Author Karina Cooper Character Interview and $20.00 Amazon Gift Card Contest Here!

Gilded: The St. Croix Chronicles by Karina CoooperCherry St. Croix, the Mad Doctor’s Daughter

When I sit down to write a book, one of the things that strike me—usually while doing other things, like the dishes, or showering, or some other mindless task—is what a character feels or has to say about this concept or that fact. Sometimes, a whole, verbose lecture will form in my head, and this is often the case with Cherry St. Croix, the heroine—and much beleaguered Society miss—in Tarnished and Gilded.

Because trying to get Cherry to sit down for longer than it takes to eat breakfast—and asking these sorts of things during breakfast would be the very height of rude, don’t you know?—I have taken the liberty to transcribe her thoughts as she’s made them clear to me.

If something sparks your imagination, feel free to ask any questions that you like! I’m just her creator. You, unlike me, are fascinating creatures to our not-so-closeted collector.

Without further ado, I give you Miss St. Croix.

On Fashion
Oh, for the love of… Who was that man who decided one fine day that the primary care of a woman should be the attendance of fashion? That it rise not only to the equal footing of the care of one’s children but sometimes even beyond both disgusts and amazes me. Surely, ‘twas a man who decided such an absurd thing, and worse still that it must be a man who decides the coming and going of fashionable design at the drop of a hat—nah, the drop of a glass! You understand that the Directoire fashion is returning, yes? Unbelievable, truly astounding. What sober mind would wake up one day and think, “I believe bustles should be larger!”

On Marriage and Love
I believe in marriage. Or, at the very least, I am one of those “addle-minded girls” written of in the etiquette books who believes in love—as such a thing that surely happens to other people. By all accounts, my father and mother were very much in love. So much so that they died together, which is tragic yet perhaps a small kindness. I don’t begrudge them their choices now, what good would that do me? I have seen marriages made of convenience and marriages made for love. My own Betsy, friend and confidant, married her fine Scotsman for the love of it, and she is quite happy.

Still, there is something quite sordid about the whole concept of marriage. To bind one’s self forever to another, to be responsible not for one’s own happiness but for another’s, as well? I’m not wholly sure I could commit to such a thing, even without the law to convince me what a shameful idea the whole mess it. Were I to marry, everything I owned would belong to my husband—and even should he die, it would never come back to me. There is no love strong enough to justify losing my freedom. I am no man’s chattel, and never shall be.

Why must a woman sell herself and her belongings simply because Society has deemed her incapable of fending for herself?

There are times when I am quite convinced that fashion’s demands go hand in hand with the presumed role of women in this society. After all, no woman could possibly fend for herself with a bustle so large as to jut like a saddle from her posterior!

On Collecting
Ah, collection. A fine agency for the strong of heart and faint of common sense. I will not lie. I am well aware the profession I have chosen for myself is a dangerous one, as likely to end in a scrap as a surrender. Perhaps had I been raised by my father and mother, I might have become something else. After all, they say that my mother was an elegant creature of grace and charm—unlike myself—and that my father was a brilliant doctor of some esteem.

With their deaths, I have been painted by two separate brushes—that of comparison, and that of judgment.

I will never be what my mother was, and while I enjoy the intellectual debate of scientific interest, I am not the chemist or genius that Mad St. Croix has become in infamy. Ergo, I would much prefer to find my own way.

‘Tis unlikely that either of my deceased parents would have expected me to become London’s only female collector—even if I must keep it secret. Yet there is a thrill to such a profession, I must admit, and the bounties are very good. When, of course, I receive them…

On Cornelius Kerrigan Compton
Oh, him. Why my lord has chosen to defy his mother in this method is simply beyond me. I must be a distraction of some kind, perhaps a bit of eldest son rebellion. He is nice enough, of course—handsome, as the gossip columns have always indicated. And he is kind… but stuffy. The eldest son of a marquis, an earl in his own right, cannot be expected to be anything but stuffy, I think. ‘Tis written in a by-law somewhere, I’m sure of it.

Whatever the case, I refuse to be a pawn in a family game. Refuse. Do you hear me, you dratted earl?

On Micajah Hawke
… Of all the men of my acquaintance, Hawke bears the most animosity—and the most begrudging respect, I must admit it. It is no small feat to keep the Midnight Menagerie operating as such smooth clockwork. I respect his strength of will, yet his behaviors and his often brusque demeanor infuriate me. To him, collector or no, I am just another woman, and for this reason—though not that reason alone—I shall never give him anything more than the collections the Menagerie post. I despise being treated like I am nothing. Or, worse, a burden.

I am no burden. I am a free woman, and I have worked hard to ensure I remain so. I will never be one of Hawke’s pets. Let him claim the Menagerie and stay meekly within the cage his Karakash Veil masters lay out for him. Any debts I accrue, I will pay. I will owe him—and, by association, that Chinese organization that owns him—nothing.

On Theodore Helmsley
Oh! Such lovely companionship from such a dear friend. Teddy is the third son of a viscount, and so retains somewhat more freedom than the heir or spare might. We meet every Wednesday to speak of the intellectual matters found in the science periodicals, and such debates we have! Do you know, he bears almost a mystical awe for aether? Pish tosh, says I, for aether is simply a chemical, a thing, that we have not truly explored yet.

Teddy is a very fine companion, and I count myself fortunate that he is my friend.

On London
Someday, I shall leave this city. On an airship, perhaps, such as the HMS Ophelia. I shall travel the world, from the far-off East to the Americas, and I shall sample all the things denied me now.

I will be a free woman. It can be done, I swear it.

From You
Have you questions for me, then? Ask, while I am here, for now is the opportune time when no dreary lords or fussy chaperones are about.

As for you, sir—you know who you are—I am flattered by your interest, truly. Yet I’ve no desire to be linked in any gossip column. On the other hand, should you desire a taste of collection below the foggy drift, I shall be pleased to take you along… You do have pistols handy, yes?

Well, there you have it. Cherry St. Croix, waxing—as she often does—rather verbosely. Even so, I’d take her up on it! If you have a question for me or her, please ask. I’ll be here to answer! And, all right, so will she. If I make her some tea and strawberry toast.

About the Author
After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romance, steampunk urban fantasy, and writes across multiple genres with mad glee. One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks. Visit her at, because she says so.

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  1. Dorothy MacPherson

    I love the Steampunk genre. Will you be writing a third St. Croix Chronicles? I bought your first book and Gilded is on my to be read list.

    • Isn’t Steampunk just so much fun? 🙂 Thanks os much for buying Tarnished, I hope you enjoy the series. I will, in fact, be writing Corroded, though I’m not sure when in 2013 we can expect to see it. If you keep an eye on my website—and/or various social type feeds—I’ll announce it when I know. 🙂 Happy new year!

  2. I wonder this about every author. What’s your revision process? Is it chapter by chapter, or slog through the whole thing and then start at the beginning….or pay small ninja monkeys to run around on top of it with a pen scribbling out words until something makes sense? Inquiring minds want to know >.>

    • I’ve tried the monkey thing, but it turns out that they’re worse than herding cats and I always end up with dysfunctional bananaholics. In the end, I found it costs less money in fur, feed and clean-up to do what I usually do: I write the whole book, scene by scene, write THE END, take a day off or two, and then go back and revise using a carefully calculated process of sticky notes and—Yeah, no, I go through it start to finish, and scribble reminders on sticky notes as I go.

      Nothing fancy. I just get her done, as it were. 🙂 Once I go through it, I’ll go back to my sticky note and make sure I hit all the reminders, and I save every revision I ever make, to the point where my writing folders can have upwards of 50 documents in it. I never go back and use them, but you never know.

      If you like, though, I know a guy who knows a guy with monkeys…

      • Monkeys you say? Perhaps we should talk. I’ll have my people call your people. Perhaps we can trade Gunslinging Llamas for Ninja Monkeys. Also, just to throw another question out there…Here’s something I’ve noticed. I’m a writer, or at least that’s what I tell people after I’ve had one too many spirits. That said, I try to pay attention to my preferred genre, Urban Fantasy (though I’m toying with the idea of trying to do something steampunkish). What I’ve noticed is, and I may be way off here, but a lot of the more popular Steampunk stuff coming out seems to be penned by women, any thoughts on that?

        • Oh, look. There’s a banana on the ad at the bottom of the page. It must be a sign.

          Hmm. As far as “popular” goes, that does seem to be the thing. It may have something to do with the fact that a lot of your cross-genre readers are actually coming off romance first, via urban fantasy of the new slant (which tends to rely heavily on romance as a plot point and character thing). A huge number of your urban fantasy readers, these days, are women, and there’s such a crossover of romance and urban fantasy that the market ends up having a majority of women writers. This is all based on my own, non-backed-up hypothesis, of course.

          Of course, this is not a universal rule. Cherie Priest’s steampunk series is not romance. And there are steampunk authors who aren’t women. I suspect it has to do with the natural progression of a genre out of another genre, and the audience (and producers) that come with it.

          As for me, I’m often a genre-bender. I don’t necessarily write to genre, but what I write can fall into one or another. My romance line is heavily urban fantasy, and my historical urban fantasy is steampunk-flavored. I say write what you will, know what genre suits it best, and let the genre work itself out later. 🙂 Gender of author isn’t really taken into account, it just seems to be the way it is.

  3. Loved Tarnished and can´t wait for my chance to read Gilded *grabby hands*
    I hope you´ll continue this series forever LOL.

    Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year, Linda! I’m so glad you liked Tarnished! I have a lot of fun reading these,a nd hope you enjoy the series as much as I’ve enjoyed spinning them. <3

  4. A chicken and the egg question here. Did you get interested in steampunk and then dive into writing Cherry, or did she drag you into it first?

    • The chicken! … Wait, the egg!

      Um, which one is Cherry?

      I actually got side-interested in steampunk, from a sort of ambivalent point of view. I thought it was cool, I liked dressing up, I’ve been doing dress-up for years, and the mancandy wanted to go to an Abney Park concert. Through their music, I got a little more into the genre in a not-literary sense (I maintain there is a divide between literary steampunk and community).

      By the time I was writing Cherry, I was more into the community, so I think they sort of bolstered each other.

      Happy New year, Mr. Zombie!

  5. I really enjoyed Tarnished, and have acquired Gilded and can hardly wait to read it. Steampunk is a new genre for me – I actually got hooked in by a short story by Meljean Brook. I like the more complex story lines, the “alternate universe” kinda thing going on, as well as strong characters in Steampunk. I’ve also been reading your other series – just finished All Things Wicked. Looking forward to more in both series. Thanks for doing what you do!

    • Thank you so much for reading it, Penni! 🙂 I’m so glad you’re enjoying them.

      I love, love, LOVE Meljean’s steampunk works, I’m just (eh heh) riveted by them. I like the complexities, too. 🙂 Happy reading!

  6. Do you have any unusual or special talents excluding your storytelling abilities?

    • D’aww, my storytelling is a “special talent”! I feel so tickled. <3

      I… can… I… Erm. I… have something I can do, I'm almost sure of it.

      It's possibly I'm just stunningly good and being mediocre and embracing it. I'll have to think on this. Storytelling may actually be what I do!

  7. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

  8. If Cherry came to our present time, what would she make/say about it of it?

    • Cherry would say something like, “What is this? What has happened? So many people, each living together as they could not do in London above nor below. There are those of color and immigrants and oh, dear, such professions for women as I’ve never dreamed! Yet… Do you not value your privacy? Why must everyone be so open with the things they do on this… line? Truly, this world has made such remarkable achievements. Tell me, then. If this world is so vastly superior, why must the women who gained so much still be classed as a separate being?”

      “You enjoy delights as I could only wish for, and yet I wonder how far you truly have come. Things seem much more complex, and this is saying a great deal. Your Society is now based on wealth, not tradition; your family lines are worthless. Is it only coin that dictates a man’s lot? How does this work when all clamber for it? Is it not class war? … Oh, but a woman can be a member of the police, a barrister, a judge, a member of Parliament. A woman may live alone or with a man of her choosing, she can own land, she can retain her wealth after marriage, even inherit! Such advances and such setbacks and all so brilliantly confounding. How DO you live? Where do you choose to go every day, and how do you decide? It’s simply… so noisy, is it not?”

  9. How do you research for this genre. I always want to write but I find the idea of doing the research in order to start the book just overwhelming. Do you work on it as you go?

    • Have you ever heard of a term called WWILFing? It stands for “What Was I Looking For?”, and it describes what happens when you read an article or a wiki link and find yourself, some hours later, reading about something totally different. I use this talent liberally when I’m researching. I have a bookmarks folder where I keep everything historical note I find interesting, and I link-jump from notable name to name, and I save everything that catches my attention.

      As I write, I find myself stumbling over certain issues in scenes. Things like, “What would a butler wear?” or “How is an unmarried lady supposed to act on the ballroom?” At that point, I’ll look it up, and bookmark it all.

      It can be overwhelming, so the key is to simply read everything you can, and make note of the things you specifically need. The rest can be refined. And, if you write a book where historical accuracy isn’t important, then get on with your bad self and ignore accuracy entirely!

  10. What would Cherry think of fashion today?

    • “Are you implying that I can choose to wear trousers or a gown? That I may wear a skirt that swings at my knees? Good heavens, what freedoms this world entertains! …A question, if I may. If today’s woman is so eager to be free, why does she entrap herself in clothing so short as to keep her from moving with ease?”

  11. Steampunk is a new genre for me. In addition to the St. Croix Chronicles, what are some of your favorite titles or authors in this genre?

    • Welcome to steampunk!

      There’s some really great books out there, but since I don’t stray far from the romance or UF feel, I can offer you my favorites there. Meljean Brook has a phenomenal series that begins with THE IRON DUKE. Delilah S. Dawson writes a series that starts with WICKED AS THEY COME and I hear that so much, too. I did enjoy Cherie Priest’s BONESHAKER, but if you’re looking for romance, you won’t find it there. It’s still a very lovely, dreamy, gritty book.

      Suzanne Lazear may also have some books for your taste, but she’s got plenty to share. A search for her name will reveal all.

      Happy reading! 🙂

      • Raonaid Luckwell

        Love love love Meljean Brook’s Iron Series books! And Delilah Dawson’s book is awesome! Meljean highly recommended it to me.

        I had Boneshaker and hubby, myself, and a co-worker of his tried to read it but found it incredibly dry. I eventually gave the book away.

  12. Raonaid Luckwell

    Absolutely LOVE Steampunk, the music, the fashion, the books.

    My question is for Karina – What is your favorite aspect about the Steampunk genre?

    • My favorite aspect of the Steampunk genre—from a literary angle—really is that you can write almost any aspect you want, and you’d be well within your rights. You’re not constrained by historical accuracy, but you can include elements of accuracy if you want to. Or you don’t have to. You can make up anything, make it fit your world with its steampunk aesthetics, or you can include steampunk into history as we know it. It’s so fluid, and I love that.

      Why, what’s yours?

  13. Hi,

    where do you envision Steampunk going?

    • Going? I’m not sure. it’s already such a broad genre, with so many wonderful people part of it. I hope whatever it does, it continues to be the welcoming community it always has been. 🙂

  14. Raonaid Luckwell

    Karina – Have you ever heard of the steampunk band Abney Park? They are responsible for creating steampunkish characters set in a post apolcayptic era (for me and two friends)

    Love their sound and videos!

  15. Loved this character interview!
    Cherry seems an independent and forward thinking woman, will she/has she come across many other like-minded ladies who might want to join her in her travels outside the city of London?
    Looking at our present day, what would Cherry want to do first in our world?


    • Thank you! 🙂

      Cherry has, in fact, met a few likeminded souls, but you’ll have to read the books to see if she does anything with them. 😉

      As for her first outing, I think she’d…. want to go to a theme park. Can’t you just see her at Disney World, unescorted, having the time of her life on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride?

  16. I loved Tarnished and I’m really looking forward to reading Gilded. Steampunk is one of my favorite genres so I’m always excited when there’s something new in steampunk to read. My question is: I know you write in a couple of genres, are there any others you’d like to try your hand at, say science fiction romance, historical, contemporary, etc?

    • Aw, thanks so much for loving Tarnished!

      I really want to write in all of them, at some point. I mean, for me, it’s less about writing to genre and more writing what you want, and being rather chuffed when it ends up part of a genre—even if it wasn’t planned that way. 😉 Hopefully everyone will read all the things I write!

  17. Are there other creative outlets that you flow yourself into? Painting? jewelry making? 🙂

    • I used to design steampunk clothing, but when I started writing, I kind of fell out of, you know, time. For everything. 😉

      I do LARP every Friday, but that’s just another version of storytelling, just dressed up and acting, so I think it still counts. 😀

  18. I’m still new to the steampunk genre, but this sounds like I series I must check out. What authors have influenced you?

    • I hope you enjoy! 🙂 It’s so hard to say what authors have influenced my work, because I’m not objective enough to say, but I can say that Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman have definitely influenced me. They way they live is a real inspiration. A very dear friend, Cherry Adair, also influenced me with her hard work ethic and all the little ways she encouraged me—and all of her young writers out there, who look up to her.

      • p.s. The fact that Cherry St. Croix is named like Cherry Adair is more or less coincidence—there’s a reason Miss St. Croix is named Cherry—but Cherry Adair likes to call them “the me book”, which makes me laugh.

  19. Cherry sounds like a strong heroine. How would you describe her. Is is someone you would want living next door to you?

    • I think Cherry would be the ideal neighbor. Generally keeps to herself while at home, but occasionally can be caught sneaking out, and if you’re friends with her, you’d be caught into the most wonderful adventures!

      Odds are, though, that she’d always be borrowing a cup of sugar. And maybe crashing on your couch, once in a while.

  20. Hi there! I was wondering if any of your books were available in audio format? I didn’t see that listed as a choice when I looked them up on amazon. What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

    • I LOVE audiobooks, I listen to them when I’m cooking or working on web design or something like that. I think they’re amazing. One of my all-time favorites are in Terry Pratchett’s lineup, the CIty Watch books set in his Discworld series. I can listen to them over and over, and frequently do!

      I don’t think mine are quite available for audiobook yet. I hope, one day!

  21. I just bought Tarnished, really looking forward to it. I’m new to the steampunk genre but I love the style and look. My son’s girlfriend loves it, she loaned me some picture books full of fashion and household items people made. So very creative and cool to look at. I’d need 2 jobs to be able to afford most of it, too bad I’m not the creative sort or I’d try to make some of it.

    • Joani, welcome to steampunk! There’s plenty of room for folks who simply love it, instead of make it. Tell you the truth, I’m a consumer, myself. I’ll keep making money writing so that I can buy everybody’s awesome DIY things. 😉

  22. So since Cherry can often prove to be…we’ll call it stubborn at certain times during the writing process, do you treat yourself or bribe yourself with something while writing or do you pretty much get the job done without bribery? (And without monkeys)


    • Ah, I wish I had thought of bribery before I developed the discipline. 😉 I don’t rely on bribes or monkeys to get the job done, as it were. Cherry is always stubborn, but she tells me in no uncertain terms what she’s doing and how she intends to do it., I just write the words. 😉

  23. Thanks so much for being here! I bought Tarnished and it’s up next on my reading list. What was your favorite scene to write in either Tarnished or Gilded?

    • One of my favorite scenes in Gilded takes place in Cherry’s own home. It’s during the height of the mystery, and she is obsessed with the challenge. She’s also, shall we say, running a little dry, so her antics are much more visceral than usual. I loved writing it, and I hope the impact of what she’s going through leaves the reader feeling a little bit raw, like I did when writing it. 🙂

      Thanks so much for being here with me!

  24. When you’re not busy writing, what is your favourite genre to read?

    • I love reading anything that catches my eye, really. Mystery, urban fantasy, romance, even some non-fiction! I’m just a voracious reader. I like words. 😉

      And yourself?

  25. On a scale of 1-10, how uncomfortable is a corset? Either or both of you can answer!

    • In unison: “Eight and a half!”

      A corset should be made appropriately, and actually be the appropriate size. The shape of the corset can also dictate how uncomfortable it, and whether or not you have trained yourself to wear one. Over all, it can be constricting and uncomfortable for those of us who are very active.

      Still, they look wonderful and I never have such good posture as when I’m wearing one. 😉

  26. What genre do you like to write the most?
    And Whats a collection that she is talking about?

    • I love all genres! I can’t decide which is my favorite because it really comes down to “what book are you writing now?”. I can’t really pick a favorite, I just have so much fun with all of them. 🙂

      In Cherry’s world, a “collector” is someone who is hired to run down criminals, vagrants and those who owe debts, and haul them in for pay. A bounty hunter, as it were, but with a little more panache to the term. 😉

  27. What was your favorite childhood book?

    • Childhood book? As in, pre-11 years of age? Hmmm… I <3ed Good Night, Moon. I still quote it on occasion. 😉

      If you mean "book I read while I was young", I loved the main Dragonriders of Pern trilogy, by Anne McCaffrey. I read it over and over again, untilt he pages were stained by kool-aid and sugar and tearing out. 😀

      What was yours?

  28. Have you ever written fan fiction? For what fandom?

    • Yes! … Er, sort of. I was once part of a group Yahoo RP list that operated in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake universe. I’ve never written full on fan fiction, though.

      The closest I ever got was writing, via text message, a brief exchange between Mass Effect 3’s Commander Shepard and Kaidan Alenko at the Apollo Cafe, when the bastard accused her of cheating on him with Thane. I couldn’t bring myself to continue the conversation without clearing that little arrogant note up. So I sent it to my best friend and fellow ME3 addict, earned a, “YES!”, and then felt justified about continuing Operation Get Back Into Kaidan’s Pants.

      It’s okay. I’ve since discovered Garrus. Kaidan’s back in the doghouse and—OH LOOK WHO NEEDS FAN FICTION I APPEAR TO LIVE IT! 😉

  29. Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what kind?

    • Yes! Well… mostly. Some days just require quiet.

      I listen to film scores or instrumentals, mostly, that evoke the feeling I want to capture. I can’t listen to lyrics, they distract me and I find myself singing along. 🙂 I do have a Spotify account, though, and I do have some writing playlists up if you’re interested to see what I listen to. I’m findable through my facebook account:

  30. Congrats on your new release!

    Whats your favorite part of the process?

  31. Amazing! Its really amazing piece of writing,
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