Kitty seems to be a very adventurous and spunky character who are some of the people, real or fictional who inspired you to write about a young woman like Kitty?
Probably the two biggest inspirations for the Kitty Hawk character are also the two most obvious ones: Amelia Earhart and Nancy Drew. More than anyone else these two have influenced the character that Kitty Hawk has become. And to a much greater depth than just the fact that Kitty is a female pilot who solves mysteries. Kitty is am inspirational character to me. She inspires me with her bravery, her intelligence and her adventurous spirit.
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold takes place during the Klondike Gold Rush, and a lot of the reviews for your book mention how well you write about the details of that era. What type of research did you do to prepare for writing this novel?
The Klondike Gold Rush has always been something that has interested me and it was thanks to this that I got the first inklings of an idea of the path that the story would follow in this first book of the series. That didn’t mean that I was off the hook, however. There was still plenty of research to be done. That research was also an adventure in itself. Reading books – everything I could get my hands on – about the Yukon and The Gold Rush, travelling to locations mentioned in the book, talking to people, flying on seaplanes, whatever I was able to do.
Kitty also travels to some amazing places throughout her adventures. Do you travel often, and if so, where have been some of your favorite places to travel and why?
When my friends look at the map of Kitty Hawk’s planned flight path around the world at the end of book one they always point out that Kitty is planning to go to all the places that I myself have already been. Of course that is not a coincidence. With a total of thirteen books planned out, Kitty is of course going to a lot of places that I have already been. That’s how I planned it. But I have to admit that every time I am in the process of writing and researching each book, I find myself longing to go back again to each place, to revisit it and get ideas and absorb the atmosphere and see things through Kitty Hawk’s eyes. Sometimes I am lucky enough to actually be able to do this. And to me that is really an adventure.
I understand that, in the book, Kitty finds herself in the middle of quite the mystery. What is the first mystery novel that you can remember falling in love with.
The first “mystery” novels I can remember falling in love with were the Encyclopedia Brown stories that I read when I was a kid. I am embarrassed to admit that not once did I ever manage to solve any of these without looking up the answers, but the thrill of trying to solve a mystery in books stuck with me.
Who are some of your literary inspirations?
My long time literary inspirations include writers like Carl Sagan, Paul Theroux and Roald Dahl. More recently, however, I have discovered some new sources of inspiration whose worlds and stories I utterly adore and give me something to aspire to be: Lev Grossman, Francesca Lia Block and some currently unknown writers that no one has even heard of… yet. (And I stress the “yet”.)
Why did you decide to become an author?
The single most important thing that drove me to try and be an author was the character of Kitty Hawk herself. After initially thinking of the idea I sat around having it bounce around in my head for a long time. I could almost feel her getting impatient with me, tapping her foot and waiting for me to get writing so that she could get on with her life and adventures.
How do you handle the dreaded writer’s block?
I am a firm believer that if the inspiration isn’t there – if you are struggling to write something – then this is a perfect indication that you simply are not ready to write it yet. Take some time. Just breathe. Step back. And eventually your mind will be ready to write forward again.
What has been the most rewarding part of the writing/publishing process for you?
I think the absolute most exciting thing for me about writing these Kitty Hawk books has been getting to interact with the people out in the world who actually read them. When I hear comments from people about what they liked or didn’t like about the books this has a profound effect on the books that are still to come. I can honestly say that where Kitty Hawk finds herself right now (and with whom) is a direct result of the feedback I have received from the first four books of the series.
What has been one of the most memorable moments in your life so far?
Maybe life is supposed to be full of memorable moments. But I think that memorable moments don’t have to necessarily be big things or dramatic things. Just driving out into the country late at night to watch the stars can be one of the most memorable moments I could possibly imagine. That’s a favourite pastime of mine, you see.
Without giving spoilers, what can you tell us about Kitty and her adventures that the synopsis does not cover?
One thing that the synopsis of any of the books definitely does not cover is the romantic side of things. That’s right…. Kitty Hawk may find the love of her life, just like everyone hopes to. And when she does fall in love… that is also a pretty big adventure, and who knows where that will take her?
I like to play a short game at the end of an interview. I will give you two choices and all you need to do is pick one!
Spine tingling mystery or pulse pounding adventure?
Pulse pounding adventure.
Flying through the air or swimming in the deep?
Flying through the air.
Classic literature or contemporary novels?
A quiet night at home with a special someone or a night out with a group of close friends?
Quiet night at home with a someone special.
Cake or pie?
Pie. Definitely, definitely pie. What else????
Click on the book covers to get more information on the books: