Interview with Isabel Cooper, Author of No Proper Lady and Giveaway!

Isabel Cooper is the author of No Proper Lady, an urban fantasy set in Victorian England.  Read what Isabel has to say about her book and her characters, and then enter a win a copy of No Proper Lady!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Isabel Cooper] I’m an impulsive, creative, sarcastic woman, fond of glittery things and junk food, who swings between being a social butterfly and being a complete loner.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, No Proper Lady?

[Isabel Cooper] No Proper Lady is the story of Joan, a woman from a really bleak future: a hundred years or so before her time, someone opened a bunch of doors between our world and either Hell or the nearest equivalent. Demons invaded and basically won. As they’re killing off the last remnants of free humanity—the people who aren’t slaves or livestock—the leaders of the resistance try one last desperate trick. They send Joan back to Victorian England to find Alex Reynell—the man who will eventually make the demonic invasion possible—and kill him.

No Proper Lady is also the story of Simon Grenville, a former friend of Reynell and the older brother of one of his first victims. When Joan shows up on Simon’s land, the two of them quickly find that they have a lot in common, and decide to work together. In order to let Joan get close to Reynell, Simon starts training her to fit in with Victorian society. Cue training montages, fancy dresses, and unexpected attraction between Simon and Joan, which they find increasingly hard to repress.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Isabel Cooper] I started off with a mental image of time travel: a Victorian man, a warrior woman, and a horrible beast that the woman’s dissecting in an almost casual way. I decided that the image fit best with time travel of some sort, and that I wanted the woman to come back through time with a mission. I also had found out some stuff about the Victorian occult scene when I was in college, and I thought that would be a great background for my hero. Then I needed a connection between my hero and villain, and decided that they’d been friends before…and the rest of it fell into place pretty easily.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Isabel Cooper] Definitely the action scenes. Despite taking a few years of martial arts, I really struggle to translate physical actions into words or the other way around. This is particularly the case when dealing with something as complicated as fighting. I’ve tried to see how other writers do it, and to break down actions myself, but it remains one of the harder parts of writing for me.

[Manga Maniac Café] What have you learned about yourself through your characters? 

[Isabel Cooper] Good question! I’d say that I learned I really admire competence and a matter-of-fact attitude: I like people who know what has to be done and do it with the minimum of complaint. I also learned that I can’t deal with jealousy terribly well. Simon was originally going to be much more jealous when Joan started to mix with society, but I found that writing him that way just made it really hard for me to find him sympathetic.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are some fall book releases that you are anticipating?

[Isabel Cooper] 11/22/63, by Stephen King, is a big one. I always like King’s books, and I’m a big fan of period fiction, so I’m very much looking forward to it. (It’ll be just in time for my winter holiday giant road trip of doom, too.) Also the next couple of Mercedes Lackey’s books, which are great fun and very relaxing to read.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Isabel Cooper] Oh, wow—I started reading pretty early on, so it’s hard to remember. But I would actually go with A Little Princess. There’s something about characters going from luxury to survival and back that just makes me happy—I guess that’s been a pretty large influence.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Isabel Cooper] Well, I’m pretty geeky! I play a lot of video games (mostly Bioware, which has great romance plots) and both tabletop and live action roleplaying games. I also do some ballroom dancing every few weeks with friends, used to do martial arts and would like to get back into that, and something about a day job every once in a while. 😉

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!


It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.

England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.

Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend—until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.


Debut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2012. For more information, please visit

Now for the giveaway!  Thanks to Sourcebooks, I have TWO copies of No Proper Lady up for grabs!  Entering is easy!  Just fill in the form below.

The contest is open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only.


You must be 13 or older to enter.

I am not responsible for lost or damaged shipments.

One entry per person.

Contest ends September 26.


5 thoughts on “Interview with Isabel Cooper, Author of No Proper Lady and Giveaway!

  • September 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway! This looks like a fantastic book!

  • September 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    This book sounds so fab! Demonic invasion and going back in time to Victorian England – I’m so in! Thanks so much for spotlighting this book, I haven’t heard of it before and it sure sounds like something I would greatly enjoy!

    Plus – the cover is simply gorgeous, and like Isabel, I can easily go from a social butterfly to a total loner 😀

    Thanks for the wonderful interview – loved all the q & a! And of course for the giveaway!


  • September 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    @Evie – I love the cover, too!

  • September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for your comments–and thank you, Julie, for the interview! It’s always great to hear from people.

    I really liked how the cover turned out: I showed it around to my friends when I first saw the picture.

  • September 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

    @Isabel – Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

Comments are closed.