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Author Q&A about Dead Magic

So I was tagged on Tumblr by fellow author, Caitlin E. Jones, to do an author Q&A. I liked it so much that I decided to post it here as well.

What is your new book about?

My current WIP is called Dead Magic, which is the fourth book in my historical-fantasy series, The Ingenious Mechanical Devices. Dead Magic is about Emmeline and Immanuel’s lives six months after escaping Lord Rose’s clutches. Both are struggling to find where they belong and establish a new life. Soon, their lives are complicated by magic books, a device that can track souls called a vivalabe, and corpses coming back to life. If you’d like to read a more detailed blurb, you can do so here.If you’d like to read a more detailed blurb, you can do so here.

What or who inspired it?

The Victorian era was a huge inspiration behind Dead Magic. It’s a very weird time due to the combination of superstition, science, and pseudoscience. At the time, Spiritualism (a Christianity-based religion that involved talking to the dead) grew in popularity during the Victorian era, and it inspired Emmeline’s character. She’s a Spiritualist medium who works at the Spiritualist Society but is often overlooked in favor of the theatrical frauds. Immanuel is the opposite side of society. He’s an evolutionist with a specialty in animal anatomy. Together they form a duality between life and death.

What was the biggest challenge while writing it?

Keeping track of the story lines and balancing where to switch between Immanuel and Emmeline. They are equally important characters, so I don’t want either of them to have more screen time than the other. The book also has several plot lines going at once, which can be hard to keep track of off the top of my head. I made a doc to keep as an outline of what I’ve written, but I tend to forget to update it. My procrastination regarding doing things that help me are a pretty big challenge by itself.

What do you want to achieve with this book?

That I’ll create a book that I’m proud of and that I would enjoy to read. All of my books were created because I wanted to read something that didn’t exist. If I enjoy it, hopefully others will too.

What do you hope for this book?

That someone besides me will enjoy it. I’m also hoping that through Immanuel’s struggles, people with PTSD and depression will see themselves. Mostly, I hope that it helps build my audience and bring new people into the Ingenious Mechanical Devices universe.

Are there any parts that have special personal significance to you?

There’s a scene where Immanuel has an emotional breakdown following an attempt on his life. That scene was taken from real life and my experiences watching the ones I love suffer with depression. It’s a scene where I play Adam, Immanuel’s lover, watching his companion spiral into a breakdown while he can do nothing to stop it. It’s the most helpless position to be in–wanting so badly to help but knowing you can do nothing but support them until it passes for a time.

Do you have a favorite character or one you really enjoyed writing?

Immanuel is probably my favorite character out of all of my children (don’t tell the others). He’s very close to me in terms of my personality, and it’s his quiet intensity that I love. He feels so deeply compared to other characters, and it allows me to explore trauma, injustice, and love in ways that I couldn’t with anyone else.

What do you see as the major themes in your book?

Do binaries exist in good and evil or life and death?, different kinds of love, facing darkness, recovery.

What made you set it in__________?

I chose the 1890s because what I wanted to include in my first book fit within that decade. A lot of the anachronistic steampunk elements didn’t exist yet, but it was the closet time period for what I wanted. The perks of the 1890s is the freedom. It was the Naughty Nineties and things could have changed for the better. It’s a diversion point I want to explore. What if Oscar Wilde hadn’t been sent to jail? What if England’s colonies gained steam technology and electricity early?

Did the title come instantly, or did you labour over it?

I hate making titles. It’s one of my least favorite parts of writing, but for Dead Magic, the title came while I was writing chapter one. I had hoped for an early title because I was so tired of calling it IMD #4. How boring. Dead Magic was short, to the point, and a bit mysterious, so it’s stuck.

Who do you think will enjoy your book?

My ideal readers are people who like period dramas but also enjoy Doctor Who. You have to love history and fantasy to enjoy my work because the two intermingle in most stories. Also, if you’re into Penny Dreadful or would like it if there was with less sex and violence, then my books are probably your thing. Dark Victorian fantasies is my flavor of choice.

Do you have a special spot for writing at home?

Usually I just sit on the couch and write. I like to sit folded up like a pretzel, so a desk doesn’t work too well unless I’m forcing myself to write something.

Do you like silence or music playing while you’re writing?

Neither. I like background noise, but usually I have on rain sounds or the tv on something I won’t find too interesting. I need noise, but music sometimes distracts me to the point that I find myself singing instead of writing.

When did you start writing?

I can remember pecking sentences on my nanny’s electric typewriter about puppies and kittens going on adventures. I started trying to write actual stories when I was nine or ten and never stopped.

Did you always want to become an author?

Oh, boy. I’ve had a lot of career dreams over the years. My more serious ambitions have been science teacher, doctor, and English professor. The latter allows me to be an author while still having a stable, or at least decent, income. I absolutely loved medicine, and while I was working on my BA in biology, I loved my classes but felt my mind constantly being drawn back to literature. The more lucrative but soul-draining career in medicine went out the window and was replaced with literature and writing in my junior year of college.

Tell us a bit about your childhood?

I was the oldest of my cousins and was an only child, so I came out as a miniature adult. My childhood was mostly spent hanging out with my grandma, my dogs, reading books before bed with my mom, and watching a lot of Disney movies. Strangely, I had fascinations with dinosaurs, mummies, and Abbott and Costello. As I grew up, I started getting into Sherlock Holmes and mysteries, which led to my love of the Victorian era.

If you’ve had other jobs outside of writing, what were they?

The farthest thing I’ve done from writing is working as a customer service temp, which I’ve done on and off for about seven years now. I’ve also worked as a writing tutor at two different universities and a graduate assistant while I was getting my MFA. In the fall, I’ll be teaching college freshman writing.

Describe yourself in three words.

Academic, quiet, dog-person.

What Sign are you and are you typical of it?

Cancer, and not really. They always seem to be portrayed as emotional. I much prefer my MTBI, which is an INTJ. It’s much closer to my personality.

What three things do you dislike?

Prejudice, ignorance, and sauerkraut.

What three things do you like?

Books with great stories and characters, dogs, and anything related to stationary. I pretty much hoard books and stationary. I’d have even more dogs, but good dog food is hella expensive.

Do you have a family and partner, or are you single?

My boyfriend and I have been together for eleven years (as of next week). He’s my best friend and an artist as well. I don’t have any kids and don’t plan to have any in the future. That’s just not my thing.

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10 Bookish Confessions

To prove that I am a human being and to hopefully connect with my readers, I occasionally like to do “about me” posts. This time, I thought I would write ten book-related confessions about myself. Seems fitting for a blog about writing and books… and writing books.

  1. My favorite classic is Jane Eyre. I read it in 2013, and I was in love with Jane and Rochester (especially Rochester). Since then, I think I’ve read bits and pieces of it about four times. There’s something about a man whose ugly-handsome, scandalous, and willing to dress as a woman just to troll his date(s).
  2. I have a bracelet of some of my favorite novels. Yes, I’m a lit nerd, so much so that I commissioned an artist on Etsy to make a charm bracelet for me of my favorite books. The books in the pic are The Night Circus, The Mummy by Anne Rice, Jane Eyre, Souless, Frankenstein, and Johannes Cabal: Necromancer.bracelet
  3. My pets names have a literary theme. My dog’s name is Edgar, after Edgar Allan Poe. My cat’s name is Sherlock (Holmes), even though he’s more like a pudgy, blundering Watson, and my other cat, who passed when he was a kitten, was named Erik after the Phantom of the Opera.
  4. My favorite type of writing is that which is sensual and well-written. I love great plots and I love characters that grow, but what really draws me into a work is being immersed in it body and soul. I want to see it, I want to hear it, I want to experience every emotion that character is feeling. If the sentences aren’t good or the writing is flat, it immediately drops to three stars in my mind.
  5. My preferred format of book is paperback. I’m warming up to ebooks, but a paperback is still my favorite way to read a book. I like to hold it, display it, let others borrow it, and show it off, and with ebooks, I can’t do that. I tend to not read hardcovers because they’re cumbersome to lug around. My bag already is cripplingly heavy, and a two pound book doesn’t help. Also, I just find their bulk harder to hold. That and the ever shifting and sliding book sleeve.
  6. I’m a book-finisher. I can probably count one hand the books I’ve put away permanently because they were so bad. No matter how god-awful the book is, I feel the need to finish it. It may be cutting off my nose to spite my face, but there’s a part of me that still hopes the book will get better. Plus, no one can tell me that I missed the good part. No, my review stands because I read and finished the book.
  7. I will read erotica or romance, but I hate naked people on book covers. It’s a pet peeve of mine. I know sex sells, but not to me. I hate half-naked men and women equally. I don’t want to see your giant man-pecks or your pert derriere. An understated cover that is closer to sensual or intriguing than arousing is more my style. I tend to avoid books like that. This is also why I am on the look out for a better version of Teleny. I am embarrassed by the cover (not only half-naked but hideously drawn).
  8. Of my two books thus far, The Winter Garden is my favorite. I know we aren’t supposed to have favorite children, but I really, really love book two more than book one. There’s been so much personal and professional growth since I wrote The Earl of Brass, but I also just love the characters. Out of all of my characters, I think I connect the most with Immanuel. The Winter Garden is also a much darker story, and as a writer, I thoroughly enjoy writing twisted characters and delving into some rather complex emotions.
  9. I have a thing for fancy bookmarks yet rarely use them. I love fancy bookmarks. Ones with tassels, fabric ones, paper ones, metal ones, ones that are silly, ones that are artsy. It doesn’t matter, I want them. Oddly, I tend to use scraps of paper or folded post-its most often. Over the years, I’ve lost a lot of beautiful bookmarks, so now, I’m afraid I’ll lose them. Currently, I’m actually using adorable silicone seedling bookmarks my cousin got me.
  10. My favorite genres are: historical fiction, historical fantasy, and Gothic horror. When I say Gothic horror, I’m thinking like Dorian Gray or Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Horror with some upper class panache. If the book has a tie to the past and is able to submerge me in it from cover to cover, I’m sold.

Well, there you go. Ten bookish things about the Awkward Authoress.


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