Thursday, February 12, 2015

Interview with Viola Carr, author of The Diabolical Miss Hyde - February 12, 2015

Please welcome Viola Carr to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Diabolical Miss Hyde was published on February 10th by Harper Voyager.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Viola:  Ages ago, and just because :) I'm not sure there's truly an answer to 'why write?' Some say you should only be a writer if you can't not be one. As if writing needs to be some awe-inspiring, tragic, agonising birthing process that tears my soul apart, or something… I don't believe that. I write because it's challenging and interesting and satisfying. If I wasn't allowed to do it any more, I'd be sad, and probably bored.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Viola:  I'm a plotter. Totally. Pantsing works for some people, but I find it an utter waste of time. Writing is a craft for me, not a head-explosion of primordial creative goo, or whatever. Crafting plots and characters in advance is its own reward, and only makes the actual writing more fun!

As for people who claim they 'get bored' if they have to think about their story more than once… {boggle} I have no words for you. You are aliens. Seriously. I've got nothing :)

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

Viola:  Discarding ideas that don't fit. I always want to include *everything* in every book… maybe that's why I love steampunk! It's an unapologetic mish-mash of genre elements.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Every writer wants to be Stephen King when they grow up, right? He has this uncanny ability to draw you into his characters' souls with only a few words. Likewise, the late Richard Laymon (also a horror author, though more pulpy than King) had an amazing facility with first-line hooks. He will get you with page one, line one, every single time.

If I can't be Stephen King, I'll be Neil Gaiman, who seems to possess not only unlimited imagination, but an indefatigable sense of wonder. Or I’ll be Nora Roberts, for her unfailing energy.

TQ:  Describe The Diabolical Miss Hyde in 140 characters or less.

CSI: Jekyll & Hyde meets Frankenstein, splashed with the guts of Sweeney Todd. An edgy, dark, romantic steampunk murder mystery. Awesome :)

TQ:  Tell us something about The Diabolical Miss Hyde that is not in the book description.

Viola:  The butler did it! Oh, wait, there isn't a butler. Um… no clockwork dogs were harmed in the making of this book? Seriously, there's a whole lot going on that isn't mentioned in the cover copy. Eliza has this strange relationship, for instance, with a serial killer whom she helped catch and lock up in a frightful asylum – a charming yet creepy red-headed fellow named Mr. Todd, who's a walking ulterior motive – but is it revenge he wants, or something even more sinister?

There's also the mystery of Eliza and Lizzie's past to be uncovered – why won't anyone talk about her famous father, who died when she was a child?

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Diabolical Miss Hyde? What appealed to you about writing a genre and gender bending steampunk retelling of the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Viola:  Everything! This idea blew my head apart. High concept, great fun, dark, creepy, sexy, romantic, action-packed – it's everything I love about historical fantasy. And, y'know. Steampunk. What's not to love?

And I found the idea of a female Dr. Jekyll endlessly interesting. Henry was an old white guy. He had it easy! A middle-class Victorian woman, on the other hand, had a strictly defined role, and keeping her reputation spotless was everything. Having her evil inner self popping out all over the place would be more than inconvenient.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Diabolical Miss Hyde?

Viola:  Oh, loads. I read dozens of books, trawled the internet for interesting historical tidbits, visited locations and took a zillion photos. I was living in England while I was writing it, which was an awesome excuse to pop down to London and wander about, dazed. That place is oozing with history. You can practically taste it. There's just so much going on there.

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

Viola:  Lizzie Hyde was one of the easiest, because she says and does exactly what she's thinking, where Eliza is all about subtext and rarely speaks her mind – she covers her true motives with wit. That's hard for a writer, because you want the reader to understand the subtext without slowing the pace down with too much introspection.

TQ:  Which question about The Diabolical Miss Hyde do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: Why hasn't anyone made this awesome book into a movie? A: Good question! I'm so pleased you asked. Get onto that immediately.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Diabolical Miss Hyde.

Viola:  Oh, I love this entire book :) but I'm biased like that, ha ha! I'll go with the very first line:

"In London, we've got murderers by the dozen."

I hope it sets the scene perfectly: yes, the book's about solving a serial murder, but the line has a sinister undertone, as if there's a darker side to the story and we're about to find out what it is. Yes. Yes, we are.

And without giving away any spoilers, here's the last line of the book proper:

"And for once in her life, Eliza couldn't find a single thing to say."

Yes, it takes the whole book for witty Dr. Jekyll to be rendered speechless. Hmm. I wonder what could bring that on?

TQ:  What's next?

Viola:  Book 2 in the series is called Tenfold More Wicked, and it comes out in October. Meanwhile, I'm working on book 3, and luxuriating in a proper Australian summer!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Viola:  Thanks for having me!

The Diabolical Miss Hyde
Electric Empire 1
Harper Voyager, February 10, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Forensic science, magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy steampunk fantasy—a retelling of the horror classic, in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll, daughter of the infamous Dr. Henry Jekyll—pursues a dangerous murderer in an alternate Victorian London.

In an electrified Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with newfangled technological gadgets. She will need every advantage available to catch a terrifying new psychopath splattering London with blood. Hidden in the grimy shadows, the fiendish murderer preys on beautiful women, drugging them before slicing off their limbs. Finding the “Slicer” can make Eliza’s career . . . or unmask her darkest secret. Like her father, she has a hidden second self that emerges when she drinks his forbidden magical elixir. Just a few sips, and a seductive and impulsive Lizzie Hyde is unleashed.

The members of the Royal Society do not trust Eliza, and they send their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a dangerous sorceress. The careful doctor knows that one wrong step can make her prey to the clever Lafayette, a man who harbors an evil curse of his own. No matter how much she craves the elixir, she must resist.

But as the Slicer case draws her into London’s luminous magical underworld, Eliza will need the potion’s power to help her . . . even if it might attract the attentions of Lafayette. .

Even if it means setting the wild Lizzie free. . . .

About Viola

Viola Carr was born in a strange and distant land, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat.

Website  ~  Twitter @viola_carr  ~  tumblr  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest

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