I am pleased to welcome, author, Jane Richardson to the “Getting to know the author”, slot.
What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
I write contemporary fiction – well, either contemporary or very recent history. I didn’t consciously choose it, though – it’s just always seemed the most natural thing for me. I guess it feels most comfortable to me to be able to relate to the ‘now,’ and helps me see know how my characters react to that. Having said that, I mentioned very recent history because I’m working on a story partly set in WWII Sussex.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Not really. If I have an idea, I’ll get it down in outline as much as I can, so I’ve got quite a few of those waiting in the wings! But when it comes to the actual writing, I’m happiest becoming immersed in one story.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
Not a group – I’m not one for groups! But I have a couple of critique partners/writing friends that I’ll work with, and I couldn’t do without them – they’re pure gold!
Can you remember your first reading book?
My first ever school reading book would have been ‘Tip and Mitten.’ ‘Good dog, Tip,’ and all that. But the first reading book I remember becoming completely absorbed in would have been ‘Alice In Wonderland.’ I remember being fascinated by that story, being in Alice’s shoes and being there with her while she met all these wild and whacky characters and found herself in absurd situations. I still am fascinated by it, actually!
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
I’m not a nibbler, but if I get the (rare!) chance to be at the computer first thing, I’ll take my morning coffee with me, made by my husband. It’s a daily tradition with us – Lavazza or Illy coffee beans, freshly ground, and hot, frothy milk! It’s the only cup of coffee I have in the day, and it’s my kick-start. If I’m writing in the evening, I make myself work until I think I deserve my treat – a lovely, cold glass of Italian white wine! – and I’ll finish off what I’m writing while drinking that. Yum!
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
It’s mayhem, but lovely mayhem! My desk is a small wooden one I fell in love with years ago in a local antique shop. It’s not at all valuable, it’s just sweet and pretty, a real ‘lady’s desk,’ and it’s where I do all my household on-line stuff like ordering shopping and paying bills. It’s also where my home-educated daughter and I work every day on her maths, history or Shakespeare studies. Either side of it is piled high with notebooks, paperwork and study notes, and right now I’m also looking at a recipe book, a fabric tape measure, a parcel containing a jacket that I’m sending back to the shop, some sheets of craft felt, a roll of quarter-inch elastic, and a packet of raffia! There’s also a phone with the ringer switched off, so I can phone out if I have to, but that I never have to answer. But I also have a little Spitfire plane model that my son made for me, a cute little plastic dog model my daughter gave me, and a ceramic pen pot painted with a little bird that I bought in Deruta, Italy. On the wall above is a print of two very modern mermaids by a local artist, Claire Fletcher, whose work I love, and a photo of my late parents in their ‘going away’ outfits after their wedding. My desk is often many things to many people, but it’s mostly my little space, and I love it!
Ha, sounds like mine, it’s not a cute desk, though. How lovely!
Are you published in the traditional manner or self published? Share your journey.
I’m published by a small publisher, Muse It Up Publishing, and I love them to bits. They’re only the second publishers I’ve ever been with, and I’m really happy with them. Some people advise branching out and spreading your work around different places, but you know, I love being where I am. Self-publishing has come on so much, and I’m genuinely in awe of the writers who are doing it – the writing is one thing, but doing all the other work that goes with it, like getting a great cover, and then all the formatting and technical stuff that needs to be done – it’s fabulous, and I raise my hat. I couldn’t do it half so well. There’s one main reason I couldn’t self-publish, though. Two words – Anne Duguid. She’s my editor at Muse It Up, and she’ll probably cyber-thump me for mentioning her, but she’s quite brilliant and really has made my stories shine far, far more than I could ever do myself. Don’t ever underestimate what a good editor can do for your writing. I really couldn’t do without that input at all.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Just three? Okay, I’ll try to narrow it down!
The writer I’ve loved more than any other is the Canadian writer, Alice Munro. I first found one of her short story collections in an Edinburgh bookshop a long time ago, I’m talking thirty years ago, and I have loved and adored her work ever since. There’s just something about her descriptions of people and emotions that is extraordinarily perfect. I’d give my eye teeth to be able to write the way she does. But I never will.
I don’t recall her books … trots off in search
I’d also have to say, Norah Ephron. Her screenplays are so, so good, and I know they’re really familiar to so many people, but I love her essays and articles too. She too just has a turn of phrase, a wink, a ‘yes, you know what I mean,’ that makes you feel you’re sitting at a table with her, listening to her experiences, and she’s just as interested in your experiences, too.
Yes, yes, and yes!
For my third choice, I’m going to pick a lady called Nella Last. She was never published in her lifetime, mainly because I don’t think she ever had the chance to write the stories that were definitely inside her, but after her death, her WWII diaries were published. She began to write them as part of a project begun in the UK during WWII called Mass Observation. People from all walks of life were encouraged to record their daily lives in all their detail, and then send their diaries to the MO organisation to be kept for the future – for us. When she began to do this, it was really the first time Nellla had allowed herself to write so freely, and her diaries are wonderful, poignant, often funny, and sometimes heartbreaking. We share her hopes, her fears and her fury at the situation she’s in, not only because she lived through such a difficult time, but because the particular way she wrote about it connects with something quite fundamental in all of us, especially women. Readers in the UK will probably know a TV dramatisation of the diaries called, ‘Housewife, 49,’ but if you haven’t’ read the books, I’d urge you to go and read them right now. They evoke a place and a time, but so much of Nella’s writing is both timeless and universal.
Ooh, I must find the diaries!
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript.
Find yourself a really good critique partner, not just one who will tell you everything that’s right with your manuscript, but also what’s wrong with it – and listen to them! You are far too close to your ‘baby’ to see what needs to be fixed, so don’t think you always know better – you truly don’t. Having said that, if you really feel right down in your heart of hearts that something is right and shouldn’t be changed, then hang on to it – but be quite sure of it.
Look out for things like repeated words, and look out for clichés – they can sneak in so easily, especially if we’re writing quickly, and there are far too many ‘defiant chins’ and ‘ruby liquids’ in this world already!
Just do the very best you can do – and then go back over it, and see what you can do better.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
I really don’t know! If I think of one actor or actress who seems right, I inevitably think next about all the things that would be wrong with them! That’s a really hard question, plus it’s never going to happen – okay, never say never! – but I would think a writer would have to put all her own feelings aside and just trust the director and the casting director to get it right. I’ve seen lots of movies-from-books where the casting has been bang-on perfect, and yet many where it’s seemed so wrong to me, so who knows! It’s very personal.
I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
Okay, how about an ‘I was walking the dog’ tale…..?
A couple of years ago, I was walking the dog on our local beach, when I saw something in the distance that looked like a giant balloon. I mean, giant – about twenty feet or more in diameter, just sitting there on the beach. I thought perhaps it was something off a boat that had somehow come loose and washed ashore. After a few moments, the wind caught the thing and turned it towards where I was standing beside my somewhat confused dog – and it was a giant eyeball! You can imagine, the dog and I got off the beach pretty quick!
Anyway, months later, I was watching TV, when guess what appeared – yep, the giant eyeball, capering about on our local beach, exactly as I’d seen it! It turned to be the logo for a TV channel called Watch, and what I’d seen was a production company filming one of a series of advertisements for them, consisting of this enormous eyeball appearing in different locations over the UK. Mystery solved!
I’ve since discovered that this particular stretch of beach has been used for filming many times, it’s a popular location. Part of David Bowie’s famous ‘Ashes to Ashes’ video was filmed there. If I’d known that before, I may have not been quite so freaked out by my sighting of that enormous eyeball! So there you go, that’s my boring even that turned out to be maybe not so boring after all!
Wow, a giant eyeball, in red? How did you ever sleep again? Thanks for a great story share!
Thanks so much for having me over to your blog, Glynis, it’s been great fun!
Thrilled to have you, Jane.
Jane Richardson writes contemporary, romance-filled stories to make you giggle, to make you weep a little, to make you think a bit, and ultimately to say, wow, that was a great story!
She is published with Muse It Up publications, and her stories there are A Different Kind of Honesty, http://tinyurl.com/qbwq9ow , ‘an absolutely brilliant debut novel,’ and Edinburgh Fog, http://tinyurl.com/84w6jsf , a short story set against a set against a beautiful European backdrop…that will warm your heart on a cold night.’
You can visit Jane at her blog http://janerichardsonhome.blogspot.co.uk/, where you can also click on her book covers to treat yourself to some fun excerpts!