Jen Black Tells All
ST: Hi, Jen Black, welcome and thank you for visiting with us this week.
JB: Glad to be here! And thanks for asking me.
ST: Tell us about yourself.
JB: Well, here’s the potted version – I worked, married, got my degree as a mature student, worked, divorced and married again.. I live in the north of England, quite close to the border with Scotland, and suspect my Dixon and Wilson ancestors came from the reiver families. My husband’s name is also one of the reiver family names. Another ancestor, about eight generations back, died from a fall from his horse aged 65 in a little village on the Welsh/English border. I’m lucky in that someone on my father’s side of the extended family is into genealogy and kindly sent me the whole shebang: 90 odd pages and still growing. I have distant relatives I’ve never met – and I’m not likely to meet! – all over the globe – Australia, Canada, New Zealand. I can’t remember any in America, but they’re probably there too.
ST: Your latest novel, SHADOWS, looks to be an exciting hot read. Please tell us about it.
JB: It is an exciting read, but you may have to wait sometime to get at it now that Triskelion have closed their doors! All 140 of us authors are waiting to hear that the book rights will revert to us and then we can go and secure new contracts!
ST: How did you come up with the story line?
JB: I spend holidays in France in the Dordogne region. Friends kindly let us stay in their ancient watermill, and in the lazy, dreamy heat of France in summer, I wondered about the mill in days gone by. The mill isn’t spooky, quite the opposite; but it does look as if it has a history and finding out a little about it sparked my imagination. Once I found the mill once belonged to the local monastery I couldn’t get rid of the idea of black robed monks…at least one of them must have fallen in love, and the authorities were not kind when that happened. So I dreamed up a young monk and his ladylove, their story and his quest for justice down the centuries. Mix that up with a modern young couple who’ve just got together, haven’t the least expectation of seeing ghosts and throw in a Frenchman who fancies the modern day heroine and it all started to click together quite nicely!
ST: What a wonderful way to vacation. Where can we buy SHADOWS?
JB: Sadly at the moment you can’t, but I hope that will change very soon. Meanwhile, you could chance your arm on my other titles. The e-versions of both DARK POOL and BANNERS OF ALBA are available at FictionWise and there’s a POD version of BANNERS at Amazon. They’re both set in the eleventh century, one in Scotland and the other in Ireland. They’re adventure stories as well as romances. BANNERS is Finlay mac Ruaidhri’s story and DARK POOL tells how he attempts to rescue Eba from the Vikings.
ST: Here are the gorgeous covers for both books.
JB: Yes, please. I do love them.
ST: Thanks for your time today and hopefully you can join us in the morning.
JB: I’ll be here!
August 21, 2007
The Write Side of Life
ST: Good morning, everyone and welcome back. Jen, what made you decide to be a writer?
JB: I didn’t decide, not really. Most writers say they wanted to do it from childhood and I did too but it always seemed such a huge thing to want to do that I never confided in anyone. I contented myself with lists, diaries, and reading, always reading. I’m told I ruined my eyesight by reading after lights out. I said I wanted the landing light left on. My parents thought I was scared of the dark, but I used to read in the slender column of light that came through the crack between the door and the door frame. I had to keep moving the book to have the light follow the word on the page…and that way I managed to keep reading till they came to bed. By then they thought I was asleep and put the light out.
ST: How long have you been writing?
JB: I started serious attempts at writing fiction in my thirties. Finding enough time to write whilst working full time meant it took ages before I actually produced anything and even longer before I felt confident enough to start sending it out anywhere. I do wish I started sooner! There used to be a wise old saying that went something along the lines of “get a bit of life under your belt before you try to write a novel” and of course I believed everything I was told! Today people have bestsellers at 17 and their autobiographies at 22!
ST: How many books have you written?
JB: Three that are published Banners of Alba, Dark Pool and Shadows. Plus three that have yet to find their way into the big wide world. I keep editing them, leaving them a while, going back and seeing where I could tweak them just that little bit more!
ST: Which is your favorite and why?
JB: I suppose it’ll always be Banners of Alba, because it was the first one I wrote and the first to be published, and the only one so far that I own in paperback format. But in a way it will always be the book I’m working on now as that one fills my imagination.
ST: Do you find writing to be fulfilling? And in what way?
JB: Of course it’s fulfilling. I don’t suppose I’d do it if I found it to be a drag! It is amazing when the story flows and I can’t type fast enough to get it all down, when my husband asks me something and I simply grunt and carry on typing. He’s learned to leave me alone sometimes, poor man. I can create whole worlds and have characters do exactly what I want, create countryside and houses just as I like them. Sometimes I think all writers must be megalomaniacs at heart! On the whole I like my characters and it is fun to be with them most of the time.
ST: What’s a normal day like for you?
JB: Wake up, have breakfast in bed, check e-mails. Start writing by about ten at the latest. Have lunch around twelve, go back to work around two and break off again around four thirty or five. I watch Neighbours on tv; it’s my one and only soap fix. I might go back and read some blogs, or write my own in the evening, but sometimes I just veg out with hubby. That’s a normal day, but of course, not every day is like that. Like everyone else, we shop, cook, clean, visit friends, go walking – I often take pics to include on my blog and you could find that here: http://www.jenblackauthor.blogspot.com. There are two other Jen Blacks around, so go for the one that says author!
ST: Thanks for sharing your time. It’s great having here.
JB: My pleasure and I’ll see you all in the morning.
August 22, 2007
Author, Author, Tell Us More
ST: We’re back with Jen Black and ready to learn more of her life and style. Jen, are there any quirks you have or do before or while you’re writing?
JB: Eat, mostly. Drink coffee. I like my work space to be tidy. I can’t work if it’s untidy. Sometimes I listen to music, most often not as I forget the things on and never notice it click off.
ST: Who or what encouraged you to write erotica?
JB: Nobody, thank goodness! I don’t write erotica.
ST: Just how hot are your books, Jen?
JB: I don’t suppose they go beyond sensual. The characters go to bed and do the biz, but I don’t go for the clinical sort of writing that describes every move, wriggle and bite. Nor do I like to read sex scenes that make me think the h/h are taking lumps out of each other! I like sensual sex scenes where suggestion stimulates the readers’ imagination, starts that buzz…
ST: Where do you get the ideas for your novels?
JB: All sorts of places. I’ve always been the sort of person who asks What if? And one thing leads to another. It was reading MacBeth for A level English that started me hunting down information on the Scottish king, and from there it was quite fun to imagine what the real king might have been like. I made him handsome, of course, and brave, but with a quick temper that got him into trouble more than once. And then I sorted out a girl who could match him…
ST: How do you research your books?
JB: Any way I can! I use the Internet and libraries. Since I worked in libraries I have a fair idea where to go to get what I want, or at least a starting point. My university degree introduced me to the vast stores of information held in the university sector, and how detailed some of the information can be. I’m lucky in that I have access to several really good public library services here in the north east, and four universities within twenty miles. I’m going to my local library this week with notebook in hand because I want to take notes about sixteenth century Corbridge from the Victoria County History, volume X. This series covers very nearly the whole country but they are usually reference only since they were written and published along time ago. They are available online for those not resident in the UK.
The other thing I really enjoy doing is visiting the places I write about. I’ll be putting some pics on my blog soon of Aydon and Halton castles, which are only six or seven miles from where I live. I’ve spent three lovely days walking around the area already and I’ll probably go back several times more before I’m through. I went to Dublin to get that locale correct, and I’ve spent a good deal of time on Scotland’s west coast, so I used that in Banners.
ST: Who is your support group?
JB: My husband, first of all. Then Critique groups, and critique partners and the Romantic Novelists Association local group, the Border Reivers. We meet once a month most of the year and we have several published writers among our number. Amazingly each writes in a different genre and line, so there’s always someone who knows how to help. I’m going to the national conference this year in Leicester in a fortnight’s time. I might sneak away to visit Bosworth Field on the Sunday afternoon. I went once, and viewing the stone memorial to Richard III reduced me to tears, which I didn’t expect. I expected it to be moving, but not to that extent. Or perhaps the little church nearby. Someone had laid white roses there beneath his wall plaque.
ST: You’re a sensitive, in-tune person. I can see that reaction in you.
JB: Is this where I blush? LOL
ST: Be sure to join us again tomorrow when Jen shows us her even softer side.
August 23, 2007
The Soft Side of Jen Black
ST: Hi Jen. Thanks for coming back today. Will you please describe your writing space.
JB: Study cum bedroom. Smallish, one wall fitted with shelves and cupboards. Laptop takes pride of place, books to either side, files (neatly) filed. Magnolia walls bearing pictures and maps, green carpet, floral curtains. Single bed so I can lie down and read if I want. It’s a sunny room, facing south, and it’s all mine. Husband has his own across the landing, so we can shout to each other if we wish!
ST: Let’s show everyone two views of where you work.
ST: What’s your favorite part of writing?
JB: All of it when it’s going well. None of it when it’s going badly.
ST: LOL! What do you absolutely hate about being an author?
JB: Trying to decide which agent or publisher to submit to. There are so many! And all so likely to say No.
ST: In your opinion what’s the most important thing for a new writer to learn?
JB: Grammar. Nothing puts me off reading sooner than poor grammar and glaring errors in historical detail. Remember Kevin Cosner in the film Prince of Thieves? He lands at Dover and the same night he’s rescuing a child from a tree on the Roman Wall just north of here. That’s all of 350 miles in a day, on horseback. The cinema rocked with laughter, and that kind of error in a book is what grates on me. Perhaps that’s where the old adage “Write what you know” comes in.
ST: Your website is gorgeous. I recommend everyone cruise over to http://members.lycos.co.uk/jenblack or click here and check it out. How did you decide on the content and design?
JB: It’s the best I could do! Lycos is free and it accepts Frontpage, so this is my first set of pages with them. I’m not the most techno-minded person in the world, so I’ll learn as I go along. In a couple of months I’ll revamp it, but at the moment it’s enough to keep it up to date. When I’m famous I’ll pay someone to do it all for me!
ST: Thanks for another good day, Jen.
JB: Any time, Sloane. I’ll see you in the morning!
August 24, 2007
Gazing into the Crystal Ball
ST: Hi everyone. We’re here for our last day with Jen Black. Tell us, Jen. what does the future hold for you?
JB: Heaven knows! I wish I knew.
ST: If you had one wish that would be granted, what would it be?
JB: To be taken up by a mainstream publisher. I think every writer would say that! Perhaps once they’ve done that, they’d say “To have my book filmed!”
ST: How did you and Triskelion Publishing come together?
JB: I heard good things about them – but that was a year ago!
ST: What’s in the works for the future?
JB: This is an important time for me, as I’ve got so many projects ready to go public. I need to stop editing and start pushing them out to see what response I get. The book I’m currently researching/writing is set in the Borders in the sixteenth century and will keep me occupied for some time; hopefully by the time that’s finished, I’ll have the others happily placed!
ST: Thanks, Jen, for spending so much time with us. It’s been a great week and I’ve enjoyed learning more about you. The very best to you in the future and keep us posted on your new releases.
JB: Thanks for reading! I’ll do my best to keep in touch.