The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Langley Hyde

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Langley Hyde, author of the Highfell Grimoires, an airy steampunk adventure out on May 20 from Blind Eye Books! Hyde first fell in love with steampunk while studying abroad at Oxford University. There she spent most of her time reading about alchemy and heresy in Duke Humfrey’s Library or caressing manuscripts. She has also lived close enough to the London Science Museum that she could regularly gawk at Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2, lurked in The Cloisters in New York City, and lived near an old German center of zeppelin manufacturing.

Join us as we drink gin and discover that zeppelins are, like, 80% animal.

List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.

1.) When I studied abroad at Oxford, I worked in the Duke Humfrey’s Library where I spent a lot of time wondering what the poor medieval tomes had done wrong, to get chained up like that.

2.) Highfell Grimoires has a gay main character. Also, he doesn’t pine to death, get lynched, or commit suicide in the end. So altogether, I’d consider my novel a win for gay protagonists everywhere, who should really form a union and petition authors for better working conditions.  

3.) When I’m reading Charles Dickens’s novels, backward page by page, I can’t help but think: This would be so much better with magic, action, humor, and romance.

Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

Sausage production had to cease during the zenith of World War I zeppelin production because the gas cells, that held the lighter-than-air gas, were made entirely of cow gut casings.

Highfell Grimoires by Langley HydeWhich language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?

I’d learn Middle Mongol, because I’d like to talk to Genghis Khan. He has more than 16 million descendents. I’d like to know: Did he achieve this through power and pillage alone? Or could he make women swoon? Basically, I want to know if Genghis had any moves. At all.

Do you have a favorite underrated/unknown/under-read author?

Judith Martin, otherwise known as Miss Manners.

Bad news: You’re about to be marooned alone on a desert island—name the five things you would bring along.

I would bring a boat, a house with my husband inside it, the Internet complete with electricity, the kitty, and a small group of nice farmers. That counts as five, right?

What’s your favorite method of procrastination?

I procrastinate by working on everything but what I’m supposed to be doing. So I’ll fix the toilet. I’ll do some freelance work, tighten all the cupboard handles in the house, read a book for…for research, yes, that’s it. I’ll go buy some gin. Then I’ll stare at my laptop sadly, pondering my to-dos. So I’m very productive when I’m procrastinating.

What would your familiar be?

A hedgehog. Shy. Eats slugs. And what a cute fuzzy little underbelly it has! But pet it in the wrong way, and you’ll know only sorrow.

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