Saturday 2nd November 2013
Bookish Banter is proud to present today’s Featured Author.
Could you just tell us a little bit about yourself first. Where do you hail from?
I was brought up in Yorkshire, Irish mother and Irish American father who were related in some obscure way that an expert in my family genealogy could explain to you but I can’t. I left to go to university in Manchester then London, before getting a job in the wine trade that allowed me to realise a dream of living in France
Do you write full time or do you have to fit it in with working to pay the bills?
I gave up paid work after my third child was born, and by the time I’d recovered from the fifth one, I realised I could never hold down a job and keep the household running. Being more or less tied to the house I could have gone completely mad, but I was lucky in having another old dream waiting to be fulfilled. I could at last get a bit of writing done!
I can relate to the demands of Motherhood Jane – you’re a heroine in my book! One Mum to another – it’s a full time job!
Why on Earth have you chosen to be a writer – in this digitally obsessed age?
I’m not sure I did choose to be a writer. You either are or you aren’t. It’s true the mechanics of writing have to be learnt, but the desire to communicate something through the written word is something that is part of your nature. My father and my mother’s father were the same, so it’s probably in the blood.
I would say it is definitely in the blood and yes – you were born to write!
What’s in the pipeline? Give me the lowdown – I need plot, characters and dare I ask – is there a twist in your tale?
At the moment I’m revising the first part of a project based on Irish and Norse history heavily fantasised. It also has a cast of thousands, Vikings, Irish Celts, nasties out of mythology, and nasties out of my head. There are so many twists in this story I get lost sometimes. It’s a bit like the destruction of Atlantis, but not, or the Book of Revelation – with Vikings! I’m not doing very well here, am I? I’m hoping a good editor will straighten out the final coils in it.
Oh my goodness – I am so hooked already! Celtic, Norse, Atlantis come Revelations – I’m there baby!
Where did the idea spring from for your latest masterpiece?
I began to write the Green Woman story when my eldest child moved from the children’s section in the library to the adult. She and her younger brother devoured fantasy epics with highly coloured covers. At the time I was tied up with the youngest and was reduced to reading the children’s library books. I didn’t much care for the warriors and warmongering aspect of much of the stuff they brought home, and decided to write a fantasy story that was less gory but morally grittier.
Excellent! I am seeing a theme for the women writers who are mothers who I interview (including myself) being heavily influenced and inspired by our children! They make the best muses I find!
Which genre do you prefer to scribble in?
When I first started writing it was contemporary drama type of stuff, and I realised after a time that the stories I enjoyed writing the most were those with a twist of fantasy to them. Made me think that perhaps that element of the fantastical is what appeals to me the most and that makes reading the ultimate escapism. I’ve decided not to do ‘real’ anymore.
Oh I definitely hear you – I’m the same, why do real when you live that every day? I want complete fantasy too! ;)
Do you spend months buried in books, article cuttings and pages and pages of interesting internet stuff on your chosen subject to research – or does just a quick Google search suffice? (sometimes Google does the job my friends – don’t judge!)
Google is a wonderful thing, and I’d be the last one to knock it! You can find almost anything you need to know on Google, from images of how something works, to detailed scholarly articles. But that doesn’t mean it’s quick. It takes as long to read an article online as it does sitting in the library. For The Green Woman I found myself doing research around different mythologies, but also around the details like weaponry, animal anatomy, architecture, forensic science, death, decomposition, jolly things like that. When you are writing about something you don’t know much about, it’s easy to make yourself look stupid by getting the details wrong. For the adult novel I’m working on I have done a lot of research into the daily life and society of seventh and eighth century northern Europeans, as well as the languages. I hate reading novels where the medieval knight in armour speaks like a modern high school student, or worse, like Monty Python, but the author doesn’t realise it.
True! It might have fantasy elements but it has to be rooted in the believable right?
How do you think you are getting better at this writing lark and have there been any stumbling blocks in your writing process?
When I first joined a writing group I had to ask what they meant by POV. Not only had I never heard of the concept, but it took me ages to see where I was getting it all wrong. The mechanics of writing is a skill that has to be learnt, and any writer who doesn’t bother to work at it is heading for disaster or ridicule. I know I’m getting better at it because I can correct some of my own mistakes now!
Yes – all writers are at different points in their journey and there is always something to learn – much like life methinks!
Come on tell me – why do you love this craft so much?
When I was at school I was one of those bright kids who was steered away from anything ‘artistic’ in favour of more ‘lucrative’ subjects. My mother was an artist and knew what she was talking about. My dad was a poet. Both of them had to do jobs they didn’t much enjoy to pay the bills, and kept their creative work for their few free moments. Writing was something I always did, more or less in secret as if it was somehow a bit shameful. It’s wonderful to be able to devote my time to it now without having to ask permission.
Living the dream – I love it!
Are you a plotter / planner or do you just jump in head first with nothing but a torch and a lot of coffee to keep you going?
I’m one of those writers who gets that light bulb idea, tears into the story in a mad rush then gets stuck, looks back at what she’s written and shakes her head in despair. Then it’s time to think it through properly, fill in the most glaring holes in the plot and take out the most laughable elements, and start again – slowly!
Oh I can so relate to that Jane – story of my life – that’s why I rarely finish a bloomin’ story! LOL
Do your fans help you out with ideas?
It would be lovely to have fans. Maybe I’ll get some of those one day. For the moment I have to make do with a couple of tremendous beta readers, and the editor I was given by my publisher who has been on exactly the right wavelength of The Green Woman story from the first page.
Yay! I’m your first official fan! Once word gets out about just how awesome a writer you are – you’ll have so many fans you’ll have to send some my way
Is this book just one in an amazing series? What do you think of serial killers (eh I mean writers…?)
The Dark Citadel is the first volume of a trilogy. It was originally a single volume that got just too rambling and had to be rearranged and chopped into three parts. As soon as I’d finished it I couldn’t bear to let the characters go and launched into what I thought was the sequel, which ended up equally enormous and has suffered the same fate. So I’ve ended up with two three-volume series instead of two books. That is one of the problems with writing a series. You get so involved with the characters it’s hard to let them go and get on with their lives in private!
So in other words your imagination just cannot be contained! Long may it continue to run wild!
Can you give us an overview of your series? (if you have one that is – if not – move along now kiddies, nothing to see here…)
The Green Woman story takes Deborah, a mulish, extremely determined girl on her quest to find her lost mother, the Green Woman of the title. The Pattern has been broken, evil is growing in the ruins of the world, and Deborah’s mother has inherited the task of restoring the balance by bringing back the memories of all that was good and wonderful about the world. Needless to say, it isn’t like rolling off a log, with substantial opposition from those with a vested interest in keeping things ugly, if not uglier. There are personal tragedies, genocide, murders, executions, torture and all sorts of other coming of age experiences in store. It is classed as YA, but it isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Bring it on! Loving the action! So intrigued now…
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? If you do can you clue me in – cos ~ I’m lost
There are loads of review blogs about. The trick is to find a reviewer who will like your kind of story. If your story doesn’t tick all the obvious boxes it can be difficult finding reviewers who want to read it. Don’t go by the genres the reviewer says she or he will read, look at the books they have already reviewed and what they say about them. Most reviewers have turned me down, but most of those who have read the book have enjoyed it. You just have to persevere until you find someone who likes the sound of your story. There are also Face Book and Goodreads groups that will allow you to post up details of your book. Anyone interested in reviewing it will contact you.
That’s excellent advice Jane – thank you for that
Would you do it all over again or become a fireman or something?
I wouldn’t do anything else by choice. In fact if I had the choice I’d skip the first part of my professional life altogether and go straight to writing.
Here! Here! I wish I hadn’t wasted years not doing what my heart was telling me to do – write! If it is in you to write then just do it! You don’t have to give up your day job – but you do have to be true to the story that is trying to be set free!
Which iconic author got you fired up for reading – and/or writing?
Once I learnt to read I read anything and everything. If there were words in it, I’d read it. The author who made me think that maybe I could write too was a complete unknown, the elderly uncle of an Italian friend of my mother’s. He began to write when he was retired, and when his two collections of short stories were published he sent me them. He knew I read Italian, and that ever since I was a child I had been interested in words and language. He would never admit as much, but I believe that his intention was to give me the push I needed to get going with my own writing.
I love that story Jane that is so sweet. It just goes to show that a hero can be anyone, not just J.K Rowling ;)
Book trailers – to do or not to do?
Why not? I have no idea if they sell books, but they are fun to make.
I agree – they are fun!
Do you relax between caffeine fuelled and feverish writing episodes? Please tell me how you do it – please, please?
I don’t drink coffee, so maybe I don’t get as wound up as caffeine addicts. Relaxation is in short supply as I have a big family to cope with and a domestic routine that eats into my writing time. I write when I can, and when I’m doing the household stuff that absolutely has to be done I think about writing. The most relaxing thing I do is to take the dog out for a long walk, and then I can mull things over away from the computer screen. Friendly hint—adopt an energetic dog!
Not sure about the dog as I am a cat person – but I think the nice long relaxing walk is a good idea.
Do you have a friendly bunch of peers in a writers’ circle to motivate you?
I was in a huge online writers’ group where I met a few great writers who have become friends. We help one another out with the sticky bits and read over one another’s work. I think it’s important to have a few writers who empathise totally with your work rather than an impersonal group of people more concerned with getting help with their own writing than giving thoughtful advice.
That is very true Jane. Having writing friends that really support each other is the most important thing.
Editor? No! I don’t mean your significant other – unless they really are an editor of course…
The editor who acquired The Dark Citadel for Musa Publishing gave me a content editor who has been tremendous. She understood where the book was going and made suggestions that only made it better. We had a great working relationship—she pointed out the wobbly bits and gave little hints and ideas about how it could be improved without trying to write it herself. My first experience of professional editing has been a good one. No matter how often you read through your ms there will be problems with it only a completely disinterested third party will spot.
This is very true Jane. I have to agree that having a completely impartial person read your manuscript is essential and if you can’t afford a professional, at the very least find a writing group where you can do this for each other.
Tips / secrets / covert plans? – wait! I’ve turned into a spy! Tell me everything and I’ll give you the antidote for the poison I just put in your tea! Ahhh I gave you the wrong cup!
First tip, Laura. When you use poison make it a colourless one. I would never drink purple tea. Never. Secrets? They’re secret. Plans? To get the rest of The Green Woman series published, and the rest of my numerous WIPs into good enough shape to approach publishers. That should probably see me out. I have a lot of WIPs!
Me and my purple fetish – will I never learn! LOL – Sounds like a plan Jane. Should keep you busy for a while and I wish you lots of luck and good wishes with your future projects. Keep up the good work and I am sure that with your very lovely and positive attitude to your writing, good things will soon come your way. <3 <3
Now could you please give us all your links – every one in your carefully constructed chain…
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JaneDoughertyWriter
Twitter - @MJDougherty33
WordPress – http://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/364196
Thank you for joining in the fun Jane, it has been my pleasure to feature you on the Bookish Banter and I look forward to seeing more of your Dark Citadel series in the future.
<3 Xx Laura Crean xX <3