Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Author! Author! LANGLEY HYDE


This morning we have a surprise in the form of the delightful Langley Hyde, the newest and shiniest little star in the Blind Eye firmament. Langley has written a really wonderful Steampunk M/M adventure-romance-mystery by the title of Highfell Grimoires. I got a pre-release peek at it, and it really is something special. (as also noted by Publisher's Weekly, which gave it a starred review)!


1 - So. What's the last thing you stole? KIDDING. I'M A KIDDER. Tell us, young Langley, about this wonderful book of yours, Highfell Grimoires. What's it *really* about? What do you love best about this story? Why this story and not one of lots of other tempting story ideas?

In Highfell Grimoires, the beggared and orphaned Lord Neil Franklin agrees to work in his uncle’s charity school, high among the clouds above the city of Herrow. But there’s more going on in that charity school than mere book learning. And the rough and enigmatic Leofa holds the key that will unlock the mystery—as well as Neil’s own desires.

That’s sort of what the back of the book says anyway. J

It’s a gay steampunk romance full of magic and machinery and secrets and dastardly plans. Plus also a hot, shirtless guy who lacks book learning but is wicked smart…and maybe even just little wicked. Really there’s a lot I love about this story. For one thing: Top hats and goggles. Floating universities. Libraries with books that spit sparks.

By the end of writing it what became most important to me was exploring an aspect of love. I think many people associate love with a strong feeling, one that’s wrapped up in submission, passion, and possession. But I think that what a person decides to do after that, when holding so much power, is more important. And that’s when love really happens.

2 - Lanyon's Haberdashery, Cupcakes and Tiny Hats. I want to open that shop and I believe you'll be one of my first customers. Tell me about the tiny hat you will buy. Seed pearls. Yes or no? I bet you wield a wicked hat pin. True?

I would totally buy a tiny hat from you. I wouldn’t just be one of your first customers. I would be your best customer. I like seed pearls. I would like to buy something with a teensy veil on it. Do you have anything in white satin? Maybe with a mechanical bug on it?

Unfortunately my legendary hat-pin dueling capabilities have been overstated. My klutziness has not been. Probably I would be able to slay myself with a hat pin by falling on it accidentally. Every time I take a hat pin into hand I am risking my own life.

3 - How reliable are your narrators? How reliable are YOU?

I am incredibly reliable. Sadly. I know it ruins an author’s mystique, but I always pay my bills on time, almost never procrastinate, and I feed my kitty at half past six every day. That’s probably why I write characters who are unreliable. I like writing characters who can do things I can’t. Like lying. Or casting spells.

4 - What's your writing schedule like? Do you write full-time?

When I wrote Highfell, I’d just moved. I had mostly freelance work, so I wrote whenever I wanted.

But now I, like many writers, have a full-time day job in addition to my other freelance work. I used to try to write after work but everything I produced after work sucked. Bad. So I had to start getting up before work to do my writing then. This seems to be working.

The catch: My shift starts at five o’clock in the morning. So I get up at two-thirty in the morning to write.  As the novel I’m working on progresses, I may have to start getting up earlier to get more time in before work.

It’s kind of serene. In a hellish way.

5 - Is it true writing erotic romance is kind of a family tradition?

Yes. Completely true. On both sides of the family. But my husband’s grandfather wrote pornography during and after World War II to support his wife and his daughters. He also wrote science fiction, but the softcore was what earned him the money. Who would’ve guessed that soldiers like porn?

He had tons of sex manuals to do research and help him get ideas in his office and he wrote all the stories out by hand, in this tiny cramped script, to conserve paper. Then he marked it all up with these crabbed corrections. Once he was done it was almost incomprehensible. He paid one of his teenage daughters—my mother-in-law, actually—to type it all out for him on his big old typewriter. She’d earn about four hundred marks a book, which was a lot then, so I think he did earn fairly well from writing erotica.

So when I talk to my in-laws about what I do, it’s hardly shocking. Instead my mother-in-law gives me a little philosophical shrug while my father-in-law glances at his wife with this sly grin, like, “I got myself a girl who was really informed.”

6 - If you were a Disney character -- any character you want -- who would you be? Why?

At first when you said that I wanted to be Aladdin. But then I realized I could never be Aladdin because I’m horrible at lying. If I were Aladdin, I would just run up to Jasmine and be like, “Guess what? I’m totally pretending to be a prince! Ha! And I have an all-powerful genie.”

My husband says he’s not worried about me cheating on him. Because if I did, I’d come home and be like, “Honey! Guess what I did today! Bet you couldn’t guess.”

I’m not very interested in being a Disney princess, although Belle does have an awesome library. Maybe I could just nick her library?

So I guess I would be Stitch. I am more like Stitch anyway. You know. An intergalactic terrorist trying to be a house pet. Cute but deadly. Big googly eyes. Grumpy when hungry, and like Stitch, I tend to express this with biting and laser cannons.  But I am trying really hard to be domesticated.

 

7 - It's clear your research on HG was painstaking and intensive. Are you a research-ahead-of-timer, a research-as-you-goer, or a research-after-the-facter?

Can’t I be all three? Usually I go through phases of intense obsession over a subject. I research it exhaustively. I read book after book. Then I stop. And maybe about three years later I can write about it. I try not to write about anything I’ve read too freshly, because I’m afraid of splurging on facts.

When I’m writing, certain things come up. How does a dark lantern actually open, for example? Then I spend time on museum websites, taking a look at artifacts. Do they actually have lace parasols at this time? So I look that up. I spend always a lot of time looking at contemporary housekeeping books, which can tell me a lot about meals, manners, and sensibilities—how people thought things ought to have been, and therefore by inference what they were actually like and what people did about it.

So probably the least amount of research I end up doing is after the book is written and I’m checking out the copyeditor’s remarks. I’ll usually go with the copyeditor, unless I can find primary source material to back up my instincts.

8 – Do you own a grimoire?

Sadly not. I own very few books, actually, which I always find very embarrassing when people come over. Other people apologize for the mess. I’m like, “I’m so sorry! I don’t have very many books!”

Because my husband is from Europe, I’ve moved back and forth between the continent and North America several times. Weight restrictions on transatlantic flights have done my personal bibliotheca in. So mostly I stock up on public library books. I put them on my shelves and pretend they are mine until the library sends me to collections. So the only thing I’m reliably late at is returning books.

 Also, although this doesn’t exactly qualify as stealing since I do eventually give in and give the books back, this might answer your first question. The last thing I borrowed for so long as to be construed as stealing was a copy of Packing for Mars by Mary Roach and I still feel guilty.

Whenever I’m thinking about buying a book my husband gives me this sad look, like he’s saying, “Will I have to carry this for you in the future? In a box with other books? Up four flights of stairs?” But on the upside, whenever he tells me to go ahead and buy one, I know what he’s really saying is, “I’ll carry this for you. But only because I love you.”

9 - What is the single sexiest thing about the Age of Steam?

Oh my! Do I have to chose one?

But the most fascinating aspect to me is the element of a society in an immense moment of change. In the late 1800s, we went from cooking by fire and carting our water from pumps and throwing our waste out the windows to electricity, automobiles, telephones, and the most wondrous invention of all: indoor plumbing.

10 - Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid?

Humor. I want to be able to write books with a lot of jokes in them. But I’m a little afraid of writing a book that relies heavily on humor. What if my jokes fall flat? How embarrassing would that be?

Maybe not as embarrassing as receiving the proofreading remarks on a sex scene – granted.
(Ha! Just wait till you have to listen to the sex scenes in first your audio book!)

After that, I think I would be most intimidated by thrillers. I like the breakneck pacing of thrillers, but I think that kind of writing is hard for me.

That said, the only way I’d ever consider writing in one of those genres is if the book had a fantastical element. I get bored writing contemporary novels. For some reason any novel without magic seems incredibly unrealistic to me.

11 - What do you love most about writing? What do you find most challenging?

I love the act of writing. Once I start writing, it feels like my brain is functioning correctly and the rest of my life has been a dream. It’s like running and playing a new song all at once. When I’m running, I sometimes get to a point of timelessness, when the world around me seems ordered yet imbued with meaning. I used to play clarinet and violin—I don’t anymore—but writing a rough draft is also like playing an unfamiliar melody, like that moment when I’d play and I’d hear the song for the first time. It fell into place. It was something that had always been there and I was just discovering it.

It’s the rest that’s hard for me. Plotting and editing. Really the parts that make a book a book. I would basically rather go to the dentist than do those things. And that’s saying a lot because anesthesia doesn’t work on me very well.

12 - What are you working on next?

It’s a secret. It’s about spies, and mercury, and magic, and impersonation, and has romance and adventures and scheming. But I can’t tell you anything more because I haven’t finished it and I’m superstitious. But I promise to send it to you when I’m done.

I also want to say what a pleasure it’s been to be invited over onto your blog, Josh! Thank you so much for having me over.

34 comments:

  1. How interesting! It looks like a steampunk novel by Charles Dickens, I love it. Thanks for introducing me to this new autor. Besos.

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    1. I've been reading the book. It's truly enjoyable.

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    2. Thanks, Josh! I'm glad that you're liking it.

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  2. Thank you both for the informative and entertaining review! In fact I had already decided to buy this on paper because I'm so fond of BEB books and I suspect I'll love this.

    Ciao!

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    1. I think Blind Eye Books can be relied on to provide quality fiction every time.

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    2. It is true! It's why I was so thrilled to work with Blind Eye--and I know a lot of why this book is good is 'cuz of the editor. Now that I've said that...can I has a good-author-treat? *big googly eyes*

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    3. "Author treats" eh? Well, I do have a bag of these so-called "author treats" to be released upon delivery of the next MS. ;)

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    4. author treats?!
      (I just get let out of the basement upon delivery of a manuscript.)
      :D

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    5. Lol. I'd better get on that then if I want any treats. :D

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  3. An absolutely delightfully fascinating interview! Thank you Josh and Langley! I'm reading the book now and it's so difficult to put it down! I had pretty high expectations, because it combines steampunk - which i love, with magic and romance and adventures - which i also love. I'm enjoying every minute of it! Neil, Leofa and the crew (the good guys) are awesome! :-)

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    1. Thank you! I'm so happy that you enjoyed the interview--and the book. Let me know what you think when you're done!

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  4. Just for the general information, here the buying link ;-):
    http://www.blindeyebooks.com/highfell/

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    1. Thanks, Antonella! I knew I forgot something...

      Today it's also available at the usual suspects, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and it can also be purchased as an eBook from Weightless Books: http://weightlessbooks.com/format/highfell-grimoires/

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    2. Antonella can always be relied upon to bring the practical information. :)

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    3. Lol. Now I feel like I was trying to keep it a secret--but very badly.

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  5. Great interview! I'm reading HIghfell Grimoires now. So much to love.

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    1. Thanks! It was fun to have Josh interview me, using such fun questions and all. :)

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    2. Yeah, Josh's a KIDDER, in case you didn't notice before... ;-) :-D

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  6. I have it, just haven't had time to get to it yet. I can't wait! I love Steampunk.

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    1. Well, I hope it's "steamy" enough for you. ;)

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  7. That book sounds awesome. Adding it to the To Read list now.

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    1. Let me know what you think when you get to it.

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  8. If the book is half as good as the interview it's a win. ;-)
    As KC said: a delightfully fascinating interview. Thank you, Langley and Josh! :-)

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    1. You're welcome--and thank you! It's wonderful to be featured on Josh's blog and it was fun coming up with answers to his interesting questions. :)

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  9. What a wonderful and entertaining interview, thanks Josh and Langley! I'm here to encourage everyone to read Highfell Grimoires - it blew my mind. Having now learned more about you Langley, it's no wonder I loved the book so much. Sounds like you lead a rich and varied life combined with a great imagination, and lucky us, we get to reap that in your writing. :-)

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    1. Yay! Thank you, Dianne, for dropping by. I'm so happy to hear that you loved the book.

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  10. Wonderful interview, Josh!
    The book really is great. I've read it twice now and I still find it full of fresh world-building and really compelling characters.

    My top hat is off to you , Langley! :D


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    1. Thanks, Ginn! I'll raise a tiny top hat to your work, too!

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  11. Great interview and it looks to be a great book :D

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  12. Thanks! I hope you'll like it. :D

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  13. Wonderful interview! Highfell Grimoires is now on my "to read" list. Thanks to Josh and Langley!

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