Monday 7 January 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway with Jacqueline Farell

About the Author:

I live in the UK with my husband, two sons, two cats and a dog. I am a French and English teacher which I love and it pays the bills, but I got hooked on writing when I entered a short story competition at the age of eighteen and wrote of my own free will without a homework deadline looming. I’ve been waiting for the impulse to wear off ever since…

I wrote this story when I was coming up to my 50th and feeling a bit sorry for myself. I love the vampire/paranormal genre - Buffy and Sookie in particular - but there comes a time when you just can’t identify with gorgeous, pert twenty-somethings any more and it seems a little undignified to even want to. I also love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels about Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg – two of the wiliest crones in the business – but wanted something a little more glamorous and contemporary; I can only take so much stuff with the frogs and the cauldrons. When it comes to supernatural powers I’ve always preferred Julian May’s metapsychics in the Saga of the Exiles, so that’s how Sophronia was created. Hagen was easy.

Obviously heroes can’t be murderers, but I wanted a vampire who wasn’t wracked with guilt over his diet and who seemed to be having fun being an immortal. I hope people will enjoy reading SOPHRONIA AND THE VAMPIRE as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I tend to do a mix of both. I always have a broad outline of the story but once I start writing ideas crop up that gel with the original outline and I like that. I find it keeps the story fresh for me.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

I’ve certainly written my fair share of novels where a secondary character has taken on a life of his/her own that I had never anticipated. For example, in my first published novel ‘The Scarlet Queen’ (written under the name Jacqueline Webb) a secondary character, called Bella, started off without even a name – she was just a means to get information across, but I got more and more interested in her and she became the focus for my second novel ‘Dragonheart’. Dwayne in ‘Sophronia’ popped up because I had been watching a vampire movie (I think it was one of the ‘Blade’ movies, but I could be wrong)and there happened to be an African-American vampire looking really cool in sunglasses and it made me laugh because I kept thinking ‘What’s the point? He’s never going to see the sun again.’ But the image stuck so when I needed a vampire to escort Sophronia to Hagen’s nightclub, this particular character turned up and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking up a reason why a vampire might need to wear sunglasses apart from making himself look cool! Conversely I’ve introduced characters into novels with every intention of broadening their stories and then losing interest in them.

What is your favourite food?

Easy. Chocolate!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

At the risk of sounding contrary, I’m neither really. I’m very much a middle of the day type. I need a couple of cups of tea just to get myself going in the morning, peak between ten and two and then the world has had the best of me for that day.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I did quite a lot of travelling when I was younger and child-free. I’ve spent some time in France as I am a French teacher by profession, spent a lovely summer in the USA doing the BUNA-camp route, and my husband and I travelled for a year to India, South East Asia, and around Australia before going home and having to become grown-ups and find proper jobs. So I have scratched that itch before, but I would really love to go to South America and see the Nazca Lines in Peru, get to the East coast of the USA and also visit the Grand Canyon, as well as see the Northern Lights.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Yes. My first book was set in Egypt, my second partly in Algeria and Sophronia in the USA, which is distant for me as I live in the UK. I have co-written a book with Amanda Grange – a spin-off of the Jane Austen characters Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett called ‘Pride and Pyramids – Mr Darcy in Egypt’ - and not surprisingly we took them to Egypt which was fun. I have always loved reading novels where the characters have adventures and romances in distant, exotic lands.

Do you listen to music while writing?

No. I know lots of writers get their inspiration doing that but I personally find it too distracting. I do find inspiration from music when I’m not writing and that helps me move plots along. I don’t have any particular favourite singers or groups, although I’m a sucker for a soaring love song.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

‘Sophronia and the Vampire’ is the story of a witch who has just reached the third stage in a woman/witch’s life, the Crone. She stumbles upon Charlie, a witch in the first stage - the Maid - who knows nothing about her gifts. As a Crone, Sophronia feels duty bound to protect Charlie from becoming enthralled by a head vampire who wants her in his power so he can use her gifts for his own needs. The story is about how she outwits the vampire whilst at the same time finding herself drawn to him.

I wrote this when I was coming up to my 50th birthday and I was feeling a bit depressed about the onset of the menopause, incipient old age etc, etc, but since I’m lucky in that I’m much more of a glass half full type of person it didn’t take long for me to shake myself out of it. At the time I’d been alternating between reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels featuring the witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels. I love Sookie, but I was beginning to realise I couldn’t identify with her anymore, whereas the two crones of Pratchett’s novels were much more in my neighbourhood. So when it occurred to me that although Granny Weatherwax and Nanny were much older women than the usual heroines they had tremendous power and also a lot of fun, I decided to be pro-active and create my own heroine who was no longer in the first flush of youth, but not ready to be counted out of life just yet.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

Enjoy your writing, but never forget that if you want to be published, your audience has to enjoy it too.

Is there anything you would do differently?

I would have paid more attention earlier to becoming more noticeable as a writer, and becoming more familiar with social networking sites and other media tools. It’s getting easier, but I’m still struggling with the virtual world.

Who or what, if anything, has influenced your writing?

I enjoy a wide range of different styles, from sci-fi to crime thrillers and I’m often inspired to write when the characters I’ve just read don’t behave as I want them to or I want to see the plot from a different perspective.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Never give up.

What are three words that describe you?

Optimistic, determined, resilient

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

I go through phases. At the moment my favourite writer is Christopher Farnsworth. I love his vampire, Nathaniel Cade.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

Forty-nine, English and a professional crone, Sophronia is touring America when she is forced to spend the night at a run-down motel on the Californian coast. Her expectations aren't high- - if the bed's clean and the toilet flushes she'll count herself lucky. But events are about to become far more interesting. The motel owner is a juvenile witch unaware of her heritage and in dire need of help, especially when vampires turn up...

List of previous books if any

The Scarlet Queen –writing as Jacqueline Webb
Dragonsheart – Jacqueline Webb
Pride and Pyramids – Mr Darcy in Egypt – Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.

Goodreads, Facebook

Thank you, Jacqueline and good luck with your books :)

To win an ebook copy of Sophronia and the Vampire, please leave a comment along with your email address after this post and a winner will be chosen at random.

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