Thursday, May 13, 2010

Less is More

Speechless. That is the best word to describe how I felt when New York Times bestselling author, archaeologist, and tea expert, Gail Carriger, agreed to an interview. After reading her debut novel, Soulless, she quickly joined the list of my  favorite authors. Her website best describes her novels. The “Parasol Protectorate Series books are comedies of manners set in Victorian London: full of vampires, dirigibles, and tea.” Whether you like romances, steampunk, urban fantasies, comedies, mysteries, or alternative histories, you are sure to find yourself swept away in a delightful time once you open her books.

Ms. Carriger's obligatory biography reads: Ms. Carriger began writing in order 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 now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. The Parasol Protectorate books are: Soulless (Oct. 2009), Changeless (March 2010), and Blameless (September 2010). Soulless won the ALA's Alex Award. On April 18, 2010, Changeless became a New York Times Bestseller in Mass Market Paperbacks. Soulless has been nominated for a Compton Crook Award and a Locus Award. Ms. Carriger has been nominated for a John W. Campbell Award (vote here).

I cannot express my gratitude to Ms. Carriger for agreeing to this interview. Please be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Soulless or Changeless along with a tin of English tea!

 1.    Who is your heroine, Alexia Tarabotti?

Alexia is a soulless parasol-wielding spinster with a head for trouble, a gay vampire best friend, and a werewolf problem.

2.    Who is Lord Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey?

Alexia's werewolf problem. The head of BUR (Queen Victoria's Bureau of Unnatural Registry), alpha of the London werewolf pack, and big fuzzy tempest in the teapot of Alexia's quiet well-ordered life (so to speak).

3.    What problems does Alexia face in Soulless, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate Series?

Alexia accidentally kills an unexpected vampire and gets embroiled in London politics, local scientific societies, and some very suspicious octopuses.

4.    Changeless, the second book in the series, was just recently released and takes Alexia to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats. What sort of creatures and challenges does she find there?

Aside from the waistcoats? Well there is a good deal of ghostly interaction, some very bad weather, more octopuses, and an unanticipated love of haggis.

5.    When is Blameless going to come out, and can you give us a hint at where Alexia's adventures may take her?

Blameless is out September 1, and Alexia is off in pursuit of Important Stuff traveling through Europe and into the company of a Frenchman with a very large beard, a German with a very small dog, and Italians wearing embroidered nightgowns.

6.    What is steampunk, and what attracted you to writing in this genre?

Steampunk is the love child of a BBC costume drama and Hot Topic. What attracted me? Isn't that self explanatory? (Seriously though, if you're super interested visit the steampunk page on my website ~ it's far more exciting and in-depth. )

7.    What is your writing process?

Generally speaking it involves sitting down in a chair, raising my hands to a keyboard, and pressing down on one key after another in succession. There is also usually a large quantity of tea involved, a few notebooks, and some general attempts at procrastination involving podcasts, blogging, and (erm) interviews.

8.    What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Editing! Especially the first "red pen" pass when I really get to eviscerate everything I've just written. It's immensely satisfying much in the same way as weeding.

9.    Would you share any writing advice you received that you found to be completely worthless or just flat-out wrong?

"Write what you know." Pah. Seriously, for fiction? If you don't know it, just make it up, it's probably more exciting that way. Still not happy? There's always actual non-fiction books or, horror of horrors, wikipedia.

10.    What advice do you have for pre-published authors?

Sit down, write the book, the whole book. Send it out. Forget about it. Then sit your arse back down and write something completely different.

11.    What is your favorite tea?

 Twinings English Breakfast gold label from England (not the red box found in the US)

You can friend or follow Gail on Twitter, Facebook, Livejournal, or Blogspot. Or join The Parasol Protectorate Facebook Group and take over the world one sip of tea at a time. You can also play the Alexia paper-doll dress up game.

Thank you, again, to the ever gracious Gail Carriger - I've already pre-ordered Blameless.  Until September, I will have to be content re-reading my copies of Soulless and Changeless

 All comments through Friday, May 14 at 7:00 PM (it's my birthday - I have to have cake and ice cream sometime!) will be entered to win a copy of Soulless an or Changeless accompanied with English tea.



Jeanie said...

So, so cool, Heather, and thanks so much to Gail Carriger for the wonderful interview. I am with Alexia on the haggis issue. I LOVE haggis! It tastes a lot like meatloaf. Honestly. Blood pudding, now that's a different matter. Nope. Uh uh. Not going there.

I also like Gail's advice about the writing process. Write the book, send it out, forget about it and write something completely different. Maybe I like it because that's what I did.

And I love what she has to say about 'write what you know.' I mean, really, do you KNOW any vampires or werewolves? For that matter, do you KNOW any men that remotely resemble the heroes in the books we write? It's called IMAGINATION and that's what make it fun!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Nice interview, Heather! Thanks, Gail, for sharing with us. I'm curious how many books you wrote, and how long you'd been writing, before you got "the call".

If SOULLESS was your first book, I guess I can forgive you. ;-)


Steph said...

Interesting. I have not actually heard of these books or this author, but I will look them up! I like her dry sense of humor, her affinity for good tea (yes!), and her comparison of editing with weeding (this I understand). She reminds me of another author I like...

Louisa Cornell said...

What a great interview! My CP has been raving about your books so I have got to read them. I find the whole concept of steampunk rather fascinating!

And I have to agree that writing about what I know would either bore me to tears or (for those of you who know my day job) make we want to shoot myself! LOL

And can I just say you have exquisite taste in tea! I have a friend send mine in from England.

Kat Jones said...

Really enjoyed this! I've not read this series, but it looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing!

Laura Hayden said...

Let me see if I can retain my dignity here. OMG...I love Gail's books. A friend recommended them and I read both and am madly in book-love with the series. It's taps into steampunk in the best possible way giving it appeal to a broader audience by not letting the well-defined world overwhelm the characters. This is a case of the right concept at the right time which a balance and an opportunity that we all hope to find in our career.

I think Gail's advice is spot on. Just sit down and right the d@mn thing. But I disagree about the tea. Not Twinings. PG Tips. It's gotta be PG Tips for a bracing cuppa.

Heather said...

I cannot express how grateful I am to Gail for doing this interview for the blog. Her generosity with respect to her time and insight are truly appreciated.

Jeanie, Louisa and Laura - I am on the same page with you about the "write what you know" advice. If I stuck only to what I know, I would have to find a way to write a romance about the Family and Medical Leave Act. That would be a page turner, I am telling you!

Gwen - There is a great interview Gail gave to the "I Should Be Writing" Podcast by Mur Lafferty (for those who don't listen to it, you are missing out on a GREAT resource). The podcast is actually how I discovered Gail's books. There is a link to the podcast on Gail's webpage.

Steph and Kat - You will love reading these books. They are so much fun! If you want a taste, there is a link on Gail's website to an audio file for the first chapter of Soulless.

JoAnn said...

Thanks for doing this interview and sharing it with us, Heather. Fascinating! These books are definitely on my buy list now. :-)

Jeanie said...

JoAnn, why did I hear Leonard Nimoy's voice when you said fascinating? Sorry. Random post. Please ignore . . . unless you know the answer.

candiddani said...

I've got "Blameless" pre-ordered and read through "Changeless" in about a day as soon as it was delivered to me. Gail is extremely talented and her interviews make me giggle.

Gail Carriger said...

Hello everyone, sorry it took me so long to stop by. I had no idea there would be so much chatter!
Jeanie: I too am a big fan of haggis, however, unlike Alexia I loathe treacle tart. And I'm with you on the blood pudding, blech. Only werewolves would come up with something like that.
Gwen: I'd been trying to get published professionally for about 10 years before writing Soulless. Mostly with fantasy YA. I sold a few shorts. I had 2.5 novels under my belt before coming to the "maybe I should write something different" realization.
Laura: I drink Tips for my everyday tea when I can find it, Twinings gold is for special occasions as a rule, because it is so hard to get hold of. However, I was raised on Twinings (my British side is middleclass southern stock, you see?)
And thanks to everyone for their compliments, particularly regarding my taste in tea. It's so important!

Carla Swafford said...

Those covers are great and I can imagine the insides are just as great. Thanks for the interview Heather and Gail!

Linda Henderson said...

I enjoyed the interview very much. I have not read any steampunk yet, but I've been wanting to try it out. I read a lot of different genres and I've heard great things about Soulless, I'd love to read it.

seriousreader at live dot com

Heather said...

Steph and Jeanie are the winners of a book and tea! If you guys will email me (, I will drop your treasure in the in the mail!