Jessica, please could you tell readers about yourself......
First, Michelle, let me say a huge thank you for inviting me on your blog today to talk about my debut release, and to all of you for stopping by. I’m especially excited because I’m giving away a free ebook copy of Voices on the Waves. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is leave me a comment, so good luck!
I’m a UK born author currently living with my family and crazy Staffordshire bull terrier in the English town of Windsor, most famous for its castle and nearby Eton College. At the age of five, I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pitmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that has left me almost totally blind.
Clichéd as it sounds, I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. As a shy person, I love being able to escape into another world, and the sense of power that comes with controlling everything that goes on in that world. I especially love writing women’s fiction centred around memorable characters that leap off the page, something I hope I’ve achieved in Voices on the Waves.
My husband says you've got taste supporting Liverpool FC (I don't do football - he's the Liverpool fanatic!) how long have you supported them (that's him asking over my shoulder!)
Um, actually, this is rather an embarrassing story. When I was quite young, around eleven or twelve it must have been, I had this major crush on my brother’s best mate’s older brother. My brother has always been a staunch Arsenal supporter, but both Olli and Joe were fans of Liverpool. Well, I kind of got it into my head, as you do at that age, that if I also became a Liverpool supporter, this would really impress Joe and he’d fall madly in love with me. Needless to say, this isn’t how things turned out. Still, despite my dubious beginnings as a Liverpool fan, I’ve remained faithful to them ever since, even in their current disastrous run of form!
When did you first start writing?
I’ve invented stories for as long as I can remember, but I wrote my first novel, all thirty pages of it, when I was seven. Based on the Enid Blyton adventures I devoured at the time, it bore the highly original title “The Mystery of the Strange Telephone Calls”. As any lovers of The Famous Five can probably guess, my characters were plunged into all sorts of excitement, from robbery to kidnap. I even recorded it on cassette, which is now safely hidden away from prying ears!
How long did it take you to write Voices on the Waves? The characters and their stories are so intricate and well thought out.
That’s a good question. In it’s original form, written several years ago, I‘d say it took about a year to complete. Since then, though, it’s been through so many changes and rewrites that it’s barely recognizable from my first draft and I’ve lost count of the hours, not to mention the blood and tears, that have gone into it.
Where did you get inspiration from for each character? Are they based on real people?
I never base my characters on anyone I know. For me, one of the best things about writing is creating complex characters that readers can relate to, even if they might not necessarily always like them. I had particular fun inventing my cast for Voices on the Waves. Because this novel is all about characters, I felt it was vital that they should really come alive for the reader and that there should be as much tension and conflict between them as possible. Once I’d decided this, I sat down and solely from my imagination came up with ten individuals from all walks of life, each with their own flaws and quirks. That done, all I had to do was let the words flow and the sparks fly!
Do you have any plans for future books?
I’m currently working on a novel, which will be written as part of a series with a group of my fellow authors at Red Rose. The idea is that we each write a book based on a reality TV show, and I’m taking the inspiration for mine from talent shows such as American Idol and The X Factor. Tentatively titled “Chasing Dreams”, it follows three brothers as they’re introduced to the fickle and often unforgiving world of fame, and is shaping up to be really great fun! With any luck, it will be released some time next year.
When you're not writing, what books do you read, and do you have a favorite author or genre?
Oh, I’m a total book junky and will read pretty much anything — women’s fiction, thrillers, historicals, fantasy, young adult… Just so long as it involves vivid, memorable characters who I genuinely care about, I’m there. There are also so many authors I love, but my particular favourites are J. K. Rowling, Jilly Cooper, Philippa Gregory, Cassandra Clare, James Patterson and Penny Vincenzi.
If you had to choose between writing or reading, which would it be?
Wow, this has to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever been asked. Both reading and writing play such an important part in my life, and I can’t imagine existing without either of them. I suppose it would be fair to say writing is the activity that gives me the most satisfaction, but I can’t think of many things that give me more pleasure than losing myself in a good book.
The Voices on the Waves giveaway has now ended, pending a winner.