an alien culture. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t do research into modern human society in order to be aware of the now when dabbling in the future.
I’ve dated, loved, and grown up with gender fluid lovelies. But I don’t identify as gender fluid myself, and I’m an academic so… research!
Hijra (I read Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijras of India as an undergraduate, and that’s where I originally heard of the Aravani. I’m not sure if this book stands up to the test of time or advancements in cultural anthropology research, but it was my introduction.)
A quick word on gender and sexual fluidity in the historical record:
Without question historically verified presence of homosexual and gender fluid individuals exists in the past (and this archaeologists will FIGHT YOU WITH SCIENCE on this matter), but pan, bi, ace, grey, and queer+ are really hard to trace in the distant past and archaeology-only record. No doubt they were there, but it’s difficult to see given the imposition of researcher bias, physical preservation, nationalist agendas, and so forth. (I’m looking at you, Egypt. “Tomb of Two Brothers” my arse.)
Timeless and a 1930s Egyptian Revival teacup from my collection.
In the Parasolverse
I’ve blogged about Madame Lefoux extensively elsewhere, which is why I’m not addressing her in depth here. If you want a modern definition for her, I would call her a gender fluid butch lesbian. Her preference is for women, and she identifies as a woman, with a performative aspect to her masculine attire, so perhaps she might also identify with drag king on occasion?
Here be spoilers for Custard Protocol, skip to next section if you aren’t caught up on Competence.
Anitra is first introduced as a child in Timeless.
Anitra’s drifter parents refer to her as female. She’s gender identified as female by Alexia, but remember that Victorian children during this time period are already dressed and thought of with a kind-of gender amorphia.
Later Anitra is identified by Rodrigo as aravani. This is a word he picked up on his travels, probably on a mission to kill someone, it sort-of correlates to third gender.
However, Anitra identifies herself as a woman. She was raised within Drifter culture – that culture is essentially binary but in an opt-in way. (Remember Ay from Imprudence who tried to marry Primrose had a male identity. And yes, Ay’s brief appearance was absolutely a foreshadow for Anitra’s reveal in Competence.)
Anitra eventually ends up marrying (and reforming) Rodrigo Tarabotti. As is often the case, questions pour in about Rodrigo and his sexual identity as a result.
Under modern terminology: Rodrigo would likely identify as pan.
A brief segue into sexual fluidity (I KNOW it’s not the same thing as gender fluidity, but I’m forestalling questions). It is cannon in the Parasolverse that preternaturals are all pan, or at least bisexual. Alexia, Alessandro, Rodrigo, and… others. Why? Because it’s my universe and I WANNA. So there.
Seriously though? It ties into my thoughts on the fluidity and adaptive state of being soulless. Preternaturals are simultaneously very stiff and ridged in their emotions – practical and pragmatic, but also fluid in their morality and ability to adapt and change, not just in what they think is wrong or right, but what they think is hot. They are… flexible. It is the nature of their bond with the universe. They’re born this way.
(And for those of you who are wondering, at this juncture, if my use of the term progressive to define the political parties who accept the supernatural element in British society as a reference to the acceptance of queers… OF COURSE that’s what I’m doing. Sheesh.)
In the San Andreas Shifter books
Mana, of course, required a bit of both the present and the past. (Mana = Manifest Destiny is a long lived kitsune drag queen in the San Andreas Shifter series.) She is trapped in an immortal body that repairs itself and cannot be changed. For someone born with male biological sex characteristics who identifies as female, that’s an intense burden. I believe, however, at this stage in her long life, Mana is comfortable in her own skin, even if it’s not the one she’d choose if she had the option.
You see Mana is very old and has lived in many places and times which has given her iron backbone and the ability resist perception while accepting what she cannot change.
Mana owns to the moniker drag queen because she feels an affinity to that identity in this time and place. I think her drag queen name, Manifest Destiny, is one one of irony and sublime confidence. She’s also sexually active and a dominant who is comfortable with her birth anatomy. Her lover, who identifies as a straight male, sees her as wholly female.
I’ve had a bit of a confusion from readers in how to reconcile this.
I’ll put it graphically.
Is a woman who happens to have a cock and use it (whether biological or strap on) any less a woman?
Is a straight man who likes to be pegged by his girlfriend any less straight?
Perception is a tricky beast.
Humans are complex, and complicated, and wonderful.
Kitsune are tricksters and meddlers, wise but not entirely to be trusted. I’ve always written my immortals as capricious, possibly because I grew up with an over abundance of Greek mythology.
It is interesting to think about what immortality would ACTUALLY do to the psyche.
To watch everyone you love die?
To watch humans make the same mistakes over and over again?
To know humans as prey and to think of them as inferior?
This too effects identity, gender, sexuality, and beyond.
Mana is MANY things as well as gender fluid. She is power and unity and grace. She is the grey space and she embodies it. She embraces all parts of herself without care to what others may think. Especially not what piddly humans might think.
“She’d managed to shift from fox to human without anyone the wiser and was back to being fully clothed and entirely made up in a way that Isaac suspected had something to do with savage mage-craft because no one could just shift into false eyelashes like that. No one.”
~ The Omega Objection
Also, here’s a fun little hint… pay werry werry close attention to Mana’s 3rd Form. For Kitsune, it’s all about the tails.
Before you ask, yes, I had Mana, Anitra & all of The 5th Gender read for sensitivity by self-identified gender fluid delicacy readers. Everyone, however, experiences gender differently whether now, in the past, or in the future. Time is, after all, also fluid.
My characters are written as individual examples unique to themselves, not as judgmental models of behavior.
I’m hoping they broaden readers minds, optimism, and willingness to accept all the glorious possibilities life has to offer us without constraint. I want to offer possibilities, not dictate certainties. Fluidity in all things… if you would.
I’m weirdly excited by my new collapsible tote. It’s cute, lightweight, durable, packs wee, AND has a zipper along the top. I need something for when they take my carry-on away from me on small planes & I can’t let them have the corsets!
I was recently in Seattle at University Bookstore. They were gracious enough to organize something rather last minute for me. (All their stock is now signed, so if you missed me, you can still get something special for yourself.)
I was there visiting and staying with my author friend and podcast co-host Piper J. Drake. (We do 20 Minute Delay together.) She and Producer Matt came along to this event, and being capable sweethearts, recorded it for you! (Say “Thank you Piper and Producer Matt.”)
Producer Matt, Piper J. Drake, Gail Carriger of 20 Minute Delay Podcast
Live broadcasting an event is not something I normally do, because if the store or the convention has paid for me to visit, I want to reward them with exclusivity. But since I was up in Seattle on my own dime for PodCon (and University bookstore was sweetly amenable), here it is…
Takes a bit for me to figure out the sound (which isn’t awesome) but it’s live with a large crowd done on an old iPhone so you know… SUFFER!
Here Are Show Notes!
I talk author carrier secrets, up coming books, plus take a few pot shots and compare myself to a dominatrix. As you do.
I’ll keep pace here in the blog, in the Facebook Fan Group, on Twitter, and with the Chirrup. Skye will try to stay on top of the Goodreads Group. I’m going back through and finding fun behind the scenes and research blog posts, so when we start each book’s reread, I’ll post an update with yummy stuff to go alongside.
The plan is to chat about the books as we read them and in general, both on the Goodreads group and the Parasol Protectorate group. I’ll try to stay on top of posting about which book we are on and hopefully those who are keeping pace will help me with this.
“They both help each see each other for what they truly are and what it means to be family. I love it when books are able to do this and especially love it G.L. Carriger does it, because they do it in such a way as to open your eyes to all forms of love and acceptance. The way our world is becoming we need more books and characters that not only look different than us but love and act differently than us.”
The 5th Gender(a Tinkered Stars sci-fi as G. L. Carriger). No links as yet…
Reticence, The 4th and final Custard Protocol book. August 6, 2019
Secret Project Ommm, October 2019 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Soulless.
For those of you who missed the cover art announcement in the most recent Chirrup, here it is!
Since this is Percy’s book it should come as no surprise that Percy is on the cover. However, I have been pretty darn cagey about where they are going, so I hope you’re delighted to find out that it is…
Yes the Spotted Custard is off to the magic of the Paper City.
And you know what that means?
Oh yes, kitsune for all!
Here’s the Cover Copy
Percy is off to Japan, but will Japan survive Percy?
Bookish and proper Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when floating cities, spirited plumbing, and soggy biscuits collide in this delightful conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol series.
Percival Tunstell loves that his sister and friends are building themselves a family of misfits aboard their airship, the Spotted Custard. Of course, he’d never admit that he belongs among them.
Percy has always been on the outside – dispassionate, aloof, and hatless.
But accidental spies, a trip to Japan, and one smart and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life. Except hats.
He’s done with hats. Thank you very much.
Reticence is the final book in the Custard Protocol series. It takes place after events in Competence and contemporaneous with those in How to Marry a Werewolf.
The Spotted Custard crew is back for one last rollicking adventure! Watch Miss Gail tie up all those loose threads. Look out for appearances from beloved Parasolverse characters (and some less beloved) and learn everyone’s secrets… the hard way.
Percy, of course, could care less.
Or could he?
What else do I want you to know about this book, Gentle Reader?
Did you miss this Facebook Live? Event announcements go to Chirrup members first, because I love them best. Sign up here. Also members of the Chirrup will have the option of entering to win this parasol on Sunday. You need to join before it goes out. This charming lace sunshade is one of a kind… because I decorated it with the blue ribbon myself. There will also be more gossip about WorldCon, and a super exciting secret about an upcoming project.
Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon orBookBub!