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

 

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On Dickens and The Crash cover reveal and how one led to the other.

Today I’m super pleased to host Stephanie Cage who has recently started blogging her novel, The Crash.

For the first time today she’ll be revealing her cover for The Crash and telling us why and how she was inspired to write it.

How Dickens helped me complete National Novel Writing Month

Once a year a huge number of people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It sounds like a ridiculous amount to write in a month, but if you’re willing to write fast and not worry about rambling it’s actually not too hard.  Problem is, you then end up with a sprawling mess of a novel which needs a vast amount of work to make readable.  (Well, I did!)  My first novella, Desperate Bid, began as a NaNoWriMo novel but by the time I’d taken out all the detours it was a much more manageable 35,000 words.  So when I set out to write The Crash a few NaNoWriMos later, I decided to take a few lessons from a master storyteller to make sure I ended up with a story I’d want to keep.

Crash cover (2)

Tada!              Stephanie’s awesome cover.

Dickens was the master of serialisation and every chapter he would help his audience by giving them a clue what was to come.  Each chapter begins with ‘In which…’ and then a brief summary of the events of the chapter.  This acts as a taster for the audience to intrigue them with the content of the chapter but when I started drafting my chapter headings they also helped me as author to clarify what I was going to write.  With a few sentences summarising the content of the chapter it was easy to ensure that I didn’t become distracted as I wrote my scene at my speed using ‘write or die’ software (OK, Dickens didn’t have that, so maybe I cheated a bit!)

Dickens also needed to make sure that every week his audience would come back, which meant ending the chapter with a strong hook.  Regardless of what had happened in the chapter, the ending sentence had to raise a question in the audience’s mind which would bring them back next week to find out the answer.  Sometimes when I wrote the question I wouldn’t know what the answer was going to be but by the time I came back the next day to write that day’s instalment I would have figured it out.

Using these two techniques I was able to complete my 50,000 words novel with only a very rough outline and still develop a plot which constantly kept the reader moving forwards with the story.  Of course some rewriting was required but for the first time I had a story with no dead ends or major digressions.  I have continued to use variations of this technique ever since.

You can follow Stephanie and read her posts, including previous episodes of The Crash here: Stephanie Cage -Writer

Twitter: @StephanieWriter

Choosing a new WIP (or Work in Progress)

Windfalls and mushrooms

Windfalls and mushrooms

I’ve just sent my anthology of four short erotic romance stories for a final edit, to sort out punctuation and other errors, and to try and make it as good as I can prior to launching it on Amazon. (In case you’re thinking of looking out for it, it’ll be published under a different name, I’ll let you know what it is at the end of the post.).

Anyway, to get back to the point, since that project is now nearly complete I am looking for another one. I have several in mind, some quite well thought out, some just tiny kernels of half formed ideas.

Doing chores helps me think, so I went outside to collect apples (mostly new windfalls that came down in the rain we had yesterday)  and think about my WIP. This reminded me of picking a pomegranate off the tree just last week in Greece.

Then it struck me that, like fruit, a story idea has to be at the right point exactly to be capable of maturing into a decent read.

This was the only decent pomegranate left on the tree after the neighbours stripped it. We were too late although with a lot of jumping we managed to reach this last one.

This was the only decent pomegranate left on the tree after the neighbours stripped it. We were too late although with a lot of jumping we managed to reach this last one.

Pretty much like an apple or a pomegranate really. Getting to them in time is crucial. They need to be just ripe; ripe enough to drop into your hand but not so ripe that they drop to the floor before you get there. Once they hit the floor they bruise and rot sets in very quickly or creatures nibble on them. They don’t seem to last as long as those picked off the tree and they seem to be just past the point where they are at their best.

Like fruit, the new project idea I pick has to be  fresh, ripe, and capable of going the distance. For best results it has to go from ‘tree’ to either mouth or pot.

There’s something very satisfying about collecting fruit and then eating it just as there is in selecting a new WIP and then getting on with it. In the end, whichever WIP I decide to follow through with has to fill me with enthusiasm and curiosity and make me, the writer (or the cook) keen to reach the final product.

So for the next couple of days I’ll be gently twisting each potential WIP idea to see if it drops off into my palm,  I’ll be deciding if it looks as if it might ripen too far if I leave it on the tree which would make it a priority to deal with. I’ll be tentatively checking it for mileage with lots of ‘what if’ questions and checking out the characters to see if they can develop.

I love this point. Whether I’m looking at the apples and deciding what delicious dish they’re going to become or whether I’m sifting through all the ideas in my mind, and deciding which one is going to be my next romance – it is one of the parts of writing that for me is full of potential and  joy.

Here they are, glowing in the sunlight just waiting to fall into my hand and be turned into pie. Yum.

Here they are, glowing in the sunlight just waiting to fall into my hand and be turned into pie. Yum.

Btw- the other name I mentioned above? Queenie Black.

Thanks for reading this far. 🙂