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 we’re talking to fantasy author Morgan Smith, whose most recent novel, The Mourning Rose, was released in September. You can contact her via her website or blog, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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…

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 we’re talking to fantasy author Kyle Robert Shultz. Kyle mainly writes fairytale fantasy, but he has also written Western/fantasy and Regency fantasy within the same fictional universe. His most recent book is The Hound of Duville, a novella in his Beaumont and Beasley series. You can get in touch with Kyle through his website or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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

About ten years, though I didn’t get into it seriously until January of 2016. Reading C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew as a young teen was what first awakened my love for the speculative genre, and inspired me to start creating my own fantasy worlds. However, I struggled with self-doubt for many years over my ability to actually write and publish a book, until my mom finally convinced me I should go ahead and publish the first novel in the Beaumont and Beasley series.

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

The best thing about it is being able to dream up and tell stories for a living. Nothing really compares to that, in my opinion. The worst thing about it is that there’s a lot more to it than that. Balancing creativity with marketing is difficult, as is making sure that other important things like family time don’t fall through the cracks. However, I am gradually learning to develop a system that allows me to get stuff done without neglecting other areas of my career and my personal life.

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

I love writing in the 1920s (the period in which my Beaumont and Beasley series is set). This is mainly due to my love of the works of P.G. Wodehouse. His humor and his delightful characters have had a profound influence on my work. Plus, the 20s are not a common choice for fantasy stories, so I enjoy the challenge of blending this time period with magical elements. I’ve done the same with other time periods as well, like the Old West and the Regency era. I would like to explore even more period settings in the future.

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

I’ve created some interesting challenges myself by featuring various non-human creatures as main characters in my stories. That’s led to some interesting Google searches. Perhaps the most unusual piece of research I’ve used was a YouTube video on centaur combat from Shadiversity. Actually, it was quite fascinating and surprisingly practical. I highly recommend this channel for all sort of fantasy and medieval-based story research.

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

Anywhere in America in the 1950s. I like the music from that era. Unless I had the option of visiting a base on Mars sometime in the future. There would probably be plenty of seclusion there to get some extra writing done.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

Mainly by researching fairy tales and mythology and brainstorming ways to fit them into my fictional universe. That method pretty much always sparks at least one decent story premise. I also get a lot of inspiration from watching and reading works from the speculative genre, as well as listening to movie and TV soundtracks while I work.

What’s your favourite historical resource?

In addition to the Shadiversity YouTube channel I mentioned earlier, the Overly Sarcastic Productions channel has a great deal of well-researched (and hilarious) resources related to history and mythology. I frequently revisit their videos when I need more info on a particular legend or historical period.

The best place in the world to write is…

Outdoors. I love taking my work outside whenever possible. The dramatic scenery of southern Idaho, where I live, is particularly inspirational.

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

I love riding my horse and hiking through the various state parks in my area. I also sing and play the keyboard, and I’m slowly improving my skills with digital art.

What are you currently working on?

A Pinocchio-based retelling called The Geppetto Codex. It’s the third of six interlinked stories which will be compiled into Book 4 in my Beaumont and Beasley series. I also have a Jane Austen-themed fantasy in the works, and a mashup project featuring both Tarzan and Mowgli as main characters.