Wednesday, August 31, 2016

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Pauline Spiegel from A Midsummer Night's Steampunk

1.       Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like, what you hope to achieve, etc.)

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A very good day, Kathryn—may I call you Kathryn? I am most gratified that my author, Mr Scott Tarbet of the United States, has introduced us. As he has told you, my name is Miss Pauline Spiegel. I make my home in Princes Gate Mews, Knightsbridge, London, with my father, Ernst, Artificer to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. I am a recent graduate of the Sorbonne, where I studied mechanical engineering, in furtherance of my apprenticeship with my father. I hope someday to inherit his artificer shoppe, the Golden Gear, whose mechanical confections delight the eye and mind of the cream of London, Berlin, and St Petersburg society. We undertake commissions for patrons royal and otherwise from around the world.

As you can see from the graduation portrait painted of me by delightful artist Egle Zioma, in appearance I am willowy, almost slight, not endowed with the blond good looks and feminine wiles of my childhood friend Clementine Hozier. My complexion is olive, my hair chestnut in color, and most difficult to tame, all the more so because of my penchant for riding abroad, on steeds both flesh and mechanical. In this I am frequently joined by my suitor, Mr Alexander MacIntyre, a secretary in Her Majesty’s household.
          What do you like to do in your spare time?

As I mentioned, I do enjoy riding, and walking in nearby Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park with Alex and Clemmie, and punting on the Thames and the Serpentine. I am, however, most enchanted by my work with automata and miniatures, and spend the majority of my time, both leisure and working, at this pursuit.
     What is your favorite color and why?

I am told that carnelian is the color that suits me best, though I could not begin to say why that is. I pay scant attention to matters of style, and rely on Clemmie’s advice in matters of wardrobe and ensemble.
     What is your favorite food? Why is it your favorite?

I have a particular fondness for kirschtorte, stemming, I think, from my childhood. My mother, in addition to her considerable attainments as an artificer in her own right, was an extraordinarily adept self-taught cook and baker. It seemed that cooking for my father and me took her heart back to her childhood in Bavaria.
     What would you say is your biggest quirk?

Oh law! I am chagrined to admit that I am most stubborn. Especially in matters mechanical, I will bulldog a challenge until I conquer it. This also manifests, I am afraid, in my relationship with my dear Papa, who more than matches me for native Germanic stubbornness. He is not enthusiastic about my attachment to Alex, insisting instead on an ancient (from before I was born) promise of marriage between me and the heir of the Spencer Churchill family, young Winston.
     What is it about your antagonist that irks you the most, and why? Share a line in the book where this irk is manifested.

Irk me! Law! Disgust, you might better say. Recalling the circumstances of my first meeting with my antagonist, Jack, remains quite distressing to me. His status of mere lackey to Dr Oberon Malieux excuses him and his actions not at all, any more than Dr Malieux’s subservience to Kaiser Wilhelm excuse his. Filthy, disgusting, cruel individual, this Jack.
I give you the following excerpt from Mr Tarbet’s telling of my adventures to illustrate:

As she watched, from slots in the forearms of the taller mech, long, razor-sharp bayonets sprang open. “You know, Bill,” he said conversationally to his companion, “I don’t recall nothing in the orders about not having a little fun with her before we takes her back.”
The shorter Enforcer snorted. “Jack, you’re just sorry you been refitted below the waist and can’t have fun with her the way you liked to before they put you in the madhouse.” He ground his mechanical hips at Pauline and flicked his fleshy tongue.
“Too right!” responded Jack. “She would have squealed so much better! But this will be fun enough for all of that.” His laugh became a high-pitched giggle.
There was the distinctive sound of the pump action of a shotgun chambering a round as a long barrel dropped forward from Bill’s chest, leveling itself at Pauline like a pointing finger. “I’ll hold her still for you. Just don’t cut her so deep she bleeds to death before the doctor has his chance with her. And don’t even think of taking no bits of her as souvenirs. Mayhap if you’re lucky, he’ll let us have her when he’s done.”
     What or who means the most to you in your life? What, if anything, would you do to keep him/her/it in your life?

Beyond doubt this must be my Alex. My heart is fixed upon him. I hope to share the rest of my life with him, in every way and in every circumstance. I dearly hope that my sweet Papa can be persuaded, and that I will not have to defy him.
          What one thing would you like readers to know about you that may not be spelled out in the book in which you inhabit?

I would like your readers to know how fond I have become of Mr Tarbet in the process of telling him my story, and of him writing it down for others to see. He has become a second father to me. He speaks of me as he would a beloved daughter.
          If you could tell your writer (creator) anything about yourself that might turn the direction of the plot, what would it be?

There is very little about my past that I could tell him that he does not already know. He also knows a great deal about my adventures that follow those told in AMNS. I look forward to working closely with him to tell more of that story.
          Ask me any question. I’ve always wanted to know what a character thinks about writers like myself. I’ll answer the question at the end of this interview.

Question for Me:

There is a great deal of pain evident in A River of Stones. Do you know this pain first hand, or do you write from your imagination? Does it feel like opening a wound, or more like sewing one closed?

Love this question. Yes, A River of Stones is based somewhat on my life growing up and my parents divorcing and my mother remarrying. Although the story is fiction, thoughts and feelings of this time in my own life are revealed through the main character, Samantha. How does a young girl feel about the divorce of her parents? How does it feel when another man wins the heart of her mother? Does she feel as if she's partially to blame for the separation of her parents, and how does she deal with the loss of a father? Does she withdraw? Strike out? Pretend everything is cozy when it's not? 

This book was a great healing book for me. It was also my first. 

Learn more about Pauline and her creator here: is Mr Tarbet’s author page.


  1. I always enjoy these character interviews. Thanks for an entertaining one with a character from Scott Tarbett's book, A Midsummer Night's Steampunk.


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