Please welcome Nicole Jarvis to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Lights of Prague was published on May 25, 2021 by Titan Books.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?
Nicole: I’m happy to be here! I remember writing a short story for fun when I was in elementary school. I was traveling with my childhood crush along the Nile to search for a monstrous giant crocodile. (My crush did not survive to the end of the story. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for narrative tension!)
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Nicole: Even though I carefully plot each draft, I never know if something works until the whole book is written out. I rely heavily on editing once I have everything on paper, but it makes for a lot of deleted and rewritten material!
TQ: What has influenced / influences your writing?
Nicole: I’m influenced by everything around me, but travel often sparks the tone and plot of my work. I hope my books can give people the sense of exploring the world.
TQ: Describe The Lights of Prague using only 5 words.
TQ: Tell us something about The Lights of Prague that is not found in the book description.
Nicole: Though the book description focuses on Domek Myska, the monster-hunting lamplighter, half the book is from the point of view of Lady Ora Fischerová, a beautiful widow who is far older than she looks.
TQ: What inspired you to write The Lights of Prague?
Nicole: I was struck one night with the image of a lamplighter on a misty street jumping into danger—and getting sucked into a much bigger conspiracy—and the rest of the book demanded to be written from there!
TQ: The novel is set in gaslight-era Prague. In your opinion what elements are required for a novel to be a Gaslamp fantasy?
Nicole: Despite literally starring a lamplighter, I didn’t envision The Lights of Prague as a “Gaslamp Fantasy” when I wrote it! I was drawn to the idea of a character who brought not just light but safety to the dark streets, and the era of gaslamps was the perfect fit.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Lights of Prague?
Nicole: Before I even started writing the first draft, I read several books about the setting to get an idea of the day-to-day life in 1868 Prague. Once I had the frame in place, I went into more detailed research dives on Wikipedia and JSTOR. Later, I visited Prague to envision the book on the ground!
TQ: Please tell us about the cover for The Lights of Prague.
Nicole: Julia Lloyd designed the cover and absolutely blew me away. In addition to being gorgeous and evocative, the cover shows two key landmarks that are central to the book’s plot.
TQ: In The Lights of Prague who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Nicole: Ora was the easiest character to write. I found it natural to balance her light, clever voice and her private grief. The hardest was Kája, the will-o’-the-wisp. I ended up rewriting nearly all of his dialogue over the course of my edits to really nail his personality and plotline.
TQ: Does The Lights of Prague touch on any social issues?
Nicole: There are several social issues touched on in the book, but I was especially determined to include LGBTQ representation. As a bisexual woman, it was very important for me to write about queer characters. We have always existed, even when history has tried to erase us.
TQ: Which question about The Lights of Prague do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Question: Which character from The Lights of Prague would you get along with most in real life?
Answer: I would love to have a fancy dinner and joke around with Cord, Domek’s best friend! A charming nobleman with interesting hobbies, he’d know how to have a fun conversation.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Lights of Prague.
Nicole: I’m still very partial to the opening line! I wanted to bring people right into the atmosphere of Prague at night—
“Dark water reflected the line of gas lamps along the path, the rippling lights echoing the stars stretching overhead.”
TQ: What's next?
Nicole: I can’t say much, but I will say that my next project is set in Florence—and involved a lot of research into some fascinating historical figures!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Nicole: Thank you for having me!
The Lights of Prague
Titan Books, May 25, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of mysterious
creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only
hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters –
secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each
night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with
the worst kind of evil: pijavice, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric
creatures. Despite this, Domek finds solace in his moments spent in the
company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischerová - a
widow with secrets of her own.
When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady - a
ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle – he stumbles across
the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp captured in a mysterious
container. Now, as its bearer, Domek wields its power, but the wisp,
known for leading travellers to their deaths, will not be so easily
After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavice that could see them
unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race
against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own
Nicole Jarvis has been writing stories as long as she can remember. After graduating with degrees in English and Italian from Emory University, Nicole moved to New York City and currently works in marketing at Bloomsbury Publishing, and lives in Manhattan with two cats named after children’s book characters. She loves listening to musicals, learning strange histories and thinking about the inner lives of superheroes. The Lights of Prague is her first novel.