Friday, 2 October 2009

Gail Carriger - Author Interview




1. Pitch the first novel of your series.

Soulless is Jane Austen does urban fantasy meets PG Wodehouse does steampunk. It features a soulless spinster confronting Queen Victoria's grumpy werewolf investigator over the issue of lisping vampires.

2. What are your favourite three books?

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip, The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce.

3. What made you want to be a writer?

A healthy does of insanity mixed with a reckless disregard for my own survival topped with ingrained escapist tendencies.

4. In the books you’ve written, who is you favourite character and why?

I adore Lord Akeldama because he is so deliciously fun to write – all that mad italic-wielding action. I also like Professor Lyall because he has hidden depths and wears a waistcoat of plenty, and Ivy Hisselpenny for her sheer ridiculousness.

5. If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Good gracious no! Victorian London, even with the supernatural mucking about, is no place for an independently minded female with a mad passion for exotic foodstuffs. That said, if I could actually be Lord Akeldama I might be tempted, I'd enjoy leading such an outrageous life.

6. What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

I believe I wrote a cerebral and undoubtedly allegorical novel about calico cats and flying carpets. It took me a couple of days and was, my mother claims, a masterpiece of modern literature. I was eight.

7. What was the hardest scene for you to write?

In Soulless it was definitely the nookie scenes. I don't mind admitting it – I hate to write nookie. I always end up embarrassing myself.

8. If you still have one, what’s your day job?

I moonlight as an archaeologist. No really, that's the truth. I just got back from the Peruvian Highlands where I've been analyzing the pottery from a fascinating long-occupation site (Wari – Inca – Colonial). I start teaching a crop of unsuspecting undergraduates in just a few weeks, poor things.

9. What is your university degree in?

I have a BA in Archaeology, an MS in Archaeological Materials, and an MA in Anthropology. I got the book contract and left academia before finishing my PhD. Oddly enough, I have absolutely no regrets.

10. When and where do you write?

When I'm on a deadline I write in the afternoons from about 2 to 6 at my desk at home. If I'm doing really badly at making my daily word count I remove myself to a nearby independent coffee shop. If I'm doing really, really badly than it's off to the library.

11. Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Honestly and rather crudely? 1. Sit your arse in that chair and write. 2. When you're done writing only then do you get to edit. 3. Give it to three highly critical people to attack with red pens. 4. Fix it and submit it. 5. Let it go, sit your arse back down and write something else as different from the first as possible. 6. Wash and repeat.

12. Any tips against writers block?

Read something non-fiction that relates in some way to what you are writing. Writing SF? Read the latest Scientific America. Fantasy? How about a book on medieval cooking? The other thing to do is to put a note in the margin, skip the part that is giving you trouble, and just keep writing.

13. How do you discipline yourself to write?

I use shameless bribery: cup of tea if I finish the chapter, sushi every 25k, new shoes when I finish the first draft. I also punish myself. If I haven't made my word count I can't watch TV. Not even if it's Project Runway.

14. How many rejection letters did you get for your first novel or story?

Counting both agents and editors, my first book (which remains unsold and unsellable) collected at least fifty rejections over about six years. As a result, I developed my "let it go, sit your arse back down and write something else different" rule. During those six years I'd managed to sell a few short stories. I realized editors only bought comedy from me. So I wrote a comedic novel. Soulless got picked up out of a slush pile within two months.


Unknown said...

Hi :)
Thanks for having Gail here today.
Thank you Gail for sharing.
This was a great interview.
I am glad you persisted after the 50 rejections. That's great advice to all aspiring writers, to move on & write the next story.
All the best,

Ladytink_534 said...

I've been hearing quite a bit about this lately and it sounds really neat!