Debut Author Spotlight: An Interview with Viola Carr

12:00 AM Serena 0 Comments

If you didn't already know, I wanted to do debut author spotlights as a way to spread the love for debuts I'm looking forward to reading this year. 

Today I have an interview with Viola Carr, author of The Diabolical Miss Hyde, here on the blog! Let's give Viola a round of applause. 

Now that I've cleverly devised a way to include Ryan Gosling in this post, we can get started! I'm sure you're all looking forward to reading Viola's answers. 
*PSA: My questions will be bolded, like so, and Viola's answers will be not-bolded, like so.*

How would you describe The Diabolical Miss Hyde in seven words or less?

Edgy, dark, romantic steampunk murder mystery. Awesome :)

What’s your writing process like? Are you an outliner, or do you have other methods?

I am an abject, helpless outliner. 'Hi, I'm Viola, and I'm an outline addict.' If I don't know everything in advance – plot, characters, the lot – I get stuck and can't get the words out.
Which isn't to say I don't sometimes complicate things as I go along, or add fresh details I never thought of before. Most often this happens with the characters' physical appearance – for instance, I had no clue what Remy Lafayette from Miss Hyde looked like until he walked on, only that he was arrogant, infuriatingly charming and easy on the eye. And who knew Mr. Todd had bright red hair? Also, there's one subplot in Miss Hyde that wasn't in the outline at all. Once the whole thing has taken shape, I see more possibilities for extras. But the bones of it have to be there before I start, or I'm a gibbering wreck.

What was the inspiration behind Miss Hyde?

This was one of those ideas that just leapt out and ran around yelling until I paid attention to it. 'Dr Jekyll is a lady… and a crime scene physician… and what if she's chasing a serial killer… but her dark half keeps interfering… and if the authorities discover her secret, she's toast!' With steampunk/alternate history, there's so much you can do! The trick was to not include too much stuff.

Did you always know you wanted to write? If so did you always want to be a YA author?

I was always good at writing, but for a long time, I'd never met anyone who was an author. I guess I thought that writing for a job was for mythical people who lived in some ivory-tower world somewhere a long way from me. It took me years to finish my first (and utterly dreadful, let me tell you) attempt at a novel – but it made me realise I could do it. Then I did a NaNoWriMo – you know, where you write 50,000 words in a month – and to my surprise, the result wasn't too bad. I was hooked :)
I'm not sure there's much difference in writing for adults or for young adults, at least in terms of craft and theme. I want to reach everyone! And I'm not much for the idea that some ideas aren't 'suitable' for a YA audience. I say let readers decide for themselves what's suitable. Miss Hyde isn't strictly a YA book – the characters are all adults – but at heart it's still about fitting in, finding your place in a hostile world, and the difficulties of forming basic human relationships when you're not quite sure who you are. As well as murder and mayhem and magical romance, bwahaha…

Why did you decide to write a retelling for your debut instead of starting from scratch?

Calling it a 'decision' is probably giving it too much credit :) the story just emerged from that initial idea, and off it went. It falls into the bucket of 'retellings', sure, but I'd like to think that Miss Hyde doesn't tell the same old story – the premise of the original is there, but I hope I’m taking it in fresh and fun directions! Miss Hyde definitely has horror elements, but there's also murder mystery, intrigue and a bit of a strange love triangle...

What are a few similarities and differences between Miss Hyde and the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Like her father Henry, my Eliza is at the mercy of a strange potion that sets her dark side free to do all the things Eliza can't. And like Henry, Eliza is torn between righteous disgust and secretly delighting in Lizzie's wickedness – the pleasure and excitement of doing as she pleases is an addiction Eliza can't kick – but as her father discovered, it's not easy to control your dark side once it's been let loose.
In my book, I've developed the magical elements more, and pushed the world left of centre into steampunk/clockpunk – the world has a 'mad science' flavour, with a luminous, magical Dickensian underworld. In the original, Henry creates the potion himself, with something he calls 'transcendental chemistry'. In my book, it's called alchemy – but magic of any kind is illegal in this world, and if you're caught using it, you'll be burned. So to get the potion, Eliza is engaged in the nineteenth-century equivalent of a seedy drug deal – her enabler is a mad alchemist who poses as a respectable pharmacist.
And Miss Hyde has women! There aren't any in the original. Hiding a dangerous secret – pretending to be something you're not – opens a whole different can of worms for a middle-class Victorian female who's trying to carve out a medical career and retain her independence in a world that wants her to get married, have babies and keep quiet. Henry Jekyll was an old rich guy. It was easy for him :)

Many different play and movie versions of Jekyll and Hyde exist. Who do you picture playing your characters in a movie/play version?

Oh, gosh. Tough question. I suppose it must be difficult having your work adapted for the screen or stage (Jekyll & Hyde is a musical, too, did you know? YouTube it and prepare for awesomeness Serena sidenote: *runs to YouTube to search* ) because no matter how wonderful it is, it'll never quite match the picture you have in your head.
But for Miss Hyde, imagine PENNY DREADFUL crossed with SWEENEY TODD, with lashings of FROM HELL. The way Lizzie looks on the cover (isn't the cover art fun?!) is pretty much how I imagine her, only in my mind she's a bit dirtier :)

And finally: How are you going to celebrate the release of your debut novel?

By eating. And working on the sequel! I'm doing a bit of a blog tour, so you'll probably see me around the place over the next couple of weeks. It’s big fun!

Sounds amazing - especially the steampunk-iness! So excited to read Miss Hyde! Thanks for being on the blog, Viola!

About Viola Carr:
Viola Carr was born in a strange and distant land, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat.

Find her online: Author website - Pinterest - Twitter - Facebook

About The Diabolical Miss Hyde:
Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous Henry

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.

Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

Viola's debut, The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1), releases on February 10th. You can preorder it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble now!