I’m very excited to have Gail on the blog today, answering my questions on tea, self-defense and her new Custard Protocol book, Imprudence.

First things first, how do you take your tea?

Strong enough for a mouse to run across with a nice dollop of whole milk.

How do you go about protecting yourself with a parasol?

Generally I raise mine against the sun, the last thing I need is more freckles. My characters, on the other hand, tend to trick theirs out with explosives, acid emitters, poison darts, that sort of thing. And, of course, there is always the option of bopping your enemy on the noggin.

What’s the most ridiculous hat you’ve given your characters?

Vieve makes a hat for her aunt that is a model of the solar system as Victorians understood it in 1854. That was the result of a hat Tukerization I auctioned off for the charity Worldbuilders. The fan who won the bid collaborated with me to invent that hat and then I wrote it into Manners & Mutiny.

What are your top tips for travelling in the Aetherosphere?

Sunflower plants (cut, dried, and potted) spaced around the deck to protect the vital humours. Try not to think about what might be out in the grey, avoid Charybdis Currents, and make certain your navigator can manage a decent puffing and you should be fine.

If you had your very own dirigible, what would it look like and what would you name it?

I would call it The Spotted Custard and it would look like a great big ladybug, of course.

In Imprudence, Rue and Quesnal’s relationship is rather modern, what would their Victorian contemporaries have made of it?

They would be shocked. They are shocked. Just you wait! Rue has had an interesting upbringing it makes for a novel approach to matters romantic and carnal.

What’s your favourite aspect of Victoriana to research?

Clothing! I love researching clothing. In fact, I may love it too much. I had to start a second blog, Retro Rack, to talk about all the interesting tid-bits I was turning up.

Rue’s travels take in the British Empire at the time. Do you think it’s important to acknowledge the problems of colonialism despite the light-hearted nature of your books?

I do. And I hope I manage to do so, particularly as the series progresses. At first Rue is a creature of her upbringing, a sheltered upper-class white existence. As she moves more around the empire and learns first hand the consequences of colonialism and imperialism, she begins to see everything differently. At the same time she is learning what it means to be a leader, responsibility for her crew members (whom include children) and what it’s like to be the other. Rue’s metanatural power allows her to literally become the disenfranchised supernaturals they encounter. That would change anyone, even someone as stubborn as Rue.

Any hints as to where Rue is going next?

Well I can tell you I spent a great deal of time studying an 1895 map of Africa.

The Custard Protocol books are set several decades after Soulless, do you think your Parasol Protectorate universe will outlive Queen Victoria or are you determined to keep it in the nineteenth century?

I like to say that I’ve no interest in any time period that doesn’t involve a foundation of superior corsetry.

What would be on the cake stand for the perfect afternoon tea?

Some lovely Dainty sandwiches (I’m partial to egg salad) and perhaps something daringly high in protein like a Scotch egg. No need to go overboard with the scones, a small cheesy savoury and a sweet orange almond one with clotted cream and raspberry jam (not strawberry, not lemon curd, raspberry). Some kind of custard meets puff pastry tart for dessert. Although my dream dessert is passion fruit Pavlova, but now we are getting awfully worldly.

Is there anything interesting/relevant/funny you’ve found on the internet lately that you’d like to share?

Well, here’s a lovely little animation by Crabapple, Boekbinder, & Batt that I adore called, I HAVE YOUR HEART. It’s not new but I feel like not enough people know about it. It’s kind of creepy and odd but also strangely beautiful.

And if that doesn’t work for you, here’s a cat stuck in a shoe that makes me very happy.

Thanks Gail! You can read my review of Imprudence here and there’s a chance to win a copy for UK readers. Everyone else, you’ll be able to get your paws on a copy next week!

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