Friday, March 08, 2013

Interview with Liesel Schwarz, author of The Conspiracy of Alchemists - March 8, 2013

Please welcome Liesel Schwarz to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  A Conspiracy of Alchemists (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow 1) was published on March 5, 2013.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Liesel:  Thank you for having me.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Liesel:  From a very young age, I've always made up stories, but my first short story was published in a school newspaper when I was about seventeen. Unfortunately, I decided to get a 'real' job, so I became a lawyer and it was only after university that I felt the call to write formally.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Liesel:  Oh, I am rather eccentric generally, but I think my most interesting quirk is the fact that I am able to write any place, any time. As long as I have a pen and a piece of paper. I write on trains, busses, in coffee shops, in bed, while waiting in line - almost anywhere. This habit was borne of neccessity because I was forced to fit my writing in around my day-job.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panther?

Liesel:  I am a bit of both actually. I tend to write a rough outline and then I pants the details in afterwards. This allows me the benefit of structure and the freedom to be creative. Never underestimate the power of a solid outline. It will save you untold amounts of time and heartache in the long run.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Liesel:  Writing is an endurance game. You have to write when you are tired, sad, sick, fed-up and also when you want to watch TV or hang out with your friends. Sometimes, digging deep to do that can be very challenging. But the rewards are infinite and it's something I love doing, so it all balances out in the end.

I am also highly distractible… so it is a constant battle to not yield to the temptation of all the interesting things I seem to find to do when I should be writing.

TQ:  Describe A Conspiracy of Alchemists (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow 1) in 140 characters or less.

Liesel:  A Steampunk Adventure story set in the Belle Epoch, featuring the intrepid Elle Chance, dirigible pilot. (is that 140?)  [TQ:  104 with spaces!]

TQ:  What inspired you to write A Conspiracy of Alchemists?

Liesel:  I was toying with the idea of writing a steampunk novel at the time. Then the characters came to me one afternoon while I was travelling home on the London Underground through Baker Street.

Elle and Marsh were having this massive row in my head and I thought I needed to write this down. The story exploded onto the pages from there.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for A Conspiracy of Alchemists?

Liesel:  I think historical research is very important when writing Steampunk. Without it, you cannot achieve the correct feel for the time. I am hugely fortunate in that I have access to the British Library, which is a veritable treasure trove of interesting information. I spent quite a bit of time in their patents section going through 19th century patents. I also reading up on myths and legends and the small details of life in 1903. It was fascinating and I loved every moment of it.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Liesel:  The absinthe fairy was easy to write. I also love writing the bad guys, because they are just so wicked.

I think the hardest character to write was Elle. My biggest challenge was taking the values and thought processes of a young woman in 1903 and making that accessible to the modern post-feminist reader.

A lot of the things women at that time did and thought would be deeply unattractive to the modern reader and finding that balance between historical authenticity and meeting the expectations of the modern reader was a major challenge. I wanted her to be strong and feisty, but at the same time I really wanted her to be as authentic as possible. I am hoping that readers will appreciate that some of the excruciatingly annoying things Elle does would have been the norm at the time.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in A Conspiracy of Alchemists?

Liesel:  There are so many to choose from! But I must admit that I have a rather large soft spot for the train.

TQ:  What's next?

Liesel:  Well, A Clockwork Heart, the sequel to A Conspiracy of Alchemists will be out in June/July 2013 and I am currently busy working on the third book in the series. I am very excited about these.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Liesel:  Thank you. It was a pleasure being here!

About The Chronicles of Light and Shadow

A Conspiracy of Alchemists
The Chronicles of Light and Shadow 1
Del Rey, March 5, 2013
Hardcover and eBook,  352 pages

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—the intrepid heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

In a Golden Age where spark reactors power the airways, and creatures of Light and Shadow walk openly among us, a deadly game of Alchemists and Warlocks has begun.

When an unusual cargo drags airship-pilot Elle Chance into the affairs of the mysterious Mr. Marsh, she must confront her destiny and do everything in her power to stop the Alchemists from unleashing a magical apocalypse.

A Clockwork Heart
The Chronicles of Light and Shadow 2
Del Rey, August 20, 2013
Hardcover and eBook,  352 pages

FOR BETTER OR CURSE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance—the high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure—returns in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

About Liesel

Liesel Schwarz writes fiction. A life-long fan of 19th Century Gothic literature, she is a hopeless romantic and loves Victorians, steampunk, fairies, fantasy monsters, the Fin de siècle, and the correct way to drink absinthe. She also likes Medieval stuff, pirates, zombies, space operas and all subjects in between.

Her debut – the first in a series of Edwardian Steampunk Novels – will be published in 2013. She is also currently busy with her doctorate in English and Creative Writing at Brunel University. She lives in London in the United Kingdom and is definitely a cat person.

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