Gail Carriger Interview || Tally Ho My Fine Saucy Young Trollop!



photography by Vanessa Applegate

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger writes steampunk comedies of manners 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. Miss 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.

Guys, she wrote these books-
My co-blogger, Ace, a.k.a. the fangirl who asked most of these questions, has read the entire Parasol Protectorate series. She was a huge fan of those books, and she got me to read the first one, Soulless. AND I LOVED IT! The writing style is so amazing and addicting. We wrote a joint review for Soulless, here.

SO ANYWAYS! Do you love history? Great Britain? Victorian England? LAUGHING YOUR BUTT OFF? Nerds? Cosplaying? Steam Punk? If these are right up your alley, then these books, and this interview, are just for you. READ ON GLORIOUS READERS! READ ON!

~ Questions for Gail ~
The main point of each question is in bold font for the reader's convenience.

1. Your background in archaeology has clearly influenced your Parasol Protectorate books. Have you ever considered writing non-fiction, or even a book or series set in ancient times? You definitely have the skills to pull that off better than most people.
Yes. I have an alt world epic fantasy that hypothesizes a number of ancient cultures meeting that didn't really in our world. I have a mystery I'd love to write set in Romano-British southern England. I have a paper out there in the wide world of academic articles involving the research I did for my first masters but other than that no plans to write non-fiction. It's a different game and I'm not sure I want to enter it. Although I may have to, at some point, at least to a white board on the heroine's journey. Everyone knows about the hero's but there is a counter example that is female-centered and I've been waiting for a good book on the subject for ages with no results. Usually that means I have to do something about it myself. As with every other passion project in my life, it has to wait for that magic synergy of having both the inclination and the free time.
Note from SJ: ....I would read the hell out of a female-centered non-fiction by Gail.

2. You've stated that, for now, you would not really consider writing a history of the supernatural characters in your books. But, would you ever consider writing a sort of simple Bestiary? You could flesh out your mythologies even further than in the books, or even just use the wealth of information you give in them-it would be useful to have a separate sort of handbook to refer to when reading, as there is a lot to remember about the different types and their characteristics. You could also note some particularly interesting events or figures in Supernatural and preter/meta natural history, instead of doing a full-detail history on them. It's an interesting idea, at the least, especially if it were written as if for the people of the Parasol Protectorate world. A handbook for new BUR recruits, perhaps?
If I were to do an open call anthology for my steampunk world than I would have to provide a bible of some kind. I've toyed with the idea but it's always time I don't have enough of. Instead, I'm actually working really hard on my world wiki. because I need the resource myself. I don't think I have the fan base, frankly, to justify writing a Bestiary with the intent to sell. It wouldn't do very well and I'm a full time author, so I have to write what will sell or I don't eat. That said, it does seem like a lot of fun, but it also seems like a lot of me playing with my world and not actually writing a story. In the end, I'm a storyteller and I want to go where plot leads me, not world-building. A bestiary just seems a little too much like writing my own GM manual. For that, I think, I must wait until there is a game deal.

3. You've mentioned Jules Verne as one of your influences. He has plenty to love, with great characters, interesting plots, and whimsical writing style infused with science. Which of his books have you felt most inspired by, or do you enjoy the most, and what about his writing is it that serves as inspiration?
This is a hard one. I guess you could say I am more inspired by Verne's style then his content. I've never identified with any of his characters particularly closely so my interest in his work is more academic than affectionate. I think Around the World In 80 days is likely my favorite. I'm a long fan of travelogue style adventures (Timeless is one as are all the Custard Protocol books) and I do love me a slightly OCD POV character. Plus it has the Wodehouse-ian heterosexual life mate pair bond of man and his valet. Also I appreciate that the resulting marriage in this book is shockingly liberal for the day.

4. THIS IS THE ONE I (SJ) ASKED! I friggin LOVE Elizabeth Gaskell. You've mentioned Elizabeth Gaskell as one of your influences. Which of her books have you felt most inspired by, or do you enjoy the most, and what about his writing is it that serves as inspiration?

North & South. I love that it centers on a conflict between two parts of England, both of which I'm familiar with and have lived in, and on the conflict between industry and rural life. It's almost a philosophical treatise on the warring dichotomy of the Victorian middle class. Plus it's a bang-up Pride & Prejudice style romance.

5. Outside of literature and authors, what pop culture, movies/show have inspired or influenced your writing?

I'll watch darn near any BBC costume drama, especially those set in the Victorian era. I'm a big fan of comedy rom-coms, good well-written ones, mind you. Nothing too laddish or crude. I also adore the oft dissed high school version there-of, like 10 Things I Hate About You. I'll give any indie flick a chance if I think it might be well scripted and funny with an HEA. Later Days and Shelter are two of my favorites.
So far as TV is concerned, I'm rather enamored of Bob's Burgers these days and I can quote Invader Zim by rote. I consider myself a ST:TNG treker and I have a soft spot for the Peta Wilson LFN TV series. I watched every episode of Leverage, and have just decided I want to watch them all again. I'm a big re-watcher. Since I sew occasionally, I like to have company from things I already know and love.
I think there is a good chance you can see all of this in my work, or creeping in via themes, tropes, and archetypes: The kind of comedy I like (smart, witty, absurd) and the kind of story I like (fun, happy, snappy) my weird asides (espionage, twists, silliness, flashes of darkness). All of this melds with a good solid dose of nookie and communal problem solving and always features a powerful female main character no matter what else is going on.

Unrelated, I have a horrible weakness for reality TV involving food, although I don't like it when the contestants are mean to each other - I adore The Great British Bake Off, for example.

6. You've said that you like figures that are mostly known in their country of origin and who have been somewhat forgotten. Allowing you to exclude anyone that may have inspired a character in your book, who would you consider your favourite figures from history?
I'm pretty attached to any female who rises above the patriarchy to rule, or conquer, or kill. There are some great female pirates I would love to write about at some point, but which just haven't worked in the confines of my universe... yet. Ching Shih for example, fascinates me.

7. (another one of my gems hehe) What is the most terrifying book and/or movie you have ever seen? Why?
Oh I hate horror. I have a high squick factor and reading or watching gory stuff will actually make me nauseous. I've always avoided horror TV and super violent or scary films as a result. I recently watch Buffy (I know, late to that party) and I did think Hush was pretty darn creepy but that's about as far as I go. I could come up with more, I'm sure, but I'd rather not think about it.

And that my dears, was the lovely Gail Carriger! It was such a joy talking to her. Her and her team are wonderful people, easy to talk to, and so flexible. Thank you for joining us on our blog! Now readers, let me ask you some questions... 

Do you prefer Pride & Prejudice or North & South? I personally liked North & South better. The older I get the more anti Darcy I seem to become.
Which Gail Carriger books have you read? Which was your favorite?
What kind of questions do you like to see in interviews?

Let us know in the comments, and thank you for stopping by!

The latest Gail Carriger book came out two days ago on the third of November! Buy the book here.

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