Welcome, Jean Gill…
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
After a career teaching English, and writing when I could find the time, I wanted to write full-time. I now live in Dieulefit, a small village in Provence, where we moved from Wales in 2003 after my husband retired (and is the subject of my memoir How Blue is My Valley). My claim to fame is that I was the first woman to be a secondary Headteacher in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire.
From 2008, I also worked as a photographer. Life brings surprises if you’re open to adventures, so I learned dog-training with top international Michel Hasbrouck, and then, two years ago, I trained as a beekeeper. Which means I live with a Nikon D750, two scruffy dogs, a couple of beehives and a man. We also have five children between us so life has been pretty hectic.
What is the title and genre of your book?
Song at Dawn is Book 1of The Troubadours Quartet, historical fiction set in 1150 Provence.
How did you come up with the story?
I was reading books about the troubadours, who lived and worked in this very region where I now live, and I came across the sentence, ‘Rumour says there was a female troubadour touring the south of France with a large white dog.’ How could I not write that book? Poetry, a feisty woman and a big white dog! I could see Estela in a ditch, on the run, and the Great Pyrenees at her side, and that’s how the story begins.
It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?
Thank you and all credit to my amazing designer Jessica Bell http://www.jessicabellauthor.com/book-cover-design-services.html Yes, that’s one of the things I love about Indie publishing – never again will feel disappointed at seeing the cover a publisher has chosen!
Designing The Troubadours covers was the first time Jessica and I worked together but she understood straight away that I wanted a branded look for all my books, a series look for The Troubadours (three were already written) and finally the individual cover. An impossible task with 18 published books, of different genres, but she pulled it off!
Jessica is free to choose any of my photos if she wants and, for Song at Dawn, the dog on the cover is one of my own Great Pyrenees, Bételgeuse. The 12th century fortified village is also my photo, of Poët-Laval, a 12th century stronghold of the Knights Templar, right next door to me.
I wondered if we’d made a mistake having fantasy adventure vibes rather than a straight ‘authentic history’ medieval tapestry-type cover, given that the period detail is as accurate as a year’s research can make it, but when a reviewer said the book’s ‘like GOT but with real history’ I thought, ‘Yes! We got the covers right.’
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Believe in your own work. If you don’t, why should anyone else? And I’m a big fan of the approach; ‘Don’t get it right, get it written,’ with the P.S. ‘THEN redraft as often as it takes to get it right!’
What is your writing routine?
I’m a morning person, writing either at my desk in a corner of the living-room, where I can look at the garden and listen to Metallica or troubadour music, or outdoors with my laptop. I write about 1,000 words in one session and I try to always stop at a point when I know what comes next. I’m sure that’s why I never get writer’s block (touch wood!)
Do you have an editing process?
I really hate editing but nobody else can make my choices for me, even though I have a great professional editor. I write the book first, only looking back to check details or re-arrange parts and insert foreshadowing. When I finish (hooray moment!) I re-read and edit the whole book (ouch moment!). Then I let my husband read it; he has the knack of picking out a wrong note or something that just doesn’t work. Then my close group of writer-friends read it and feed back. Their feedback is essential and I call them alpha readers because beta readers is demeaning to such top quality writers. Then I consider all the suggestions, make my changes and send the typescript off to my editor for the final polish. She too will make suggestions on content so the pain is still possible.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
Where can people find you on the internet?
Song at Dawn, Book 1 of the award-winning Troubadours Quartet is available free to subscribers who sign up to Jean’s newsletter here http://eepurl.com/AGvy5
IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com
The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours
Watch the book trailers on youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean