Updated: Dec 19, 2021
I am so excited for ML Huie's debut history mystery, SPITFIRE, to release tomorrow! This was one of those books I immediately fell in love with—a foulmouthed female, WWII spy; a Cold War mystery; Paris; Ian Fleming...what's not to love? Happily, PW agrees and gave this a starred review, saying, "Huie does an excellent job dramatizing events in the early days of the cold war. Vibrant characters, international intrigue, gritty action, and a wittily acerbic Ian Fleming, too—who could ask for more?"
We also got some great reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, who respectively said:
"Huie’s debut is an old-fashioned mystery shot through with tragedy; for aficionados of the glamour and romance of spycraft." —Kirkus
"This debut is more emotional than Fleming's own Bond novels...Nash is a welcome new protagonist who will be welcomed by fans of Kate Atkinson's Transcription (2018) and Simon Mawer's Tightrope (2015)." — Booklist
For everyone who doesn't know, tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to start writing.
I have been a lot of things in my life. Right now I teach at a university, still consider myself a professional actor and now can add novelist to that list. I've always written stories, but I became serious about it 12 years ago when I entered something called The 3-Day Novel Contest. That was intense. I wrote that novel and another, and those live in a desk somewhere and shall never ever be seen. Then, I started on the book that became SPITFIRE.
What was your road to publication like?
Long, but that seems to be the case for every debut author. I started SPITFIRE in 2013 and began querying agents in 2015. I changed agents, went through probably 40 rejections from editors and signed my two-book contract in 2018.
What was your inspiration for writing this book? What about the main character?
I became interested in World War Two and how amateurs, including women, were trained to be spies after reading Elizabeth Wein's fantastic book CODE NAME VERITY. That led to a lot more research and eventually...Livy Nash. Her character was inspired by quite a few real-life women, who were dropped behind enemy lines into occupied countries during the war and carried out incredibly dangerous jobs.
After the contract was signed, were there any unexpected aspects of the publishing process that surprised you?
Marketing constantly surprises me. I recently claimed my "Google Knowledge Panel." I never knew that's what those little boxes on Google were called, or that I could claim one. I'm waiting for the next surprise :)
How do you think your manuscript has changed since you started working with your editor?
It's much better now. I had a great editor for this book, and she strengthened it in every respect.
What is one of your favorite plot twists in the book?
I can't give away too much, but this is a spy novel and you have to be careful who and what you trust.
What is some fun promotion you've done for the book? Anything upcoming we should be keeping our eyes or ears out for?
In February I'm doing an event with a large independent bookstore, which is a bit like speed dating for authors. We move from table to table and pitch our books and take questions. I can't wait. There is also a sequel in the works for this. Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect to read next? The second book is called NIGHTSHADE and brings Livy to America. It's a darker book than the first, but I really like it. What's a fun fact about yourself? I've been in the play Hamlet three times. I need to be in it once more so I can play Claudius.
Anything that new authors can learn from your experiences?
The writing community is very supportive. I am lucky to be in a social media group of 2020 debut authors whose wisdom and kindness have gotten me through the past year. So, definitely seek out a support group.