Today we welcome back one of our favorite Visiting Lolitas, author Gail Carriger.
Her newest in the deliciously Steampunk paranormal Parasol Protectorate series, Blameless, was released September 1, 2010. Other books in the series include Soulless and Changeless. She also has a story appearing in the Steampunk Reloaded anthology which will be released November 15, 2010.
Blameless is also a featured book for the month of Steptember over at the Barnes and Noble Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Book Club.
Getting Cozy with Gail Carriger
There’s this concept of cozy which may be the most iconic thing I can think of to represent British culture. Yes there’s the Queen, and Ascot, and Oxford and so forth, but I’m going purely philosophical here and delving into the nature of culture itself. Small town or city, north or south, there is one thing that they do better in Britain than anywhere else in the world (apart from tea): Get Cozy.
You can picture it in your head: the small thatched cottage on the edge of the moor, puffing smoke out its little chimney, a tilted sign at the garden path that reads “Duck’s Bottom.” You know that at the door there will be a little brush shaped like a hedgehog upon which to wipe your rubber boots and just inside a pot for your umbrella. Once the door has closed, you notice that the place smells like baking bread. You can hear the lilting hum of conversation, a querulous rise and fall, so musical when compared to our loud American flatness. And soon enough someone comes toward you with a welcoming smile, flour on their apron, and says, “Oh, it’s you. Come in, come in. Cuppa?”
Cozy is the way everything is smaller over in the UK: cars, bath tubs, doorways. Except tissues, they’re huge. Cozy is the fact that odds are, if you enter a used bookstore some cat will sidle over to collect a pet taxation, or, if it’s sunny, coil in the window amongst dusty book jackets in an obliging sunbeam. Cozy is the patchwork quilts on the beds or the fact that you can order your gingerbread with a dollop of warm custard spilled over it. Cozy in inherent in the names of things: Winny the Pooh (a children’s book character), loo (the bathroom), babblers (a kind of bird). Even the food is cozy, designed for well padded comfort, nothing to stress about, nothing too hot or too spicy or too good for you: spotted dick, clotted cream, Christmas pud, digestive biscuits, Cornish pasties, crumpets, bubble and squeak, rumbledethumps.
Being truly British, however, means one has to suffer for this concept in order to appreciate it. In the South of England, where I spent much of my youth, I would often see parades of macintoshed wanderers striding the green landscape enduring a near-constraint drizzle. “Mighty fine day, isn’t it?” Some had a scruffy dog or two, others sported binoculars and a keen interest in birds (Birdos are called Twitchers over there – how awesome is that?), but most are just out for a stroll. I don’t know about you, but here in California no one would EVER go for a walk in the rain. The very idea! But I believe this is tied to the fact that these damp adventurers know that upon returning home there will be a cheery little fire, a fat cat on the knee, and perhaps a hot toddy.
I think one the best literary depictions of this side of Britishness is the Hobbit villages in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. As Tolkien implies, we would all be better of if we could have more cozy in our lives, that slow lazy pace, that genuine appreciation for comfort. There is simple functional pleasure to be derived from a tea cozy or fuzzy slippers. There is such joy to be had in curling up in a big soft sweater with a great book and a cup of tea. Cozy is not just a concept, it is a state of mind.
New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger began writing in order to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. The Parasol Protectorate books are: Soulless (Oct. 2009), Changeless (March 2010), Blameless (Sept. 2010), Heartless (July 2011), and Timeless (2012).