Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interview with Gaie Sebold and Giveaway - January 17, 2012

Please welcome Gaie Sebold to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Babylon Steel, Gaie's debut, was published on January 5, 2012 in the United Kingdom and Canada and on December 27, 2011 in the United States.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Gaie:  I’m not sure I have one! A tendency to write four or five hundred words in an hour then obsess about getting one word exactly right for twenty minutes? Is that a quirk? I also often wear fingerless gloves to work in, but that’s because my hands and feet turn to ice if I sit still for long. It’s not Reynaud’s or anything, I just have a really rubbish thermostat.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Gaie:  Terry Pratchett, definitely, on both counts. Not that I think I could be like him – only Sir Pterry is Sir Pterry, and besides I’d rather be me than a pale imitation of someone else – but I admire him immensely. Angela Carter, Stephen King, J R R Tolkien, Jane Austen, the Brontës, Mike Carey, Neil Gaiman, Nora Lofts, Georgette Heyer…I should stop now. It’s difficult to say who has had the most influence. I think everything I’ve read and loved has probably influenced me to a different degree, non-fiction as well as fiction. Films and graphic novels have definitely also contributed to the way I write, the characters I develop and the subjects I want to write about.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Gaie:  Mainly a panster, certainly when I start on a book. I seem to work best by starting with a character and a fairly basic idea or two, and letting things develop from there. About a third of the way in I have to start working out where everything’s going, at which point I stop and plot in much more detail. And then it all changes again, and then it all changes again in the rewrite. I write an awful lot of words that don’t end up in the final draft. One of the most important things I’ve had to learn is that you have to be prepared to waste stuff. I have heaven knows how many scenes and characters stuffed into various ‘cut’ files because I loved them to bits but they had no place in the story as it ended up, and I couldn’t quite bear to throw them away completely. The great thing about electronic memory is that I can do that without filling up cupboard space I can’t spare. But now, with deadlines and so forth, and working on a collaboration on a different project with someone who is very much a plotter, I am having to do a little more plotting up front.

TQ:  Describe Babylon Steel in 140 characters or less.

Gaie:  Agh, a Twitter blurb! Here goes…

Brothel-owning ex-avatar of sex and war faces death, taxes and her lethal past in a city of many portals. Includes girl on lizard action.

(That last bit is nicked from the 'tart cards' Solaris did for me, which look like the cards that working girls used to leave in phoneboxes. The phrase 'girl on lizard action' seems to make people sit up and take notice more than anything else, funny that...)

TQ:  What inspired you to write Babylon Steel?

Gaie:  That would be very hard to say. The idea of a brothel in a city with links to other dimensions or planes has been hovering for many years, and I already thought of the madam as someone tough, but basically decent, who cared about her customers and particularly about the people who worked for her. It took a long time to coalesce, though, and my own ideas about sex and sexuality and confidence in writing about those things had to develop a lot. That’s not all the book is about, but those turned out to be things that, rather to my own surprise, I wanted to talk about.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the novel?

Gaie:  I’m very fond of the scenes describing the city and the portals, because I just let my imagination off the leash and all sorts of weird stuff came out, some of which I hope to have great fun with later in the series; and I admit I’m rather proud of the sex scenes. I was desperate to get those right, and I’d never written anything graphic before. From the responses so far, they seem to have ended up working the way I wanted them to.

TQ:   What sort of research did you do to create the world of Babylon Steel?

Gaie:  Not a lot specifically for this book; I’ve always done a lot of reading on all sorts of subjects, so I had some knowledge of sex work and swordfighting from that. I did do a class in longsword for a couple of years; the people who taught it really knew their stuff and you got a free lesson in historical fighting styles and the realities of fighting with every class, so that was very useful indeed!

TQ: In Babylon Steel, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Gaie:  I don’t think it was a single character that was particularly difficult; making all the secondary characters feel fully rounded was probably the hardest thing. It was pointed out to me during a critique that some of them were inconsistent, and some of them were simply rather flat. It’s not the first time I’ve had to realise that I had a clearer idea of my characters in my head than had turned up on the page.
The easiest was Babylon. She had a very strong voice as soon as I started writing, and she didn’t change much, even through a very thorough critique, rewrites, and several rounds of edits.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the series?

Gaie:  It’s not been planned out in that sort of detail at this stage. Somewhere between three and five, possibly, is the closest I’d like to get at this point.

TQ:  What's next?

Gaie:  Oh, I have several things in mind! I’m working on the sequel to Babylon Steel at the moment. Once that’s done I want to get back to a collaboration I’m working on with my partner, which is also fantasy but a very different style from Babylon, and I have at least one other project which is in more of a high-fantasy vein. A lot depends on time, to be honest. I have great admiration for writers who can produce several books a year; I’d like to get that fast, but at the moment I’m still coping with having deadlines for one book at a time. Also, of course, I do have a full time job!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Gaie:  Thank you very much for inviting me.

Read Gaie's guest blog - Things I Didn’t Know - by clicking here.

About Babylon Steel

Babylon Steel
Babylon Steel 1
Solaris, December 27, 2012 (US); January 5, 2012 (UK/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback, 544 pages

Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex-other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and religions, not to mention the occasional insane warlock. She's not having a good week. The Vessels of Purity are protesting against brothels, women in the trade are being attacked, it's tax time, and there's not enough money to pay the bill. So when the mysterious Darask Fain offers her a job finding a missing girl, Babylon decides to take it. But the missing girl is not what she seems, and neither is Darask Fain. In the meantime twomoon is approaching, and more than just a few night's takings are at risk when Babylon's hidden past reaches out to grab her by the throat.

About Gaie

Gaie Sebold was born in the US, lives in South East London, and works for a social change charity. She has had several short stories and a book of poetry published. Her debut novel Babylon Steel is due out from Solaris on 27 December (US). ("Ingenious, gripping, and full of pleasures on every level. Exceptional." Mike Carey.)

She began writing shortly after learning to read, and has produced a large number of words, many of them different. She has worked as a cleaner, secretary, till-monkey, stage-tour-manager, editor, and now works for a charity and runs occasional writing workshops.

She is an obsessive reader, enthusiastically inefficient gardener and has been known to run around in woods hitting people with latex swords and declaim poetry in public, though not usually at the same time. She is currently working on a sequel to Babylon Steel, another novel in collaboration with her partner, writer Dave Gullen, and a romance, with orcs. She likes orcs.

Gaie's Links

Babylon Steel on Twitter

The Giveaway


What:  Five commenters will each win a copy of  Babylon Steel from Solaris. UK/US/Canada ONLY

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Which books or movies are you looking forward to in 2012?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a United Kingdom, Canadian or United States mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. The movie I'm looking forward to is the Avengers by J Whedon as I can't wait to see what he brings to this adaptation.

  2. Taking a Shot by Jaci Burton.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  3. I'm looking forward to A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follower


  4. Thanks for the fantastic interview! I've been eyeing this book for a while now as I had loved the cover and have already read such positive reviews. Thanks for the giveaway!

    I'm looking forward to Hunger Games the movie and A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison and Fair Game by Patricia Briggs. Luckily all of these are spring releases so I don't have too long to wait.

    +1 GFC: erin
    +1 comment


  5. I am really looking forward to The Hunger Games movie!! And I can't wait to read Cinder and Everneath to name just two :)

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/jwitt33/status/159369456290775043

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  6. In books, I'm looking forward to Allison Pang's A Sliver of Shadow, Stacey Jay's Blood on the Bayou, Ann Aguirre's Devil's Punch, and Kevin Hearne's Tricked. In movies, I'm looking forward to The Avengers, Underworld: Awakening, John Carter, Men In Black III and Dark Shadows.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower

  7. I don't watch a lot of movies, but I am looking forward to Fever and The Last Echo!
    GFC Krystal Larson
    edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom Thank you!

  8. I love the In Death books and always wait for the next one.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  9. I am looking forward to Breaking Dawn Part 2. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  10. I'm looking forward to the new Underworld movie (guilty pleasure), One for the Money and Hunger Games. I think the book I'm most looking forward to is Iced by Karen Marie Moning.

    GFC: ML
    Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/Rogue237/status/159459603644551168

    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

  11. Can't wait to read about this city! Your book sounds great! A fun interview to read!

    I am waiting to see the Huntsman, even though I am not a fan of the girl from Twilight I am a sucker for anything fairy tale.

    GFC follower Lexi
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. I'm looking forward to the Dark Knight Rises and Mirror, Mirror.

    I follow your blog.

    + 1 comment
    + 1 follower

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  13. Some movies I'm looking forward to are; The Avengers, The Hunger Games,and Snow White and the Huntsmen.

    Books I'm looking forward to are Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire, Trails of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz, and many more!

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower


  14. There are way, way, WAY too many books I'm looking forward to this year, but a couple movies I wouldn't mind seeing are: One For the Money, Men in Black III, Mirror Mirror, The Avengers, and Snow White and the Huntsman.

    I'm looking forward to reading Babylon Steel. The cover caught my eye, but the blurb & interview have sealed its fate! :p

    (+3: comment, follower, retweeter)

  15. Wow! I so want to read this book! I used to be a huge movie goer, but stopped a few years ago after I had my 4th back surgery and couldn't tolerate the seats in theaters. But I'm really glad that I read everyone's comments because I didn't realize that my favorite director, Jos Whedon, had a new movie coming out! And it's the Avengers. I am totally and utterly stoked. I'm going to go look it up now. Thanks for the info, folks, on the other upcoming movies as well.
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC as MJB

  16. Definitely looking forward to Avengers, Brave and Raven. Also Gunmetal Magic and Sacrificial Magic in books.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 shared on my blog
    impy80 at hotmail dot com

  17. One of the books I am very much looking forward to is Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger. It is bittersweet though since it will be the last book in the series.

    Thank you for the interview and giveaway!

    I am a follower

    ssosborn at gmail dot com

  18. Couple of movies I'm looking forward to: The Avengers and the Hunger Games.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower