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’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.