TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Isabel: I don’t really need peace and quiet to write: I completed most of No Proper Lady when I was at work, and have written the sequel while on lunch break or on the train. I’m very good at tuning out distractions when I’m writing, which lets me get work done, but which I suspect makes me reasonably hard to live with.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Isabel: My favorites in fantasy and horror: Stephen King, Mercedes Lackey, Robin McKinley, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, S.M. Sterling, and E.E. Knight. In romance, my favorites include Emma Holly, Angela Knight, Julie Anne Long, Rose Lerner, and Susanna Fraser.
All of these writers have been pretty influential to my writing, since I pick up influences like a sponge. Lovecraft, King, Sterling, and Knight have probably contributed the most to my world-building (though I do a somewhat more optimistic universe than H.P.), while Carey, Holly, and Knight have been most influential on my romance plots.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a panster?
Isabel: That depends on how many meetings I have to sit through. I tend to write out vague plots when I’m in boring situations and need to look like I’m writing, then flesh things out more spontaneously.
TQ: Describe No Proper Lady in 140 characters or less.
Isabel: She’s an assassin from a future where demons rule Earth. He’s a Victorian occultist whose friend turned to a dark path. They fight crime!
TQ: What inspired you to write No Proper Lady?
Isabel: I tend to write stories in my head when I’m walking—I commute on foot a fair amount—and one of them started with a Victorian guy watching as a woman in leather armor skinned some sort of demon. That seemed to lend itself to time travel, and I decided I wanted to give my heroine a reason to come back in time: “sent from the future to change the past” came to mind, as it would for anyone of my generation, and the novel took off from there.
TQ: What sort of research did you do to create the world of No Proper Lady?
Isabel: The Internet was very helpful, particularly since I wrote a lot of the novel at work, where looking things up in books would be risky! That said, I learned a lot from Daily Life in Victorian England, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, and Inventing the Victorians. It also helped that I’d taken a couple classes in college on magical belief and practice through the ages, and I keep in touch pretty well with the professor who taught them. Some of the material there provided the occult details.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the novel?
Isabel: I’m really fond of the final confrontation and some of the lines I got there; I also quite like the dancing scenes, both the one where Simon is giving Joan lessons and the one where they’re actually at the ball. The fancy dress and the charge of dancing with someone you’re attracted to is a lot of fun to describe.
TQ: In No Proper Lady, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?
Isabel: Joan was definitely the easiest. Her voice came very naturally to me, and I had no trouble figuring out what she’d do in any given situation.
Eleanor, on the other hand, was really tough. I needed to show her progression out of trauma to a place where she can take initiative, and pacing that was hard.
TQ: How many books are planned for Englefield series?
Isabel: The Englefield series has three books so far: No Proper Lady, No Honest Woman, and No Time at All. Each is going to be a basically stand-alone novel, though with some characters overlapping.
TQ: What's next?
Isabel: Next is No Honest Woman, a novel set at Englefield when it becomes a school for future guardians of humanity—sort of Victorian magical X-Men. Two of the faculty start out fighting and end up falling for each other, while the students and their powers cause all sorts of trouble.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Isabel: Thank you for having me!
About No Proper Lady
No Proper LadyEnglefield 1
Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 1, 2011)
It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.
England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.
Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend—until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.
What: Two commenters will win a copy of No Proper Lady from Sourcebooks. US and Canadian mailing addresses only.
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
If you were time traveling to the past, what is the one thing
you would absolutely want to bring with you?
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Who and When: The contest is open to all humans with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Monday, October 3, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*