Every month I’ll be interviewing an author who writes historically-influenced fiction, and introducing you to some fantastic new writing talent. Their genres vary, but all of them are writing stories set in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I wrote my first novel on a dare. It was just to prove a point (lo-o-ong shaggy dog story there) but then people started passing the manuscript around and telling me it was worth putting out there.
What are the best and worst things about being an author?
The worst thing is the marketing aspects: they are hard, none of us really knows what works, and writers all suffer from “impostor syndrome” so putting ourselves out there and acting super-confident is hard.
The best part is not having to get dressed for work.
What’s your favourite historical time period to write about and why?
I actually was (in a previous incarnation) an archaeologist who specialized in Early Medieval Northern Europe, so late Iron Age Celtic, and Norse society of the Viking era are real passions for me.
But I cut my reading teeth on the Brontes and Jane Austen (not to mention Georgette Heyer), so I also am very much in love with Regency and Victorian English-ey things.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched in relation to your writing?
How to make “magic fire” = which has nothing to do with anything I’ve published, but forms a very important thing in a book I’ve just started working on.
It’s really dangerous stuff, but table magicians (sleight of hand and similar trick stuff) use it, and it’s been known since antiquity. I think there are some really fun possibilities for a character to get into serious trouble with something like that.
If you could travel anywhere in time and space, when and where would it be?
Absolutely the early Viking era. I want to know about the real role women played in the social fabric. We are guessing wildly right now, and I would love to know how close my guesses are to the reality.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
It might be anything. A comment overheard at work. A news story. A piece of pottery in a museum. Tiny things just start my mind down the weirdest channels.
What’s your favourite historical resource?
Again – there isn’t just one thing. The Icelandic Sagas were the original inspiration for my last novel, though. Those stories: you can feel how real the people are. Their motives are just as mundane and petty or as noble and selfless as any ten random people you know.
The best place in the world to write is…
My bedroom. It’s quiet (and cool in summer), and no one bothers me because “Shhhh. Auntie’s WRITING!” My peeps are the best.
When you’re not writing, what do you get up to?
Well, I ride my bike a lot. And walk.
And I love to travel. I’ll literally go anywhere. A few years ago, I backpacked alone through South-East Asia for six weeks (mainly because people said I couldn’t possibly do that at my age), and two years ago, I went on an archaeological dig to Africa, even though it is totally not my area of expertise. But they asked and I went, because I’d never been to Ethiopia before.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished The Mourning Rose which is a fantasy romance/romantic fantasy a la the aforementioned Georgette Heyer – but set in my world and it has magic. It was really fun to write.
Just yesterday, though, I opened and formatted the document for my next medieval fantasy, and it will be centred on that street magician/performer and how things like sleight of hand can be as effective a “magic” as “real magic” would be…if the magician is quick-witted and perhaps not as completely honest and respectable as the people around her…