Alt Hist’s next author interview is with N. K. Pulley, who wrote ‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ for Issue 2.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I work for Cambridge University Press in the maths and astronomy departments, where I write a lot of blurbs and steal cake from the production editors. In September, I’ll be starting a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia. I hope, at some point after that, to go to Japan.
How did you get the idea for the story?
Keita Mori coelesced one evening while I was watching Dr Who. I built everything else around him; I read through some old editions of the London Illustrated News to see what was happening in the 1880s and found that there had been an Irish bombing campaign, and that there had been a Japanese presence in Knightsbridge in the form of a show village. One of the lovelier things about historical fiction is that it practially writes itself.
I understand that your story is part of a series. What does the future hold for the characters of Watchmaker of Filigree Street?
Gilbert and Sullivan, a clockwork octopus and some suffragists, although possibly not all together.
Do you write exclusively historical fiction or do you stray into other genres? If so what do you think the main challenges are of writing historical fiction compared to other genres?
I write fantasy too. In some ways it is much easier than historical fiction, because you can make up your own timeline and your own rules; in others, historical fiction is a gift to plotting because often the things that actually happened, or could have happened if somebody hadn’t had toothache, are much more extraordinary than something completely imaginary. I think the main difficulty is finding the line between fiction and biography. It doesn’t do to get too bogged down in whether the Earl of Salisbury grew petunias or not, but at the same time, there needs to be enough research involved to avoid any howling errors.
Don’t forget to check out N. K. Pulley’s story ‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ in the second issue of Alt Hist.