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Posts Tagged ‘Historical Fiction’

Welcome, Jean Gill…

jean sm~head and shoulders 

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.

Jean sm Song eBook cover

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!

Jean ms troubadours no text

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?

Editing!

Where can people find you on the internet?

 Everywhere! 😊

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

Contact jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writerjeangill

The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619468.Jean_Gill

Watch the book trailers on youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean

Jean sm twitter banner 2016

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Welcome…Pam Lecky

pam-lecky

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

I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. Married with three children, I work part-time and have a lot to juggle, which isn’t ideal for my writing. As a result, independent publishing has been wonderful as it suits my hectic life down to a tee and I set my own deadlines. I’m probably a typical writer – a bit introverted, and was prone to daydreaming from an early age. I was an only child and my mother died when I was young, so I grew up spending a lot of time alone (though not lonely). Books were always my joy and I turned to them frequently. I grew up during the seventies – a particularly bleak time in Ireland, so escaping into other worlds was attractive.

I first dabbled with poetry during my teens. Then I helped out on a local newsletter for a year or two, but it was only after my third child was born, that I decided to write a book – and it was purely to prove to myself that I could and with no thought of ever publishing. I loved writing and researching it and that was the catalyst. Early on, I joined the Historical Novel Society whose members, I have to say, are some of the most supportive people I have had the pleasure to meet.

Stories just pop into my head and then I have to get them down as fast as I can. I grew up watching period dramas and reading classics so a lot of my background inspiration comes from those. Primarily I am intrigued by how people react in difficult circumstances and I suppose a little part of me wants to explore the world through their eyes (my characters tend to be a lot braver than me!).

I write under my maiden name for a few reasons; firstly as it is an unusual name it makes me easy to find; I have come to writing relatively late in life and want to keep my personal and writing life separate; lastly, I wanted to use my maiden name for sentimental reasons.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My debut novel is entitled The Bowes Inheritance. The genre is historical fiction but it is a mix of romance and mystery set in the late Victorian era (my favourite part of the 19th century). My next published piece will be a short story set in the WW1 era and set in Ireland. It is called In Three-Quarter Time and I hope to publish it on Kindle very soon.

pam-lecky-coverbowes    pam-leckycoverin-three-quarter-time

How did you come up with the story?

The original premise for The Bowes Inheritance was a young woman inheriting a property and having to fight to keep it. It had a beginning, a middle and an end (always a good thing!), but there was no flesh to its bones. I knew I wanted it to have an Irish flavour, but with a new angle perhaps. I have always been fascinated by the complex relationship between the Irish Ascendency and their British counterparts and that, and a wrangle over land, seemed a good place to start. It was only as I started to research, that the story took on a life of its own. Sub-plots popped up, often influenced by real events that I read about from old newspapers, books and on-line blogs. What started out primarily as a love story became tangled up in Irish history, Fenians and the English Lake District! The Bowes Inheritance was born.

Much to my delight the book has been very well received and was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016 and shortlisted for The Carousel Aware Prize 2016. Just last week it was awarded the ‘Discovered Diamond’ status.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

As I’m independently published I have complete control over title and cover. My original cover, when I first published in 2015, was lovely and I was really proud of it but I felt over time that it was too ‘nice’ and not genre specific enough. I found a cover I loved (a pre-made cover) and the graphic designer, Victoria Cooper, was very willing to add to and amend it to what you see today.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

If I could only give one piece of advice it would be to write about what you love and what interests you. Good writing will out. If you want to write to a formula for commercial success ask yourself what  kind of legacy is that leaving? Will anyone want to read your work in a hundred years’ time if it’s the same as a hundred other novels out there? I’ll take quality over quantity any day.

What is your writing routine?

Most of my writing is done in the evening or at weekends. As I work outside the home on a part-time basis, having a writing routine is virtually impossible. Marketing and promotion take up a lot of time and eat into those hours I’d rather be writing. Lately, I have pulled back on it and all of the other distractions that stop me from writing but it isn’t always easy. The days I’m working I am usually too tired to write and sometimes when I have time the writing muse deserts me!

I’m lucky to have an office at home where I can surround myself with my favourite books, pictures and research material. It is nice and quiet and generally the only company I have is the dog and perhaps the cat if he’s in the mood! Most importantly I can listen to music while I write – I find it helps me relax and the ideas flow more easily.

Do you have an editing process?

I tend to edit as I go which I suppose draws out the process somewhat. However, it seems to be the only way I can work. I always have an outline of the plot but it is only as I write that the details emerge. Historical fiction requires a lot of research and luckily I love that as much as the writing.

I have a wonderful editor, Hilary Johnson. She does an initial structural edit, checking for any major errors, plot and character holes, etc. Once I’m happy I have the final version I send it back to her for a thorough copy edit/proofread. She is incredibly professional and strict. I trust her judgement so if she says something isn’t working, I will go away and think about it. She’s usually right!

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

The most enjoyable part for me is watching my characters emerge and grow. When I’m working on a story, the characters tend to be in my head all of the time, even to the point where they are having conversations. But dialogue makes or breaks a book so I tend to spend a lot of time and energy on trying to get it right.

The worst thing for me is not having enough quality time to write. I really envy those who are lucky enough to be full-time writers.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I maintain an active presence on Facebook and Twitter and I have a website/blog. These work best for me as I have such a limited amount of time to be online. I love to interact with fellow authors and of course, readers. My first wow moment after publication, was when a total stranger emailed me to say they loved my book. You can’t get much better than that.

Links:

Facebook

Twitter

www.pamlecky.com

Goodreads

Universal Link to buy The Bowes Inheritance (Amazon) www.bookgoodies.com/a/B010EB2XC2

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