Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger is the pen name of Tofa Borregaard, an American archaeologist and author of steampunk fiction. She was born in Bolinas, an unincorporated community in Marin County, California, and attended high school at Marin Academy. She received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, a masters of science in archaeological materials at England’s University of Nottingham in 2000, and a master of arts in anthropology (with a focus on archaeology) at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2008. (Source)


Parasol Protectorate
Supernatural Society novels
Finishing School
Delightfully Deadly novels
The Custard Protocol
Short Fiction


  • Gail Carriger is the pen name of Tofa Borregaard. She chose the name ‘Gail Carriger’ because she thought it was a nice, simple name that nobody would mispronounce. However, turns out many people do mispronounce it. (Source)
  • Carriger’s strongest writing influences are authors Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens and P.G. Wodehouse. (Source)
  • Carriger considers herself to be writing re-explained history instead of alt-history. She wanted certain key historical events to stay in place, so most major wars and battles are still there, but the reasons behind them are different. She wanted to take the same tactic with the most ridiculous aspects of Victorian fashion as well. Her characters therefore use high cravats to hide bite marks, and in her world confining bustle-skirts and heeled boots were designed by vampires to keep their prey (humans) from moving too fast. (Source)
  • When ‘designing’ her vampires, Carriger went back to the roots of the western vampire mythology. She considers her vampires to be a parody of the original Gothic monsters while at the same time poking fun at the modern metamorphose. Carriger tries not to read too many modern vampire books, as she doesn’t want to be influenced. (Source)
  • Carriger came up with the idea of the vampire hive – with queens and drones – because she knew werewolf culture would be based on wolf pack dynamics and she wanted a similar animal organization structure for her vampires. She also wanted something that was predatory and opposite of that of wolves, for example an organization where the female is dominant instead of the male. Given those strictures, Carriger knew that bat colonies (the obvious option) wouldn’t work, nor would most birds. Since wasp hive structures had always fascinated her, Carriger felt those would be a natural choice. (Source)
  • Carriger loves names so she plays with them whenever possible. On a few occasions her characters will choose their own names, but most of the time Carriger’s names are what she calls ‘cookies’, by which she means they are rewards for her careful readers. A ‘cookie name’ will either tell readers something about the character, where he came from, her real identity, his true purpose, or relate to someone historical (Tarabotti), or are some kind of hint or foreshadow (Akeldama). (Source)
  • Carriger uses bribery to discipline herself to write. She grants herself a cup of tea if she finishes a chapter, sushi every 25 thousand words, new shoes when she finishes a first draft. She also punishes herself. If she hasn’t made her word count she can’t watch TV, not even Project Runway. (Source)
  • Dialogue is Carriger’s favorite thing to write, and she visualizes her characters either talking on stage or on screen to each other. Carriger’s first draft of her manuscript actually tends to be dialogue heavy, so when she rewrites it, she fills it out with descriptions or narration. (Source)
  • Whenever Carriger (re)reads her own work, she hears the voice of her mother as the narrator. Carriger didn’t have television when she was a child, and her mother raised her by reading stories to her in her very British accent. The voice stuck. (Source)
  • With a project due Carriger writes (for the rough) or edits (for the draft) from 2 to 7 every weekday – with breaks for tea. Carriger has a closed-door policy, which is to say that when her door is closed, it is her policy to throw the nearest moveable object at anyone who disturbs her. She writes at home or at a nearby coffee shop, although when she’s really struggling with distractions she goes to the library. She doesn’t listen to music while writing, since music only makes her want to dance. (Source)
  • Carriger took a hot air balloon ride for her birthday as part of her research. She rather shocked the other floaters by asking the pilot about mounting cannons on the edge and how fast they would fall if she actually pulled the vent-cord marked ‘do not pull’. Notes that she took on this trip got used in Timeless, all the Finishing School books and Prudence. (Source)
  • Carriger’s spelling is one of the things she needs help from her editors with. According to her, she “scatters comma’s like I’m a Roman covering Carthage with salt”. (Source)