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Q&A With Steampunk Writer Gail Carriger

Today you’re in for a treat steampunk fans, as Blue Banana has a special interview to bring to you from someone who probably loves steampunk more than we do – author Gail Carriger!

Gail is an avid fan of steampunk in all its forms and is a highly successful writer of steampunk fiction, including the best selling Parasol Protectorate series of books. We asked about why she loves the fantastic steampunk culture and what advice she offers to young aspiring writers.

Gail Carriger in one her fabulous steampunk outfits (image courtesy of J. Daniel Sawyer)

Gail Carriger in one her fabulous steampunk outfits (image courtesy of J. Daniel Sawyer)

Q. What inspired you to take an interest in steampunk, not just in your writing, but also lifestyle?

My Mum is a tea–swilling ex–pat. I was raised on British children’s books (Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Borrowers, The Water Babies, Wind in the Willows) and I spent many a youthful summer in Devon and two years of graduate school in the Midlands.

It was this, plus the fashion aesthetic, that first drew me to steampunk – the beauty of 19th century clothing but with a less rigid everyday feel. I adore the Victorian era. I used to make hoopskirts out of my hula–hoops as a child. I also love the Maker’s side of steampunk – technology you can see working, rather than little iPods with all their functionality secreted away.

Q. What is it you love most about the steampunk community and style?

Part of the appeal, I think, has to do with our own sense of chaos and impending doom. This often causes people to look back and seek out time that was more ridged and controlled, full of polite manners and forms of address. Steampunk has the advantage of being connected to an aesthetic that incorporates the maker movement and even the green movement. I think that is a large part of its charm.

Q. Where would you recommend vintage and steampunk fans look for authentic and quality looking attire?

I have a whole section on my website about this, it includes a shopping list on the lower right column.

GailBW1FixQ. Do you make all of your own steampunk clothing and costumes?

I make or thrift the majority of my costumes. I have a blog post about a number of my steampunk outfits.

Q. Do you have a favourite outfit you like to wear?

I’m very partial to my spoons corset, which is the first steampunk thing I ever made. I didn’t make the corset itself, simply took it apart and re-made it. It’s very whimsical made using old buttons, teaspoons, and vintage paperclips.

Q. Have you ever met any opposition to your steampunk style from strangers or are most people accepting of it?

I’m not a lifestyler. That is, I don’t wear steampunk all the time. My normal style is more rockabilly. I’ve never gotten any flack for either, but I do live in Northern California.

Q. Which of your novels would you recommend to those new to steampunk fiction or your books in general?

I always suggest beginning at the beginning with Soulless, or Etiquette & Espionage, or Soulless Vol. 1 (in manga form!) if you want lots of pretty pictures.

Q. What advice would you offer to young aspiring writers with ambitions to get their work published?

Gail's first novel Soulless, in wonderful Manga form

Gail’s first novel Soulless, in wonderful Manga form

It took me over ten years to get my first novel published. There is help on the internet but there are also scams. The first thing you must do is finish the book. Don’t approach anyone until it is complete. You need to prove you can finish it, very few writers get that far. Then edit the hell out of it and be brutal.

Give it to people to critique (friends, relations, teachers). People who will give honest feedback. The more red pen marks the better. Get used to criticism, revel in it, love it. After that, do whatever you can to learn about finding an agent and a publisher. Research using SFWA, Predators & Editors, go to writer’s workshops, haunt the writer’s tracks at SF/F conventions, read agent blogs, author websites.

Most of us published authors put the hard time in and did the research, spent hours working online, collected hundreds of rejections. I could paper my room with rejection slips. There are no easy answers. You can’t repeat someone else’s path. Every author’s road to publication is different. You’re going to have to do the slog just like we all did, I’m afraid. Be stubborn. Good luck!

Q. How do you feel about steampunk becoming more popular a genre and lifestyle?

The more the better!


We hope you enjoyed our interview with Gail and her advice will help you start writing your own steampunk fiction! You can find out what Gail’s been up to recently and discover more steampunk goodness on her blog and on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check out Blue Banana’s amazing range of steampunk clothing and gifts too!

Written by Laura Swift

Laura Swift

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