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.
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