Please welcome Angela Quarles to Whiskey With My Book. Angela is the author of Steam Me Up, Rawley, a Prism award finalist in the Steampunk/Time Travel category.
Angela, I love steampunk and I’m always happy when the good stuff gets recognized. Congratulations on becoming a Prism award finalist! And thanks for being here today.
Will you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! I’m a huge history buff, as well as someone who enjoys geeking out on things, be it family history, some craft that’s intrigued me, binge-watching a show, or learning a foreign language (though I haven’t done that in a while). I live in the beautiful and quirky city of Mobile, Alabama, in an old historic house that is supposedly haunted.
Tell us about the Prism Awards.
The Prism Awards are run by Romance Writer’s of America’s special interest chapter Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FF&P), and seeks to recognize quality published work in the various genres that make up the spectrum of FF&P (it’s not all vampires!) from the previous year.
What inspired you to start writing?
Hmm, several things honestly. I think for so long I dismissed writing fiction because I believed I didn’t have the talent, but I’d constantly have ideas. I’d dismiss them, though, and say, too bad I’m not a writer. Then I braved writing Jane Austen Fan Fiction on a website I ran with some fellow devotees in 2005. Then when my grandmother died in 2008, who’d longed to publish her writing, I was driving to Mobile (I didn’t live there yet) and I got the idea to write an historical mystery set in a bookshop in Mobile with the heroine loosely based on my grandmother. I couldn’t make my brain shut up, and I decided to stretch myself and try it. I finished that story during NaNoWriMo 2009. Then I wrote the draft that became my debut novel (Must Love Breeches) during NaNoWriMo 2010.
What are some of your favorite books?
Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Christopher Moore’s Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Frank Herbert’s Dune, David Brin’s Uplift Saga series. Ann Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches series. I recently devoured Andy Weir’s The Martian in less than 24 hours. I’m also a fan of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. I better stop here, because I can go on and on.
Where did you get your inspiration(s) for Steam Me Up, Rawley?
From several sources that I combined. I wanted to write a steampunk set in Mobile, and I was inspired by the fact that my great grandmother would have inherited the local newspaper if she’d been a man and that turned into a female reporter. I’d also jotted a note down about exploring the Jack the Ripper angle in Mobile (one of the suspected men had a wife from here) and then I connected the Jack the Ripper kernel with the intrepid female reporter idea. From there, I had fun imagining how Mobile would have been different if Charles Babbage had completed his Analytical Engine and if Lincoln hadn’t been shot.
If you could time travel to a parallel steampunk world, where would you go? Who would you like to meet in that alternate world?
I kind of did that with my debut novel, Must Love Breeches — it’s a time travel set in 1834 and the heroine meets Ada Byron Lovelace and Charles Babbage. She affects the timeline and creates the alternate world that Steam Me Up, Rawley is set in (Steam was originally supposed to be the sequel to Breeches). But I’d also love to see the alternate world that might have happened if Nikola Tesla had been successful in getting his inventions to market.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m in the middle of line edits for Must Love Kilts, the third book in my Must Love time travel series. This one is set in 1689 Scotland during the first Jacobite rebellion.
What are you reading now?
I just finished reading Warriors of the Word: The World of the Scottish Highlanders by Michael Newton. Great resource for anyone interested in the Gaelic history of the Scottish Highlands.
Angela – feel free to add anything else you would like people to know about your or your books.
Must Love Chainmail, Book 2 in my Must Love series, is a finalist in the Romance Writer’s of America’s top award, the RITA®. Also, Steam Me Up, Rawley was named by Library Journal as the Best Self-Published Romance of 2015.
Angela, I am so pleased you could be here today! Good luck in the final Prism awards.
Now that you’ve read a little about Angela’s book, are you interested in reading them? You can start with this excerpt from Steam Me Up Rawley:
At nineteen years, Miss Adele de la Pointe hadn’t yet figured out everything, but three things she did know. She never wanted to marry, these society parties were an utter bore, and her pet monkey was about as genteel as a roly-poly at a butterfly tea party.
“Put that down.” Adele snatched a doily from Loki’s hairy fist and looked around the sunlit grounds.
Be-ribboned and be-bustled ladies sauntered between tables covered in crisp white linen and half the available lace on the Gulf Coast, but none looked her way.
Whew. No apparent witnesses to Loki’s shenanigans.
She smoothed the doily onto the lawn table, only a tad wrinkled from her monkey’s antics. Antics she must quell were she to survive this affair.
“Loki, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t pull another stunt.”
Her capuchin monkey nuzzled her cheek, and the chinstrap of his oyster-shell helmet chafed her ear.
“Behave,” she whispered. “I can’t lose you, too.”
Every time someone hinted that she should trade in her childhood shoulder pet for the more refined parakeet, her heart lurched, in an if-you-do-I’m-staying-with-Loki warning. Having such a mentally enhanced pet did pose a risk if she didn’t keep him occupied, however.
She wended her way through the ladies, alert for details to immortalize yet another society gathering for the local newspaper. But the subtle snubs and dismissive glances and behind-the-fan whispers followed in her wake.
These same ladies would later scurry over and curry favor, showing off their latest hat or implant or dress. Adele pulled in a deep breath. Chin up.
All right, so society reporter might not be her ideal profession, but it certainly beat the path these ladies valued–landing a wealthy husband. She rubbed the four tattoos vertically aligned on her neck, each denoting her grandparents’ families. These would admit her to such a party without her official role, but the expectation inherent in its ink felt like an itchy reminder. She edged around a table and spotted the hostess simpering at the mayor’s wife. Adele tapped her pen against her lip.
A fresh breeze from the Mobile River skittered through the yard, rustling the oak leaves and Spanish moss. The wind loosed a silk ribbon from Claire Chastang’s monstrous hat and slapped the frippery against the mayor’s wife’s cheek. Adele pressed gloved fingers to her mouth and suppressed a chuckle.
How to cover the gathering without sounding scornful? What Adele wanted to pen for the society column would not do:
Miss Claire Chastang was resplendent (resplendently tacky) in her tailored aerophane silk day dress, sporting lace trim and chiffon flowers reminiscent of an explosion at a ladies emporium.
“Hello, my dear, how’s your aunt?”
Adele started at the familiar elderly voice and signature gardenia perfume. “Mrs. Tuttle. Nice to see you. Great-aunt, actually. Still the same.”
Mrs. Tuttle waved an elegant hand, declaring the familial distinction irrelevant. Faded neck tattoos identified her as a cousin of Adele’s Great-Aunt Linette. The older woman might be the image of proper Southern womanhood cinched into a fashionable shirtwaist with leg o’ mutton sleeves and a Gainsborough hat, but Adele had overheard her say, in tête-à-têtes with Great-Aunt Linette, more than one naughty phrase.
“Still a bit dotty, then?” Mrs. Tuttle winked like a co-conspirator, but dang if Adele knew the intrigue.
Her aunt dotty? Eccentric maybe. Prone to wear hats to dinner maybe. “I haven’t seen you at the house this week. Are you well?” Mrs. Tuttle and her great-aunt had a standing weekly canasta engagement.
“Yes, yes. Had to leave town, only returned this morning. I’ll be there Monday, never fear.”
Like the other women, Mrs. Tuttle had a shoulder pet, but unlike their parakeets, hers was a sleek ferret. Her single nod to fashion its matching hair color, a slate gray.
She stroked a hand down Winston’s tail. “Still rabid on Wollstonecraft?”
Adele bounced on her toes. “Indeed.”
“While in Boston this week, I found an excellent bound edition of her memoirs her husband published. Next time I’m by your way, I’ll bring it.”
“Thank you. So sweet of you to think of me.”
“Don’t mention it, dear.” She patted Adele’s shoulder. “But you shouldn’t take her teachings too much to heart if it’s a husband you wish to capture.”
“Well, nothing to fear there, as I have no plans to marry. Career woman for me.”
“If you insist, but it’s beyond me why you’d forsake a gentleman’s companionship. They can be mighty useful,” she said with another wink. “In all seriousness, though, I am proud of you. It’s not easy ignoring society’s expectations.”
And that comment made Adele feel so tall, she was in danger of tangling her hat in the Spanish moss dripping from the overhanging branches of the live oaks.
Angela Quarles is a RWA RITA® Finalist and USA Today bestselling author of time travel and steampunk romance. Her debut novel Must Love Breeches swept many unpublished romance contests, including the Grand Prize winner of Windy City’s Four Seasons contest in 2012. Her steampunk, Steam Me Up, Rawley, was named Best Self-Published Romance of 2015 by Library Journal. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history. She decided to take this love of history and her active imagination and write stories of romance and adventure for others to enjoy. When not writing, she’s either working at the local indie bookstore or enjoying the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls, and creating the occasional knitted scarf.
Find Angela at:
Please come back for my interview with Prism award finalist Sandy Williams, author of Shades of Treason. She will be here on Saturday June 4th. For a complete list of the finalists, go here.