Before we get down to the questions, here's a little about Aubrey McKnight.
Aubrey McKnight gave up the glamorous life of a lab rat to do what she’d wanted to do almost since she learned to read: tell stories. By day, she’s a mild mannered mom, but at night she wields a merciless pen, er, keyboard. She enjoys cooking, hockey, and shoving people together only to tear them apart again (on paper, that is). She’s lived all across the U.S., and currently resides in Texas with her wonderful husband, their annoyingly smart daughter, and a dog named Bongo.
Now on to the questions!
I’ve always loved the Victorian time period in literature, history and fashion. Dickens, Conan-Doyle, and Mark Twain are a few of my favorite authors. And of course I love any movie or television program set during that period, especially if it has to do with a certain villain named Jack. I would have loved to live during that era, but of course I would have wanted to be in the upper crust with plenty of money to spend on all those beautiful dresses.
What do you think makes a great hero and heroine?
I think what makes a hero great in my eyes is strength blended with vulnerability. Take Christian Jervaulx in Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm. “He liked radical politics and had a fondness for chocolate.” One of my favorite first lines in noveldom. So from the start you know he has one weakness, chocolate, and that other people probably don’t like him much do to his political leanings. Later, of course, he is much more vulnerable when he has to rely on heroine, Maddy, to do something as basic as translate his slurred speech, or even change his clothes. But right off the bat you know he’s got a little quirk, and it makes him sympathetic even when he’s not so nice.
For a heroine, I want to see strength. I hate books where the female sits around and waits for someone to save her, usually a big, well-muscled hero. I want to see her try to save herself, and only accept help when she really, truly has no other way to go on. Or, hey, why can’t she just save everyone. She is strong, she is invincible, she is woman! I’ve never waited for a man to help me do anything (except maybe my dad when I was younger), and I don’t really want to read about heroines who do.
What authors or books inspire you?
In romance, I’ve always loved Laura Kinsale. She does her research, and you know it, but she’s not obvious by info dumping. It’s all very subtle. If I have the details right, she actually went to Ireland to learn to drive a phaeton in order to be able to more accurately describe her characters doing so. Now that’s dedication to the craft.
I also very much enjoy Hailey Edwards and her Araneae Nation series. Being a scientist in a former life, with a degree in Zoology specifically, I absolutely love that she named the tribes in her books after different families of spiders, and gave them characteristics unique to their spider group.
And I would be remiss not to mention Quinn Langston and Kate Willoughby, who always armed and ready with a critique pen and not afraid to use them. Love their books.
But I would have to say currently my biggest inspiration is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, in all his incarnations, and I’ve just begun writing a Victorian mystery series I hope to have out next year.
How do you make sure to find time for writing?
Finding the time is a bit tricky. I not only write, but work as a freelance copy editor, homeschool my eleven year old daughter and try to keep the house somewhat cleaned and organized and laundry done and dinner on the table (sometimes hard to do when you have a 130 pound St. Bernard roaming around as well). What I try to do is schedule. It’s sort of imperative for me. I usually get up early, set aside a couple of hours for writing before it’s time to get school started, then when lessons are over, I work on my editing. Any extra free time left over in the evening is either used to spend with my family or do a bit of extra writing.
What's the best writing advice you've ever received?
Butt in chair. I believe it was Nora Roberts who gave that advice (not to me personally, but in a speech she gave on writing). You can’t become published unless you put words to paper, and you can’t do that without sitting down in front of a computer or a typewriter or a notebook and pen. You may have the most brilliant plots, the greatest characters, the best idea ever, but it’s never going to be outside your head unless you sit your butt in a chair and put it down.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Definitely a pantser, which can get me in trouble from time to time. While the flow feels more natural, you can easily write yourself into a corner. I may do a very, very rough outline, but for the most part I let the story flow. Sometimes that means more rewrites than others who plot every single movement (you know who you are), but I just can’t bring myself to do that.
What 5 characters would want to be trapped with on a deserted island?
Wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many great characters to choose from.
Bond, James Bond. I mean, if anyone can figure out how to get us off that island, it’s an MI-6 agent. He has to have some sort of gadget in his back pocket that turns into a portable aircraft, right? And he’s not too hard on the eyes either. I love the Daniel Craig version from the movies. Tortured and vulnerable, and at the same time strong, clever and never backs down from a fight. See answer to question 2.
Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Speaking of tortured. And he really, really loved his woman. To death.
Cherry St. Croix from Karina Cooper’s steam punk series, The St. Croix Chronicles. Speaking of clever, that girl is crazy clever…until she’s not. And on that island maybe the other five of us could break her from that nasty black tar opium addiction once and for all.
Of course, Sherlock Holmes. Brilliant, if socially clueless. Also a drug addict (note to self: ask therapist why I love literary drug addicts). His personality might prove for a few awkward moments, but on a whole very entertaining. We should all know far more than we should about each other by the time he’s through analyzing us. And have you seen the modern version? Sherlock, from the BBC. Benedict Cumberbatch. Yum.
Number five—and really this is such an incomplete list; I could go on and on with many other characters—is Jamie from Outlander. I know, I know, everyone is saying Jamie now, but I read Outlander way back in the dark ages when it first came out, and he’s such a hero in every sense of the word. I’d be okay to wrap up in a kilt with him until our rescue.
What can you tell us about your current work in progress?
At the moment I’m working on the fourth installment of Ladies of the Abberly Theater, a series of Lunchbox Romances for Boroughs Publishing Group. It’s entitled Christmas at Abberly Theater, and it’s a follow up on the three couples from the first three stories. An epilogue of sorts. It’s also the story of two orphaned children in search of a permanent home. I hope it strikes a chord with other adoptive moms like me.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m also working on a new non-romance series set in Victorian London. The main character is a well-to-do member of a titled family who gets his jollies from working in the theater as an illusionist, until he becomes involved in a murder investigation. He’s a bit quirky, a little dark and a lot of fun to write.
That's it for the questions. Now, here's a look at the first story in Aubrey's Ladies of the Abberly Theater series: Iphigenia and the Showman.
Set in 1892 London - After her father leaves her penniless and saddled with his gambling debts, Iphigenia Martin must find a way to scratch out a living and repay the debtor, Abberly Theater's owner, Matthias Abberly. She offers to finish out her father's contract and repay his notes if Matthias will allow her to become the first female illusionist in London to headline her own show.
Check Aubrey's website to learn about the rest of the series.
If you're looking for something to read this weekend, you can start Aubrey's Ladies of the Abberly Theater series now!
Next week, we will be back with new content. Until then, happy reading!