It's a pleasure to interview Belinda Kroll, author of Haunting Miss Trentwood (see my review below).
Jennifer Lane (JL): How did you get hooked on historical novels?
Belinda Kroll (BK): First, thanks for having me! Now to answer your question... My mother had the Little House books and A Lantern in Her Hand in her small library... I picked them up when I was about six or seven and I never looked back. Those books emphasized the importance of honesty, integrity, loving people because they were good. I liked that.
JL: What are your biggest influences as a writer?
BK: Well, I grew up reading Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, and L.M. Montgomery, so they have forever influenced me and my penchant for historical fiction. However, I also read outside of the genre I write, which is why I'm a "quirky" historical fiction writer. I never know what genre I'll mash up with historical fiction next. I love Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Jo Putney, Amanda Quick... the list goes on!
JL: Not only do you write, but you also have skills in computer programming and math. Your left and right hemispheres must get a constant workout! Have you always been interested in a wide range of areas? How is your career development going?
BK: I'm an artist, an engineer, and a design researcher. You're completely right, I have always been interested in a wide range of areas. In high school, my mother began calling me the modern renaissance woman because I had my hand in everything, and I do it fairly well.
In terms of my career development... I just graduated with my masters this past May, so I'm still determining what I want to do, professionally speaking. Right now I'm doing usability analysis, but who knows where I'll be in a year or two. I'm really young, professionally-speaking.
JL: I love the story about how your first novel, Catching the Rose, became published. Would you share that with us?
BK: Sure! So I began Catching the Rose when I was 11 years old. Seven years later, I had a novel that I felt was ready for publication. I had been following Writer's Digest since I was 13... first by borrowing the issues available from my library, and then I bought a subscription. So I knew about print-on-demand and subsidy publishing.
Given the fact that I wanted a book in hand by the time I gave my high school senior thesis presentation, I knew traditional publishing wasn't the way to go. It just takes too long! So I did my research online, my dad looking over my shoulder, and chose Aventine Press. My dad paid the fees to have the book published, and I had submitted a cover... but the publication process was pushed back a couple of weeks because the exterior and interior designer had a root canal. Apparently, he read my book while laid up in the hospital, and offered to give me a professionally designed cover for free to make up for the lost time!
JL: Now that I've read Haunting Miss Trentwood, I want to hear about the different teas you had at your signing and how they represented each character! And you also had coffin soaps for readers? :-)
BK: So I had three teas available, all provided by Ava Misseldine of Sugar Inc Tea and Cupcakes
The first was a roasted almond chai rooibos tea that represented Alexander Hartwell. He's a Beta Hero, through and through. The tea is comforting, with a slight kick in the pants to get something done. Mr. Trentwood, the ghost, is also represented by the tea for similar reasons even though they have different personalities and motivations.
The second tea, Cherry Whisper, represented Mary, the heroine. She is a solid English girl, sweet and loyal without being cloying, strong yet subtle.
The third tea, Shaman's Dream, was an herbal tea to represent Mrs. Durham, poor woman. She's a bit mad. And what better way to represent her than to pick a tea that has an unexpected combination of flavors that is delicious, but confusing.
And yes, I had coffin soaps bundled with the people who helped make the book happen. I got the soaps through the Etsy shop My Vintage Vanity. It was all kinds of brilliant and a lot of fun.
Thank you, Belinda. Now go read her marvelous Victorian ghost story!