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Archive for September, 2021

Welcome, Clare Marchant

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Hi Suzan! Thank you for inviting me. May I have a cup of tea? I like it really strong though so two bags in the cup if that’s okay.

*Hands Clare her cup of tea*

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I don’t have a pen name I really am Clare Marchant. I live in Norfolk with my husband and the youngest two of my six children, and our mini schnauzer Fred. With my adult children and grandchildren living locally it is always busy with people dropping in but thankfully the week days are usually quiet. In my spare time I like a trip to the coast for a walk and an ice cream. Oh, and I occasionally get out my saxophone for a quick blast!

You have two books out. Can you tell me a little about them?

My debut The Secrets of Saffron Hall is a dual timeline historical novel. It is set in both the Tudor era and the present day and links two women living five hundred years apart but bound together by grief, love, and a spice more valuable than gold. In Tudor times new bride Eleanor grows saffron which increases her husband’s wealth which grows his popularity at court, but this comes at a terrible price. In present day Amber discovers a book at her grandfather’s home, Saffron Hall, and it contains a secret which is closer to home than she would have imagined.

My second book which was published this summer is The Queen’s Spy. This is another Tudor/present day dual timeline. In the sixteenth century a deaf and mute apothecary to the Queen becomes her silent spy. Whilst in the present day a young French Lebanese girl inherits an old house from her father, a man she never knew. After making a haunting discovery she tries to discover what happened there centuries before.

You were nominated for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. How did you feel? Tell us about it.

Being a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award was just the most wonderful experience. I was nominated because my debut book went through the RNA’s amazing New Writers Scheme and was subsequently published. The winner is announced at the RNA York Tea which this year was on the 18th September. As the event included afternoon tea and cake it was of course a stellar occasion! I am so proud that my book came through the New Writer’s Scheme because I learned – and am still learning – so much from the published authors in the Romantic Novelist Association and it was an honour to have been a nominee.

What is the title and genre of the book you are currently writing?

Unfortunately the next book currently does not have a title! I really must think of one soon before I send it to my publisher. I keep hoping something will suddenly spring into my mind, but so far…nothing! I can tell you that it is another Elizabethan/present day dual timeline though and this time it involves Sir Francis Drake.

Are you working to a deadline? Do you write X number of words per day? How are you feeling?

I most certainly am working to a deadline can you see the grey hairs multiplying on my head?! When I am writing the first draft then I aim for 2000 words a day. I start fairly early in the morning and work through until I take a late lunch. But once I get to editing then it’s just a case of working through until my eyes are falling out of their sockets whatever time that is.

Do you write in first or third person?

So far, I’ve always written in the third person but who knows, if I felt that a character would sound better in the first person I may try that. It’s just the way that they speak to me that dictates how they appear on the page.

How did you come up with the story?

I never have a fully formed idea for a story, instead I will have lots of threads of ideas rolling around my head. Sometimes they are triggered by places that I go to, or artefacts that I see or maybe an article I have read. But slowly all these threads come together and I weave them into a story. It is amazing when that moment comes!

Are you a planner or panster?

I am absolutely a planner. I could never just dive straight in to writing a book, I like to know exactly what my characters are going to do, where they will go and what will happen to them. Although having said that, when I was writing Saffron Hall the little boy Tom just suddenly appeared in the story and he had not been in the plan – I try not to let that happen often though.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

My tip is probably the same as every other author’s – you really do have to sit down and write the book. You can’t edit an empty page. Even if you don’t have much time if you can manage to write a couple of hundred words here and there because it soon adds up. And when you have that exciting new idea for another book just as the one you are currently writing is getting a bit tedious, do not abandon it for the new idea! It happens to us all but you just need to keep plodding on until you reach the end.

What is your writing routine?

I sit down at my desk between eight and nine o’clock and work until about two. I have numerous cups of tea and coffee during that time too although I am trying to steer clear of the biscuit tin! Despite doing several months of historical research before I start I find numerous areas where I need to look details up but that is very time consuming so I just make a note in the manuscript to come back to it later. I don’t like to interrupt the flow when I am writing.

Do you have an editing process?

Yes, I have quite a strict process. I start with the structural editing to make sure that there are no massive holes or anomalies. Writing dual timeline throws up all sorts of problems making sure that the two stories reflect each other, my present-day character can’t discover something that hasn’t yet happened in the historical story and that can take some juggling! I use a software for writing called Scrivener and it makes moving the chapters around much easier.

After the structural edit I do several rounds of line editing making sure that every sentence is as perfect as I can make it, and then finally I do a proof read (or three!) to check on punctuation.

Then the book goes off to my agent and she sends back suggested edits and it all starts again, and then it goes to my editor and guess what? I have to start again! But every round of edits keeps polishing the book so that when it is published, I know that it is the very best that it can be.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

My favourite part of writing a book is definitely the historical research. I love reading about the past – and of course the Tudor era is my favourite – and so diving down rabbit holes reading about different people and events is just the best way of spending my day. I also enjoy the actual writing of the first draft, but I find the editing process difficult it makes my head hurt sometimes!

Where can people find you on the internet?

Facebook: ClareMarchantAuthor

Twitter: ClareMarchant1

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

Readers are the most important link in the chain, I write books so that people will read them and hopefully enjoy them. I’m especially grateful to all the readers who reach out on social media and also those who leave reviews on Amazon which are so important for books (I don’t understand the Amazon algorithms but reviews do great things!), so thank you to each and every one of you who take time to do that, and do come and say hello on Twitter and Facebook!

Thank you Suzan for inviting me on your blog, I’ve had a lovely time. Any chance of another cuppa?

With two teabags?

Yes please.

Formats: paperback and eBook.

If you would to view and/or buy a copy or two here is the link to Clare’s Amazon page

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3zuLWDB

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Welcome, Jenni Keer

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Hi, Suzan. Thank you so much for having me. Just a low-fat decaf wine please 🙂 – I’m trying to be healthy.

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I write under my own name, Jenni Keer, and I live on the Norfolk/Suffolk border with my husband, four teenage boys and four cats. I had my boys in three years – with a buy one, get one free at the end. It’s certainly a busy household. Two fun facts: I have a blind cat called Seymour (should have been see less!), and I’m part of a disco formation dance team.

What is the title and genre of your next book? And when is it out?

The Secrets of Hawthorn Place is out in paperback and ebook on 14th October 2021. It is a dual timeline commercial women’s fiction novel about two freakily identical houses, one in Dorset and one in North Norfolk, and the Victorian architect who fell in love with a woman he couldn’t have. In the modern day timeline, Molly finds a surprising link between the two properties that changes her life forever.

I love the cover and I’ve ordered my copy. Reading dual time will be a first for me and I’m excited.

How kind, Suzan, and I’m delighted you love the cover as much as I do. It really draws the reader in. There are so many fabulous dual time stories out there, and I hope this will inspire you to read more.

Do you write in first or third person? Please explain why

I write in both. Sometimes the story lends itself to one or the other, and recently with dual timelines, I’ve found it easier to have one narrative in first and the other in third. I don’t have a preference and am equally happy writing in either.

How did you come up with the story?

Haha, I can’t actually tell you without giving a massive spoiler, but there were a couple of great films I saw where I wondered if I could twist things a little bit and it led to the idea for the Hawthorn Place. For plot reasons, I needed a very distinctive architectural period but knew nothing about the subject, so I started researching and came across the Arts and Crafts Movement (William Morris and all that…) and from there Percy and his story was born. It was such great fun to write and the first time I’d attempted something historical, so it was a real challenge.

Are you a planner or panster?

I would have said definitely pantser a few years ago but I do plan more now. It’s not particularly detailed but I make myself write a strong outline so that when I start writing the words, they flow better. It’s a compromise that works really well for me.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

SOOOOOO many. I’m passionate about supporting those who want to write because I know how damn hard it is. Firstly, don’t put off writing that first novel and say, “When I’ve got more time” or, “when I retire”. The sooner you start, the better, because the journey will be a long one. It took me nine years to get published and that’s not unusual. Secondly, write a book – and I mean an actual book of 80k from beginning to end. DO NOT give up at 27,000 words because a better idea comes along. You will learn so much by finishing one and editing it – even if it never sees the light of day. Thirdly, don’t give up. Perseverance and a thick skin are key in this industry. If you want it enough, you WILL get published.

What is your writing routine?

Any of you who follow me on social media will know that I share a virtual office with historical author pal Clare Marchant. This means checking in every morning and updating each other throughout the day with our word counts, pages edited, etc. We start around half eight and work through until late afternoon. I like to get 1,000 words done a day, but I don’t worry if it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it’s better to have good words, rather than lots of words. I can work anywhere, and don’t need total silence, as long as I’m not being asked questions. I do dread hearing, ‘Mum?’.

Do you have an editing process?

Yes, if it’s edits from my agent. I tackle the easy ones first (for example, change a character name or simple copy edit queries) and the harder ones last. I like to do at least one paper edit, as you do see things differently. But generally, I just go over the manuscript several times, refining each time. Editing for me is more fun than writing the book in the first place because I know each pass has made the book better.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Can I tweak this and say what I like most about being an author is reader contact and author friends. I really feel I’ve found my tribe. Plus, I’m self-employed so in charge of my own hours, and I can justify everything I do to my husband, from watching a film to chatting with mates, as research! The hardest thing at the moment is reading all the lovely books I get asked to quote for, simply because I’m not a fast reader. Currently, I have a backlog and feel guilty when I keep people waiting. Also, writing can be lonely – which I think a lot of us found in lockdown.

Where can people find you on the internet?

Facebook: Jenni Keer Author

Twitter: @jennikeer

Insta: jennikeer

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

Hmmm… I guess that I enjoyed the historical aspect of Hawthorn Place so much that my writing in now heading this way. The last two books I’ve written have a lot more historical content. Watch this space to see what I have up my sleeve next…

If you’re quick, folks, my publisher currently has it on a special pre order price of just 99p!

Formats: paperback and ebook, and look, ebooks are only 99p! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenni-Keer/e/B07JW6RYYY/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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