Today I am pleased to welcome Jennifer Wilson on to the blog with a quick interview! She’s come up with some intriguing answers!
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Apart from just being able to exist in the writing world itself, when it comes to the actual writing, I love being able to explore different times and places. Although the Kindred Spirits series has a contemporary setting, it still feels like I’m writing historical fiction because of the characters I work with. There’s nothing I like more than losing myself in a historical building for a couple of hours (a whole day, if given the chance), and if I cannot do that, then writing about them is the next best thing.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
I have to say Richard III. He’s the reason my books exist in the first place, for one thing. I had been trying to write about him for years, but never found my ‘way in’, until the idea of him and Anne Boleyn getting on quite well came to me. Finally, there was an idea I could work with, and once I put it all into the Tower of London for Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, everything fell into place. He’s since been the leading man in another of my books, my self-published timeslip romance The Last Plantagenet?, and makes an appearance in the third in the series too, Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey, which is due for release in summer.
I definitely think he’s a misunderstood monarch, and has history against him for too long.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Well, right now, on a grey Saturday afternoon in January, I have green tea, but I have to confess, I like a nice glass of red wine whilst working. I enjoy writing in pubs, but don’t do it that often, so I treat myself at home sometimes instead. Not on a school-night though, obviously!
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Distraction, if it’s not going well… So many times, I’ve set aside a whole weekend to write, bought in lovely food which needs no prep time, and cleared my diary / to-do list, so I have absolutely no excuses. And then? The first moment I struggle with something, I find a new pile of papers to tidy, suddenly need to sort my sock-drawer, or remember that I really need to check something in a book, which then, of course, leads to a two-hour reading session. I’m a bit of a flutterer at times, and annoyingly, this is at its worst when I technically have all day to focus on my writing.
What’s more annoying though, is that I’ve never been one of those people who gets so engrossed in their work that they forget to eat. That would be handy problem to have once in a while!
How do you research your books?
Wherever possible, I like to visit the places I’m writing about. Last summer, I headed to London for the weekend and spent all day, the full 0930 to 1800, in Westminster Abbey (including attending a beautiful Evensong service), only leaving the building itself once, to explore the gift-shop. Having all that time, firstly paying attention, and then just wandering about, really gave me a sense of the place, and its atmosphere.
You can do so much research via books, or online, these days, but I think an actual visit is important for practicalities. For example, I had written around 15,000 words before I visited, including a scene about Anne of Cleves’ tomb, but when I got there, I realised you cannot quite see what I had thought you could, from the map, so I had to rewrite the whole scene. Luckily, not a problem when caught early, but the thought of somebody sitting there and spotting huge errors like that terrifies me.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A little bit of both, I think. I start as a pantser, writing a bit chaotically, and then putting a plan in place once I’ve got around 20-30,000 words written. But this is something I’m trying to change. I don’t cope particularly well with stress, yet I realised I was making things more difficult for myself doing it the way I was doing it, so this year, I am attempting to become a planner. I’ve had lots of advice from writing friends, and am currently experimenting with the snowflake method. I’m hoping it works, and eases things, rather than accidentally adding more stress when the plan starts to unravel.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
This is really difficult, given that I mainly read historical fiction, which, technically, is a factual world, not fictional. However, given that none of us have been to a medieval or Tudor court, and all interpret things in their own way, even the most meticulously-researched book must, logically, be a fictional world. For a start, lots of historical fiction novels don’t tackle the simple fact that the court must have, on warm days especially, not been the most fragrant of places to live!
On that theory then, I’ll go for the historical fiction version of the medieval court. Ideally a Ricardian one.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Going on the same theory as above, I could go for my own version of Richard III, but I suspect that would be verging on cheating.
The sensible side of me says I should go for James Bond, because, even if his antics got you into bother, at least he would be able to get you out of it again!
About the Author
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside.
Jennifer’s debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website. Her timeslip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? Is available for download from Amazon.