Today I am interviewing Gaie Sebold, author of the new steampunk, urban fantasy novel, Sparrow Falling.
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DJ: Hey Gaie! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Gaie Sebold: Sparrow Falling is my fourth published novel, the second in the Gears of Empire series. The first in the series was Shanghai Sparrow. The previous two novels are fantasy, Babylon Steel and Dangerous Gifts.. I’ve been writing for most of my life – I’ve had a number of short stories and a book of poetry published. I also teach writing workshops. I also garden, cook, draw, paint, and make things. (I recently went on a course to make a bronze sword, which was fun).
DJ: What is Sparrow Falling about?
GS:The series follows the adventures of a street child and professional con-artist Eveline Sparrow, in a fantasy Victorian era where the Fey and many other mythical beings exist in a world just alongside our own. Eveline gets caught up in events where the politics of our world overlap dangerously with those of the Fey while discovering the truth about her past and trying to protect herself and those she cares about in the present. In Sparrow Falling Eveline is trying to attain a regular – and respectable – income for her school, our world is on the brink of war, there is a desperate man trying to manipulate Eveline for his own purposes, her friend Liu the fox-spirit is risking his life for his father and there are more ventures into the beautiful but lethal worlds of supernatural beings both British and Chinese.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Sparrow Falling?
QS: In terms of non-fiction, Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, which is an astonishing series of pieces of Victorian investigative journalism. Grim reading, but fascinating. Fictional influences are much harder to specify – though I’ve always had a liking for roguish characters, and Eveline definitely falls into that category! Maybe she has Raffles somewhere in her literary genes.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?
GS: Eveline, having grown up on the streets, is a survivor. She’s smart and tough, sometimes sharp-tongued. She’s an extremely good con-artist, and proud of it, but has her own moral boundaries – she doesn’t believe in stealing from people who are worse off than herself. She’s intensely loyal to those she cares about. And because she grew up half-starved she’s almost always hungry. Her friend Liu is half fox-spirit, and lives with a foot in both the mundane and supernatural worlds. He’s a basically decent person whose decency sometimes makes his life difficult. Beth is a very talented engineer who finds machines easier to get on with than people. Ma Pether is loud, brash, touchy, fierce, and started off as one of those minor characters who sometimes decides they don’t want to be minor, thank you…
DJ: What is the universe/world for Sparrow Falling like?
GS: Sparrow Falling is based in an alternative late Victorian era, where mythical creatures (fey, goblins, fox spirits, dragons) exist alongside our world, and where steam-driven technology has reached heights and abilities that would not be possible in the real world. It also has etheric science, the speciality of Eveline’s mother Madeleine, which uses sound to create mood. As it’s set in the Victorian period it’s quite dank, smoggy and smelly a lot of the time, especially the bits in London. The social structures of the era are pretty much those of the time, though I’ve played with history here and there (I have the martial art Bartitsu coming to England earlier than it actually did, for example, because it was too cool not to use).
DJ: Can you tell us about the ancient magic in this world?
GS: The ancient magic, such as it is, is really that of the mythology of the British Isles and other countries. There isn’t a magical system as such – mythology isn’t that organized or logical, it accretes around ideas and places over centuries.
DJ: What is the Sparrow School?
GS: It is a school set up by my heroine to take on young women and give them useful skills, and a chance at independence. At least, on the surface. Some of the girls are also taught rather more esoteric skills, like disguise, breaking and entering, how to do a pigeon drop (a traditional con-game)…Eveline has Plans for her girls.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Sparrow Falling?
GS: Hard to say! The flight of the Aerymouse, the glittering, dangerous palaces of the Queen of the Fey and the Dragon King, scheming villains – it’s all fun to write.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
GS: I hope they all find something worth discussing. But I think as a writer you often find that people get very different things from your work than you expected – so any speculations I might make about what people will pick up from it are likely to be wildly off the mark.
DJ: What is your goal in writing Sparrow Falling? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across to readers when it is finally told?
GS: My goal is always to tell an entertaining story. There are messages in there, certainly, about exploitation and the misuse of power, and I hope those come across, but if they don’t I hope people just enjoy the read.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Sparrow Falling that you can share with us?
GS: “Consider always whether what you desire will cost you what you love.”
DJ: Now that Sparrow Falling is released, what is next for you?
GS: I am working on another fantasy novel with a secondary world setting, and have several other projects in hand, including future Babylon Steel novels, and a steampunkish collaboration with my partner, David Gullen.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Sparrow Falling that we haven’t talked about yet?
GS: That sometimes rogues and villains are the most fun to write – I hope they’re as much fun to read.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
GS: I hope your readers find the above interesting – and if they have any questions I’m on Twitter, or they can contact me through my website.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
GS: Thank you for giving me the chance to talk about Sparrow Falling.
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*** Sparrow Falling is published by Solaris and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Master spy, former con-artist, Eveline Duchen returns in adventure set in a world of steam and magic.
Eveline Sparrow (formerly Duchen) hopes to put her past experiences as a thief and con-artist to more legitimate use; which is why some of the girls at her Sparrow School receive private lessons in burglary, fakery, and other such underhand practices.
But it’s hard to get honest work when few businesses will employ young ladies in the security professions. The duns are at the doorstep, her friend Liu the half-fox-spirit is in some sort of trouble, and the rivalries of the Folk are in danger of overspilling into the mundane world and forcing the Empire into a bloody and horrifying war. Can Eveline pull things out of the mire this time, or will the Sparrow’s wings be clipped once and for all?
Gaie Sebold was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since she was very small. She is still quite small, but older.
Her first published novel, ‘Babylon Steel’, came out from Solaris in 2012. The second in the Babylon Steel series, ‘Dangerous Gifts’, came out in 2013. A steampunk novel, ‘Shanghai Sparrow’, is due in 2014.
She has a number of short stories in current anthologies including the David Gemmell memorial anthology ‘Legends’ and the ‘World War Cthulhu Fiction Anthology’.
Gaie occasionally hits people with latex swords and has been known to read poetry, in public, for money. She has had a number of jobs, none of them as much fun as writing or running writing workshops. The most interesting thing she ever had to do for a day job was travel on the Underground while carrying a 6 foot carriage whip and an artificial severed finger.
She lives with writer David Gullen and has a paranoid cat, a shaggy garden, and rather a lot of hats.