3.27.2015

Prudence Extras ~ India Research


Prudence is out now, and here, Gentle Reader, is some insight into the research behind her first fateful adventure.

While I was writing this installment in the Custard Protocol series, I did a lot of research and jotted down a number of things about India in 1895 that didn't make it into the book. I also collected some fun inspirational images. I thought you would enjoy a glimpse into what wasn't used...

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple 1880s
Srirangam, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India.
Photograph of the gopurams of the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s, from an album of 62 views of India and Ceylon. The Ranganatha temple is a Vaishnava complex situated on the artificial island of Srirangam in the Cauvery River near Tiruchirapalli.
(via Blog on vishnu temples)

Alternate Meets History Notes
  • After the mutiny of 1858 the East India Company's rule in India was replaced by the Crown.
  • In my world the SAD treaty is enacted at this time. Rue will come up against this treaty in her journey, so I will not explain further here.
  • The crown set up a Viceroy and a Secretary of State for India with an advisory council of 15 people. 50% of whom lived in India for 10+ years, 8 nominated by the Crown, 7 by the Company.

"Crisis in Baghdad"
featuring the newest technology - a camel mounted gatling gun
supported in the latest in airpower.
(From Harper Weekly 1882)

  • Troop transport in 1902 from Southampton to Bombay took 21 days. Floating was a much easier way to get there, but couldn't be used to transport vast numbers of troops and equipment. 
Sikh soldiers of 29th Indian Infantry Brigade 1915 via British Paintings tumblr

  • Bombay is the oldest of the Presidencies. It became part of the UK in a dowry when Catherine of Braganza married Charles II. 
  • Bombay had an excellent natural harbor, but was not well placed for trade with China. 
  • The hinterland was (and mostly remained) dominated by fierce Marathas. Very warlike. Some Maratha women still wear saris caught up between their legs to reflect the days when they fought alongside the menfolk. Excellent horsewomen: sword and matchlock.
  • Steam liner travel in 1840 opened Bombay up as a port via the Suez and railway made it accessible to the rest of India.
  • 1859 one solder writes: "Bombay is the worse station in India, nothing to do here save die." (There was a major military hospital at Deolali.)
  • By 1880 Bombay is a communication hub.

Raja Wazir Singh of Faridkot 1900

  • I had intended to have Primrose have a flirtation with one of the locals. Much to Rue and Percy's very imperialistic shock and horror. Unfortunately, it didn't work for this plot line. Here is a section I clipped to inspire Prim's adoration (from a letter home by a young Victorian lady abroad regarding the tempting masculinity around her).

"... grand-looking men, generally tall and brawny, with high cheek-bones and gold rings in their ears. They are more of a walnut than a mahogany brown and many of them are not much darker that a dark Englishman; they are the most masculine looking creatures I have ever seen and, oddly enough, their earrings and the straight petticoat they wear reaching their ankles makes them look more masculine still, as they accentuate their bold faces and their stride. For looks they beat any race of men I have ever seen, especially when they are clean shaved. I really must stop this rigmarole now..."
~ rapturous letter from Violet Jacob, a Scotswoman married to an Irish officer in the 20th Hussars, writing from Mhow 1895 impressed with the Punjabi soldiers, as quoted by Holmes.

  • At the end of the 19th century the Indian silver rupee went into a gold exchange standard at a fixed rate of 1 rupee to one shilling and fourpence in British currency, or 15 rupees to 1 pound sterling.
  • Here are some of my spreadsheet notes on cost comparisons then and now. This is the kind of thing I do for fun.  I wanted to see how expensive it might be to live in India in the style of an upper class Victorian family, with all the ridiculous grandeur that entailed.


  • I kind of got obsessed with the money conversion issue and spent too much time trying to calculate it out to better understand what was going on. I never used any of this in the book, but I learned a great deal.

British_Indian_Empire_1909_Imperial_Gazetteer_of_India


  • Skulduggery in Bengal – Assistant Superintendent of Dehra Dun in the North Western Provinces, and his dishonest conduct - recommendation of his dismissal from the Bengal Civil Service, 1876 
  • The Old Foodie goes to India from some recipes involving coconut.
  • My favorite is the Calcutta, Receipt for Curry. "A teaspoonful of turmeric, a tablespoonful of coriander-seed, a tablespoonful of poppy-seed, half a teaspoonful of ginger, a quarter of a teaspoonful of red chilli, half a teaspoonful of cumin-seed, all well pounded; mix the powder with three ounces of butter, and fry it with two sliced onions for ten minutes. Cut up a young fowl; put it into the pan, and simmer for a quarter of an hour; add the milk of one cocoa-nut and a salt-spoonful of salt, stir well, and simmer a quarter of an hour longer; stir in the juice of half a lime or a lemon, and serve, with plain boiled rice in a separate dish." ~ Cre-Fydd's family fare (London, 1864)

I think that too much more and I would be giving things away about the book. But I am hoping these bits and bobs were enjoyable.

{Gail's monthly read along for April is The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Romy Schneider as Sissi in Ludwig via fawnvelveteen tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Lilliput My Sunbeam

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Chair that can transform into multiple configurations to maximize comfort

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
The 12 Most Quotable Lines of Pride and Prejudice


PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! Awaiting proofs.
  • Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First. OUT NOW!  
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
 The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Sarah Bruch of SF Crows Nest says of Waistcoats & Weaponry: “This book is filled with Carriger’s usual mix of whimsy and steampunk. It shouldn’t work but, somehow, it really does.”

Quote of the Day:
"I watched in wonderment as all stone and a half of Signor thumped into the Marshal’s lap and tea-cozied up, purring even louder."
~ Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Like Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

3.26.2015

Book Reviews ~ Valor's Choice & Courting Magic


So my recent book tour, Gentle Reader, involved a great number of 1-2 hour plane rides. This, in Gail's world, means... READING. I had a number of things on my docket: a few ARCs I'd been slipped on the down low, not to mention March's book pick... Valor's Choice.


I hope you all enjoyed this novel and manged to get hold of it. There is a print version but only as an omnibus of the first two, A Confederation of Valor, and because I mainly read ebooks now, I didn't notice, so I didn't post about this when I picked the book. My bad. I did say something in the Goodreads discussion. 

Anyway, if you liked the Paradox series you should enjoy Torin's adventures, although they are a little more violent being as they take place during galactic wartime. The Valor series is military space opera written by a woman who really knows what she's writing about. Marvelous characters and alien races, extremely snappy dialogue, an endearing heroine, and lots of fast action. I am a particular fan of this book (the first in the series) because it opens with a post sex pheromone hangover and ends with a battle based one of the early moments in the Zulu War (late 1870s).

"He laughed at her overly indignant reaction, and she carried the sound away with her, adding it to her armaments."

Torin Kerr is one of my favorite main characters ever written. "She’ll build a ship and kick it off this planet with her own dainty foot before she lets us rot here." She is tough without being mannish, hard to write (particularly from authors who themselves have no experience being a woman in a position of authority). I've found that many authors cop out by having their female bad-ass swear within the first 10 pages. Not that I object to swearing, I just think its weak characterization when a writer resorts to it as way of showing how "cool" and "down" and "tough" a warrior woman is. Yawn. Anyway, Huff never does this. Torin is a professional soldier without being abrasive, at times she is even kind - in a gruff military way.

“What was that, Staff?” 
“Just talking to myself, Ressk.” 
“The only way you can have an intelligent conversation?” 
“Don’t step on my lines, Private,” she advised with mock severity. “It makes me cranky.

Also Huff's universe for the Confederation series is such fun. I love the idea of elder races that have basically forgotten how to fight, so they must recruit younger ones to do their dirty work, as a kind of member mercenary force. Reminds me of the 8th-12th century Caliphates with their Turkish garrisons, one entirely separate culture fighting for and supporting the older's stuck up status quo. And yet Huff writes the younger races as intrinsically vicious and rather cheerful about violence. She says: the elders "convinced humanity to throw its military apparatus into space where they took to interstellar warfare the way the H’san took to cheese." Also I love the other two young races: from the way they are described to the ideas behind their cultures to their interaction with humans.

"Military structure inadvertently encouraged gossip and di’Taykans practically considered it a competitive sport."

Which brings me nicely to my favorite section in this book, possibly one of my very favorite quotes ever written.

“There are those who say you can judge a civilization by how much respect they grant their dead.”
“Really?” He pulled a handful of soft fruit off a vine as big around as his wrist, wiped off a few splatters of mud against his vest, gave them a thorough sniff, and popped them into his mouth. 
“If the dead has a large family, an internment on Dornage can take many days.” 
Kleers took another three steps and reached for some more fruit.
“Can’t say as I’m surprised.”
“How do the Krai treat their dead?” 
“We cook them and we eat them.” 
Thinks Deeply walked in silence for a moment or two. “And that is a sign of respect?” she asked at last. 
“Well, I’d have to say that depends on who does the cooking.”

Genius!

And then there are supporting characters. Much as I love them I have learned with Huff not to get too attached because she writes war unflinchingly and people will die. Still, it is hard to resist when she writes about them with such affection.

"Wonder why he’s looking so cheerful.”
“He’s a morning person. It’s one of his least endearing traits."

“The clips are interchangeable, Haysole. Or were you paying less attention in basic than I thought?” 
He grinned up at her, and it almost masked the gray shadows on his face.
“I don’t think that’s possible, Staff.”

“I don’t think so, Private. We need that latrine dug before the Silsviss attack, and you,” she added wryly, “are a galaxy-class master in the fine art of looking like you’re working when you’re really doing piss all.”
“It’s a skill,” he admitted smugly, looking pleased with himself.


After finishing Valor's Choice I purchased the second one, The Better Part of Valor to take with me to New Zealand and reread there. I may have also read the third one, but my memory is getting worse and worse in my old age. It looks like there are 6 in the series (3. The Heart of Valor, 4. Valor's Trial, and 5. The Truth of Valor) with 6. Peacemaker possibly due out this year (that's Goodreads rumor, so who knows). I've no idea if Peacemaker is the last in the series or not. Because of this lack of information, I'm not sure how devoted I am to Torin to be able to resist fearing the unknown. I will buy the rest of the series, but I may wait to read them until I know what Huff's endgame is. I get very nervous when I don't know if an author is going to stick the landing, delay the finish, or fade away. Fingers crossed.


For a total shift in mode I then read Courting Magic: A Kat, Incorrigible Novella which I LOVED.  I picked Kat, Incorrigible for the book group a little while ago and liked it very much but I think it was just a little too young for me. There was also some discussion on the book group over the shifting tone. However, Kat's character was nothing but a delight regardless, and this novella is the perfect age update, giving Kat her own romance.

 “No!” he muttered. “Don’t be stupid. I’d never dishonor you.” 
“Well, I thought not.” There was a tiny, inconsequential quiver of disappointment in my belly, but I did my best to ignore it. “So—” 
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to,” he muttered.

See? See! How could you not want to read that? The tone is spot on, perhaps a little melodramatic but that's what I want from someone Kat's age in an Austen setting as a romantic novella.

There was nothing to be done, so nothing was amiss, and I would simply have to accustom myself to the gaping hole inside me where everything bright and colorful and right had ever been.

I adored the love interest so much, I decided I had to go buy the rest of the Kat, Incorrigible series to read the story of how Kat and Alexander met.

“I remember every moment I spent with you five years ago,” he murmured, so softly I could barely hear him. “How could I forget? I spent the last five years waiting to meet you again.”

Not to mention some feels for a few of the new side characters who had hinted at back story that I now really want to know more about.

“Fortunately for you,” I said brightly, “from the way she’s already been surrounded by suitors, I expect she’ll have a marriage proposal within a week. Then she won’t be your concern at all, will she?”
The Marquess let out a noise that sounded like a muffled roar.


Anyways, I think you could read and enjoy this novella even if you hadn't read the series, it is a blast of fresh air, pure romantic joy.

While I am away, the group is reading Jasper Fforde whose first novel is a work of comedic genius. Trust me, it is. 

{Gail's read along for April is The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
via   cupofeternitea tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Ladies at Tea  facesofthevictorianera tumblr

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
This Is What A Cup Of Tea Looks Like In 22 Different Countries

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Red Ink In the Trenches: A Copyeditor’s Perspective


PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! Awaiting proofs.
  • Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First. OUT NOW!  
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
 The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Wicked Little Pixie says of Prudence: “Gail Carriger is also great at developing characters. None of her characters in Prudence come across as two-dimensional or as filler characters. Each one has a well-rounded personality, with qualities that make them very genuine.”

Quote of the Day:
"And I was engaged in weaving him what Miss Bethel refers to as The Usual Tissue of Pleasing Lies. You can hear the capital letters when she says it."
~ Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Like Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

3.25.2015

Event Round Up ~ Tucson Festival of Books


So, Gentle Reader, directly before my Prudence book tour I nipped over to Tucson for their epic huge book festival. It was amazing. If you are at all in the vicinity, I highly recommend paying it a visit next year for it is an epic literary homage.



The weather was beautiful, I had four really fun panels, the volunteers took exceptionally good care of me. All-in-all it was a super pleasant experience.


Also I had some delicious food and good company with author friends who were also in for the festival. Some of us even sallied forth and consumed pie on pie day.

from Heather Lo via FB

Had a lovely time with Skye in particular, who graciously runs my Goodreads group that includes the book discussion. She is wonderful. Speaking of which here is April's pick for those of you who want a jump start on next month...

{Gail's monthly read along for April is The Eyre Affaire by Jasper Fforde}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Ladies' Cabinet Thursday, June 1, 1837 v. 18, plate 80

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Infinity book scarf with a quote from the "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Poe $45

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
A Tragic Catalog of 100 Mostly Miserable 19th-Century Marriages

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Should you be a full-time writer? by Mary Robinette Kowal


PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! Awaiting proofs.
  • Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First. OUT NOW!  
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
 The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Prudence undergoes the Page 69 Test

Quote of the Day:
"Word of the day: RESISTENTIALISM - the seemingly spiteful behaviour manifested by inanimate objects."
~ The QI Elves (@qikipedia)

Like Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.