Stepping off the magic carpet today is a new friend and colleague, Jennifer Wilson. Welcome! What would you like to drink?
Are we being virtuous, or a little bit naughty? I’d love a green tea, or a glass of merlot, if you have it, whether the former or the latter!
We keep an extensive cellar and Cameron has produced all kinds of home made cake, jam, bikkies etc – choice?
You know, when I was younger, I was all about chocolate options, but recently, I’ve gone more traditional, so I’d love a nice Victoria sponge, if you have it? Especially if it’s home-made; they always taste better.
His cake, my home made jam. Let’s start with your books – do you write under just one name or several? How many genres do you cover? How much have you had published including anthologies etc?
My debut novel was released by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015, and I have to be honest, it had to be under my own name. Having a novel published has been my dream for so long, there’s no way I’d be letting another name take my glory! Having said that, I found an exercise online once, to establish your “chick lit name” – I don’t entirely agree with the pigeon-holing of certain writing, but I did like the name. Apparently, I should be “Claire Guildford”.
So I have just the one novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London which is a quasi-historical fiction novel, following the ‘lives’ of the ghosts who are resident within the Tower, including Richard III, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey. I really enjoyed writing it, largely because I am slightly obsessed with Richard III – I was even lucky enough to get a place in Leicester Cathedral for part of his funeral services in March 2015, which was an incredible experience. How many people get to attend the funeral of their leading man? Especially in historical fiction! As we were leaving the Cathedral, we all filtered past the coffin, and the lady I’d been sat next to, and got chatting to, noticed people were getting their photos taken with the coffin, even Cathedral staff! Well, it was too great an opportunity to miss… At least it wasn’t a selfie!
How long have you been writing professionally? I imagine that, like all of us, you wrote all your life before “turning pro”.
You’re right, Ailsa, I’ve been writing, or at least making up stories, since I was little. I was read to a lot, and both my Grandad and Dad made up my bedtime stories too, which really got my imagination going. I didn’t write anything at all during university, but after graduating, I moved to Northumberland for my first job, and finally had some free time! I signed up for a creative writing course as part of the adult education scheme, and haven’t looked back. It really got me into my writing workshops, I met some great friends, and after having had some success, it clearly made me a better writer too!
What was your first published work? Short story, magazine article, poem?
Through some workshops, we published some small pamphlets, around certain subjects or events, like UN Day, but my first real publication success was having “Feline Feelings” published in Issue 5 of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine earlier this year [Available to download here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/samantha-rose/peeking-cat-poetry-magazine-issue-5/ebook/product-22136180.html, or buy here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/samantha-rose/peeking-cat-poetry-magazine-issue-5/paperback/product-22136147.html]. I love cats Piston looks adorable – can I have a cuddle during the interview?
Sure that’s just what he was waiting for. He is a real lap-cat.
Where was I? Oh yes,;;;;and so having a poem about cats published, it was fabulous! Having had my debut novel accepted by Crooked Cat Publishing, perhaps this is a sign – I should stick with the cats!
What are your ambitions / hopes for your writing career?
Simply answering questions about my “writing career” is a massive, massive thing for me! I would love to carry on with things, and I am currently working on what I see as part of the ‘Kindred Spirits’ series, or world, taking the same concept and moving it to a new location, but we’ll have to see what happens there. I also want to try my hand at some true historical fiction, and have a couple of ideas which keep clawing at my mind. I woke up a couple of months ago with an idea absolutely fully-formed in my head, but unfortunately, since starting (and reaching 5,000 words!), I’ve now found two other published novels which follow the exact same thread, same characters, the lot. I’m in two minds whether to go ahead and write it anyway, as it’s a story I love, or leave it and focus on something else.
Whatever happens, this year I’ve had a complete rejuvenation, and a massive motivational boost, and just love spending time thinking about new writing challenges.
Now on to you, the author. Where do you live and with whom? Describe a perfect day at home for me. (Where else have you lived?)
I live on my own in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, and I love it. I used to visit Tyneside so much as a child, that to now be living here still amuses. I was born and bred in Darlington, studied in Hull, and then spent a few years living and working in Hexham before coming out to the coast, so I’ve not moved around that much, but am quite happy with where I’m settled.
My perfect day would be a Sunday, having a lazy lie-in, and then after breakfast getting the Metro along to Tynemouth Market – it’s a great market, full of trinkets and goodies. Then, I’d walk home along the seafront, and spend the afternoon either writing or making jewellery, depending on how the mood took me.
Do you have a “day job”?
I do. I’m a marine biologist by training, and have worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating with my MSc back in 2007. I get to work on a range of projects, do a bit of survey work, and am currently learning some project management skills, so it’s a nice, varied role.
Outside of writing and any other work, what is your main passion (greatest pleasures?)
I love making jewellery. I’ve always been a bit of a jewellery addict, and made my first piece for a friend’s wedding, to go with my bridesmaid dress, and after that, I was hooked. I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like, but I have a huge stash of gemstones and findings that I go and play with whenever I get the opportunity, designing pieces for specific outfits or events. I made myself a set to wear to Richard III’s funeral, for example – I like my jewellery to have stories behind each piece, whether it’s a memory of the person who gave me it, where I bought it, or having made / worn it for a particular, special event. These days, I don’t always get to do it as much as I’d like, but I enjoy learning new tools, like chain maille etc.
Agreed – I am a jewellery fiend but a bit of a magpie. I collect broken bits to use as embellishment on my knitted creatures etc. So, tell me two or three interesting facts about you that I haven’t asked.
I never know what counts as interesting…
I love music and musicals, and my speciality round in any pub quiz has always been the Intro Round. I’m still a bit addicted to my nineties boybands, especially Boyzone and Westlife, and love attending their concerts. My friend and I went up to Edinburgh to see Boyzone in the Castle this summer, which was amazing. I’m also a massive Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat fan – I must have seen it ~25 times by now.
Wow – that’s more than I’ve seen the Rocky Horror Show and that’s going some!
I’m a passionate fan of killer whales, and have been adopting ‘Holly’ for over 21 years. They’re one of my favourite animals, and one of my most exciting times has been seeing them in the wild off Vancouver Island.
Finally and most importantly – Bio and links please.
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant 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 work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online.
Amazon world -wide link for novel http://authl.it/B016TRKU2A – Thank you for this one – it’s so nice having a short, snappy link to use in Tweets etc.…
You are very welcome. I always share useful stuff when I find it.
Blurb for Kindred Spirits:
A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave? But foremost – will the young Plantagenet Princes join them?
Thanks so much for coming over, Jennifer. Hop back on the carpet and make sure your coat is done up – it gets a bit nippy up there. Cameron is making you a picnic bag to stop you getting peckish on the way home. Byeeeeeeee – come back soon.