Book Nerd Interview
It is not her policy to conduct business over Goodreads. Please visit Gail's website and drop her a calling card if you have a request.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to make deadlines and research quickly; survive on a diet of spinach top ramen and tea; and build a wardrobe from thrift stores.
In your newest book, Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1); can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about the novel?
The Finishing School series is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, only 25 years earlier, and features a finishing academy located in a giant caterpillar-like dirigible floating over Dartmoor in which young ladies are taught to . . . finish . . . everything . . . and everyone . . . as needed. There will be steampunk etiquette! There will be well-dressed espionage! There will be Victorian fake food. There will be flying mechanical sausage dogs named Bumbersnoot. The first book, Etiquette & Espionage, releases Feb 5, 2013. Industry press announcement here.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Sophronia?
I remember my own high school experience much more clearly than I thought I would. It's surprisingly easy to regress 20 years. Either that or I never quite grew up.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
How do you know I haven't already? (Insert sly smile here.)
Actually, think Sophronia and Alexia would get along remarkably well. So well, I might one day write a short story or blog post conversation in which the two of them meet. Of course, there is always the possibility they might hate each other.
For those who are unfamiliar with Sophronia, how would you introduce her?
Sophronia has a nose for trouble and an instinct for espionage, she's crafty rather than assertive with a wicked sense of humor and a knack for collecting crazy friends. She likes to surround herself with drama but not engage it directly, like the quiet center of a storm.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I just complete Sophronia's second set of escapades, chronicled in Curtsies & Conspiracies. In which Sophronia hons in on some major political maneuverings, and a possible explanation for all those fake pastries. Right now I'm working on the first Prudence book. Prudence is, if possible, even more outrageous than Alexia, and has just landed in Bombay, India, where hijinks are bound to ensue.
Most strangest dream you have ever had?
One of my favorites was a zombie attack dream where the zombies could be killed only when I threw an uncooked yam at them, at which point they turned into rock salt.
If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?
Probably the house itself. People tend to think that because I write steampunk, I live in a big old fussy Victorian full of antique furniture and flowery drapes. In fact, I like utra-modern style, clean lines, slight asian influence.
When was the last time you cried?
Reading a series of short stories in the Valdemar anthologies by Sarah Hoyt & Kate Paulk, I love their main characters Ree and Jem. Adorable, sweet, touching, heart wrenching. I cry all the time – when I read books, news snip-its, photos, even stupid advertisements. I'm a bit of a crier.
Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage -- in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.
This book has all the elements that make for wonderful unsuspecting encounters for both the reader and protagonist. The familiar story of starting a new school has been told so many times but author Gail sure placed a surprising twist to it. The steampunk take in the book brings about many strange innovations and mechanical devices. Readers will enjoy this aspect through the clear and descriptive texts of Gail’s writing. The entire duration of the book is filled with excitement and excellent writing. Set in the very same world a Gail’s Parasol Protectorate series, fans of the series will have a chance to relive it even if it is set several decades earlier. Although the paranormal facet of the story is not the focal point of the plot, it is done well with creatures like vampires and werewolves. Etiquette & Espionage is a surprisingly delightful read that will have readers coming back for the second installment.