Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with Isabel Cooper and Giveway - September 26, 2011

Please welcome Isabel Cooper to The Qwillery as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews.

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 Lady
Englefield 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.

About Isabel

Debut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2012. For more information, please visit

The Giveaway


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? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)  Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)  Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)  Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

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.*


  1. If I had to pick one practical item, I would probably take antibiotics with me. There is no way I would want to get taken out by a simple infection!
    If I had to pick one item I would just really like to have, I would go with my ipod fully loaded with audiobooks, music and some magical battery that never died.

    Thank you for the interview and giveaway!

    I am a follower

    ssosborn atgmail dotcom

  2. Thank you for a very interesting interview.

    If I were time traveling to the past, then I would absolutely have to take with me a video camera. This way, I would have memories of my trip back to the past.

    I love the cover art and the colors used. It's very eye-catching.

    I love finding new Authors.
    Thank you for this opportunity.

    +1 - Comment
    +1 - Qwillery follower
    +1 - Tweeted about giveaway (englishmeadows)

    dpd333 AT aol dot com

  3. That is a tough question...Everything is electronic and the technology would not work there. I think the most practical thing would be some type of medical textbook with list of different medicines, their uses and their component ingredients. So that I too like Sabrina above would not die of a simple infection after being able to time travel.

    Or I can do a McFly and take with me a sports almanac or detailed history of the time I was traveling to so that I could "predict" the future...or maybe even a magic 8 ball. LOL!!

  4. Shoot forgot to add 2 thing:

    1. I am a follower
    2. flaca798 at hotmail dot com

  5. Thank you very much for having me on here, and for all the comments--they're great to read!

    @Sabrina and Jary, good points about the medical risks. It's startling to realize how serious comparatively minor modern diseases were back then.

    @Diane, I like the video camera idea too! Memories are important.

  6. Well, I was going to say toothpaste, but the medical textbooks and antibiotics seem like a better answer. But personal hygiene was so gross that I'm still thinking toothpaste or deodorant.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  7. Wow, that is really hard to answer. Several posters said antibiotics, which is an excellent answer. I'm going to post the first thing that popped into my head...wool socks!

    I don't like to be cold! And if my feet are cold; I can't sleep. LOL

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  8. Wow "Terminator meets My Fair Lady" what a treat :) Thank you for sharing this wonderful interview with us today and for the awesome giveaway opportunity. No Proper Lady is definitely going on the wishlist. It is really hard to think of one item I would take with me. My first thought was ibuprofen, its the wonder drug LOL or if I could think of a way to magically charge it, I would definitely want my Kindle LOL, but the ibuprofen will probably have to do :)
    I am a follower.
    tweeted -


  9. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. If I was take something back to the past, it would be my ipod and medicines. Please enter me in contest.

  10. If I had to pick an item, I would say a medicine kit. GFC Krystal Larson edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  11. If I had to pick one item it would be a book. One that is a reread that I love, maybe either one of J R Ward"s or Jeaniene Frost, cause you know they wouldn't have any good books. I thought like the other posts, bringing my ipod but if it wouldn't work you wouldn't have anything. This sounds like a good book I can't wait to read it.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    I am a follower on GFC and email subscriber.

  12. If I had to pick one item it would be a book. One that is a reread that I love, maybe either one of J R Ward"s or Jeaniene Frost, cause you know they wouldn't have any good books. I thought like the other posts, bringing my ipod but if it wouldn't work you wouldn't have anything. This sounds like a good book I can't wait to read it.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    I am a follower on GFC and email subscriber.

  13. I don't know what I would take to travel back to the past. Maybe my laptop and hope it worked, lol!
    Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook (+ 1 entry).

    Valerie Long (Scorpio1974 on GFC)

  14. I would bring my makeup bag. :D
    GFC: Arianne Cruz

  15. Can I take my Kindle? If not, I would take a bag of books :)

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower
    +1 tweeted:!/jwitt33/status/118418439961456641

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  16. If I could only take one item, it would have to be a toothbrush. Thank you for hosting!

    email: jax.carter(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. LOL, I would NEED some kind of water purification system ;O)

    I am a follower!

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  18. I would bring my favorite sneakers. I get cranky if my feet get sore.

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    +1 blog follower

    Sara M
    sara_UFblog [at] yahoo [dot] com

  19. I've I were to travel to the past I'd have to bring my glasses (because my contacts would be too impractical) so that I could actually see anything.
    I really want to read No Proper Lady, it sounds fantastic.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower

  20. I think I'd be packing antiseptic soap, but the antibiotics mentioned are a brilliant idea.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  21. Hmm that is a toughie the first thing that popped into my head is what im going to go with though toilet paper lol

  22. posted to twitter!/lilblupixie

  23. posted on my blog

  24. The first thing that came to mind was my digital camera. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved to take photos. So, I think it would have to be that.


  25. Interesting interview! This was a difficult choice because there are so many things I would want to take but I would want to take a herbal medical guide that would tell me what herbs and home made medicines I could take for ailments from the past.

    I am a GFC Follower

    I Tweeted the giveaway:!/crazymidwestgal/status/118508547867803650

  26. thats a hard one.. while i would love to bring my camera or music, i think ill have to go with a toothbrush!!
    +1 Follower

  27. ooohh i forgot my email
    alainala@hotmail . ca

  28. I would like to bring my laptop with us with all my ebooks and music but considering we're time traveling back to when there was no way to work electronics, then I guess the practical thing to bring would be antibiotics...

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower


  29. I would bring a first aid kit packed with medicine and sanitizer. That way I can enjoy the food, housing and culture there without too much risk to my health.

    I am a GFC follower.

    I tweeted:!/FieryNa/status/118576567424266240

    Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com

  30. These have been great suggestions to read! Now I'm pondering the Time Travel Backpack of Stuff.

    Thanks, everyone!

  31. I would bring coolmax clothing.

    GFC- Christine A.
    your1chef at aol dot com

  32. If I could only bring one thing, I'd want my contact lenses so that I could see what I was doing! :P

    This sounds like a very interesting book concept- I can't wait to read it!

    +1 follower

  33. I'd have to have my Kindle.
    GFC- Lisa Richards!/alterlisa/status/118735797737369601
    +1 - Comment
    +1 - Qwillery follower
    +1 - Tweeted about giveaway


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  34. That is tough, should I be practical or whimsical? I'd want to take my digital camera and use it for as long as the batteries held out.

    GFC: ML

    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

  35. Thanks for the giveaway! The one "thing" I would absolutely want to bring with me is toilet paper!


  36. Already follow via GFC (MamaHendo3).


  37. Tweeted giveaway:!/MamaHendo3/status/118868992252317696


  38. I think I would want to bring my camera. I would want to capture everything and with pictures I could always look back. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I am a follower
    sariahwalters at gmail dot com

  39. I would bring a history book or two, never hurts to be prepared!

    +1 comment
    +1 Follower

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  40. Just going through some old emails and I realized that I didn't enter this giveaway yet. What an oversight!
    I'm not sure if this would count, although I truly hope it would. I'm blind without my contac lens. Glasses just don't get my vision clear enough, so.. i'd want to bring a view pairs of contact elns and enough solution to last a very long time!
    +1 I;m a GFC follower as MJB
    +1 comment

    msmjb65 AT gmail DOT com

  41. If i was to travel to the past I would probably bring my laptop. I cant live without it now and it would have been an asset in the past