The Word Nerds are pretty sure that Jaime Lee Moyer sounds like our kind of a person… a TBR pile close to toppling over and author of historical, ghost stories. She’s the author of “Delia’s Shadow” and the recent, “A Barricade in Hell” and we’re happy to have her as our guest today!
WN: What kind of reader is going to like “Delia’s Shadow” and “A Barricade in Hell?”
MOYER: I’m probably the worst person to answer this question. These books are my babies, and in a perfect world everyone would love them. My hope is that people who love spooky stories, ghosts doing ghostly things, women characters being front and center solving the mysteries, and dealing with the danger, will love these books. Readers who like a touch of romance and adult love stories will like these books as well.The murder mysteries appeal to mystery readers, although I have to caution that these are not nice, neat cozy mystery murders. My killers don’t play nice.
WN: What was your research process like to create a historical San Francisco for your books?
MOYER: I spent most of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay area. The history of the area surrounds you.
I still spent hours, months, reading contemporary accounts of the 1906 earthquake and fire, the history of San Francisco landmarks, and current events. Hours more were spent going through Library of Congress online picture archives. They have digitized tens of thousands of news photographs from the 1910s, and a huge number of those have links to the accompanying newspaper articles.
Those photos gave me insight into how real people dressed, how they lived, and what was important to people living between 1915-1919. That news archive was an invaluable resource.
All that research gave me a backdrop for my characters to live their lives against. The characters were the story, not the history.
WN: How was writing “A Barricade in Hell” harder or easier than writing “Delia’s Shadow?”
MOYER: I wrote Delia’s Shadow on a lark, not caring about anything but writing a book I wanted to write, having fun doing so, and spending time with characters I loved. There wasn’t any pressure or any expectations to meet.
That all changed when I got to the second book. I felt so, so much pressure, and a real responsibility, to make the second book better than the first. I didn’t want A Barricade In Hell to be my “sophomore slump” book.I have to admit that just about all of that pressure was self-inflicted, and it made writing Barricade much harder. It’s taken more than a year, and finishing the third book in the series, to realize that I tied myself in knots trying to write the “perfect” book.No book is ever perfect, but setting myself an impossible task didn’t stop me from trying. I am the poster child for overachievers.
WN: You also write poetry and have been a poetry editor. How does that help you in writing fiction?
MOYER: Poetry taught me so much. I learned to pay attention to how words play off each other, how one word flows into the next and builds an image, or builds emotion and expectation. All of that controls the flow and the rhythm of sentences, which in turn, control the pacing of the story you’re telling.
You’d never know it reading these answers, but poetry taught me economy of language; to say more with less. Sentence level writing is as important as plot.
WN: What books have captured your attention lately?
MOYER: Oh wow, what books haven’t gotten my attention lately? My TBR pile keeps growing and the list of books that look intriguing is probably ten times longer.
Beth Cato has a book coming out in September, The Clockwork Dagger, that looks amazing. The first book–which is pending a title change–in Fran Wilde’s Bone City trilogy is coming out next year. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, Jodi Meadow’s Orphan Queen, new books by Rae Carson, Amanda Downum, Kate Elliot, Kameron Hurley–I could go on. So many books and so little time.
WN: What’s next for you as a writer?
MOYER: The third Gabe and Delia book, Against A Brightening Sky, comes out in 2015. I don’t have a date for that yet, but it’s done, turned in, and in production. I’m working on a new book called A Parliament Of Queens, with new characters, set in an art deco world full of magic, airships and alchemy. I haven’t sold it yet, but where there’s words, there’s hope.