Today, we start off a new venture on the blog - author interviews! These will pop up sporadically - if you'd like to be involved, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, over to a lady I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the last year and a half, Jennifer Wilson.
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside.
Describe your writing in exactly 5 words.
Paranormal historical fiction – something different.
What are you up to right now?
My main project at the moment is a time-slip historical romance, featuring Richard III. It’s an idea that’s been buzzing around my head for a couple of years, and I’m finally getting towards having it ready to publish as an experiment in self-publishing. I’m about to start the second draft process, having had comments back from initial readers, and I’m excited to get started.
What’s been your proudest moment as a writer?
Definitely having my second novel (Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile) announced. Having my first published was just incredible, but I was so convinced that it was somehow a fluke, that hearing from Crooked Cat that they were accepting my second was so re-affirming. Now it’s getting nearer, it’s feeling more real, but getting the confirmation email and signing the contract still seems a dream.
Why are you drawn to the genre that you write in?
My honest answer is that I wasn’t! I hadn’t really thought about genres properly when I was writing Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, I just enjoyed the writing process. It was only when it was published that somebody name-checked me as a writer of ‘paranormal historical fiction’. Now it’s been named though, I love it! I like the relatively easy nature of what I write. Yes, there are rules of the ‘world’, but equally, these ghosts have been around people ever since they died, so they can use language from before, during or after their time, as well as having, if appropriate, slightly more modern attitudes than they would have done during their lives.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of your art?
It wasn’t wholly in the name of my art, but I’ll confess I only entered the draw to feel ‘near’ events. Back in 2014, I threw my name in the hat for a place at the reburial services for Richard III, just because as a bit of a Ricardian, I couldn’t ‘not’ apply – never thought I would get a place. But when I did, I turned the whole weekend into a bit of an inspiration-fest; I went to a whole day of lectures, early-morning services, walking tours, the lot, and at the end of it, really felt inspired to get the first draft of Tower of London finished. Within a month, it was submitted, and it was the start of a fabulous year.
If you could get drunk with any writer, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’m torn here, between Elizabeth Chadwick, Philippa Gregory and Anne O’Brien, but because the latter have also written about Richard III and the Tudors, it could all get a bit samey, so I think I’d go for Elizabeth Chadwick. She writes brilliant historical fiction, really getting to the heart of her (often real) characters, but also gets her facts as straight as she can do, given that it was the 1100s. She also does medieval re-enactments, and it would be great to get a modern take on how everything felt.
What’s your favourite part of the creative process - and your least favourite?
I love the initial buzz of ideas flitting around my head, and getting them down on the page, when things are flowing thick and fast. I have to admit, it’s the self-editing I hate. I love working on other peoples’ edits or thoughts about my work, I see that as part of the creative process, but actually fine-tuning my own work, solo, I really struggle to focus on.
What do you find helps (and hinders) your writing?
Music, for both. I cannot work in silence, so I work to music I know really well, so it flows through my head without really stopping to make me pay attention. But it means I cannot write at all when the radio is on (I never know what’s coming next), or a conversation I’m interested in is taking place nearby. In those instances, I start listening, and stop writing.
What’s next for you?
After the timeslip, I’m going to be making a start on the first draft of a third Kindred Spirits. I’ve got a couple of ideas to explore, and plenty of research to make a start on, so it’ll keep me out of trouble for a while…
What was the last book or short story that you simply couldn’t put down?
It’s non-fiction, but I’m in the middle of Crown & Country by David Starkey, and finding it reads just as good as any novel. You’d think knowing the ending would take the fun out of reading a biography of the entire royal family history of Britain, but somehow, it’s a real page-turner.
If meeting Jennifer has piqued your interest in her work, you can find out more about her at her blog - and why not join in her online launch party for her new book, Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile on June 1st?
Musings on my life as a writer.