Sunday, October 03, 2010


I've been enjoying Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series of steampunk novels quite a bit. I've read the first two entries in the series (SOULLESS, released in 2009, and CHANGELESS, released in 2010) and have the latest, BLAMELESS, sitting on my Nook ready to read. The books take the approach (interesting if done right) of analyzing a fantasy conceit through the science fiction lens, and conveying it all in a tongue in cheek, hyper-Jane-Austin style that is a lot of fun to read. So much so that I don't even mind that it incorporates one of the current fantasy cliches, vampires vs. werewolves (although here, the conflict is more in manners than in tooth vs. claw combat).

So I found the interview with "Ms. Carriger" in the current Locus magazine interesting. Not only did the author create Gail Carriger as a pseudonym (due to her involvement in academia when formulating the series), but she has created an entire persona around the nom de plume. When she makes appearances as Carriger, she dresses in more vintage clothes, and adopts a more Anglicized and mannered conversational style than normal. Her stated goal is to create Gail Carriger as a brand. And it is working. CHANGELESS debuted on the NY Times bestseller list, as did BLAMELESS last month.

It's no secret that an author's public persona can be an effective marketing tool, particularly when the author is an entertaining bon vivant or a fun curmudgeon. To what extent can a persona be created as an advertising tool -- particularly where, as here, the author's true identity and the persona's creation are open "secrets?"

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