Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Breath of Earth by Beth Cato: interview with Ingrid Carmichael

Today I’m going to be interviewing Ingrid Carmichael.  She’s the main character in Beth Cato’s amazing steampunk novel BREATH OF EARTH—which will be released August 23. The story is an alternate history that takes place in San Francisco in 1906.

Ingrid, how about if you describe yourself for us?

About five and a half feet in height, and of a generous figure, like my mama. My complexion most resembles my father, though--rich brown in tone, and black hair that defies bobby pins and clips. As for my personality, well, I try to be a decent sort of person, though when I'm angry, things happen to... crack if I'm holding them. Warden Sakaguchi teases me about my warfare against dishes.

What’s your profession?

I'm secretary at the Cordilleran Auxiliary. That place sounds fancy, I know, but all it means is that I serve up gallons of coffee and tea for the geomancer wardens and adepts at our building in downtown San Francisco. Not only is it the wardens' center of business for the region as they work with the earth's energy, but the building is also a boarding school for young geomancers in training.

I should add that I do more than serve drinks, too. I directly work with Warden Sakaguchi to manage his appointments and paperwork. I assist the housekeepers all the time--my mama used to be head housekeeper there. I help in the classrooms as needed, too. Really, I fill in most anywhere.

Do you have a special skill?

I'm... just a secretary. You insist on an answer? Well, I'm fluent in Japanese and English, but most anyone is these days, with Japan and America allied as they are.  I can also bake up a wonderful dried apple pie. My mama's recipe.

What is your biggest dream/wish/desire?

That hardly seems like a fair question. As a woman, I'm supposed to want marriage and a litter of children underfoot.  Hmph. While I wouldn't mind a good sort of man in my life, I really wish I could be more useful at the auxiliary. Work as a teacher, perhaps. Not that such a thing will ever happen.

What’s your darkest secret?

What sort of nosy question is that? Do you ask everyone that sort of thing? My secret wouldn't be a secret if I announce it to just anyone who asks! You--oh, damn--drat--this cup cracked in my hands. It happens. I'm strong. All the housework I do. Here, let me get a rag.

What’s your favorite pastime/hobby?

I will give this small secret away: I read those pulp novels. You know, the sorts with dashing men on the cover, and likely some fainting female in a state of mild undress. Oh, they are silly books for certain. I roll my eyes a good bit. I can't help but buy more of them, though.

Describe the craziest thing you have done.

Mama used to encourage me to do all sorts of things that society would judge to be crazy, but Mama was also a suffragette. She believed I should be able to do most anything a man can do. I can ride a horse, do basic repairs on an autocar, and even shoot a pistol. We used to go down to Mount Diablo to practice shooting.

Boots, sandals, slippers . . . what kind of shoes do you wear?

Lace-up boots, most often, or perhaps dress slippers if I'm accompanying Warden Sakaguchi to the opera. I really detest wearing shoes, though. I much prefer to be in my sock feet. Yes, I'm quite the rebellious woman, aren't I?

Who is your favorite fictional character?

I do love Hank in Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. It's ingenious, how he engineers kermanite steam engines in the medieval period. What, you don't remember that? Perhaps we read different versions of the book?

Thank you Ingrid for stopping by. I'm so excited about BREATH OF EARTH and can't wait to get my hands on it when it comes out next week! 


In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

BUY LINKS—pre-order today!


Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE. Her newest novel is BREATH OF EARTH. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. 

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.


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