Author Isa McLaren
Casing museums with a drink in hand!
Phoebe Darqueling has graciously agreed to join me for a few drinks and a few questions as part of the blog tour for her newest release, Riftmaker.
IM: *slaps down napkin* Hey, baby, come here often?
Phoebe: There’s a first time for everything.
IM: Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Do you have a drink of choice for when you sit down to write?
Phoebe: I drink a lot of coffee. I like it dark, strong, and sweet, which is not at all how people out here in Germany like it.
IM: That’s how Jules Brand takes it, too. According to him, coffee should be hot as Hell, black as the devil, and sweet as love.
Phoebe: However, on the alcoholic front, I’ve been quicker to embrace their [German] culture. Especially here in the southwestern corner of the country, they drink a lot of “schorles.” This is basically anything that is cut with sparkling water. Oftentimes it’s juice, but a nice weinschorle in the summer is an awesome way to beat the heat. Later in the evening when the writing is over, I sip a nice whiskey in the winter, and a gin and tonic the rest of the year.
IM: You visit a bar on the advice of a friend. The place has a good reputation for mixed drinks and you can see it’s well-stocked. What do you order and why?
Phoebe: I’m a special case because I am allergic to anything high in vitamin C. So that means anything with sour mix, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, and pineapple juice is out. So I usually order an Old Fashioned most of the time when I get the chance, or a gin and tonic is a good standby.
IM: If someone, me for example, were to craft a drink based on you, what elements would it have? How about one based on your main character?
Phoebe: Ooh, that’s a fun question! If you were going to design a drink for Buddy from Riftmaker, it would have to be bubbly and effervescent. His eternal optimism and zest for learning about his new world and new body is intoxicating.
Like me, Viola Thorne from No Rest for the Wicked is a whiskey drinker. Give us both something expensive, strong, and not too sweet and we’ll be happy.
IM: As an expat, is there a drink from home you miss? Have you discovered any new favorites living abroad?
Phoebe: The beer in Germany is mostly the same. They have these really strict laws about the ingredients you can use, and most of them are on the lighter side. I’m a porter or stout drinking myself, though I have found one local beer that is on the darker side that’s pretty good.
The drink that I order all the time and was new for me about a year ago is an Aperol Spritz. That’s Aperol, prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), and a splash of sparkling water. It’s usually served over ice in a wine glass, and is a delightful bright orange color. It’s a nice way to get around not being able to have orange juice things because Aperol is an orange liquor like Campari, but more bitter. I had my first one while visiting Italy last spring, but they are available most places now in this part of Europe.
IM: Aperol Spritz is featured in my book, too! We should get together for drink or six!
IM: Drinking, because no good story starts with a salad. Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share?
Phoebe: I was at a friend’s 30th birthday party at a beer hall. It was a German-style place, but this was years before I moved here. I’d had my fair share to drink, but I was doing okay. That is, until I was on my way to get a glass of water and an sprightly old man in lederhosen grabbed me for a polka. He spun me around and around the dance floor, and by the time he finally let me go, I was so dizzy I had to skip the water and go straight being sick.
My next time in a German beer hall was in Stuttgart for their annual Volkfest (folk festival). It’s the second largest Oktoberfest celebration in the country. A high school friend and I went to a beer hall and I think we were literally the only 2 people in the entire place not wearing traditional garb. People there of all ages would stand up on the benches to dance and toast, so I joined in the fun. However, the Germans were all doing in in big groups – whole tables or nothing. And then there was me, the only one at my whole table who wanted to do it. I have a background in musical theater, so it doesn’t take a lot of prodding to get me to sing and dance like an idiot. So I did my thing, much to the amusement of all the Germans. A couple very drunk men tried to talk to me later, and I am sure they thought I was wasted to do such a thing. But that’s just me!
IM: Personally, I’m far too vain to use a pen name. Let some other name take the credit? No way. But you use a pen name. Would you care to explain why?
Phoebe: In Steampunk circles, it’s fairly common to build a character and go by a different name at conventions, so I thought it would be fun to do it, too. Though Phoebe Darqueling, “roving reporter” never actually took shape as a fully fledged character, I gained enough of a following as a blogger using that name that it was too late to switch. “Darqueling” is a variation on “darkling,” which I took from a poem. In the world of Riftmaker, people’s names are usually determined either by the place they came from in our world, or the species they “resonate” as. The birds are the aristocrats, and “Phoebe” is a type of songbird.
IM: If you and your character had a drink, what would you talk about?
Phoebe: Buddy asks a lot of questions about the finer points of being a human, so I am sure I’d spend a lot of time helping him figure things out. But the funny thing about Buddy is that even though he seems naive, his outsider perspective often leads to unexpected epiphanies, so it wouldn’t all be one-sided.
IM: If you could invite your 4 favorite authors to a bar, who buys the appetizers?
Phoebe: Neil Gaiman would definitely be there, as well as Garth Nix. Appetizers would have to be on them because the other two in attendance would be Terry Pratchett and Kurt Vonnegut, and ghosts don’t carry much cash.
IM: Are you a sipper or a shooter?
Phoebe: It depends on the quality of the booze. Expensive whiskey? Sip. Shitty vodka? Shoot.
IM: You’re celebrating your book release. Do you:
Phoebe: When Riftmaker came out, it was also Valentine’s Day, so the Mister and I did open a bottle of bubbly. We celebrated with friends the following week and went to a shisha bar to drink spritzes and watch belly dancing. On March 23, I’m having a public book launch party in Ann Arbor, Michigan. People can find out the details here if they are in the area!
IM: Do you take your pants off before, or after you’re on the table dancing?
Phoebe: Safety first. If pants are coming off, definitely best to do it on the ground before getting onto the table.
IM: Now that you’re drunk, tell me about your latest book.
Phoebe: Riftmaker is a portal fantasy story about a dog who stumbles through a rift in time and space and finds himself in a human body and stranded in a clockwork city plagues by monsters. At first, all he wants to do is get home to his boy, but then Ethan follows him through the rift and it becomes Buddy’s doggone duty to save him. He makes some friends and enemies along the way, and together they have to figure out the mystery behind the monsters and the people who walk among them.
IM: Do you have plans for another? If so, will it be a sequel, or something new?
Phoebe: I’m writing another series that is basically historical fiction except ghosts are real. In No Rest for the Wicked, Viola Thorne is a retired con woman in the 1870s who can talk to the dead. The first book in that series comes out March 28, and I am currently working on the sequel.
When I first wrote Riftmaker back in 2015, I had thought about writing a trilogy. I had an unsavory encounter with a now defunct small press that really soured me on it for a long time, which is why I moved on to another series. But now that Riftmaker is out in the world, I’ve been toying with the idea of continuing the series as I had originally intended.
IM: Where can readers find you on the internet?
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Phoebe-Darqueling/e/B072853PG4/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PhoebeDarquelingFans/
Thanks so much for having me! [hiccup] I had a blast 🙂
IM: Come back any time!