Monday 10 February 2020

Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys - Interview with BG Hilton

It's not everyday one meets an author like BG Hilton, so when the fates crossed our paths, I'm glad I had the opportunity. BG has also had a varied career over the years. For all I know, we may have crossed paths in IT.

BG Hilton is an Australian speculative fiction author. Over the years, he has worked in IT, finance, advertising and hospitality, doing jobs so tedious that his only escape was entertaining himself with crazy fantasy stories. Now he has a more interesting life in the education sector, he writes those stories down in the hope of entertaining others. His work has been published in Pseudopod, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, Antipodean SF and other venues.  He lives with his family in Sydney, and consequently spends a lot of time in traffic. When not hobbies include resting. You can find his blog at, or he's at @bghilton on Twitter and on Facebook.

Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys

Genre: Steampunk

Synopsis: Hung-over aristocrat Edward 'Charlie' Decharles awakens in the back of a steam cab, only to discover that the driver has been murdered. Unused to feeling responsible for anything, he feels compelled to find the killer. As he investigates, he meets 'The Amazing' Gladys Dunchurch, a stage magician's assistant whose employer has disappeared -- and not in a good way. They form an alliance – Charlie will help Gladys with his considerable resources and Gladys will help Charlie with her even more considerable brains.
Soon they discover that their respective mysteries are not only connected to each other, but related to other seemingly unrelated strangeness transpiring in London – the murder of an astronomer, an attack on a patent medicine factory, a mysterious cult in an idyllic town and reports of deadly creatures in the London sewers.

Publish Date: 1/3/2020
Publisher: Odyssey Books (

What made you choose this genre?

I've always loved the Victorian scifi aesthetic. As I kid, I loved those old 1960s and 70s retrufuture movies like First Men in the Moon, At the Earth's Core and of course 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. As I grew up, I started to get into the books that they were based on. It was only later that I discovered that there was an entire genre based around the aethetic (if not necessarily the ideology) of these sorts of stories, and I fell in love with it almost at once. So when, after years of wanting to write a novel I finally sat down and did it, it was only natural that Steampunk is what I would have chosen.

What's the basic plot of 'Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys'?

Charlie and Gladys takes place in a world where some very obsolete physics theories turn out to actually be true, allowing for the development of Steampunk technology. In this world, English aristorcrat Edward 'Charlie' Decharles is working to solve a murder. Realising that he has no idea about solving crimes, he enlists the help of the talented and resourceful Australian music hall performer Gladys Dunchurch, who is hunting for her missing employer. The two uncover a conspiracy that casts a shadow across the technology that powers their world and the people who control it -- and lead to the discovery of alien creatures on Earth. It's inspired in part by a very old newspaper hoax about life on the Moon, and includes some other interesting Victoriana -- music halls, patent medicine and opium dens.

Which is your favourite character and why?

I refuse to pick from my lead characters, because I love Charlie and Gladys equally. So I'm going to go with Charlie's father, Admiral Lord Decharles. He's this crazy old nautical man, who hates modern technology and pines for the days of wooden sailing ships, but when the crisis comes he's more than up to the task. Initially, he was only supposed to be a cameo, turning up in one scene to shout at his son for drinking too much. But I liked him so much that he started taking over more and more of the book, until he became a minor protagonist in his own right.

What is the story behind the title 'Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys'?

I usually struggle to name my stories, but this one was easy. I actually had the title before I started writing. I'd decided that one of the main characters would be a drunken English aristocrat, and this put me in mind of the old George Leybourne music hall song 'Champagne Charlie'. The other character was to be a stage magician's assistant, so 'The Incredible' this or 'The Astounding' that, but I wanted to balance the superlative with a very prosaic name, and 'The Amazing Gladys' narrowly beat out 'The Astonishing Enid'. It's not usually how I go about creating characters, but I think it worked.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a sequel to Charlie and Gladys. I really like my Steampunk with elements of real Victorian history, so it's going to be inspired by the case of the Titchbourne Claimant, Victorian Spiritualism and a couple of other things.

What is your writing kryptonite?

Sex scenes. Just can't write 'em. I can write a romance scene well enough, as long as everyone involved is clothed. But I think of characters like people I know -- I know they have sex, but I don't feel like I need to see it.

What literary pilgrimages have you been on?

I've been on a few, but my two favourite ones were on a trip to Devon a few years ago. I got to see the Cobb at Lyme Regis, from Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' and also the part of Dartmoor that inspired 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. That was really fun. There was thick fog on the moor which limited the visibility but it really made the place seem atmospheric and mysterious. I could really see why Doyle chose it as a location.

What authors did you dislike at first, but later grew into?

Jane Austin. I tried to read her a dozen times or so, but never got past the first chapter. Then I had one, 'Persuasion' as required reading for a course, and I forced myself to power through the first two chapters and absolutely loved the rest of the book. This has been my experience with her work ever since -- I have real issues with her opening chapters, but if I can get through them I adore the rest of the book.

No comments:

Post a Comment