We’re here today with Alison Goodman – New York Bestselling author of the fantasy duology EON and EONA. Her latest novel is The Dark Days Club – book one of a new trilogy, which has been described as “a delicious collision of Regency romance and dark fantasy”. So Alison, how would YOU sum it up in just a dozen words?
“I think of it as Jane Austen meets Buffy…without the vampires!”
Wow, we’re intrigued. So for those readers who haven’t read your book yet, can you give us a little more detail?
“The story is set in 1812 London and Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of making her curtsey to the Royal court and high society. She discovers that one of her maids has gone missing—perhaps abducted––and so decides to try and find the girl. Instead, she finds a dangerous demonic underside to London society, and a mysterious connection to Lord Carlston, a man of dark secrets and infuriating manners. It is a great big fun mash-up of all the kinds of stories I love to read: adventure, girl-power, coming-of-age, immersive historical fiction, supernatural suspense, and bantering romance.”
We love mash ups! So how did the idea for this book form? It’s pretty “out there” after all. Was there a lightbulb moment or did the idea evolve over time?
“It was a bit of both. I was given my first Georgette Heyer book when I was 12 and that started my love affair for all things Regency. It also started my love of immersive historical fiction – the kind of books where you feel like you are actually walking along the street and breathing the air with the character. Those two early passions have definitely fed into the creation of Lady Helen.”
And the lightbulb part?
“The actual idea for the series was a lightbulb moment on a tram in Melbourne. I was coming home from the Romance Writers of Australia conference where I had attended a session on ‘Researching the Regency’ by the wonderful Jen Kloester. For some reason, I had fixed it in my mind that the research for a novel set in the Regency would be a bit out of my league. However, Jen’s session made me realise that it was, in fact, completely achievable. So, with that revelation buzzing through me, I got on the tram, stared out of the window and started to think about the kind of Regency novel that I would like to read now. By the time I got to my stop, I had scribbled down the outline of the Lady Helen series.”
Isn’t it great when you can find the vehicle for your story while actually ON a moving vehicle! Anyway, so let’s hear about your typical writing day – we assume you don’t write on a tram?
“My routine changes according to what stage I am in the novel. I write a story chronologically, so at the beginning of a book I’ll spend my workday mooching around the house just thinking and dreaming up the story, writing plans, researching, and working on my first few chapters. Once those are in place, I then settle into a routine of doing admin and research in the morning and then writing for about four hours in the afternoon. As I get closer to the end of the novel (and my submission date) those four hours will extend into anything up to eight or nine hours. There are also quite a few baths involved throughout the whole process!”
Baths huh? Probably why your character keeps getting into so much hot water. Anyway, this is book one of a trilogy, so we can probably guess what’s next for you. But we’d like to hear it in your words please.
“I’ve just finished Book 2 in the Lady Helen trilogy and planning Book 3.”
That’s what we figured. Any other projects?
“I’m also working on a short story for a new anthology of adventure stories to be published by Clandestine Press called And then…The Great Big Book of Awesome. The brief is to write an old style action adventure story and I’m having a hoot writing my story—The Benevolent Society of Ill Mannered Ladies—about a pair of Regency spinster sisters who have taken up adventuring to avoid the ennui of high society life.”
The fun never ends! So one final question – what FOUR pieces of advice can you offer for aspiring writers who hope to be in a position like you are (a full-time writer) one day?
“Always at the top of the list is to write as much as possible. Like any artistic endeavour, fiction writing takes practice. No one would expect a budding musician to pick up an instrument for the first time and start playing at a world-class level. Hours and hours of practice go into the skill set, and the same goes for writing. Secondly, study your craft, particular how to structure a story. That can be via classes, if they are within your budget, or accessing some of the many great how-to books and YouTube clips on writing. Thirdly, read as much as you can: great stuff, not so great stuff, in between stuff, and as many genres as possible. Collect the techniques that are being used and think about how the author is achieving the effects that you like. And last but not least, never mistake your first draft for your final draft. Rewriting is a crucial part of the process. The initial, wonderful rush of ideas is a great start, but the real work is in crafting all that excitement and energy into a meaningful emotional journey for the reader.”
You can find out more about this book and Alison’s other projects on her website here.