Only recently. I always wanted to be an archaeologist, writing was rather more like breathing, just something I did. It was only with Soulless that I realized I might actually have a career as a writer. I still haven't recovered from the shock.
What was the inspiration behind writing Soulless?
I wanted to write something with an urban fantasy feel but which challenged the tropes of that genre: so I went with a light-hearted tone, steampunk elements, and a historical setting. Basically, I wrote the book that had everything I liked to read all in one place. I never thought it would sell, because I figured something with so many different elements wasn't marketable. Luckily, Orbit didn't agree with me.
How did you come up with the title Soulless? Was it the original title?
Soulless was always the title, because it is one of the defining features of our heroine – she has no soul. I wrote the book to stand alone, and it was only later I realized editors were interested in a series. So the hardest part, for me, was coming up with the series title. I had a number of options and ended up polling friends, which resulted in The Parasol Protectorate.
What author(s) have influenced your writing?
For this book, authors like P.G. Wodehouse, Dickens, and Austen all have had some influence - but I try to ensure my language is accessible to modern readers. Those who know me well claim they can detect Pratchett and Adams lurking in Soulless as well, I am overly fond of both The Silly and The Flippant.
What’s the most positive comment a reader has said about your book?
People have been so amazingly kind so far I hardly know where to start. Although, I will say fan mail from librarians always touches me deeply. Here are some of my favorites (edit at will)...
"Laugh out loud funny and refreshingly different, Soulless kept me turning pages well into the night."
~ Angie Fox (she gave me my cover blurb)
"The Parasol Protectorate presents what is perhaps the most original twist on vampire and werewolf mythology to ever appear in the genre."
~ Robert William Berg (he gave me probably my best review, I was overcome when I read it - I swear he's not getting a bribe)
"This book is something special, a paean to and gentle satire of the Victorian delight with frivolity, witty to the end." ~ JD Sawyer
"It's as fun as it looks, I promise you, and I love that this feels like something new." ~ Janice Y.
"I wanted to pick it up as soon as possible whenever I had to put it down." ~ Janicu
"I fell quickly into comfort with the writer's style and pace, caring about the characters by the end of the 2nd page." ~ Donna Ricci
"No one ever explains the octopuses, but that's part of its charm." ~ smartygirl
If you had one chance to travel back in time, which time period (and in which country) would you want to visit?
What a dastardly question to ask an archaeologist. In covenant with my discipline, I have to pick a place and time that very little is known about, say distant prehistory (e.g. the peopling of North America), or possibly a little understood civilization (e.g. the Etruscans). If it was more of a vacation jaunt, I'd be torn between Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. Because I'm female, I'd probably end up in Ancient Egypt, during the reign of Akhenaton.
What other projects are you working on?
I've handed in Blameless, the second book in The Parasol Protectorate series. Right now I'm working on the second draft of Changeless, the third book, which is due in to my editor shortly. I have an un-sellabe YA fantasy that someday I'll dig out of the trunk and rework. I just saddled my agent with a sci-fi YA with a kick-ass female heroine, which was the book I always wanted to read when I was 10 but couldn't find. We shall see what she says. It was written on spec, and the market is tough right now.
Is there anything else you want people to know about yourself or the book?
Someday, all will indeed be revealed about the octopuses.