Characters on the Couch: Gail Carriger’s Imogene and Genevieve

Please join me in a collective squee as I welcome international bestselling author Gail Carriger and her two main characters from her most recent release to the couch. I am seriously fangirling here because Ms. Carriger’s first Parasol Protectorate novel Soulless is what sparked (pun intended) my interest in the steampunk genre. It was a nice transition from my usual urban fantasy and paranormal romance reading to something with a little more science and a lot more tea. Her latest release, Romancing the Inventor, is a standalone novella set in the same universe. It came out on Tuesday.

Parlormaid plus inventor. What’s not to love?

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed.

Genevieve Lefoux is heartsick, lonely, and French. With culture, class, and the lady herself set against the match, can Imogene and her duster overcome all odds and win Genevieve’s heart, or will the vampires suck both of them dry?

This is a stand-alone LBGTQ sweet romance set in Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse, full of class prejudice, elusive equations, and paranormal creatures taking tea. Supernatural Society novellas can be read in any order. Look for surprise appearances from popular Parasolverse characters and the occasional strategic application of cognac.

Delicate Sensibilities? This story contains women pleasing women and ladies who know what they want and pursue it, sometimes in exquisite detail.

And now, the interview…

1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Psychologists didn’t really exist during my steampunk setting (alt-Victorian) but if they did then Madame Lefoux would likely refuse to see one. Imogene would if one of the vampires ordered her to, and then it would likely be for “deviant sexual urges.” Except, of course, vampires would never do that… they’d just take advantage of said urges.

2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

Yes. Imogene is driven to leave her village and take a job with the hive because she knows that she prefers women, and she’s hoping the vampires can help her either understand, fix, or satisfy that her craving. Unfortunately for her, they decide to actually just put her to work as a parlourmaid and ignore her the rest of the time. Then she meets Madame Lefoux.

3. It’s always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?

Madame Lefoux would glare at you and ask for your credentials. Then she’d look them over and try to get you into a combative discussion on the nature of science in the social sciences and whether epistemological theories can be applied to human culture and nature.

Imogene would hesitate until you welcomed her in and gestured her to sit. Imogene is very polite.

4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?

Imogene would probably open up after a short while. She’s secretly hungry for someone to talk to and share her troubles with. If you were remotely sympathetic and understanding she’d pour her little heart out. She has faith in experts and a willingness to change and better herself, and she’s worried about her own nature and needs.

5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Madame Lefoux orders cognac, if available, ale if not. She’s likely is mistaken for a man and doesn’t correct anyone. Ends up playing darts in the corner with the local lads.

Imogene would never go into a bar alone. She may be poor, but she’s a lady.

6. When you’re building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?

It depends. Some side characters I’ll pretend to be them and take stupid magazine quizzes or personality tests or what have you to tease out more of their nature. Or, in order to build a Pinterest board. I like playing with side bits of information, like what causes the different Myers-Briggs types the most stress. Then in romance, for example, I can intentionally stress a characters in the worst possible way for his type. I wouldn’t say I ever build characters this way. I only give the the tests when I feel I already have a good handle on who they are as individuals.

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Thank you so much for the interview and for sending your characters over! Congratulations on your new release – reading it will be my reward once I meet my current writing deadline.

Photo credit Vanessa Applegate

Gail Carriger writes steampunk comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance. Her books include the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, Supernatural Society, and Delightfully Deadly series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers via 7 different lists (#1 in Manga). She was once an archaeologist and is overly fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

To celebrate this blog milestone – a visit from one of my most favorite authors – I’m giving away copies of Noble Secrets, my steampunk novella that’s a prequel to the Aether Psychics series, to new newsletter subscribers. Click here to claim your copy.NobleSecrets_HighRes


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