Saturday 29 June 2013

Author Interview: Jen York

About the Author:

First let me introduce Grumpy Stone. (see attached image called Grumpystone) I found him on a beach in my home town in Essex, England. Grumpy has become my writing mascot. It is more fun to look at a picture of him than one of me. Promise.

About me? Well I grew up in the UK, but was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. My childhood influences were a mix of Pippi Longstocking and The Flumps. I have always enjoyed making up characters and their life stories; therefore I jumped at the chance to study theatre at the University of Brighton. I later trained as a drama teacher and I have a Masters degree from Goldsmiths. I have gone back to my roots and I now live in Gothenburg, where I am writing the Delilah Dusticle series. People have told me they love reading my stories and I hope you have fun reading them too!

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I always sit down to write with an idea in my head, but then while writing it evolves and can develop into something other than what I originally planned. So I guess I would say both, I plan and let the story flow.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

In theatre, which is what I am trained in, there is a saying ‘there are no small parts, only small actors’. I use this principle in my writing. It takes all the characters to tell the story effectively and therefore I cannot let the ego of one character take over.

What is your favourite food?

I am a pescetarian, so I eat dairy and fish but no meat. I have recently fallen in love with sushi, but I am rubbish at using chop sticks. If there was a food I could eat everyday it would be cake. I love looking in patisserie shops windows at all the beautiful delicate cakes.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Definitely a night owl, mornings are for sleeping.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

After reading Amistad Maupin’s Tales of the City series I fell in love with San Francisco. I saved up and decided to travel round the world and I got a visa to work in Australia for year to support this. I made San Francisco my first stop, but my flight only got as far as Iceland. It was September 11th, 2001. The captain made an announcement that we were not able to continue and that we would be heading back to the UK. I remember looking out the window and seeing fuel coming out from the side of the plane, which they had to dump or the plane would have been too heavy to land. The air stewards gave the same answer to all our questions, which was that they had no other information other than all American airports had closed. It was only after we landed and were inside the airport that we found out what had happened in New York. I couldn’t bring myself to go anywhere straight away and I did not want to take the seat of someone trying to get back to America. A month or so later I rebooked via Asia. 12 years on and I have booked a trip for San Francisco for this October. I am really looking forward to it.

Do distant places feature in your books?

The inspiration happened in Gothenburg, Sweden but for me it had to be set in post-war London. The second book will be set in London and Transylvania and the third book I am setting in London and India.

Do you listen to music while writing?

I love music, but I am one of those people who really needs quiet to concentrate when writing.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

Delilah Dusticle is a short story and the first book in the series. The story has been described as heart-warming, captivating, delightful and fun. The book has been enjoyed by young people and adults alike.

"I loved Delilah, I loved Abi, I loved reading this story"

Here is a description and an excerpt.

Delilah Dusticle has special powers, she can completely eradicate dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters Delilah can run up walls and reaches places others just can’t. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house Delilah’s unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day a broken heart leads to her powers taking an expected turn.

This is the first in a series of touching and funny stories about Delilah Dusticle. Follow her on a journey of self-discovery, friendship and adventure.


A suit of armour standing beside her in the hall coughed and shot out a puff of dust from its helmet. “Staff are not permitted to fraternise with the family and any shenanigans would lead to instant dismissal,” wheezed the armour.

“Don’t I know it,” said Delilah who then waved her duster at the falling dust cloud making it vanish in mid-air. For good measure she selected her dandelion duster and polished the armour, who was very ticklish and kept giggling. She then made her way to the staff kitchen for dinner.

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

Since I started this endeavour I have learnt a great deal and I still learn something new every day. I now have a very broad overview of an industry which I knew nothing about at the beginning of this year. As a self-published author you have to be more than just a write, one day you an administrator and the next a publicist. Since starting this endeavour I have learnt how to put together a website and have explored the multitude of social media that is out there.

Is there anything you would do differently?

My partner Gavin is creating a series of illustrations for the second book. It would have been great having a few illustrations in the first book and this is something I might look at in the future. Here is a taster illustration for the next book, it’s one of my favourites.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

The influence on my writing comes from my drama background and all the plays I have seen. Also all the films and books I watched when growing up, such as Pippi Longstocking and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I love stories that contain the reality of everyday life mixed with some magic.

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

I am so new myself, but I would advise doing plenty of research into self-publishing, vanity press and the traditional publishing route. Doing it yourself is a lot of work and you are the writer, administrator and publicist all wrapped into one. If these roles do not appeal then you may wish to send your books to agents and publishers. I am far too impatient to wait two years or have Delilah sit in a slush pile, so I self-published. It has been a very rewarding learning experience.

What are three words that describe you?

Compassionate, open minded and sometimes a bit daft.

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

I loved Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. It is a coming of age book that asks the bigger questions about life through philosophy. There is great part about the fur of a rabbit and how we all start on the tip of the fur asking the bigger questions, but as we grow older we go further into the fur to snuggle down. Every three or so years I reread this book and remind myself about being at the tip of the fur.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

I am currently writing the second instalment where Delilah and the Dustbusters are invited to Transylvania to cater for the Hallow Eve Ball, but all is not what is seems and Count Dracula has a very unusual request for Delilah. In this instalment the readers also find out what kind of magical being Delilah is and what else her powers can do. Other characters reveal their past and new characters are introduced. It has been great fun to write and I am very excited about its release in September 2013.

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

Twitter: @delilahdusticle

UK readers

USA readers

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