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I Belong

Author Interview: The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger

We are excited to have the wonderful Gail Carriger here today to discuss her Parasol Protectorate series. This series ended with Timeless but thankfully Gail is working on not one but *two* spin-off series, Finishing School (Etiquette & Espionage) and The Parasol Protectorate Abroad (Prudence), both spin-off books should be released in 2013. Want to know our thoughts on the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series? Read my review for Soulless and the Soulless Manga.  Stay tuned for my coverage on the rest of the series.

About Gail:

New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London.

The Parasol Protectorate books are: SoullessChangelessBlamelessHeartless, and TimelessSoulless won the ALA’s Alex Award. A manga version released March 2012 and a manga of the second book is due out Winter 2012. She is currently writing young adult books set in the same universe ~ the Finishing School series (Feb. 2013). Soon she will begin a new adult series,The Parasol Protectorate Abroad (for Fall 2013).

You can visit Gail around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Gail Carriger?

SoullessChangelessBlamelessHeartlessTimelessSoulless: The Manga, Vol. 1Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 2Etiquette & Espionage


DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about the Parasol Protectorate Series?

Gail: Imagine Jane Austen dabbling in science and steam technology. Then imagine P.G. Wodehouse suddenly dropped vampires into the Drones Club. The Parasol Protectorate books are the resulting progeny. They feature a soulless spinster confronting Queen Victoria’s grumpy werewolf investigator over the issue of lisping vampires.

DFT: Could you tell us about your main characters in the Parasol Protectorate Series?

Gail: My Protagonist, Alexia Tarabotti, is a spinster coping with a vast number of embarrassing problems: she has Italian heritage (and looks it), she reads too much, she has no soul, she has accidentally killed a vampire, and she now has a large werewolf bothering her as a result. She tends to cope with these problems by either bashing them over the head with a parasol, or talking at them, with equally disastrous results. Oh, and her best friend is prone to wearing very silly hats.

The hero, Lord Maccon, is large and bumbling and used to getting his own way. He’s only recently been integrated into London society and is still experiencing difficulty adapting, no one is quite sure if this is because he’s a werewolf or because he’s Scottish. I’ve described him in the past as the kind of man who would probably rip out your throat, if he could just remember what that other thing was he wanted to do first. He hates to wear cravats and sings very bad opera in the bathtub. His feelings toward Alexia are generally rather overwrought, dominated mainly by aggravation.

DFT: Who is your favorite character in this series and why?

Gail: I adore Lord Akeldama because he is so deliciously fun to write – all that mad italic–wielding action. I’m under the impression you need only read him to understand why.

DFT: What is your favorite Steampunk technology? Why?

Gail: I like to sneak in crazy Victorian gadgets that actually existed whenever I can, or modify them to suit my needs. Some of the technologies in my books are built out of flawed Victorian scientific theory that I made real. Some are more modern. There’s a cable transport in Blameless based off experimental US military research from the Korean War. That’s one of my favorites.

DFT: What is your favorite piece of Steampunk attire?

Gail: I have a spoon corset I love, but I also have a weakness for silly hats. Like Ivy.

DFT: How much research went into creating this series?

Gail: Lots. I had a fair bit of expertise in certain aspects of the era (fashion, food, manners, literature, theatre, upper class courting rituals, antiquities collecting) when I started but great gaps in other areas that I quickly realized needed to be filled. I spent a lot of time researching the gadgetry and technology of the day, travel and communications techniques, medical and hard science advances, not to mention other things like major wars and military strategies, configuration of army regiments, geographical lay out of London in the 1870s (shops and streets names), newspapers, and government policies. I also looked into vampire and werewolf lore at the time. That’s the thing, you never know what information you are going to need until you need it, and inevitably the internet doesn’t have it. Since I’m writing alt history I can always disregard the facts, but I like to get it right first, before I mess with it. Most people won’t care to look up the details (or get it wrong by confusing my setting with Austen or mid–Victorian, I’m specifically 1873) but even if it doesn’t make it into the book, it will irritate me if unwritten background information is flawed.

DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or ritual?

Gail: I’m quite civilized about it. With a project due I write from 2 to 7 every weekday – with breaks for tea. The rest of the household, with the exception of the cat, is quite respectful. I have a closed–door policy. Which is to say: if the door to my office is closed my policy is to throw the nearest moveable object at anyone who disturbs me. They’ve learned. Even the cat.

DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) do you draw from while writing?

Gail: My strongest writing influences tend to be authors like Elisabeth 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.

DFT: What can you tell us about the other projects you are working on, The Finishing School series and Parasol Protectorate Abroad?

Gail: After the Parasol Protectorate series ends, I have a young adult series set in the same universe 22 years earlier called the Finishing School series. The first book, Etiquette & Espionage, releases Feb. 2013. It features a finishing academy located in a giant caterpillar-like dirigible floating over Dartmoor in which young ladies are taught to . . . finish . . . everything . . . and everyone . . . as needed. There will be steampunk etiquette! There will be well-dressed espionage! There will be Victorian fake food. There will be flying mechanical sausage dogs named Bumbersnoot.

In July I will start writing the Parasol Protectorate Abroad adult series, set 25 years (or so) after the 5 Alexia books. The first of these, Prudence, releases Fall of 2013. My intention with these books is to explore the wider ramifications of my Steampunk British Empire, not just how technology has altered but how vampires and werewolves have evolved differently in other parts of the world. Prudence and her crack dirigible team lark about performing Leverage-like infiltration and rescue missions at the behest of (but if asked they will deny everything) Queen Victoria and her shadow council. Being a writer, of course, this is subject to change without notice at the whim of the muse.

DFT: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Gail: My pleasure.


Available March 1, 2012 from Orbit

About this Book:

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe’s latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia’s enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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