Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hilariously funny, fantasy author, Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger launched her first Parasol Protectorate book, Soulless, at World Fantasy Convention last October. When I saw the poster of the cover on the party floor of the hotel, I had to read the book. I could maybe have resisted the cover art --maybe, but there was no stopping me from buying a book with that tag line.

It was a funny, entertaining read. Read my review at Mostly Fiction. Make sure to read the book and don't skip the jacket copy.

I didn't get a chance to get to know Gail at WFC, so I'm glad for this opportunity to interview her so we can get to know her together.

AW: What made you settle on vampires, werewolves and ghosts in Soulless?

GC: For one thing, they just fit so well with the premise of the science of the soul. For another, they are all monsters with strong Victorian literature ties. I've read a lot of gothic lit over the years. Those three monsters in particular strike me as quintessentially Victorian. So I decided to twist it around and explore a world where such supernatural creatures were accepted as part of society ~ what, then, becomes the monster?

AW: Why parasols? Is there a long-standing family joke with parasols? Was it just a crazy juxtaposition that you thought up?

GC: Parasols were such a ubiquitous item for a fashionable young lady in the Victorian age and they do make a most excellent weapon, especially if you are inclined to bashing people atop the head. How could I resist? Also "parasol" is such a delicious word.

AW: Has your sense of humor ever gotten you into trouble?

GC: More times than I can possibly count. I always think I'm hilarious and I will open my big mouth at the most inopportune times. Wine, let me just say, does not help with this problem.

AW: Between the cover and the tag line ("A Novel of vampires, werewolves and parasols") I had to have Soulless. Did you pen the tag line?

GC: You know, I think the tag line is all Orbit's doing. I did, however, have a hand in the cover. Very few authors are so lucky.

I appreciated how Alexia was able to have a certain amount of freedom because of her mother having given up hope of her landing a husband with her long nose and Italian heritage. Was this your first choice for this device? If not, what were some of your other ideas and what made you settle on the nose and the Italian heritage?

GC: Difficult question. Alexia is Italian because of her name. That is to say, when I was coming up with the character I found that name and everything just followed after. I've had a love affair with Italy since I excavated there 15 years ago, so it was a natural choice for me. As to the nose and the skin, I knew she had to be atypical in appearance (and attitude and thought) so I could have her a spinster. Also, I don't like to write beautiful main characters, they're boring.

AW: What do you miss most about Europe? Why?

GC: I enjoyed how aware Europeans always seemed to be about the rest of the world. And then there was the food. And the fashion. Oh, and the shoes!

AW: I can imagine that you must have books by P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, and Charlotte Bronte on your bookshelf. What author or books are on your bookshelf that would most surprise your readers? What do you like about them? Did they play some small part in forming your idea for the Parasol Protectorate?

GC: Ooo, books that would surprise, huh? Well I have a tidy little manga collection, and a whole shelf of YA. The manga probably wasn't that significant an influence (since it's mostly yaoi) but the YA certainly has an effect. I tend to think of myself as writing in a YA style, that is a straightforward character-driven plot with a side dose of world building.

AW: Where can we find a teaser for the next book, Changeless?

GC: Before you go read it, I should warn your readers that if you haven't read the first book, there is a spoiler in the blurb for the second. If that's OK, you can catch the blurb on my website,, or on Amazon. Changeless will be out March 31 and the third book, Blameless, is also due this year, in September. As for teasers, there is an excerpt from the first chapter of Changeless in the back of Soulless.

AW: Do you have an idea in mind for your next project? Will you pick another historical era to set future books in or stay Victorian?

GC: I'm working on three ideas at the moment ~ all Victorian. However, while I enjoy the Victorian era I'd love to dabble in turn-of-the-century Old West America. My archaeological studies have taken me to Etruscan, Roman, Greek, late Islamic Empire, Wari, and Inca times, so I consider any and all of those fair game as well. There just aren't enough hours in the day to write everything I want to write.

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