Interview: Gaie Sebold, author of Babylon Steel

Gaie Sebold is the author of Babylon Steel and her newest novel, Dangerous Gifts,just came out in January! Gaie was kind enough to chat with me about her writing, and more!

GaieSeboldDangerous Gifts, the 2nd book in the Babylon Steel series, is out this month! Will you tell us a bit about it and the intriguing Babylon Steel?
Babylon Steel is a former mercenary and current courtesan who runs a brothel in Scalentine; a somewhat odd city stuck between a number of different planes and occupied by a wide mix of races. In the first book, local prostitutes are being attacked, and Babylon’s in trouble with the taxman. She’s offered a job finding a missing girl, just as things in the city are ramping up for twomoon, the time when both the city’s moons are full and everything goes a bit crazier than usual (partly because a number of the citizens are weres of one sort or another…). Then she discovers that her past is about to catch up with her, and since her past involves murder, torture, and insane beings with godlike powers, it all gets rather nasty.

In Dangerous Gifts she’s offered a job as bodyguard to Enthemmerlee, who’s about to become a member of the Council of Incandress if she survives long enough. Babylon doesn’t want the job, but ends up having to take it for financial reasons, despite the fact that Incandress is on the verge of civil war and Enthemmerlee is a prime target for assassination. Things only get more complicated from there!

dangerousgiftsWhen you started the series, did you already have an idea of how many books it would consist of, or did you just decide to let it see where it takes you?
When I started the first book I didn’t even know where that book was going to take me! Ideas for more in the series emerged as I was working on it, and still further with the second. I’m hoping there will be three more books, at this point.

Have you done any specific research for the series?
My main ‘research’ was learning medieval longsword, partly for fun, and partly to have some idea how a swordfight actually works when people are genuinely trying to kill each other. Not that anyone was actually trying to kill each other in my classes, I should point out, or I wouldn’t have lasted very long. I wasn’t terribly good, and my teachers were very good indeed.

It was a great class, if exhausting, and I learned quite a lot about the use of various weapons in their historical context as well, which was very useful.

Other than that I’ve delved into various bits about how to kill people…oh dear, that does seem to be rather a theme…how slings work, the chemical makeup of porphyry, and other oddities.

What are some of your biggest influences in your writing?
That’s a tricky one. In terms of writers, see the next question! In terms of other influences: I grew up in a houseful of books, which certainly helped. I had sympathetic English teachers. I was a slightly isolated child and adolescent; I spent a great deal of time alone and read whatever I could get hold of. I think part of me is always going to be influenced by that; the hope that somewhere out there, someone will have their life made more exciting and interesting, and perhaps less lonely, for a few hours. Which is a modest enough ambition, but personally I’m not sure I’d have survived my adolescence without books.

What are a few of your favorite novels?
There are so many. King/Straub’s Talisman. I love a lot of King’s work. I adored the first three books of The Dark Tower beyond reason. The Land of Green Ginger. Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus. Martin Amis’s Money. Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Memoirs of a Geisha. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I’d better stop or I’ll take up the rest of the interview with a list of books!

If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Oh, that’s tricky – maybe The Land of Green Ginger. I loved it so much as a child but it has dated on me a little.

What book are you reading now?
About three, actually – Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, Tom Holland’s Persian Fire, and a book on the folklore of London by Antony Clayton. And something else I’ve left in the other room and can’t remember.

babylonsteelWill you tell us a bit about Plot Medics?
This was something I set up with a friend, writer and crafter Sarah Ellender. The idea was to act as brainstormers and sounding boards for writers, but that didn’t really take off, and perhaps we hadn’t really clarified what we wanted to do, so we designed some writing workshops instead. We haven’t had a chance to do as many as we’d like yet, but they’ve been quite successful so far. And they’re a lot of fun to do. Seeing people come up with stuff they didn’t know they had in them is amazingly satisfying. We’re looking at doing more of these in the coming months, including at some conventions.

I read that you’re an avid gardener! How else do you like to spend your free time?
I read a lot; though, rather shockingly, less fiction since I started having some success with writing – I just don’t have as much time. I do occasional Live Action Role Play (running around hitting people with latex swords – an amazingly good way of relieving tension). I work with the T Party Writers critique group, go to a few conventions, and I’m making a moderately serious attempt to get fit, mainly by bouncing around to a fitness programme for the Kinect and swearing at that annoyingly perky voice that goes ‘lower squats!’ and ‘keep going!’ I watch films with my other half, writer David Gullen – we saw Hugo recently and both adored it. We brainstorm plot ideas together. And I spend too much time on the Internet on writing blogs and forums, and reading webcomics.

What’s next for you?
I’ve got a couple of short stories about to come out, one in a World War Cthulhu anthology which is due shortly, one in the next issue of On Spec, and I’ve been asked to contribute to a couple of other anthologies over the next few months. On the novel front, I’m currently working on a new Babylon book and another fantasy novel set in a different world, and there are a couple of online projects I’d really like to get on with – one Babylon-related, one not. There’s also a novel in collaboration with my partner we’ve been working on for a couple of years – but since he’s currently up to his neck in edits on his first novel, Shopocalypse, which is coming out soon from Clarion, it’s going to be a while before that one gets much attention!

It’s nice to have a lot of projects though. A few more lifetimes to do them all would be good, too.
Keep up with Gaie: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Weeding and Writing | Babylon’s Twitter

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.

Babylon Steel, former avatar of the goddess of sex and war, currently owner of the Scarlet Lantern, has been offered a job as bodyguard to Enthemmerlee, the latest candidate for the Council of Incandress. But Incandress is on the verge of civil war and Enthemmerlee represents the hopes, and fears, of its population. She is also a prime target for assassination.

Before things get better, they are going get worse.

The stunning follow up to Babylon Steel.

Babylon Steel, former avatar of the goddess of sex and war, currently owner of the Scarlet Lantern, the best brothel on Scalentine, city of portals, has been offered a job; as bodyguard to Enthemmerlee, the latest candidate for the Council of Incandress; and as spy for the Diplomatic Section, the barely-acknowledged government of Scalentine.

She doesn’t want it. Incandress is on the verge of civil war. Enthemmerlee represents the hopes or fears of a large portion of its population and is a prime target for assassination. And on Scalentine racial tensions and economic stresses are boiling up, with Babylon’s lover, Chief Bitternut, trying to keep the lid on.

But circumstances conspire to send her to Incandress. There, what with attempting to turn Enthemmerlee’s useless household guard into a disciplined fighting force, dodging the Moral Statutes, the unwilling presence of a very annoyed member of the Diplomatic Section and the need to keep both herself and her client alive, things become rather too interesting. And that’s before Babylon realises that the situation is far worse than she thought, and is driven to a choice that will have far-reaching consequences…

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