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. 

This month’s featured author is Nix Whittaker. Nix writes steampunk/alternative history, sci-fi romance, and is working on her first mystery. Her most recent novel is The Jade Dragon, the third instalment of her Wyvern Chronicles trilogy, and she has also just released a Christmas novella, Ruby Beyond Compare. You can get in touch with her via her website or Facebook page.

How long have you been writing, and what got you started?

I started writing when I was a little girl as I ran out of books to read. I’m dyslexic and my teacher recommended that I read more books, but at that stage I was reading about 100 books a year, and I quickly read out my library. So I started writing my own. It took a really long time to actually finish any of my stories. Once I decided I’d publish, I finished a book in a month. That was three years ago, though some days feels like a lifetime.

What are the best and worst things about being an author?

The best – well, that is being able to live in different worlds in your head. I love being able to create new friends for myself. The worst is the imposter syndrome. Always thinking that no matter how many books you have that you are never good enough to be classed as an author.

What’s your favourite historical time period to write about and why?

At the moment I’m enjoying the 1830s as there was so little technology back then that you have to double-check everything. Little things like photos in newspapers. I like the challenge.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

The question should be where don’t I find inspiration. I can get inspiration from a throwaway comment from friends. A character from a movie or a documentary. Inspiration is everywhere.

The best place in the world to write is…

Last year I had writer’s block, so to get over it I headed to the mountains. Took the ski lift right up to the top of the mountain and watched ski bunnies go down the slopes while I sat in the nice cosy restaurant and wrote. The glistening white snow and the view down the slopes was great inspiration. I would recommend cold to write as it’s much easier to see the screen. I find summer terrible for glare off your screen if you try to write outside.

When you’re not writing, what do you get up to?

I’m a cliché when it comes to being an author. I’m an English teacher with cats. So when I’m not writing I’m teaching English, fostering kittens for the SPCA and reading. I read a lot. Though this year I didn’t reach my reading goal on Goodreads. Very disappointing. This year I’m being more conservative and I’ll only read 150 books.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m working on my first mystery. All my other books are epic in scope as they deal with civil war and empires. This time I’m going small to a single murder and the only thing really at risk is my character’s career and possibly life. I’m enjoying the red herrings though. You don’t have many of those when you are dealing with a moustache-twirling villain. Ironically I got the idea for this story from a book cover I was making for my other side job. It was too good to put in as just a pre-made, so I decided to keep it except I didn’t have a story to go with it. That was when my Lady Golden Hand was born.

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. 

This month’s featured author is Guy Worthey. Guy writes young adult adventure, specifically 1920s noir with steampunk elements. His most recent book is Ace Carroway and the Great War. You can get in touch with him via his website or Facebook page, or on Twitter (@guyworthey).

How long have you been writing and what got you started?

I’ve only been seriously writing fiction-for-publication for a couple of years. However, my first publication was in second grade, when the teacher collected poems from the class. She retyped them, mimeographed them (yep, before photocopiers!), and made books held together with brass brads. Each kid made their own covers by gluing the letters P-O-E-T-R-Y onto construction paper. I was enthralled by the experience. The poem was, in its entirety, “Once, when flowers popped, they exploded.”

What are the best and worst things about being an author?

Best: writing.

Worst: editing.

I bet all the authors say that.

On the interface with the outside world, however, I’m really torn by the childish need to seek approval and the introvert’s instinct to just hide. So, on that axis, the best thing is the good review and the worst thing is the bad review.

Finally, on the axis of coffee:

Best: coffee.

Worst: coffee runs out.

What’s your favourite historical time period to write about and why?

I can’t pick just one! I love the noir period, of course. I really want to write a steampunk story some time. I grew up on a steady diet of medieval fantasy, so I’m always drawn to a swords-and-sorcery yarn. Personally, I avoid contemporary, post-apocalyptic, and anything where people have elongated canines.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched in relation to your writing?

Underwear, maybe. Specifically, the problem of having a 1920s woman who does athletic things.

The thermodynamics of jet engines, maybe. Or, how the Hindenburg’s crew actually handled that huge thing.

Then there is the tool called a breast drill. I euphemistically called it a chest drill to avoid teens snickering about it. It’s a heavy-duty drill that you lean into to apply pressure, and that’s how it gets its name. It’s got a long handle for extra leverage that the operator spins with their right hand while guiding their aim with their left hand.

If you could travel anywhere in time and space, when and where would it be?

Definitely the future. As much as I love various past times and places, I really really really want to jump a couple hundred years forward and see how the moon base is coming along and check on the Mars colony and see if we have found life around some other star.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I get inspiration from almost everything. Music, chance remarks overheard, reading, dreaming, or simply listening to other people talk about what is important to them.

What’s your favourite historical resource?

A good, dusty, overstuffed secondhand bookstore! Digging around in such a place is where I have found some of my best references. You find crazy, quirky stuff lurking in the corners of such shops. My most fervent hope is that internet doesn’t kill off these shops.

The best place in the world to write is…

By a window overlooking the storm-lashed Scottish seaside cliffs.

I imagine. Never done that, actually. I do have a window, though, and I try to sit by it. I actually enjoy typing on a keyboard to write, though I prefer to read in the traditional manner of ink on paper pages.

When you’re not writing, what do you get up to?

I have a day job, but also plenty of hobbies. Foremost among them is probably jazz bass. I never get tired of playing in a hot combo. In general, I allow myself to get distracted. The occasional wild goose chase is good for a body.

What are you currently working on?

I’m finishing #2 in my Ace Carroway series, called Ace Carroway Around the World. This means I’m editing. Sigh. As I edit, I try to not get seduced by the dark side, such as writing a spinoff or going back to my half-drafted fantasy trilogy. Anyway, Ace #2 should be ready for release by March or April.