interview with Naomi Aoki

This week Naomi Aoki has popped in for a chat. Welcome and thanks so much for visiting!

Why are you doing this interview? (A new book? A new website? A re-release? Just for fun?)

For fun 😊

What started you writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and at sixteen declared I was going to publish a book. At the time I was thinking non-fiction history and would never have considered romance even though I read it quite a bit. But as always happens, life got in the way and it was shoved to the way side until I went back to University and discovered how much I loved putting pen to paper… began dabbling in fanfic and then got the confidence to write original works.

Where do you write?

I’m either at a table I hauled into the lounge so I could work while my computer is charging or sitting on the couch. My cat prefers it when I’m sitting on the couch so she can curl up on my legs.

What do you like to read?

These days the books I read are very much queer and romance. I read very little MF and usually only if a character is transgender. Sub-genre wise… I love romantic suspense, historical romance and paranormal.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Does my kindle count as a single book? (EDITORIAL COMMENT: No! No cheating! 🙂 )

Okay, but choosing three books is hard as a lot of my favourites tend to be a part of a series. But if I have too…. Anna Zabo’s Just Business (Takeover Series Bk2); Tal Bauer’s Whisper; Drake/Elliot’s Shiver. Why? Easy they’ve all got memorable characters who no matter how many times you read the book, you never grow tired of.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to my local writer’s group and while some days not much writing gets done or shared, listening to the older members talk about their life can be just as interesting… plot bunny fodder.

Online I belong to New Zealand Rainbow Writers. They are a really supportive bunch of authors who are all ready to lend a hand, an ear or even a virtual shoulder when needed.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I’m usually reading, gardening or watching anime—or rolling my eyes at my youngest dd’s umpteenth viewing of Gilmore Girls. I love to eat Chinese or Japanese food, especially trying all the weird and wonderful flavours of chips the Chinese shops nearby stock.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

My most recent release was Rueben (Men of Science Book One), an historical novel set in Shanghai, 1878. The idea came about as I thought there really wasn’t many historical novels that involved scientists—or anyone who wasn’t a Lord or a Duke—and the Victorian era is also when a lot of discoveries and theories on the natural world were made, including the theory birds evolved from dinosaurs. Setting it in China was easy. I’ve always loved learning about Chinese culture and graduated with a BA in Chinese earlier this year. (Though my speaking skills are woefully out of practice.) Many stories set in China tend to be during the Song Dynasty or Romance of the Three Kingdoms-esque, but I’m more intrigued with the social and political upheavals associated with the 19th Century. I think it took me four or five months to write. I loved being able to weave Mandarin into the story, but there wasn’t as much as in my previous book.


Reuben, Men of Science #1

Rueben would be the first to admit he was stubborn. He hated being told something wasn’t possible when there was no scientific basis for their claims. So, when his peers told him searching for fossils in China wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavour, instead of quitting Rueben doubled down his efforts to raise the necessary funds to travel there.

But his arrival in Shanghai started with embarrassment and left Rueben fearing his distracted clumsiness had scared away his translator and guide, Yuan Xi, before they’d even left for their destination: the Taihang Mountains in Shanxi Province.

Yet Rueben hadn’t imagined the most important discovery he’d make in those mountains would be about himself. An overwhelming and confusing discovery that had Rueben wanting to run… had him never wanting to leave Yuan’s side.

Yuan Xi prided himself on being a sought-after translator, capable of hiding his anger despite the way his European employers treated him and his countrymen. Knew how to keep a smile on his face while being treated like a servant; remaining invisible until needed.

But this latest job could be hazardous to his health, and Yuan didn’t mean physically. The endearingly clumsy scientist employing Yuan made him question whether he wanted more than emotionless, casual relationships… and whether taking a risk with his heart might be worth it.

Buy Rueben!


Visit Naomi online

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Thank you so much for blog-visiting, I really enjoy getting to know people through these interviews. And Rueben is now on my tbr list!

Fashion Museum, Bath

Firstly apologies for the lateness of this post. However, I’ve been collecting blog material! We’ve been on holiday near Bath and we went to the Fashion Museum earlier in the week. I was primarily focused on looking at clothing from the 1770s and 1780s for Edie and for Jones.

The trouble with collections of historical clothing is that you only get the really expensive things or the things their owners didn’t like much that survive. And you don’t get a great deal of working people’s clothing, because they literally wore it until it had holes and then it got cut down and repurposed. Clothing was so much more expensive and energy-intensive than it is today. Everything was woven and sewn by hand.

These gowns and petticoats from the 1770s and 1780s are much more Edie’s sort of thing than Jones’, although I do imagine Jones stuffed in to the one with the blue quilted petticoats when she was visiting her aunt in England. And perhaps the one with the yellow gown and stomacher for more formal occasions. I can definitely see Edie in the pale pink effort with all the embroidery on the front when she first meets Jones at the ball. (High waists a la Jane Austen only came in around about 1794 as far as I can make out).

Once the pair of them are travelling, they revert to much simpler clothes. I imagine Jones wearing something like this… it’s based on a working man’s coat from about 1780, made of wool.

I am still in debate with myself over whether Jones would wear local clothing once she gets home to the mountains. I think she might need to stay in western garb because I am not confident enough to write about regional clothing without getting it wrong and that seems disrespectful.

Edie doesn’t feel right going for breeches, however comfortable they might be. So she compromises by wearing ‘stays’ or ‘bodies’ (which is what she calls them) that lower class women, who had no help getting dressed, wore. They lace up the front rather than the back, so you can do them yourself. This is really interesting little video of a working woman getting dressed.

The little things… how you deal with menstruation, what pins you use in your hair, how often you change your stockings… those are all things that tend not to get referenced in contemporary texts because it was all such normal stuff that you didn’t need to. Everyone knew about it. There’s a good blog post about Georgian personal hygiene by the Word Wenches and I think I may have mentioned Madame Isis’ blog before.

Next week I am back to regular scheduling and I am interviewing Naomi Aoki!


PS: As we came out of the museum and went to find the old fashioned sweetshop, we fell over a coach and four. Netflix are filming the Bridgerton series of books by Julia Quinn.

LGBTQ Romance Giveaway

This week, a very brief post to direct your attention to the LGBTQ Romance Giveaway going on over at Bookfunnel this month. There are more than two dozen of us authors who have put books and stories in to the pot. We have all kinds of romance about people across the rainbow spectrum of sexualities, genders and relationship dynamics.

Pop over and see whether there’s something new that takes your fancy!

character sketch: Ella Fortune

“Ella and I met in France. She was driving an ambulance and I was stringing for the Picture Post. We decided that after the war we’d strike out on our own. I was fed up with the censorship and she’s always been a bit wild as far as I can make out. She’s the Duke of Walton’s eldest daughter, always had her head. Oxford, Bloomsbury and all that.” He coughed again. “Don’t think Walton knew what to do with her. She married Fortune without her father’s consent a couple of years before the war. He went West pretty early on, Mons I think. She’s a good lass. Flying from Cairo to Cape Town at the moment. Trying to set a record.” Another harrumph. “Supposed to be sending me back pictures.”

Callum McGovern, speaking to Alec Carter in Lost in Time

Ella Fortune is a shadowy minor character in both Lost in Time and Shadows on the Border. She’s the co-proprieter of the Pictorial Examiner, the paper where Lew Tyler works.

When I started writing Lost in Time, I thought Ella was going to have a larger role than she does. However, after helping pull Lew out of the Thames and setting him up with a flat and a job at the paper, she went off in her aeroplane to fly down the spine of Africa. I think she’s actually now going to have her own adventure.

She’s a thoroughly emancipated woman with a background in the Suffrage movement who drove an ambulance for the Red Cross in France during the First World War. She’s lucky enough to both have money and be an ‘Honourable’… the daughter of a Peer. So she can pretty much do as she likes, particularly because she’s a widow. I’m not sure yet whether her marriage to Oliver Fortune in 1912 was a marriage of convenience or whether they were truly attached to each other. She’s in her thirties and has no children by design.

She flies an Avro 504k (as a lot of people did after World War 1- more than eight thousand of them were built during the war), but her long distance flying takes place in a Vickers Vimy, which has been specially modified to take bigger fuel tanks. She’s her own mechanic and navigator but she does sometimes fly with a co-pilot.

I’m not sure what sort of adventures she’s going to have yet, but watch this space!

interview: Kristin Noone

A warm welcome to Kristin Noone, who has subjected herself to my author interview questions this week!

A warm welcome to Kristin Noone, who has subjected herself to my interview questions this week!

Firstly, what prompted you to let me ask you nosy questions?!

A recent release and a re-release (or two)! My first F/F romance, The Ninepenny Element, just came out from JMS Books, and JMS is also re-releasing my former Less Than Three Press stories – the first M/M shapeshifter story, Port in a Storm, is out now, and the sequel, Fire and Ink, will be available again September 4… followed by the M/M/M polyamory superheroes of Sundown, Holiday, Beacon, also in September. Which I have to say contains some of my favorite characters of mine ever.

What started you writing?

I’ve been writing for ages – in kindergarten I wrote a five-page short story about a girl who loses a tooth – and the Tooth Fairy brings her a baby unicorn, instead of money! (I was a strange and apparently very hopeful child.) More seriously, I started writing in grad school – fanfiction first, as an escape and as a way to play with characters and universes that I loved. And eventually that built into my own original characters and world-building, and I sold a couple of short stories, and then I thought, oh, maybe I can do this! (I do still write fanfic, though! But much less than I used to.)

Where do you write?

If it’s just me home, mostly in the family room with my laptop and music! Otherwise, sometimes upstairs where the actual desk is. Or in a Starbucks, if I’ve got a break from teaching and want to leave campus for a couple of hours!

What do you like to read?

Lots of things! Quite a lot of romance – a lot of M/M, a lot of paranormal, a lot of historical, mostly Regency or Victorian – but also a lot of fantasy and historical fiction, and quite a lot of nonfiction, both for the professor day-job and for pleasure. That’s usually somehow related to scholarly studies of fantasy, romance, monstrosity, comics, gender, and medievalism, though I’ve most recently been reading Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet for fascinating linguistic explorations of internet grammar, just for fun!

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Only three? Oh dear! Hmm…Patricia A. McKillip’s The Book of Atrix Wolfe, KJ Charles’ The Magpie Lord (can I have the whole trilogy count as one book?), and…some sort of three-way toss-up between Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, Neil Gaiman’s collected Sandman graphic novels, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in a single edition.

The McKillip is beautiful – lush, lapidary, fantastic prose, full of magic and redemption and also kitchen magic and so many words for both food and love. KJ Charles writes such fabulous romance, with a gorgeous and detailed and diverse magical England and also crackling chemistry. Every time I read Pratchett I find him more profound – that rage, that love, that humor, that fierce compassion – and Night Watch is my favorite Discworld novel. Gaiman’s Sandman is sprawling and epic and weaves together mythology and heroism and grief and loss and family, plus the art is spectacular. And Tolkien because there’s so much to savor and linger over (and occasionally critique!) and have long mental conversations with.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to a few facebook groups for authors – romance, M/M, LGBTQ – and also a few for professors and grad students, plus my academic association memberships in popular culture and romance fields! They can be helpful for motivation, advice, and also sometimes just sympathy.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Reading, probably! And working on the next scholarly book, which at the moment is about Star Trek tie-in fiction. But other than that…

Awesome Husband and I are sci-fi geeks and watch a lot of that genre of television and movies, but we’re also beer geeks and can be found wandering local craft breweries. Or playing some good tabletop games, along the lines of Pandemic or Ascension, or doing jigsaw puzzles.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

For The Ninepenny Element, the idea was a combination of about three things: wanting to write something for the “nine” theme for the JMS Books ninth anniversary, and a sequel/spin-off for Elemental starring the older sister of Sterling from that book, and wanting to have some fun with medievalist folklore trivia about ninepence and magic! Unusually for me, the title came pretty early on – this one just knew what it was about. And it felt like it flowed easily; I already knew a lot about the world and Verity’s family (and annoying but adorable clairvoyant younger brother), so that part was easy. The trickiest part was figuring out the “villain” – he’s not really evil, just awful, but I always have a hard time writing characters I dislike! It did give me an idea for a third story, though…

And you can keep up with Kristin in lots of different places!

Website Twitter Instagram Goodreads

Thanks for coming to chat, Kristin!


Read about some of Kristin’s books:

Port in a Storm and the new re-release Fire and Ink

Port in a Storm: A M/M paranormal series, with a runaway kitten shapeshifter and the kind neighborhood witch who rescues him in the rain.

Fire and Ink: Three months ago David Stanton rescued a runaway kitten in the rain. Now he’s got an infamous — and infamously powerful — feline shapeshifter living in his house, helping with his white-witch business, and making him smile. David’s falling in love fast, but there’s still the problem of Colin’s past … and the secrets he’s obviously keeping.


Elemental and The Ninepenny Element

Elemental is a M/M paranormal romance with a blocked writer, a novice witch and a surprise exorcism.

The sequel, the recently released The Ninepenny Element is a F/F paranormal, with a witch, a lawyer, a hexed earring, and a ghost puppy.

(A ghost puppy, people!)


The Extraordinary Series, out soon!

Sundown, Holiday, Beacon & sequel Homecomings

Three superheroes in love! Or one superhero, one former sidekick, and one redeemed supervillain, at least.

Ryan, John, and Holiday have been partners — in every sense of the word — for two years. They’ve saved the world, fallen in love, and remodeled the secret base to include bookshelves and a bigger bed.

But Ryan and John have always been the public face of the team. The world still believes Holiday’s a villain. And he’s been using that reputation to stay undercover and share information. Tonight, though, Holiday comes home injured, and his partners aren’t sure the mission’s worth his life.