Parasol Protectorate Omnibus Vol. 2 (Heartless & Timeless)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Here is a nice big version of the stunning cover on the Science Fiction Book Club’s Omnibus edition of the Parasol Protectorate Vol 2. This edition is only available to club members (although sometimes they show up online for sale later) and is a hardback limited run containing the final two books in the series, Heartless and Timeless. It should be coming out in the USA right about the same time as Timeless.

I’m a fan of the color scheme in this cover. It’s very elegant.


Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Book News:
I’ve a new interview up: On Fiction Writing.

Quote of the Day:
“A morning call should not be paid before 3 PM, nor after five.”
~ Etiquette for Ladies, c. 1850

Gail Carriger’s Must Do List When Visiting London ~ 3 Days Planned for Lovers of the Parasolverse (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


By special request Gentle Reader, I give you some of my favorite things to do when visiting London couched in terms of character preference and influence on the Parasolverse.

Day One ~ Physical Improvements

  • Felicity & Evelyn ~ Wander down Oxford Street and look at shops, perhaps buy shoes, perhaps buy more than just shoes. Preferably use someone else’s money.
  • Alexia ~ Go to swanky bra place and get properly fitted, spend too much on bras.
  • Lord Akeldama ~ pilgrimage to Liberties of London, coo over the amazing fabric. Investigate the scraps for brightly colored scarves.
  • Everyone ~ Pay court to the Twining’s tea shop. Oldest shop in London that is still in the same place.
  • Rue ~ avoid pigeons.

Day Two ~ Intellectual Improvements

  • Templars ~ Visit the Etruscan section of the British Museum.
  • Lyall ~ spend a quiet moment sitting in the amazing crystal library of the British Museum.
  • Tasheret ~ see if there are any old friends lurking in the Egyptian section of the British Museum.
  • Lord Akeldama ~ visits self in mosaic form.
  • Floote ~ eat at the cafe at the top of the Tate in ever unlikely hope that they will have the amazing celeriac soup back on the menu from the week they opened.
  • Biffy ~ visit the costumes in the Victorian & Albert Museum.
  • Rue ~ avoid pigeons.

1895 Bodice The Victoria & Albert Museum

Day Three ~ Emotional Improvements

  • Ivy & Alexia ~ Walk through Hyde Park. Preferably with a parasol.
  • Everyone ~ afternoon tea at Browns .
    Located just two minutes away from Hyde Park, Brown’s is well known for its afternoon tea. Since tables cannot be reserved, customers begin lining up at three o’clock to make sure of obtaining one of the flowery chintz armchairs in the dark-paneled salon.
    Alternatively go to tea at Fortnum & Mason (AKA Tum Tums).

  • Rue ~ avoid pigeons.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1950s ultra modern umbrellas

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Quote of the Day:

“Coffee (n.): The person upon whom one coughs.”

~ Unknown

Character Study ~ Countess Nadasdy (Parasol Protectorate Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Its’ been a while, and with the series coming to a close I figure I’d better get the last of the characters drawing boards up for everyone to see. Here we have, Gentle Reader, a collection of images that remind me of the Good Countess and her little band of trouble making vampires.

The image of this character was so clear in my head that when I went back, just now, to check my character notes in the World Bible, I found . . . nothing. Just a comment that she is the queen of the Westminster Hive.

However, I do know the following:

1. Looks like a shepherdess or a milkmaid
2. A little on the pudgy side
3. Dark hair
4. Rosy cheeks
5. Cornflower blue eyes

Here are a collection of images that remind me of her. Sometimes literally, sometimes they tie to her inner personality, sometimes they trigger a fairy story or a myth that I connect to here, and in one case the image is a clue to events in Timeless. I hope you enjoy!

Book News:
The steampunk scholar talks about teaching Soulless.

Quote of the Day:
“Tea does our fancy aid,
Repress those vapours which the head invade
And keeps that palace of the soul serene.”
~ Edmund Waller, “Of Tea”

Victorian Interior Design – Hinds House Santa Cruz (Parasol Protectorate Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


So I was down south for the weekend, for a special event and then some down time with the AB.

We had booked into a lovely B&B but a snafu with the reservation saw us chivvied over to the historic Hinds House for one evening.

The Hinds House now and close to when it was originally built.

The Hinds House is an extended stay lodging, for a week or more only, but a fully furnished and decorated Victorian masterpiece from the 1880s. What a lovely and fortuitous occurrence, because Darcy wrote me recently with a question about Victorian interior design that I thought at the time, Gentle Reader, might make for a good blog post.

I have a room I wish to decorate in Victorian style and though I am fine when it comes to chandeliers, small statues, trinklings, etc, I haven’t got a clue when it comes to wardrobes, table, chairs, colour of the walls, curtains, etc. Do you know anything about this or is there a book/magazine you would recommend me?

And then there I was staying in a Victorian house! So I could take pictures of classic middle upper-class style. Admittedly Americanized, but we won’t quibble.

The Entrance Hall

Generally speaking the Victorians go on to the darker richer end of the spectrum, lots of organic swoops and curls, rich jewel tone fabrics (velvets and brocades, stripes and paisleys), dark mahogany wood, as opposed to Georgian which is more opulent with big windows, golds and creams, or Regency which is sparser, sharper corners, delicate flower decoration.

The sitting area of the Drawing Room showing some lighter Georgian influences.

I suggest watching some BBC costume dramas, like Cranford or North & South as they always do their interiors research very well. Anything Dickens is good, one of my favorites is the David Copperfield with Maggie Smith and very young Daniel Radcliff.

The Front Parlour

Generally speaking, rooms would be crammed with stuff and nicknacks, the Victorians were more fond of clutter than we are today. Very heavy velvet curtains, lost of lace on all surfaces, that kind of thing. This is where the costume dramas go wrong, they are often too generous with space, necessary for clean images and actors to more around easily.

The Dining Room

Chippendale furniture style was quite popular, and the newest Thing, but Victorians would also have been living with a furniture inheritance, so a mix of old Regency and Georgian and new Victorian is fine.

The music area of the Drawing Room

Walls were usually wall papered, or painted in rich colors, or both. There was always trim and usually several complementary colors.

The bed with quilt in Room 1.

This book is reputed to be a good beginners guide, I’ve not read it myself ~ Hints on Household Taste: The Classic Handbook of Victorian Interior Decoration (Dover Architecture). Here’s a good blog on Victorian themed decors.

The claw footed tub in Room 1.

If none of these images work for you, the best recourse I can offer off the top of my head is the Victorian Web an online amalgam of information. Or just googling images of “victorian parlours,” or bedrooms, drawing rooms, and so forth. “national trust house interior” also had some good results, though not all of them are Victorian.

The view from our room’s balcony.

From the Hinds House website:
We are like a bed and breakfast that specializes in temporary housing, long term lodging, and corporate housing. We are one of the most affordable Santa Cruz weekly lodging alternatives. With a full kitchen, mail box, phone and wireless DSL waiting on your arrival.

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

Quote of the Day:
“There is no safety in writing well.”
~ Dorothy Allison

Technological Change in Steampunk Worldbuilding (Parasol Protectorate Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Mr Frankum asked me a very interesting question via private missive recently. I thought it was so worth of discussion that he would not mind if I infringed on a matter of nettiquette and postulated it here.

If Daimler and Benz invented the internal combustion engine c.1885, does that necessitate an automatic “stop” in the timeline for steampunk fiction, or, given that steam was on the table for powering automobiles until the Lucas strike at Spindletop in 1901 made petroleum a viable option, would that allow steam to be a logical and plausible power supply available to fiction writers ’til the latter date? (Which would also tie in, conveniently, with the death of Victoria and hence the Victorian age…)

(Also, I suppose the argument could be made that we’re still using steam power, given that’s what’s actually operating the turbines at the dams where our electricity is produced…)

Wait…Did I answer my own question, or is this still a viable discussion?

The Dos-a-Dos (Back-to-Back) Steam Runabout was built in 1884 by George Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux
for French entrepreneur Count de Dion, who named it ‘La Marquise’ after his mother.

I love this kind of question. I nearly did my PhD on technological change in an archaeological context. In line with that, the abandonment, replacement, and retirement of technology is a subject of particular interest to me.

Through archaeological and historical reports we know, for example, that old technology does not always give way to something newer and better. Progress is a concept adored by politicians, not academics. For example, a single catastrophic event, like the Hindenburg, can cause a wide scale rejection of an otherwise sound, efficient, and useful technology.

When writing steampunk it is often easiest to chose or invent just such and event in order to explain away the changes between a steampunk universe and the real Victorian one. In my world, for example, the telegraph is a failure so other forms of communication are invented instead. (Although it fails for scientific reasons internal to my universe, see the paragraph after next.)

If, for example, you had a Hindenburg-like explosion of the early combustion engine, killing thousands, combined with the wide scale production of the smaller steam motor suited to personal use, the second might outshine the first. Of course, this doesn’t always work, the Titanic had little effect on the popularity of steamer travel. And there seems to be some (little) evidence to support the occasional synergy of discovery (see the oxygen molecule). Which is to say, sometimes a discovery (or invention) seems destined to occur.

However, because I’m an archaeologist and vested in the influence of culture on technological change (I have a very long paper on this subject I’m happy to pass along if anyone is interested) as well as serendipity, and the experimentation of the individual (two of the other mainstay explanations for technological change) I ended up altering the scientific nature of my entire Parasol Protectorate universe to accommodate a steampunk world. For me, it wasn’t enough to just pick one major invention failing or succeeding over others (much as the alt history writer will change the course of one major battle), I needed to change the universe behind the science of invention.

Which is why I researched Victorian science and theory, threw immortals into the mix, and formulated a world wherein aether spheres and vital humors actually existed. Nesting steampunk tech and allowing certain things, like the combustion engine, not to develop under the paradigms and theories of oddball Victorian science, became, not only easy, but logical under these constraints. So long, of course, as the reader doesn’t attempt to explain my world using modern scientific theory, because then it breaks down.

Sorry for the academic speak, I slide back into it so easily.

I guess what I am saying is that if I, as a steampunk writer, have developed a complex enough world, were steam power dominates for reasons inherent in my universe, the combustion engine shouldn’t be a problem because, well, it can’t be. Ah circular logic.


Your Infusion of Cute . . .
I have found the source for the hatbox toolkit at last!
Tiffany’s Tools

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Tried: Todd & Holland’s Queen Victoria’s 1876 Tea Blend. A mix of Keemun (probably 80% or more by visual estimation) and Yunnan black teas. A stunning dark whole leaf tea with leaves of gold scattered throughout (the Yunnan flower leaf). It brewed to a golden reddish color, which made me instantly wary, generally I take gold tones as a warning. I like my teas strong and brisk but mild in flavor, brewing to a nice dark brown, like Assam. (I know, I’m such a peasant.) Sure enough, there was a herby almost Darjeeling flavor to the blend making too perfumey for my taste, with burnt tannic and pine overtures. I would have preferred to taste each leaf on its own to render judgement, as I think the Keemun dominated the blend. Someone, someday, will open a black tea + milk tasting room and I will be a happy girl.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Another ebook kerfuffle in the making. The mail online reports that “a formal investigation to discover whether international publishers Harper Collins, Penguin, Hachette Livre, Simon & Schuster, and Germany’s Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck have ‘engaged in anti-competitive practices’.”

Book News:

  • Paul reviews Heartless.
  • Travels Through lest says, “Heartless is exactly what readers have come to expect from the Parasol Protectorate with all sorts of steampunk madness from Alexia and Co.”
  • Cate’s Bookshelves reviews Heartless. “That’s the problem, if there is one, with Carriger’s plots — you can’t talk about them without spoiling them and the delight really is in the discovery.”

Quote of the Day:
“TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book.”
~ Author Unknown

Podcasts for Characters (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


There are some authors out there who listen to music while they write. Soem of them even make soundtracks for books. I am not one of those authors, Gentle Reader. As a former dancer I find myself wanting to twirl about too much when music is on.

I listen to a lot of podcasts however, mostly when I am driving, exercising, shopping, running errands, cooking, eating . . . Yeah, pretty much any time I am not writing. In fact, you might call me a podcast fangirl. This is one reason I love Balticon so much. So I realized recently that I associate certain podcasts with certain characters, in a Peter and the Wolf kind of way. Which is to say, they not only seem to tie in together but if I know that character has a scene coming up I will sometimes rearrange my podcast listening schedule to coincide.

Here’s the association:

So if one of those is your favorite character, I wonder if you would like the associated podcast. And I’m curious, do you associate certain music with my books or characters? Do you use music when you are writing?

Book News:
A bunch of Soulless reviews.

Dustave Doré & Victorian London’s Suburbs Parasol Protectorate Research (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Today’s Blog is a Break for a Research Moment. You know you want one! Prepare to be . . . Derailed!

Dustave Doré & Victorian London’s Suburbs

Just discovered the amazing illustrations of London by Gustave Doré. He mainly sketched the lowlife and slums from about 1860-1880.

Over London by Rail 1872 (From London- A Pilgrimage)

Low Lifes

Dudley Street Seven Dials (from London a Pilgrimage) 1872

Westminster Stairs 1872

On the London suburbs, according to contemporary guidebooks complied by Judith Flanders in The Victorian House.

  • Because of a direct railway Chamberwell and Peckingham: clerks
  • Hammersmith, Balham, and Leyton: lower middle class
  • Penge and Ealing: middle class (no direct railway)
  • Hampstead: upper middle
  • St. Jon’s Wood: authors, journalists, publishers
  • Tyburnia, Bayswater, Haverstock Hill, Brixton, Clapham, Kenninton, and Stockwell: city men like stockbrokers, merchants, commercial agents
  • Sydenham, Highgate, Barnes, Richmond: the wealthy (swells & ladies)

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup


Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Quote of the Day:
“The most convenient arrangement I have ever tried. However, was a little electro-silver reading lamp lent me a year or two ago by a friend when I was traveling to the Scotch Highlands, and had a long night journey from town. It consisted simply of a case to hold the candle – which it exactly fitted – with a strong, self-actign spring, which raised the candle to the proper height as fast as it burnt down.”
~ Lillias Campbell Davidson (1889)

Authorial Research for Heartless with Gail Carriger (Behind the Magic)

Posted by Gail Carriger

A random moment, Gentle Reader, things I’ve had to look up recently for Heartless . . .
  • History of mothballs (surprisingly hard to find)
  • Etymology of the term booby trap (1840 apparently)
  • Badminton, was it around in the 1850s?
  • 1950’s Party Dresses
  • Names for the different parts of a Quadrille
  • The language of parasols
  • Stage dresses of the Victorian Era
  • Algonquin Round Table

Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Quote of the Day:
“When eating or drinking, avoid every kind of audible testimony to the facts.”
~ Etiquette for Gentlemen, 1850
This came up in a recent conversation concerning chapter 3 of the manga.

In Which We Officially Welcome Heartless Into The World

Posted by Gail Carriger


Today, according to Amazon, we officially welcome Heartless into the world.

As you may already know, Gentle Reader, I tend to try to parody different types of Victorian literature with each Parasol Protectorate book. Soulless poked fun at the early romance novels, Changeless went back to the gothic roots of all my favorite genres, Blameless was intended to be an Alan-Quartermian-style Boy’s Adventure novel, and now Heartless . . .

Heartless is a cozy Sherlock-Holmes-style mystery. I had a lot of fun researching this book: reading Conan Doyle and delving into his fascination with the occult. It’s entertaining to take his perspective and place it into a world where the occult, in essence, really does exist and practically-minded scientists struggle to undersstand this, much as Sherlock does in many of Doyle’s later adventures. Alexia hasn’t Sherlock’s mind but she has his practical approach to problem solving, and his propensity for charging about willy-nilly no holds barred.

(The role of Dr. Watson will be played by an every increasing bevy of adorable young men. A girl’s gotta have her fun!)

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it and that those of you who are Doyle fans will find my paltry efforts endearing rather than insulting. I also hope that as you read, knowing some of my motivation will allow you to pick up on those moments of writerly winking when I am playing with my source material for the pure joy of it.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

Book News:
Have an interview with Amber Katze and contest to win a copy of Heartless.

Quote of the Day:
“There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read.”
~ G.K. Chesterton

Heartless Winners ~ Lots of Fun Silly Pictures

Posted by Gail Carriger


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have the best fans in the whole world. The (AB) agrees. “Your fans are totally adorable,” the AB sayith unto me as we ruminate over your pictures (and, in my humble opinion, the AB is a bit of an expert on the subject of adorability). No, I did not let said AB influence my decision. I just want to brag about how charming you are.

Anyway, Gentle Contestants, this was a practically impossible decision. I desperately did not want to disappoint anyone. Fortunately, it looks like you had fun doing it (with the exception of some of the canines involved). You’ve also all been really supportive of each other and I have enjoyed the conversations these have spawned over on the Facebook group. So I am hoping, even if you don’t win, you have pleasant memories of the experience. Perhaps I should now run a LOL Cat-style caption contest for the photos?

I had 66 entries and because I had such a hard time, I ended up dividing the submissions into categories. (Archaeologist, this is how we think.)
40% One person and a parasol against the world!
30% The still life of a silly book.
20% Pets in fashion.
6% Tableaus over tea.
4% None of the above, but still ridiculous.

And, drum roll please . . . The Winnah!

(If Sara P would kindly contact me with her snail mail address and any dedication requests, her four signed UK editions will be in the mail on Monday.)

And Second Place by a very slim margin goes to . . .

(All four US editions (yes, I changed that!) to Claire O, which is kind of funny as you are in the UK I suspect. Again, please contact me with your snail mail addy and any dedication requests.)

Why, Miss Gail?

Without knowing, both these entries touched me in unexpected ways. And, I did warn you the choice would be at my whim. I chose the first because it reminded me irresistibly of the life of a lab rat that I once had. In 2007 I fraternized overmuch with ICP-MS Acid Ablation and my work station under the fume hood making acid samples looked so much like the one pictured here, I actually called my old department to see if I had a fan lurking in their midst.

The second place entry features the moving elevator at Lester Uni. I happen to have visited there when I was looking at graduate schools in the UK back in 2000. That elevator scared the bejesus out of me. I was very impressed by her oh-so-casual demeanor inside it.

The random number generator choose this lovely image of Jessie S as our spontaneous winner. She will get Soulless, Changeless and . . . Heartless, US editions. (I’m out of Blameless, if you would believe it?)

Again, Jessie if you would kindly contact me with your snail mail address and any dedication requests?

Ladies all, I hope you enjoy your loot and please consider donating to your local library or a friend of you find you now have doubles.

But wait, there’s More!

So many of your images were so much fun I decided to choose runner up awards of silliness! I can’t afford to send out books to everyone, so I thought I would offer something usual for me: signed stickers. If you see your image bellow, you may contact me with your address and I will pop four signed teacup stickers in the mail to you, I wish I could do more.

Most Like a Book Plate Award Goes To . . .

Most Verdant Countryside Award Goes To . . .

Most Likely to be Stolen for Retro Rack Award Goes To . . .

Most Likely to be stolen by Miss Kalendar of Brass Needles Award Goes To . . .

Most Atmospherically Steampunk Award Goes To . . .

Category: Isn’t Gail’s Cat? (oh wait, too skinny) Award Goes To . . .

Most Disgruntled Dog Award Goes To . . .

Most Likely to Be Eaten Award Goes To…

Most Novel Way to Carry Novels Award Goes To . . .

Gail’s Younger Doppelganger Award (seriously, it’s spooky) Goes To . . .

Best Balancing Act Award Goes To . . .

The Ivy Hisselpenny Wants Your Hat Award Goes To . . .

The Lord Akeldama Wants to Know if You’ll Consider Dronehood Award Goes To . . .

The Most Likely to Travel Far Award Goes To . . .

The Madame Lefoux Mustache of Excellence Award Goes To . . .

The Lord Akeldama Might Make an Exception in Your Case Award Goes To . . .

The Billy Connolly* Appropriate Head Covering Award Goes To . . .

The Alexia Approved Outrageousness Award Goes To . . .

The Best Representation of Alexia and Ivy Award Goes To . . .

The Reading Lady’s Picnic Award Goes To . . .

The Oh No, What Happened to Floote? Award Goes To . . .

And . . . The Future of the Parasol Protectorate Award Goes To . . .

Again, thank you all for playing. I had so much fun, and you are too adorable! Expect many of your images to show up in my “Moment of Parasol” and “Infusion of Cute” over the up coming months. And do, please, feel free to join in the conversation over on Facebook, such silliness is going on there, it quite gladdens my shriveled old heart.

* “Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on.”
~ Billy Connolly

Heartless is Coming! (The Parasol Protectorate)

Posted by Gail Carriger


So I have a stack of books and I plan on moving in the not too distant future plus knowing Heartless releases soon, I think it is time to clear the decks, so to speak.

Yes, you know what that means . . . another contest!

I like many of the suggestions Gentle Readers had for contests when I pinged you a while back, but I don’t want anything too difficult. So here is my idea.


The Challenge:

  • Take a picture of . . . one of my books with yourself, or the book with a silly Ivyish hat, or the book with an Alexiaish parasol, or the book in a foreign land or odd location (or any combination thereof).
  • I like silly, but please don’t feel like you must make a fool of yourself ~ unless you want to.
  • Post this photo to your blog, or the Parasol Protectorate Books Facebook Group, or anywhere else online that is an open forum (by which I mean: one I can easily access without a new user ID).
  • Do it by Thursday, June 16, 2011.
  • Leave a link in the comments bellow WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS or email it to me directly via my website.

The Results:

  • I will select 3 winners.
  • First prize will receive all 4 Parasol Protectorate books so far, UK editions ~ yes, including Heartless.
  • Second prize will receive the first 3, US editions.
  • Third prize will receive the first 2, US editions.
  • All of these can be signed and/or dedicated if desired.

How It Works:

  • Open to anyone, anywhere.
  • Winners announced next Friday, June 17, 2011.
  • The first two prize winners will be chosen by whim and at my amusement.
  • I may solicit outside opinions.
  • Third place will be by random number, so you have a chance to win just by entering.
  • I will post all three images to my blog ~ so you need to be OK with that.
  • You will then have to contact me with your address so I can send you the books.

I hope you have fun with this!

Quote of the Day:
“Tea and books ~ mmmmmm, two of life’s exquisite pleasures that together bring near-bliss.”
~ Christine Hanrahan

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