What is something about you that no one knows? –
I have a huge crush on Jake Sully, the virtual version with blue skin. What can I say? I like my men to be 10 feet tall and ride flying lizards.
What are you reading now? –
As usual, I’m deep into several books: The Queen’s Necklace, by Theresa Edgerton, Dark Places by Shaun Allan, and The Book of Paul by Richard Long. I want to read “There are Spiders in this Book: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It” and Losing Hope by Johanna Garth.
Who are your favorite authors? –
I love the Brontes, Georgette Heyer, Stephen King, Ann Tyler, Verne, Wells, Conan Doyle and Dickens, and Haruki Murakami. That’s a diverse group, but each author has an element of surprise – a different way of looking at the world.
And favorite books? –
The Stand was amazing. Each time I read Jane Eyre I notice something new. The Accidental Tourist is magical and touching. And John Dies at the End made me gasp with laughter and horror.
What is your work space and writing routine like? –
We have an office where I escape whenever I can. As soon as my kid gets on the bus I run in there and write for hours. I have dreams of creating a room of my own, but for now I’m lucky to have a room to create, even if it is littered with junk mail and unpaid bills! Oh, and several projects that my kid is working on, involving lots of glue and wire hangers.
I keep a huge notebook with ideas, lists of characters, maps of fantasy lands for stories I’m working on, and invented languages. There are pictures of cover ideas taped up to my monitor, and a cup of tea at my desk at all times.
Why delve into the world of steampunk, what about it appeals to you? –
I always loved science fiction and Gothic / Victorian fiction. Combining the two is a delightful possibility for a writer! I’ve heard it explained as “The future, reimagined by the past.”
I adore creating my own technology for my books. It’s important, in my opinion, to base everything on real-world physics and math, so I do a lot of research. I also have to get my time period right – the Edwardian era – so that requires learning mannerisms, language, cooking, and clothes of that age. Learning that background is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing.
Do you have any plans to try a different genre? –
Yes! I have a dieselpunk story on the back burner, set in World War II. It’s about the London refugees – children who were put on trains to escape London and the bombing Blitz. Their parents had no idea where their own kids would end up; from my standpoint, that just cries out for adventure. Of course, CS Lewis already used this idea in his Narnia books, but I plan to add time travel, some very devious villains, and my own Punk element.
What new story do we have to look forward to and when do we get to read it? –
The South Sea Bubble, the final book in the Crown Phoenix series, is nearing completion on the first draft. Soon I’ll have to say goodbye to Mana, Miriam, Simon and the rest – it will be very difficult to let them go. The final book involves a hospital in a huge Manor, much like Downton Abbey. There are bathyspheres and mermaids, but everything has real-world logic to explain it. I’m enjoying this manuscript enormously.
Please tell me about the Crown Phoenix series? –
The books start about fifteen years later, when a young girl, Miriam, gets a governess, Mana. Mana is from the island of Lampala, and she is a bit magical (again, there is a logical reason for that.) Miriam and a boy called Simon are kidnapped and put on a sinister train, The Night Watchman Express, and that kicks off an entire series of adventures.
There are underground factories and island princesses and human experiments – it’s all very mysterious.