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 Kelsey Gietl, who writes historical romance set in the 1910s. Her most recent book is Twisted River and she can be contacted via her website, or on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.

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

I can’t say what exactly got me started, but I’ve loved writing almost as long as I’ve enjoyed reading. A big influence stemmed from my mother. As a teacher, she made sure we had plenty of books and learned to read practically before we started school. I wrote my first short story in 4th grade and finished my first novel in 8th along with a smattering of poetry throughout high school. There was a time for many years after where I forgot how much I enjoyed writing, although my career never took me far from it. It wasn’t until after I researched our family tree almost four years ago that I dusted off my dreams of publication. Now here I am, two completed novels later.

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

The best is hearing that your words made a difference. That your book made someone think differently, made them cry, or made them smile. I think the real joy in writing always comes from the hope that, even in some small subtle way, you’ll change one person’s world.

The worst is the exact opposite—being underappreciated. I hear time and again how so many people will spend $5 on a greeting card or their morning coffee, but only want books they can buy for $0.99 or less. Authors may spend years perfecting their stories—researching, writing, editing, and finally marketing their novel. It’s no small task, but too often is viewed as one.

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

I’ve always been intrigued by the early 20th century. It was such a complex era, full of so much social and economic change. My current series, Hope or High Water, is set in the 1910s, and in the future, I would love to write about the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. St. Louis, Missouri is where I grew up, and the more I research the city for my current series, the more reasons I find to love my hometown.

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

Way too many things, and most of them don’t even make it into the final version of the story! I’ve researched how to drug someone with photography chemicals, how long a dead body would take to decompose in the ocean, strangulation bruises, divorce law, natural fever remedies, steamship blueprints, how fast a house burns in 1912, and how to use a 1872 British Bull Dog revolver, just to name a few. I’ll let you decide which of those actually made it into the books…

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

The day I met my husband in 2000. My grandfather recently died, and he and my grandmother had the sweetest and most amusing tale of how they met. The day I met my husband, on the other hand, I have no recollection of. We were both dating other people at the time with no idea that one normal day would ultimately change our lives forever.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

Everywhere! I try to take every event in life—especially the bad ones—as possible fodder for future books. A lot of my character inspiration also comes from stories I discovered while researching my family tree.

What’s your favourite historical resource?

Google Books and the Library of Congress online. They have so many historical books and photographs available for free. It comes in extremely handy when I need to research something specific like marriage laws.

The best place in the world to write is…

A beach. Unfortunately, I live in the American Midwest where it’s a 12 hour drive or 2.5 hour flight to the nearest ocean. So, my favorite alternative is writing on my back patio on a warm summer’s day.

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

During the week, my day job keeps me busy with its own fair share of writing and editing. Outside of work and novel writing, I enjoy yoga, reading, and gallivanting around St. Louis, Missouri with my husband and kids. Also, when I have the funds, I enjoy a nice family trip to the beach.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently researching for the third book in the Hope or High Water series. It will follow Emil and Amara, two characters from the first two books, in the time leading up to and during World War I.