Author interview- John Jackson

 

 

John it’s great to hear that your book  “A Heart of Stone” is to be published by Crooked Cat Books, in Oct/Nov this year. Thanks for coming on my blog to talk about it.

What was the inspiration behind the book?www.PicturesbyRob.co.uk York Photographer Rob Cook FBIPP FMPA QEP covers weddings portraits and commercial assignments across Yorkshire and the North East in Leeds Harrogate Selby Malton Tadcaster

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Some years ago, I came across an amazing story about my great-great-great-great-great parents. He was a young Irish peer, and he married the daughter of another Irish peer. After several years, their story took a tragic turn. While the story was fascinating, I could see that the real events were too tragic to make a book as it was. NOBODY ended up with a happy ending from this one!

That being said, the story provided a series of hooks that couldn’t be ignored. What I hope I have written is the story of “what should have happened.” The hero and heroine deserve it, after all these years.

How did you come to write your genre of choice? 

I have always been a fan of historic fiction and historical romances. My father used to get each new Georgette Heyer novel as she wrote them, and he passed his love of them on to me. Once I started to write, I never thought of writing in any other genre.

How does it feel to one of the few males in the predominantly female world of romance writing?

Absolutely great! I have been astounded by the support and goodwill I have received from my writing friends, and members of the RNA. It’s thanks to them that I am writing at all. They gave me the confidence to try and write.

Have you experienced any difficulties breaking into this world?

I have come into the industry at a time of great change. As I found, most agents are extremely risk-averse. Unless you have Cornwall, Café, or Cupcakes in your title you are really going to struggle (and I did). Being a man in a mainly female genre, probably also told against me.

What has been especially good about your journey to publication in this genre?

Self-publication is ridiculously easy in this day and age. It would have been far simpler for me to publish on Kindle or Smashwords, but, by getting the MS taken by a publisher, this represents “Peer Approval”. Someone else, apart from family and friends, thinks it worthy of publication. Being taken on by Crooked Cat was massively encouraging.

When did you start writing and why?

I started writing stories for our daughters when I was away from home on long sea voyages. Simple animal tales, and unfortunately, now lost.

I eventually moved into the world of documentation for ships, covering laws, compliance and safety, etc. This has been handy, at least in making me familiar with the process of writing and producing documents. Of course, these were all non-fiction, but I had the job of trying to explain policy and procedures, in English, to non-native English speakers, mostly from Eastern Europe and the Philippines. I soon learned, clarity was everything.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an author in this genre?

Read, read, read, and then write, write and write again. Recognise your limitations, and learn that the people you meet have been doing it longer and generally better than you, so learn from them.

About ‘A Heart of Stone.’ 

A Heart of Stone, a tale of love, power, jealousy, starvation and prison, set in 1740s Ireland.

What happens when a young, beautiful girl is made to marry the worst man in Ireland?

But he has a brother, and they will risk everything to be together. Her husband doesn’t take this well.

Thank you John, it’s been great talking to you. Thanks for coming on my blog today. Tell us a little bit about yourself before you go.

Author bio: 

After a lifetime in shipping, I am now retired and living in York. An avid genealogist, I found a rich vein of ancestors going back many generations. My forebears included Irish peers, country parsons, and both naval and military men.

A chance meeting with some authors both historical and contemporary, led me to try my hand at writing. I am a keen member of both the Romantic Novelists Association and the Historic Novel Association.

I was brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, R M Ballantyne, and the like. Favorite modern authors include Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Liz Fenwick, Jenny Barden, Carol McGrath, Lindsey Davis and Kate Mosse.

“A Heart of Stone”, to be published by Crooked Cat  in October / November 2017

Contact John:

Twitter @jjackson42

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnjacksonauthor/ 

Blog: john42hhh.blogspot.co.uk

 

Continue reading

Behind the Fence

‘You’ve been crying,’ Johann said.

I struggled to get words past the iron fist in my chest. ‘My brother is missing in action.’

‘I am sorry.’

For once I found no pleasure in the German colour of his words. ‘Perhaps it was a brother of yours that killed him.’ I said.

‘I do not have a brother.’Outfit a German soldier during the Second World War

I wanted a reason to hate him. To hurt him. ‘My father has forbidden me to talk to you anymore.’

It took him some time to respond. Finally he said, ‘Ja, I understand.’

I glanced at him and found him looking at me, a strange mix of compassion and resignation in his gaze. I knew I couldn’t follow my father’s edict. I didn’t want to. I would work alongside Johann until evening. There would be time enough another day to avoid him.

We paused to eat and he carefully unwrapped a thick slice of bread spread with margarine. I bit into my lunch and watched with curiosity to see what else he had. Nothing.

‘Is that all you have to eat?  Again?’

‘Ja.’

‘Did you have a good breakfast, at least?’

He licked the margarine off his fingers and carefully gathered up the crumbs that had scattered across his chest.

‘This is breakfast –lunch, both.’

I shared my food with him then and found it easy to forget that he was the enemy.

We went back to work in a comfortable silence and I found the courage to ask him about his family.

He paused.

By the time I glanced his way, he was concentrating on the swing of his pitchfork again.

‘They are all gone. My wife, my son and my parents.’

I fumbled with inadequacy. ‘I’m so sorry.’

He tossed another forkful of hay and, for the first time, I saw repressed violence in him. ‘My whole street gone. My family, my house, my neighbours, my neighbours’ homes. Perhaps it was your brother who dropped the bomb, ja?’

The magnitude of his pain silenced me. I pitched hay.

He pitched hay.

My cheeks grew wet and hot. I was shocked to find I was crying.

That night as I turned for home, he touched my arm. ‘I am sorry, you are sorry. We stay friends.’ He pointed down the valley to where the church steeple showed. ‘Do you go to church? I think it is good. You speak to God for me. I have no church for ten months.’

***

‘Why don’t the POWs go to church?’

My father put his spoon down to give my question consideration. ‘Might escape.’

‘They don’t try and escape when they work on the farms.’

Dad took a slurp of stew and chewed thoughtfully. Finally he said, ‘Church probably wouldn’t have them – if they even wanted to come.’

‘I’m going to ask the vicar if they can attend our services.’

‘I absolutely forbid it.’ My father’s moustache bristled like a living thing. ‘Do you know what the village will do to you? They’ll say you’re soft in the head over that German. They’ll call you a traitor.’ I’d never heard my father so eloquent.

‘Why?’ I demanded. ‘Widow Hardy is stepping out with an Italian POW. All I’m doing is asking if they can come to church.’

‘For pity’s sake, Irene. Use the brain God gave you. It’s one thing for a widow to choose an Eyetie who’s been released, another altogether for an unmarried lass to choose a bloody Nazi Hun.’

I asked the vicar anyway.

***

St Werburgh's Church, HanburyAt Sunday service a few weeks later there was a disturbance at the back. It rippled through the congregation like a chilly breeze. The vicar didn’t pause in his sermon but I saw my neighbour’s son Tom get the back of his head slapped because he turned once too often to stare down the church. I wished I had his courage. I could feel them behind us, but I didn’t dare look.

Mrs Jones muttered, ‘Fancy bringing Nazis to church among God-fearing citizens. What is the world coming to? They’re sure to kill us.’

I couldn’t see how anyone could think that the men – thin, weaponless, patched and shabby could be a threat – yet her views were representative of most of the congregation. As soon as the service ended and the guard had marched the three POWs away, the villagers gathered by unspoken accord in the hall.

‘What was the vicar thinking?’

‘This is what comes of letting them out to work on the farms. Keep them locked up, I say, otherwise they’ll be getting all sorts of ideas.’

It turned personal. ‘You put the vicar up to this. What have you got to say for yourself, missie?

I had plenty to say. ‘Perhaps my brother’s imprisoned somewhere. I’d want him fairly treated.’

‘He’s dead girl, like my Matthew. Forget this folly. They don’t deserve it.’

A lone voice rose to my defence. ‘I know that if it was my Andy who was a POW I’d want someone to be kind to him.’

The voices rose, a clamour that outrang the bell.

‘Enough. This is God’s house, not yours!’ It was the first time I had ever seen the vicar angry. The silence was absolute. Even the bell stilled. ‘There will be no further discussion. The men will be allowed to come to church, to find succour and repent of their sins if they so wish.’

No-one liked being forced to accept it but accept it they did. The POWs became a fixture.

***

Life slipped into a pattern, one season into another. I no longer worked with Johann but we often saw each other. One day he approached me.

‘Bring me something, please.’

‘Yes, of course. What is it you want?’

‘I don’t have the words,’ he said. ‘I want this.’ He used a stick to draw a shape in the soil.

‘A shell? You want a shell?’

‘Not one. I want many. Many, many.’ He opened his arms to show how many.

I brought him shells. Handfuls and pockets of them, until he ordered me, laughing, to stop. He wouldn’t tell me what he wanted them for. I pushed and nagged but he refused to answer my questions.

***

 Winter set in. Johann spent less time on the farm and more time behind the fence. I saw him only when it was his turn at church. Then one day they didn’t come.

When the service finished someone said spitefully. ‘There was an escape attempt last night. They’re not allowed to come any more. We’re not having them back in church no matter what.’

Nothing I said changed their minds.

The vicar visited the POW camp when he had time. That had to be enough for me. I hoped it was enough for Johann.

On Christmas morning the vicar came to the pulpit with a wrapped package. He stood in front of us all and slowly undid it. Nothing disturbed the silence but the crackle of paper.  He unveiled a mosaic of the nativity, held it high so everyone could see it. Beautifully made of delicate pieces of shell, every detail lovingly rendered, it glowed in the soft light that fell through the windows.

‘This…’ the vicar’s voice cracked and he cleared it and began again. ‘This is a gift from one of the POWs. To say thank you for allowing him to attend our services.’

The hymns that followed were subdued, shamed.

I couldn’t bear it. I left.

By the time my mother came home I had prepared a hamper and filled it with most of our Christmas dinner.  christmas turkey

‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m taking them Christmas. Don’t.’ I raised a hand. ‘Don’t. Do you know what they get to eat? One slice of bread and margarine to last until supper. And now it’s Christmas and they have nothing. You’ll have to lock me up to stop me.’

Instead she said, ‘There won’t be enough there.’

‘I don’t care. I’ll take what I can.’ I struggled towards the door with the heavy basket.

‘Here, wait a moment.’ My father this time. ‘I’ll get the cart. It’s too far to walk with that.’

‘Where are you going?’ Tom called as I rumbled past his house.

‘I’m taking a bit of Christmas dinner to the POWs’.

***

The guards wouldn’t let us in.

Through the chain link fence I could see the men exercising in the yard. They stopped to watch. Snow on the frosty steel fence in winter after blizzard. Background.

‘We can’t possibly accept that.’ The guard indicated my hamper with a scornful flick of his wrist. ‘It would cause a riot.’

Tears of frustration stung my eyes.  ‘Please, it’s just a little bit of Christmas dinner.’

He softened a little. ‘There’s not enough to go round. How can I choose who is to receive something and who isn’t? I can’t allow it, I’m sorry.’

I gripped the links, pressed my face up against them, wished I could step through. ‘But it’s Christmas.’

His attention moved to a place over my right shoulder and I turned to see what he was looking at.

Coming up the road was the whole village. A parade of people, led by my parents and Tom and the vicar, and no-one was empty handed. They came with arms full of rations.

Warm fingers slid over mine where they gripped cold metal and I looked up into Johann’s blue eyes and laughed with the sheer joy of it.

 

 

Have a magical Christmas everyone!

Blue Christmas Bckg 4 - christmas illustration

Author Interview- Rachael Thomas

Squeee! I’m so excited to be hosting author Rachael Thomas on my blog. Rachael writes M&B Presents,  my favourite line and it’s awesome to have her here to find out morRachael Thomase about her and her writing.

Q: Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

A: Definitely a lark. I like to start the day by writing and trying to achieve my word count. That way, whatever else the day throws at me, I’ve done my writing. Of course it doesn’t always work that way!

Q: Your handbag: organized or disorganized?

A: Organized. I like handbags with internal pockets or sections as I like to know everything is in its place. There’s nothing worse than rummaging around in your back in the pouring rain looking for car keys or trying to find a ringing mobile phone.

Q: What do you like to snack on when you’re writing – crisps, popcorn, biscuits, jellybeans? Or maybe you like healthy snacks – fruit, yogurt, nuts, raisins?

A: On the whole, I’m a healthy snacker. I’m partial to dates and cashew nuts and usually have both with a cup of coffee mid-morning. That said, I do enjoy a bar of chocolate!

Q: Describe your favorite heroine? (This doesn’t have to be one of yours.)

A: My favorite modern day heroine is Bridget Jones. She’s so relatable and I love the films and can’t wait for the next installment in her life.

My favorite classic heroine is Elizabeth Bennet and not just because she gets the delectable Mr Darcy.

Q: When did you start writing and why?

A: When I was about nine years old, a teacher read out a short story I’d written as a
n example of how it should be done. That was the moment when I found something I was good at and set my sights on being a writer when I grew up.

Q: How did you come to write  your genre of choice?

A: I’d dabbled with writing historical romance about twenty years ago, but then life took over and writing was put aside. About ten years ago, I came back to it and we were lucky to have Liz Fielding as a guest at my local writing group and it was then I decided that Mills and Boon was where my heart lay. So as an avid reader I embarked on the mission to become a published author of Mills and Boon.

Q: Are you a planner or a pantser, or maybe a little of both?

A: A little of both. I have certain points in the story where I know certain events which need to take place and then I write my way towards it and see what happens along the way.

Q: When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?

A: I usually work from the beginning to the end, although if scenes pop up in my mind, demanding immediate attention, I will make notes on them.

Q: Which holiday celebrations do you like to incorporate into your stories and why?

A: I recently incorporated New Year’s Eve into a book – New Year at the Boss’s Bidding. I had so much fun writing it and amazingly as I wrote snowy scenes it was actually snowing outside my window.Route de campagne en hiver derrire une ferme

 

 

 

 

 

Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?

A: I am working on an exciting trilogy with two other authors which is great fun. So look out for Antonio and Sadie’s story next summer!

Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.

A: My next book out in September 2016 is To Blackmail a Di Sione and is book three in The Billionaire’s Legacy, an eight part miniseries. Each book can be read alone or as part of the series.

Rachael’s bio: I’ve always loved reading romance and am thrilled to now be a Presents author. I live and work on a farm in Wales, a far cry from the glamour of a Presents story, but that makes slipping into my characters’ world all the more appealing. When I’m not writing or working on the farm I enjoy photography and visiting historic castles and grand houses.

To connect with Rachael:

Rachael’s website

Rachael’s facebook page

Twitter: @rachaeldthomas

Next release – To Blackmail a Di Sione

 

BLURB:

“When you’ve finished making offers for the bracelet, I have a proposition for you.” 

Billionaire Liev Dragunov has spent a lifetime plotting revenge against those responsible for his family’s ruin. Finally he has the way: Bianca Di Sione.To Blackmail a Di Sione

She’s denied their obvious attraction and coolly rebuffs every request to work for him—until he finds her weakness: a diamond bracelet she desperately needs!

Bianca must become his fake fiancée if she wants her trinket! But the taste of revenge isn’t as sweet as desire, and Liev discovers that she is innocent in more ways than one…

Book 3 of The Billionaire’s Legacy

thank you note

 

 

 

 

Thanks for being on my blog, Rachael. I’m really looking forward to reading To Blackmail A Di Sione

Rachael: Thanks for having me here today!

January Monthly Medley

I’ve been enjoying rooting through my keeper shelf prior to packing it up to move to my new home. Although I give my keeper shelf books regular airings it’s still nice to go through them one-by-one and fondle them and browse through all the best bits. So here are my keeper shelf recommendations for January.

A totMoonspinners_smallal classic, Moonspinners by Mary Stewart is a winner. First of all she captures the atmosphere and the countryside of Greece so well, that you could almost be there. I love the characters, the suspense- in general everything. Her stories are also full of nostalgia for me because they were among some of the early romances I read when I was about 14 and living in Greece.

My next recommendation is Slightly Tempted by Mary Balogh. Although this is number six in the Bedwyn series, it stands alone quite comfortably.Slightly_tempted_small

The classic sort of story where the hero sets out to seduce the heroine for revenge is soon flipped when the heroine sets out to punish the hero for his behaviour. She does it so well that I never get tired of reading their story.

My next recommendation is for those of you interested in writing romance is Katekate walker_small Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. For anyone setting out to write romance it’s a valuable head start that I wish had been about when I started writing. It would have saved me a lot of grief.

 

Finally I bring you Warprize, the first in a fantasy trilogy by Elizabeth Vaughan. Her excellent writing frames a story that is primarily about a clash between two cultures when a princess is given as tribute to a Warlord. I loved the characters and the plot but what really blows me away is the detailed and realistic world she creates. Awesome!warprize small

November’s Monthly Monday Medley

November’s Monthly Monday Medley

So for the next couple of months on the first Monday of every month  I shall be posting a medley of four books that are either:

a) off my keeper shelf

b) interesting or useful

c) current reads

I’m not writing reviews- these are quite simply recommendations. This is about me wanting to share a read that I enjoyed or found noteworthy for some reason.

The books will be predominantly romance but not entirely. They will be predominantly fiction but not always. I haven’t linked these but they should be easy enough to find on Amazon. Have you read any of them? What did you think of them?

So, in no particular order:

The_House_of_Memories

The House of Memories:  Although I don’t really read much that isn’t clearly genre romance I occasionally pick up something different. This is one of those books. I wept all the way through. It’s a beautiful book, with a HEA (happy ever after) and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Ultimate_Weapon

Ultimate Weapon: Gritty romance with a kick ass heroine who makes jewellery for women that contains secret weapons. A hero who can match her as an equal and scorching sex- need I say more?

What I did for a Duke:This book has quick, bright dialogue, funny parts to it but also a poignancy. It’s a relationship between an older man and a woman quite a few years his junior and although when it starts out you think it’s going to be a typical revenge seduction, that is quickly scotched because the heroine is too clever. Lovely lovely book.What_I_did_for_a_Duke

Exotic_AffairsExotic Affairs: A collection of Michelle Reid’s stories. They are all originally published by Mills and Boon. Anyway you’ll see more of her books in my monthly Monday medleys.  She is my favourite Mills and Boon writer. Ever.

Enjoy!

My top ten favourite romance authors

My top ten favourite romance authors

Even though the days are getting longer and the snowdrops are out, winter keeps reminding us that she’s still here and she hasn’t finished having her say yet. I haven’t posted through January- work has been taking up a lot of time, true, and I’ve been struggling with some personal problems that the universe decided to chuck at me, however the truth is that I haven’t posted mainly because I’ve been reading.morso stove

Yes, I’ve succumbed to the log fire and good book syndrome and I have to admit that I’m totally unapologetic. So to make up for it in this post I’m going to post a list of my favourite romance writers. I started looking through my keeper shelf and my last year of Amazon purchases to be sure that I don’t forget anyone and the names just kept coming. What started out as a top ten quickly became a top twenty and may have gone even further if I hadn’t given myself a stern talking to.

Before I go any further I do want to issue a disclaimer. First of all this list is of my favourite romance authors at the moment, and it is always subject to change, of course. I’ve linked to each author so that you can find any you are interested in. I do hope that you get some new reading out of this post.

Top ten that I’m guaranteed to buy as soon as they have a new book out.

  • Joanna Bourne: Historical author. I love her writing, her plots, her characters and her subtlety. http://www.joannabourne.com/
  • Michelle Reid: Mills and Boon author. I never get tired of these. Deeply emotional stories that often make me cry. Her stories are often second chance stories. http://www.michellereid.com/books.html
  • Cherise Sinclair: Only for those with a strong stomach these are very edgy, explicit, erotic stories that venture into the world of BDSM in a major way. Lots of naughty stuff happening but they contain good stories as well. http://cherisesinclair.com/
  • Joanna Wylde: Has written in a variety of different sub genres but for me it’s the Reaper’s motorcycle books she writes that have me hooked. They are gritty, violent, edgy and dark but they work for me. Don’t buy if you are squeamish. https://www.facebook.com/joannawyldebooks
  • Julie Anne Long: An historical author who she writes with a sense of humour. Her dialogues are very clever and witty and they make me smile. Her plots are cool and her characters ace. http://www.julieannelong.com/
  • Nalini Singh: I love all her books but she’s on this list particularly for her Archangels series. Paranormal at a time when it’s lost a bit of its edge she gave it a second wind and hooked me with the terribleness of the angels and the world she’s created. http://www.nalinisingh.com/
  • Lyndsay Buroker: Lyndsay writes in a variety of different subgenres including fantasy/ steam punk and I find all of them fascinating. She creates amazing worlds. http://www.lindsayburoker.com/
  • Jo Goodman: Historical author who also writes western/ cowboy romances. Deeply emotional her characters do tend to face serious issues but unlike other authors they retain a simplicity and never become whiney. http://www.jogoodman.com/
  • Loretta Chase: Write historical with excellent dialogue, witty and emotional and just a bit out of the ordinary. http://www.lorettachase.com/
  • Patricia Briggs: Paranormal books and fantasy. I like her characters and the detail and interaction. Her heroines are strong and capable but without being militant. She is a great creator of worlds. http://www.patriciabriggs.com/

These are authors whose work I’m permanently watching for. Each time one of their books is published I want to ration it but instead I gulp it down.

I wish I could write with their emotional depth, sophistication, and polish. They give incredible pleasure to the reader in me and inspire the writer in me.

Do you have a favourite who you think should feature in a list? Leave a link in the comments and I’ll check them out.