Message From The Author

Gail Carriger

Book Title: SOULLESS
Genre: General Fantasy, Fantasy

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Author's Message

Vintage Punk

GAIL CARRIGER STEAMS HER WAY
INTO URBAN FANTASY

Vintage clothing and Goth style, along with the writing of greats like Jules Verne and Horace Walpole, first drew debut author Gail Carriger into the steampunk genre -- where modern
technology is used in the old world. But according to
the author, Soulless (Oct., Orbit), the first book in
her Parasol Protectorate series, is a clean 50/50 split between historical-set urban fantasy and steampunk,
or in her own words, "Jane Austen does urban fantasy meets P.G. Wodehouse does steampunk."

Soulless follows Alexia Tarabotti, a British spinster who, as you may guess from the title, has no soul. Adding insult to injury, she has a dead Italian father.

Though the book is set in the past, the author believes that the term "urban fantasy and steampunk" is good one to describe her book because it takes place in London, where vampires and werewolves abound -- which leads to the steampunk creations.

"It seems to me that, if supernatural creatures were running around Victorian London, scientists of the day would be trying to understand them, dissect them, fight them and avoid them. This, in turn, would lead to new and strange advancements in science and medicine," Carriger says. "In the world of Soulless, simply put, urban fantasy tropes have steampunk consequences."

Carriger says she's comfortable with writing a Victorian-set novel because of her affection for the era's literature and the BBC's costume dramas, like the Austen adaptations, as well as 10 years of participating in San Francisco's Great Dickens Christmas Fair, a historical re-enactment featuring Charles Dickens characters. During the fair, Carriger says she's been known to "dance a mean Congress of Vienna waltz down at Fezziwig's" while dressed up. "In fact, several of Ivy's infamous hats in Soulless are drawn from my own wardrobe," she adds, mentioning her heroine's best friend.

Despite the author's devotion to the Victorian era, what makes Soulless unique, according to Carriger is that, "unlike other steampunk novels, it doesn't depict a dystopian world but instead a cheerful, lighthearted one." Carriger says that this is partly due to a reinterpretation, not rewriting, of history.

Dystopian or not, Carriger attributes steampunk's success to escapism. "With our economy in chaos, steampunk offers up an alternative lifestyle of sedate, civilized behavior," Carriger says. "Do I see that lasting? Probably not, but then no one attributed urban fantasy with much staying power either, so I continue to hope."

-- Amanda Woytus


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