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INTERVIEW: Gail Carriger Goes on Research Trips All the Time

Updated: 4 days ago

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview with Christina Boyd for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.


CHRISTINA: Social media introduces me to many new-to-me authors. A couple of years ago, I started following NY Times bestselling author Gail Carriger on Twitter and found her impressive, varied backlist of Steampunk, sci-fi, and contemporary urban fantasy. I am thrilled she found a few minutes to spill the tea on her writing and projects.


What comes first, plot or characters?

 

Miss GAIL: Characters, usually two of them in conversation: almost always my main character and a side character. I'll have amorphous ideas on what I want a book to be about, but until I see two characters in conversation in my mind (like in a movie) I can't write any of it. I call this "the epiphany scene," and it's actually very rarely one of the first scenes of the resulting book. For example, for Soulless, it was Alexia and Ivy walking in the park, talking about having accidentally killed a vampire the night before. For Divinity 36, it was arriving at the god training center after Missit is attacked and Phex is coping with having just been a spontaneous bodyguard plus meeting a celebrity who's flirting with him. 


CHRISTINA: Ooh, I love that. Seeing a scene, hearing dialog in your head.


If you could tell your 21-year-old self anything, what would you share?

 

Miss GAIL: Wear sunscreen.


CHRISTINA: Ha! Especially on my hands. If you see my 21-year-old self, please remind her too.


What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love?

 

Miss GAIL: Honestly? My bladder.

 

CHRISTINA: What’s more difficult to write? A love scene, a love letter, or something else?

 

Miss GAIL: A good sex scene is absolutely the most difficult thing to write. At least, it is for me. It's so easy to get cliche or unrealistic.


CHRISTINA: Isn't that the truth! Too easy to fall into cliches.


Have you gone on an author pilgrimage or research trip? Where and what was the most memorable moment?

 

Miss GAIL: All the time. But my most memorable was the time I went on a hot air balloon float. I write about dirigibles all the time, but I knew I would be adding hot air balloons into the last book in my first series (Timeless). So, I ended up press-ganging friends and family by making it my birthday event that year. It was a ton of fun, and I made our balloon captain very nervous with my highly specific and extremely odd author questions: What happens when I mount a cannon on the side, could it fire? That cord you aren't supposed to pull, what happens if I pull it?

 

I blog about the whole thing here.

 

I ended up making use of that research constantly in both of my follow-up steampunk series, most specifically The Custard Protocol. Also, I still remember it fondly and I'm so glad I went when I did.


CHRISTINA: That sounds like a fantastic birthday. I hope you have many more such research trips to color your work and life. Many thanks for your time answering my nosey questions. Best wishes on your next project.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Carriger writes books that are hugs, mostly comedies of manners mixed with steampunk, urban fantasy, and sci-fi (plus cozy queer joy as G. L. Carriger). These include the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, Tinkered Stars, and San Andreas Shifter series for adults, and the Finishing School and Tinkered Starsong series for young adults. Also nonfiction: The Heroine’s Journey. She is published in many languages, has over a million books in print, over a dozen New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, and starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and Romantic Times.


Her first book, Soulless, made Audible’s Best list, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book, an IndieBound Notable, and a Locus Recommended Read. She has received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Prix Julia Verlanger, the Elbakin Award, the Steampunk Chronicle‘s Reader’s Choice Award, and a Starburner Award. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, cephalopods, and tea. Get early access, specials, and exclusives via her website.


 

2 Comments


Christina Morland
Christina Morland
11 hours ago

Ooh, thanks for this interview, Christina! I read Souless a while ago and have always meant to return to Carriger's books, as I really enjoyed her steampunk world and the characters she created.

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Fun interview!

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