I am absolutely delighted to host Alison on my blog today as part of her current book blog tour. Alison kindly gives us some insights into writing ‘alternative’ historical fiction, which I am sure you will find as fascinating as I do. World building is such an integral part of historical fiction.
Alison’s latest book, JULIA PRIMA, was published recently. You can find the details of this book and her back catalogue at the end of this post.
You can find out more about the blog tour for JULIA PRIMA here:
A very happy Publication Day to Fiona Cooke! I’m a huge fan of Fiona’s writing and if you haven’t checked out her previous work, you should do so. Her collections of short stories are fabulous dark tales, deliciously creepy, and are guaranteed to give you sleepless nights!
Martha’s Cottage is Fiona’s first novel and is a heart-warming and humorous story (see blurb below). The book is published today by SpellBound Books.
Today, I am delighted to have Jen Faulkner in the library for a chat. I was lucky enough to meet Jen for the first time at Harrogate Crime this year. Her visit to the festival coincided with the publication of her debut novel, Keep Her Safe. Already there are some great reviews up for this book and I’m looking forward to reading it soon.
Keep Her Safe by Jen Faulkner
A mother is gripped by fear as her daughter approaches adulthood, in this novel of attachments, anxieties, and buried secrets . . .
How far would you go to protect your daughter?
Catherine’s daughter is about to leave for university. Although she knows worrying about this is normal, she’s becoming increasingly anxious about Anya’s safety. And that anxiety is starting to take over her life . . .
She’s fallen back into a habit of going into Anya’s bedroom when she sleeps to watch her breathe, and is secretly tracking her daughter’s movements on an app.
Anya, struggling with her mum’s suffocating behaviour, hides her own anxieties about leaving home for fear of panicking her mother further.
But with Anya preparing to move out, who will check on her and keep her safe?
Do other people pose a threat or is her own mother the one she should be afraid of?
Jen Faulkner completed an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in 2015, where she was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbitt Prize. Since then she has run creative writing sessions for a charity in Bristol and volunteered at Mothership Writers, a year-long programme of writing workshops for new mothers run by the novelist, Emylia Hall. She also teaches English Language to college students. When she’s not writing or teaching she enjoys karate. She is currently plotting and writing her next book, about how a shared traumatic event can affect two people in very different ways. Keep Her Safe is her debut novel.
Which genre do you write in, Jen, and what draws you to it?
I find genre a tricky thing to pinpoint with my novels, but they are marketed as psychological suspense. I’m drawn to writing about real people and their lives. I find people and their behaviours infinitely fascinating and love writing about everyday lives… with added suspense of course.
Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
I read all the time and always have done. I love losing myself in other worlds and read most genres, although I would say I’m not a huge science fiction fan. I mainly read in my genre, but the ‘crime’ umbrella is so huge that it spans many different types of books. I love character driven books, especially when you end up rooting for a character you don’t particularly like.
Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?
I am published with a fantastic independent publisher called Bloodhound. They have been incredible and the whole experience from start to finish has been relaxed and I’ve felt very well supported. There are so many ways to get published these days and I think that can only be a good thing!
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
This is such an interesting question. And to be honest I don’t now how to answer succinctly. Everyone I’ve ever read, is probably the easiest way to sum it up. As a writer I am inspired and influenced all of the time, I think when you are a writer you do read books as a writer and that changes everything. I’m always learning. But it’s not just authors and poets who influence me; conversations with friends, disagreements, chance encounters, human behaviours, they all play a part in making my writing what it is.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
I LOVE the first write of a new draft where the story is unfolding and even though I’ve planned it, new and exciting things emerge. I think for me, once I get going I do like the editing process and fixing issues and plot holes, but it’s definitely the part I find the hardest. Responding to (often brilliant) feedback takes time, and sometimes I find it overwhelming, even though I know I always do find a solution in the end. I find taking time to process feedback is important. I can have a mini strop that I haven’t nailed something and it needs yet more input, and then I go for a dog walk or chat to a friend, and then I knuckle down and work it out.
Editing is not as much fun as writing, but it is where the magic happens.
What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?
I was lucky enough to be tutored by Fay Weldon when I did an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her advice was to write less, think more. It’s brilliant advice because it makes me stop forcing myself to write when inspiration isn’t striking. I’ve learnt to wait for the right time and for the right words, which is huge because I am usually anything but patient. She also taught me to persist. There have been many times when rejections have come and I’ve questioned giving up, but she always said if I wanted to be published I had to persist. And she was right. If I hadn’t persisted I wouldn’t be published.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
Late afternoon has always been a productive time for me – it’s currently 4.50pm as I’m writing this – I get a lot of writing done in the hours between school pick up and dinnertime, when I’m not ferrying my children to after school activities, of course. Mornings are also good, but I’m not an early riser so won’t ever be part of the 5am writers club even though I wish I could be!
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
Good question! I’d still be writing, of course, but also I think I’d be a full-time teacher again. I tutor teenagers part-time and absolutely love it. The students are amazing. And so yes, if I couldn’t be an author then I’d be a full-time English teacher for sure.
If a movie was made of your book, who would you like to play the lead roles?
I love Suranne Jones and think she would be a great Catherine. She plays troubled women so very well. As for Anya, I’m not sure. I have such a firm image of her in my head that doesn’t fit with any actor I can think of, although I am sure the perfect person is out there somewhere. Now if only I could secure that film deal…
If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?
Would it be weird to say my childhood? I’d love to go back and see if it’s really how I remember it and relive some of those times. Obviously I wouldn’t want to change anything as if I did I wouldn’t end up where I am now, and I like where I am now. But I’m a very nostalgic person and I’d love to relive it and be more present at the time. Either that, or I’d want to go back to the Victorian times. I once visited a National Trust house as a child and was convinced I’d been a servant there in a previous life. I find the kitchens in these buildings fascinating and love everything to do with the way of life and all the history of the families and people who’ve lived in them.
And finally; you have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier, Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, The Island by Victoria Hislop and The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm.
Thanks so much, Jen, for dropping by. Wishing you all the best with your new release.
If you would like to know more about Jen and her writing, please check out her links below: