TQ: Welcome to the Qwillery!
Bec: Hi! And thanks for having me!
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Bec: Sometimes if I am having a bad day, I will hijack the scene I’m struggling in and shoot my main character or have everyone explode. I kill my characters off in more and more interesting ways, and then I delete everything and go back to writing that scene. It gets the creative juices flowing and eases my frustration.
TQ: Who are some of your favourite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Bec: I love anything by Lilith Saintcrow, Meljean Brook, Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews or Stacia Kane. Dorothy Dunnett is another old favourite and Nalini Singh consistently hits it out of the park. Authors who write strong female characters and in-depth world-building tend to be auto-buys for me.
Anything and everything influences me, though I will admit that I’m very visual. If I see a beautiful photo or artwork, my mind is often off and running with how to utilise it. I also like movies for this very reason.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Bec: Pantser by natural inclination and plotter by necessity, now that I have a contract. I follow the synopsis fairly closely, but there are always moments when inspiration strikes and I deviate slightly.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Bec: Food amnesia. I swear, I get involved in the story, wander aimlessly to the kitchen whilst plotting something out, obviously eat something, return to computer, rinse, repeat… By the end of the day I’m staring into my fridge wondering where the cheese has gone, and then I’ll remember that I ate it sometime. I am forcing myself to stick to regular breaks these days, and only then can I have something to nibble on.
Writing itself is rarely challenging. When I am not at the computer I’m thinking about the story, so that when I do sit down I’m ready to go. If I feel a little blocked I go read something, or start working on one of my side projects to refill the creative well. Or, as above, kill off all the main characters.
TQ: Describe Kiss of Steel in 140 characters or less / like a tweet.
Bec: In a steam-fuelled world a woman fleeing from a crazed duke with a secret he’d kill for, makes a deal with a notorious rogue for protection.
TQ: What inspired you to write Kiss of Steel?
Bec: I’ve had this idea about a vampiric version of the ton in my head for a while now, and a world run by their rules. This image of a woman on the run from something popped into my head and I wanted to see just how desperate I could make her position, and just what she would do to survive when all the odds were against her. Honoria is a fighter and I loved that about her.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Kiss of Steel?
Bec: In creating an alternate world, the first step is to know the rules before you break them. There was a lot of research into day-to-day Victorian-era life and as Kiss of Steel is steampunk, into the inventions that scientists have either attempted or dreamed up over the years. And then of course, there are the gorgeous costumes one must simply stare at.
TQ: What is the oddest bit of information that you came across in your research?
Bec: Victorian prostitutes often wore pubic wigs to disguise signs of disease. The merkin went back further than I ever imagined – all the way to 1450 in fact. And no, this particular tid-bit didn’t actually make it into the book.
TQ: Tell us something about Kiss of Steel that is not in the book description.
Bec: Kiss of Steel is ultimately about family and what one will do to protect them. My heroine Honoria is the oldest sibling, and desperate to protect her ill brother and flighty sister. The hero, Blade, has survived the worst the streets could throw at him and created his own safe-haven in the slums of Whitechapel with his adopted family. The relationships between all of the characters were very important, even the secondary characters.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Bec: The easiest character to write was definitely Blade, my hero. He popped into my head almost fully formed and I could practically hear him whispering in my ear during the dialogue, which was handy considering his Cockney jargon. I think it was because he was very self-assured as a character, he knew who he was, flaws and all, and he wasn’t ashamed of it.
The hardest to write was his lieutenant Will Carver, my stubborn, taciturn verwulfen bodyguard. Writing Will was like prying bits of information out of him one by one, with him fighting me the whole way. Just the nature of the man.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favourite scene(s) in KOS?
Bec: I have several. The duel scene is a favourite, because it was so easy to write (give me an action scene any day) and the odds were so against my hero and heroine.
Also, there is a scene where Honoria is forced by circumstances to go to Blade for protection – which in their world means she offers her blood or her body to him. Its something she dreads and that shames her, so she is blown away by how he reacts.
TQ: What’s next?
Bec: Heart of Iron is out in May 2013 and features Will Carver, and Honoria’s younger sister Lena. If anyone went through my search history for this book, I’d be locked up; how to make something explode, mechanical squid, knife wounds, Scandinavian military costumes, Greek fire…
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Bec: Thank you for having me!
Kiss of Steel
Kiss of SteelLondon Steampunk 1
Sourcebooks, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
When Nowhere is Safe
Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?
Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.
When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.
Kiss of Steel, is available Sept, 2012, from Sourcebooks. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com, or follow her on twitter @BecMcMaster.