Interview: Gail Carriger (Author of Soulless!)

Today we have the amazing Gail Carriger, author of the soon-to-be-released Soulless!

First off, I’d like to share the biography that Gail has on her website. This biography is one of the best I’ve ever read!

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 a harem of Armenian lovers, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. Soulless is her first book.

The Interview:

First off, tell us a little bit about your new novel, Soulless.
It’s an “everything but the kitchen sink” mash up of genres (steampunk, comedy, and urban fantasy) in which a startlingly assertive spinster (who just happens to have no soul) takes on Victorian London’s supernatural upper crust one parasol whack at a time.

Are you anything like your main character, personality-wise?
I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I might incriminate myself. Actually, bits of my personality come out more distinctly in three of my minor characters, one of whom doesn’t appear until the second book. I’ll leave my readers to guess which three.

Alexia’s romantic counterpart is Lord Maccon, a werewolf. Was there a particular reason why you wrote Lord Maccon as a werewolf, as opposed to the currently popular vampire?
In all honesty, I just don’t find vampires that sexy. I like the idea of a hero who’s kind of scruffy and bumbling and a little lost in his alpha-nature, rather one who is all sleek and urbane. Also the ability to change shape has always appealed to me. I find the rough and tumble of a pack mentality easier to write, probably because it’s closer to my own relationships.

What makes your novel different than all the other supernatural novels hitting the shelves right now?
Aside from the steampunk element and the historical setting, it’s comic. I love to read comic novels and I enjoy urban fantasy, so I wrote something the combined the two. Also there’s no magic. None at all. Instead, Victorian scientists are struggling to understand vampires, werewolves, and ghosts using the scientific standards of the day. This results in steampunk gadgets and crazy theories centered about the existence of the soul.

What prompted your interest in steampunk?
I adore the steampunk movement’s visual aesthetic and its maker mentality. In addition, I have always had a passionate interest in the Victorian era (too many BBC costume dramas as a kid).

What type of research did you have to do while writing Soulless?
As much as I love the Victorian era my areas of expertise were limited to things such as fashion, manners, food, and the antiquities market. I had to do a lot of research into the science and technology of the day. I also looked into vampire and werewolf lore. It’s remarkable what obscure detail one suddenly needs to know as a writer. Most recently, I had to figure out what kind of small gun a gentleman might sport in 1841, and what the political climate was like in Italy in 1875. Even if it doesn’t make it into the book, it will irritate me if unwritten background information is flawed.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing Soulless?
The nookie scenes. I’m not ashamed to admit it: I hate writing nookie, I always embarrass myself.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I always wanted to be an archaeologist or possibly a professional shoe buyer. But I also always wrote, it was like breathing. Who knew you could be paid for breathing?

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
I’ve been everything from a bartender to a tour guide, but I’ve spent most of my life as an academic with brief bouts behind the cubical to fund my archaeology habit. This has given me great research skills, familiarity with a variety of cultures both around the world now and in the past, good self-discipline, and a paranoia over making deadlines. Oh, and the ability to subsist entirely on a diet of Top Ramen and tea.

When and where do you usually write?
I usually write the first draft a home, at my desk, in the afternoons. If I’m really struggling, I find a change of location helps, so I frequent a local coffee shop. I must hide away and do my second draft in private, however, because I read the whole thing out loud. If I did that in public people would think I was bonkers. I usually red pen a hard copy of the third draft on an airplane, things just arrange it so I’m always traveling at that point in the writing process. I go over the copy edits with my best friend and beta on the couch in the living room with many cups of tea and much hilarity.

Is there something that is a must-have for you to be able to write? Tea, wrist braces, my laptop, the companion world-building notebook of relevance, and, all too often, chocolate.

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general
Tamora Pierce. When I was 8 the first book in her Song of the Lioness series came out. Up until that point I’d never read a fantasy book where the central character was a chick who kicked ass. Then, when I was 14, it changed my life again by being the means by which I became friends with the ladies who still beta my stories to this day.

What are currently reading?
Tanya Huff’s Valor series – I still cannot resist a chick kicking ass.

Can you tell us anything about your next novel in the Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless?
I can tell you it opens with quite the supernatural crisis in London, Scotland proves difficult (it’s not just haggis anymore), and werewolf fur is getting ruffled.
Oh, and Ivy engages in a torrid love affaire, which naturally complicates Alexia’s life.

Do you have plans to write any other novels at this time, other than the Parasol Protectorate series?
I’ve one in to my agent right now. It’s YA sci-fi with a chick kicking ass in space. As a girl, it took me a long time to make the leap from fantasy to sci-fi because there was no Tamora Pierce writing sci-fi. There still isn’t. So I’m giving it a shot.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
Yes, any place where I can have a great cup of tea and be surrounded by a civilized little garden.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Someday, all will be revealed about the octopuses.

You may be asking yourself: “What octopuses? I don’t remember any mention of an octopus during this interview…” Truth be told, I can’t tell you what that means… you’ll just have to find out yourself! And I know one easy way to do so: Enter here to win a signed ARC of Soulless, compliments of the author!

Many, many thanks to Gail Carriger for taking the time to not only answer these questions for The Hiding Spot, but also provide me and one other lucky reader with ARCs of Soulless! Not only is Gail an amazing writer, she is an amazing person!

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36 thoughts on “Interview: Gail Carriger (Author of Soulless!)

  1. Haha, I loved the interview. Gail's personality really shines through and couple that with a story that sounds so unique and fresh… well, maybe I'll sell my soul to get a copy? Hmm, that's never gone down well in the past (or so Dean Winchester tells me!). I'd love to win a copy of this! Great interview… I want to find out what the deal is with the octopuses!Oh and I like your new layout changes!

  2. I cannot wait to read this! Awesome interview, as an aspiring writer I love these. I find it weird that most people write a desk when I write on a laptop on my bed late at night where I can't be distracted….Maybe I'm just weird.

  3. That was certainly an interesting interview! (I love learning about where an author got their start and the ideas behind the book). I did find it rather curious that sher wrote some of her personality into "minor" characters as opposed to the ever popular main character trend. KUDOS for being different!

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