Jen: Today we welcome Pippa Jay to Romancing the Book. Pippa, will you share a short bio with us?
Pippa: After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Pippa: When Dark Falls is an alternative 1920s decopunk superhero romance. Think Catwoman meets X-Men in the Art Deco period, but with advanced technology. It all started from a ‘what if’ question – in this case, what if a superhero’s identity was so secret, even the superhero didn’t know? The feel of it was inspired by the album Living Things by Linkin Park
In a city where Dark Technologies Inc. now runs the show, Kadie Williams has more immediate concerns than the fall of Blaze, their guardian superhero. Almost every morning for the last few months she’s woken up with cuts and bruises on her body, and no idea how she got them. There are no nightmares. No evidence that she sleepwalks, or any sign of a break in. And nothing to tell her who’s been cleaning up after her. As just one of thousands of civilians conscripted to slave away in the labs of Professor Dark, she knew there’d be trouble ahead. But she never expected it to be so bad, or so personal.
Desperate for answers, Kadie looks to the new defender of the night, the only person who can hinder the total domination of Professor Dark—Nocturnelle. The mysterious vigilante superhero came from nowhere with her cybernetic sidekick Shadow, set on putting an end to the brutality of Dark’s regime. But as his laboratories work on a new secret super-weapon, Nocturnelle and Shadow may not be enough to save Nephopolis…or to save Kadie either.
The roar of the cloudburner flaming into life woke her. The vibration as it powered up rippled through the building created a disturbance impossible to sleep through. No more being roused from sleep by the dawn chorus of traffic or a rowdy neighbor. Those days were long past. Everyone in Nephopolis woke to the sound of fire burning into the clouds, to cast a false darkness over the city. The shadow of Dark.
Kadie stretched…and froze. She stared at her left arm. A pattern of blue and purple covered her forearm, a harsh contrast to her otherwise pale skin.
She shuddered, turning her arm this way and that. Had she fallen out of bed? And if so, why hadn’t she woken? She didn’t remember catching it on anything yesterday that would have gone unnoticed and yet left such intense bruising. One day blurred into another now, but even so, surely she’d remember hurting herself that badly?
If I’d been conscious. She sat up and examined the bruise. It was the fourth injury in as many nights, and yet there’d been no dreams. No sign she’d left her bed in the night. Would she know if she’d been sleepwalking? After all, she lived and slept alone. Unless she was leaving her apartment to wander around in the corridors…
The idea made her stomach churn too much to consider it. Instead, she swung her legs out from under the duvet. Pale pink flannel pajamas clothed her, crumpled from a night’s sleep but nothing more. Her bare feet revealed no signs of midnight wandering. What the hell had happened to her arm when everything else seemed so normal?
The vibrations from the cloudburner died down to the merest shiver. She rose and twitched aside the curtains. The smoke-black pall from the burners smothered the weak dawn light as she gazed across the city. Bronze futurist tower blocks with terraced crowns; their glass-wrapped sides pin-pricked with hundreds of yellowed lights, blocked the horizon in all directions. The tallest towers shot columns of fire into the clouds, which had already become a boiling mass of charcoal and gray. Morning in the city arrived in flame and darkness.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Pippa: My daughter writes and hopes to be published one day. I’m both proud and terrified!
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Pippa: I carry my smartphone at all times, and use it to make notes if I’m out and about. If it’s something that occurs to me as I’m going to sleep, I repeat it over and over in my head, and usually by morning I’ve remembered it and note it down.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Pippa: I did a lot of reading up on architecture, clothing, weapons, vehicles, and terms of speech all from the Art Deco period to help with the world-building. Although I say it’s an alternative timeline, I wanted to get the feel of the period without just using the term Art Deco all the way through.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Pippa: I have a stack of baby name books, or sometimes I just make them up. Sometimes I use words from foreign languages, and I note down any interesting words or names I see out and about to use in the future. Something else I’ve done is take a normal name and either extend it or change one letter to change the name.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Pippa: Oh, one of my beta readers referred to my villain as a steampunk Darth Vader. I hadn’t really thought about it, but that’s a pretty accurate description of how I saw the character!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Pippa: I have a futuristic urban fantasy short–No Angel–releasing on the 19th of December, and a YA dystopia romance (Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened, the first of a trilogy) releasing April 2015.