Monday, August 27, 2012

AAA: Interview with Gail Carriger, author of SOULLESS

There are moment in blogging where I have pause, and stop before I hyperventilate. Like when Gail Carriger agrees to an interview for the August event you're planning. Aside from Neil Gaiman, who's pretty mucha  given, Gail was the first author I ever started following online--the first whose blog I read, and the first I followed on Twitter. I read her debut, Soulless, in one breathless sitting, refusing to put it down while I walked, ate, and went to the gym. Witty, wise--and though I'm sure it's a rather brutish word--hilarious, it's an honour to have her here today, and I hope you'll enjoy her interview as much as I.

While the Victorian England you write of is fantastical in many ways (though I prefer to believe the history books have it wrong), it's still strongly rooted in historical fact. It seems a passion of yours, but passion or not, it must take an extraordinary amount of research to write. Is research and fact-checking a large part of your process? How long does this take you?

Gail: I had a fair bit of expertise in certain aspects of the Victorian 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. I'd say I spend as much time with research as I do writing. So for every hour I type there's an hour nose down in a book. Most of my reading for pleasure of an evening is primary sources if I'm writing a rough draft.

Does it become any easier writing the series as you go along?

Gail: No. Every book has different quirks and issues, excitements and flaws when writing.

Your characters are so vivid, charming and quirky, that, to me as a reader, it seems as though they have a life of their own. Do you always feel in control, or do you find they talk to you at surprising times? The idea of an irritable werewolf vying for my attention as I try to sleep is rather alarming...

Gail: I love the ridiculous, in life, in literature, in television. Like most authors, I find myself borrowing from any or all of these places when building characters. I don’t like to be too stereotypical, if you continue to read the Parasol Protectorate series you will find I have built up some archetypes in Soulless that I will take great glee in tearing apart in subsequent books. Mostly they do what I want but a few of them will hijack scenes. Lord Akeldama is particularly bad about it. But usually he knows what's going on in the book better than I do so it's best if I leave him to get on with the scene as he sees fit.

Complete the sentence? I cannot write without...
Tea, wrist braces, my laptop, the companion world–building notebook of relevance, often chocolate.

Last one! Your upcoming series, Etiquette and Espionage, is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate books, but aimed at young adult readers instead of, err, 'grown-ups'.  What inspired you to explore YA? Are you finding it different to writing for the adult market?

Gail: I come out of YA, it's what I prefer to read and love to write. I like plot to be neat, tidy, and clear. It is different in some character motivation and a few other things, but every book is different and I'm learning to roll with it, keep calm, drink more tea.

Find Gailon: Goodreads | Website  |  Blog  |  TwitterFacebook
A big thank you to Gail for taking the time to talk to us today today! If you're a fan, why not take to Facebook and let her know!


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  1. I haven't had a chance to read any of the books in the Parasol Protectorate series but I know they're wildly popular. I might read the YA series first and see how I like it. I love that Gail enjoys all things ridiculous.

    1. They're ENORMOUSLY fun, Lan! It's Gail's humour that really stuck with me--I think you'd like :D

  2. I haven't read the parasol protectorate yet but it was highly recommended to me, now the Ya serie tempt me too ^^ i will have to start soon

    thank you for this great interview

    all the best

    1. Thanks Miki! They're wonderful, funny, truly entertaining books. I really hope you enjoy them!

  3. Great interview! I have a copy of Soulless and I'm really looking forward to it, even more so now! I like Gail picked tea and chocolate :)

    1. Ooooh, Mandee! I can't wait to see what you think! It is SUCH a fun book, and I adore Gail's humour. I love that it's partly comedy of manners as well as, well, all the rest--the paranormal and action and silliness and... it's wonderful :D

  4. Writing Braces and Chocoalte. Soundes like a good time. lol. Awesome interview. I NEED to read this book.


    1. Oh goodness, YES! It's a seriously fun photo, huh? Gail is appallingly cool, huh? :P

  5. I ADORE Gail, I adore her steampunk series, and I ADORE this interview! I cannot wait to read E & E. :) Love this. I knew Gail did a ton of research to get her Victorian details right, but it's fun to hear the specifics of that for sure.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. YES YES YES! I am CRAZY excited to read E&E--I love the PP books so much, and I'm kind of loving that you did too :D

  6. gr8 post . i have not read any by her yet

    1. Thanks Roro! I LOVE Soulless--SUCH a fun book! ♥

  7. Ahhh, awesome interview Sarah! I love this series. Favourite quote EVER in the books is from Blameless. “I am rather fond of ladybugs. They are so delightfully hemispherical.”
    There is something about that that just makes me smile every single time I read it.
    Also, holy moly on the amount of research she does! I will just sit here and be quietly in awe for a while.
    Also, Lord Akeldama! Squee! Did you know Akeldama means "field of blood" in Hebrew?

    1. Oh goodness, YES. I love the absurd little... absurdisms like that. And Alexia's outrage, not at her attempted murder, but the destruction of a perfectly good treacle tart in book one still cracks me up.

      "Field of blood."

      WHA? NO. NO I DID NOT :O

  8. SARAAAAAAAAAAHH! I can't believe I've been missing all this awesomeness. I keep meaning to come over to The Land of Fabulous (AKA here) and just read ALL THE POSTS but then something always comes up. I am locking myself in a room now and enjoying though!

    I haven't ready anything of Gail's but I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED for Etiquette & Espionage! I love that she spends so much time researching... There's no way I would know the difference in things when reading but I so appreciate the fact that so much time and effort goes into making sure it IS correct! Also: YAY FOR YA! :)


  9. How much fun is Gail. I absolutely adore her writing. She is such a fun person on FB too with all her images she puts up. What a lovely interview:D

    You can feel how much fun Gail has in life through her writing. Such an awesome series and now with the YA series, yay!! I am uber excited for this:D




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