1. Which person in your life influenced you the most with your writing?
I can't say any one person influenced my writing and it may be more important to say who influenced my love for books because a love of writing doesn't happen with a love for books. And that person would be my mother. I don't remember being without stories and have many memories of curling up on her lap for a favorite story. In fact, I remember when I got too big for her lap—it was the first time I had to sit next to her for a story!
We had a sixteen volume set of books called “The Children's Hour” in our home, filled with short stories, novel excerpts, and poetry. I think it even had some early Dr. Seuss in one of its volumes! Two stories I especially remember from that collection: The Velveteen Rabbit and The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy.
Point is, being an avid reader allowed and encouraged me to become an author.
2. What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?
I'm a plotter, but I sometimes get pantsed by my characters. Wait—that didn't come out right!
I'm a plotter because the process serves as a tool for me, helping organize the themes I want to work with, settings, character quirks and motivations, ingoing elements and outcomes. I'm quite good as “organized invention.” However, my characters always have the leeway of coming up with something clever, outrageous, unexpected—you name it—which accounts for getting pantsed.
3. Is one of your books your personal favorite?
I've had a love affair with every one of my books. However, I think The Charlotte Olmes Mystery Series might well become the most enduring effort. Because I'm writing from a Holmesian platform, I expect I'll write numerous novellas, rife with crime solving, lesbian love and lust, and history. I've plotted out two additional tales already with a time table of several more.
4. How did you come up with the idea for your latest book?
I wanted to write a lesbian Steampunk story, which placed my thought process in the Victorian era. But no matter how hard I tried, my thoughts kept drifting toward purer historical fiction and in the process, Charlotte and Joanna Wilson stepped into the light of my mind’s eye. To my surprise, they weren’t surrounded by the enticing trappings of steampunk—instead, the streets of New York City were their backdrop and their beat.
Then I began researching the city in the 1880s and discovered the real world history of 1880s New York City was fascinating enough without any added flourishes!
5. What’s coming up next for you in your writing?
2014 is going to be a busy year for me. I'll start the next Charlotte Olmes novella in March—and when it's published, you'll find the first two novellas paired for print as well! If I'm lucky, I'll manage a third tale before the year is out.
SizzleEditions.com and I are gathering dozens of my erotic short stories together and publishing them into ebooks, then gathering those together into one of two print omnibus editions. The publishers are long-time friends and colleagues and I'm trusting some of my legacy to them. They're going to get some of my kinky novels as well—think FemDomme, polyamory, who know what else!
If that's not enough, my agent pushing some ideas and samples around New York City as well. It's exciting and thrilling, but too formative to talk about at this stage.
6. How did you do research for your book?
Research—my favorite topic! I minored in history in college and, good thing, because the skills I learned then really come into play with the Charlotte Olmes series. I relied on NYC history blogs and books as secondary sources, and all kinds of primary sources from 1880s. Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Paper, and many other illustrated periodicals gave me authentic period images of the city. Works like The Rogue's Lexicon taught me city slang, and several police manuals from the period taught me about the NYPD of 1880. I needed good dictionary to look up colloquialisms to see if they were in use by 1880—phrases like right off the bat. But every find was a treasure and it helped build this novella!
7. What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
I read across all kinds of genres, but seem focused on erotica, mysteries, social history books right now. On my current short list: friend Cecilia Tan's Slow Seduction, John Dunning's mystery The Bookman's Promise, and Sandra Hempel's The Inheritor's Powder: A Tale of Arsenic, Murder, and the New Forensic Science. (Research!) I hope to return to reading the lesbian mystery novels of Val McDermid and Katherine V Forrest soon, too.
8. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Would you believe this is the toughest question you've asked?! It's hard to have an actual guilty pleasure when you've brave enough to write the erotic word. But I'll share.
Worchester Sauce. Spicy, flavorful, and robust. Why a guilty pleasure? Because of the foods I use it on. Don't ask.
9. What is your favorite quote and why?
Mad magazine's “What? Me worried?” Many, many years ago, it came out of a word association incident and stuck. I still think automatically of Alfred E. Neuman when I'm asked this question!
10. In a nod to the Actor’s Studio, what's your favorite curse word and why?
Horse hockey. Because it rolls of the tongue with force and satisfaction.
The Charlotte Olmes Mystery Series
Of White Snakes and Misshaped Owls
Riverdale Avenue Books
Lesbian, F/F, Historical, Detective
A dead body in a back alley means little to the rough streets of 1880s New York City—until Charlotte Olmes woman detective steps onto the scene. Crime-solving on behalf of her female clients, Olmes eschews decorum and ventures into places forbidden to the fairer sex, sleuthing after clues hidden, elusive, and often distasteful. When the exotic Miss Tam pleads with Charlotte to find the man to whom she's secretly married, Charlotte ventures into the dark and dangerous crannies of the city with her partner and passionate lover Joanna Wilson at her side. Soon, what appeared to be the random misfortune born of Chinatown's opium dens reveals itself as a vicious gang-related murder—and Olmes and Wilson find themselves wedged between the ethnic and political forces that collide where Chinatown borders the Bowery. Penned by Lambda Literary Award winner Debra Hyde, Of White Snakes and Misshaped Owls recasts the classic eccentric detective genius in ways never before seen. Passions both criminal and carnal come alive in vivid and exacting detail in what promises to become the hallmark of the Charlotte Olmes Mystery Series.
I was not surprised that I had slept through the morning sun and birdsong of the fine spring morning on which this exceptional adventure had started, but how I escaped the sounds of Madison Square Park and the nearby Sixth Avenue El, I still do not know. Coming to our table for breakfast, I found Charlotte's nose buried deep in the day's penny press. Without fail, she started and ended each day perusing Manhattan's most dreadful news accounts, paying close attention to the brawls between swells, what dead bodies were pulled from the nooks and crannies of the city, and things even more violent and horrid. I prayed she would tell me nothing gruesome this morning. I preferred my first cup of tea without word of the city's more morbid distractions.
“Good morning, my dear Miss Wilson,” Charlotte said, her eyes still glued to her paper.
“Good morning, Miss Olms,” I countered.
However formal our salutations, they were first and foremost an affectionate routine, an irreverent jest aimed at how society expected us to act and not a reflection of how we really felt about each other. And, daring to remind Charlotte just how I preferred our interactions, I leaned over and placed a kiss upon her cheek, one soft enough to suggest I'd welcome more. It earned a chuckle from her and a quick, sly glance of promise. A bustle from the kitchen told me that Mr. East had heard me, and our man's man who preferred serving women came laden with a full meal of eggs, bacon, and toast.
Joining that bounty, a libation of some strange concoction—no doubt, another of Charlotte's attempts to fortify the temples that were our bodies with the fruits of exotic flora from God only knew where. While I should have rued the presence of the strange beverage, it was the larger meal that caught my true attention. A big meal meant one of two things: We either had something physical to do that morning or a case to investigate. Seated, I sipped my tea and tried to ignore the message inherent in my breakfast. Halfway through my meal—the eggs scrambled to perfection, made better with a splash of maple syrup, the drink concoction decidedly not so—I caught Charlotte snapping her crisp newspaper and swiftly folding it with a flourish so dramatic it rivaled the sweep of a magician's hand. I shook my head, thinking of our poor butler, Mr. East, always having to iron the paper to Charlotte's perfection. Charlotte caught my reaction from the corner of her eye.
Without taking her gaze from the small corner of the paper she now consumed, she remarked, “He had no compunction about ironing my newspapers when we interviewed Mr. East for the position, Joanna. A crisp paper makes for a precise read, my dear.”
With Charlotte Olms, precision was paramount. My eggs and bacon gone, I mopped my plate of syrup with my toast. “Dare I ask what this morning brings?” I hoped she would let me finish a third cup of tea and have a proper pinning of my hair before dashing us out the door.
“Training, dear Joanna, training.” I suddenly felt overfull. Physical exercise and a full stomach were not well paired for me, no matter how frequently I tried to dissuade Charlotte of that fact. I set down my toast.
“Pick it up and eat,” she half-scolded.
“We're not doing it—we're teaching it.”
“Parasol defense.” Charlotte's obsession with self-defense, especially as it applied to women, had long been a great passion of hers.
I resumed devouring my toast, sipping away its dryness with tea and noting how very well the taste of India Black tasted with the sparse left-overs of maple syrup. Perhaps I would suggest Charlotte make a concoction based on those two ingredients. Maybe she would come up with something actually tolerable. Another time, I thought.
“And who are we training today?” I asked.
“Mrs. Philomena Pelton has asked me to introduce several of her peers and their lady's maids to the practice,” Charlotte answered. I pulled up from my teacup. We were teaching a lady's maids?
“However did you finagle that?”
The upper crust were not exactly sensitive about the betterment of their help. Charlotte finally set her paper aside, slapping it onto the table, and leaned towards me, elbows planted firmly akimbo on a fine Italian cutwork tablecloth. Mannish behavior, of course, reflecting a competency that she could not innately express in any sort of feminine way.
“I told them that no matter how well-versed they themselves became in the art of parasol self-defense, they would remain at risk if their help did not become adept as well.”
“No, no, it's true,” Charlotte claimed. “Mrs. Pelton herself was accosted just last week on the Ladies Mile. Her lady servant was of, shall we say, limited assistance.”
“The Ladies Mile? So now even shopping puts one at risk. Of course you do this entirely for the benefit of the well-off,” I facetiously declared.
I swatted at her elbows, smacking hard enough to sting. Charlotte grinned. She heeded me, removing her elbows from the table. She might forget her manners from time to time, but she always enjoyed my corrections, minor or severe. We both knew she believed that all women should be skilled in self-defense, regardless of class and station. And I knew that if Charlotte would ever deign to imagine a utopian society, men would be far too civilized to even think to accost the fairer sex. Not that we would carry that dainty an appellation in Charlotte's utopia.
“Do I have time for Phoebe to pin and lacquer my hair?”
Charlotte waved me off. “Yes, yes, but we should depart in twenty minutes.”
“Twenty minutes, then,” I said. I rose and made my way across the room, only to stop and turn. “Charlotte?” I said.
“Hmmm?” Her nose was in that paper again.
“Should we not invite Phoebe to join us?” Charlotte pulled up from her reading, glaring at me. The devil that I should put her high horse on the spot! But one look at me and she knew that I teased said horse with both warm regard and hard truth.
“I shall tutor her myself,” she declared, flicking her newspaper dismissively. Exactly what I wanted. What was good for the geese of Manhattan's elite was good for the gander
in our own home.
Debra Hyde writes erotic fiction for everyone, across the gender & orientation spectra. Her lesbian BDSM novel, Story of L, won the 2011 Lambda Literary Award for lesbian erotica. A modern retelling of the classic Story of O, it updates the original tale to reflect the contemporary lesbian leather world and the women in it. Romantic Times BOOK Reviews magazine named it and her heterosexual novel, Blind Seduction, to its Fifty Hot Reads beyond 50 Shades of Grey, calling Blind Seduction “a story about what happens after the BDSM seduction.” She is a contributing author to the ground-breaking and critically-acclaimed Entwined erotica series, penning two lesbian novellas for it, Hers and Provenance. Now she turns her attentions to her new erotic Charlotte Olmes Mystery Series, recasting the classic eccentric detective genius in ways never before seen — in passions both criminal and carnal!
Visit Debra Hyde at her website:http://debrahyde.com