Tuesday 24 February 2015

The author in my spotlight is ...Josa Young

I am delighted to welcome



Published by Keyes Ink
December 2014

Josa ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for sharing your thoughts about the writing of
Sail Upon the Land.

Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Sail upon the Land ?

Thinking about what did or didn't happen in the Malabar Caves, in E M Forster's Passage to India.

What can you tell us about the story which will pique the reader's interest?

Sex is not a straightforward thing like a game of tennis for most women, it has consequences - although the media and much modern fiction would have you think it is just a bit of 'naughty fun'. I beg to differ. 

The women who came to visit my mind when I started writing Sail Upon the Land had different reactions to those consequences, and not all straightforward or rose tinted. 

Having children is no more or less emotionally devastating now than it has ever been, although physically it is less alarming due to medical advances. 

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they what you expected them to be? 

I never expect anything when I start writing. I have no control over my characters. When I have finished and go back to read what I have written, I am always startled by what they get up to. It is like opening a cupboard and finding clothes you have forgotten about, in which you had wonderful or dreadful experiences.

Which character in the story did you identify with the most?

None of them, but we can only write sincerely and in a believable way when we can emotionally understand what is happening to our characters, however different it might be from our own reactions to life.

Are you a plotter...or ...a start writing and see where it takes you, sort of writer?  

I feel extremely uncomfortable when I read about other writers with their flow charts, post it notes, excel spreadsheets and bits of useful software. I do simply write, and hope a first draft is a starting point. When concentrating, I hold the whole thing in my head - which is a leaky vessel at the best of times. It is probably hopeless as a technique and is the reason why I could never teach creative writing - the idea of technique is alien to me.

There are only a very few plots in the world so everything one writes falls into one of them. There is nothing left remarkable beneath the visiting moon perhaps. The only differentiating factor is the writer's 'voice' - if a reader enjoys that, then they will be carried through that writer's particular version of whichever plot or plots are before them.

We are all fascinated by our fellow humans, what they get up to. A good novel should reveal fresh things about our common humanity or reinforce things we have already thought. It should give rise to thoughts in the reader's mind that have NOT been thought by the author. 
For me, this is the most rewarding thing about writing fiction. When I read a review where the reader has shared a startling thought about what I have written that is absolute bliss.

Do you write the type of books you like to read and which authors influence you?

It was when I read books by Mary Wesley and Marika Cobbold years ago that I thought maybe I could join in. Wesley is not fashionable now - due for a revival I think.

What’s next ?

There are two books just coming to a simmer in my mind, not nearly developed enough for sharing yet.

Twitter @JosaYoung

Thank you for having me on your blog!

Josa ~ It was real pleasure to host this interview with you. jaffa and I wish you continued success and look forward to reading your next book before too long.


My thoughts about Sail Upon the Land

Sail upon the Land is a multi generational family saga which, with great perception and insight, spans over eighty years and allows the stories of four very different women to be heard. From crumbling stately mansions in middle England, to the neglected splendour of an abandoned Indian hill station, a story of a family in turmoil starts to unfold. And, as the all too complex relationship between mothers and their daughters is opened up to scrutiny, it shows just how tragically the bonds of motherhood can be eroded by secrets and lies. There’s heartbreak, tragedy, and despair but also a perceptive understanding of human nature which is beautifully observed, and so realistically evoked, that I had to remind myself, whilst reading, that this was indeed fiction and not fact.

Seamlessly moving between past and present, the author conjures a bygone time with ease and as the story flits between time frames, a picture emerges of lives ruined by secrets and overshadowed by hopelessness .There is no doubt that the author has a skill for storytelling and is able to layer the story so logically that everything becomes real in the imagination. I found that I had rather more sympathy for some characters over others, and there’s one in particular who holds a special place in my heart. I was quite sorry when the story came to its conclusion as I could have continued reading about this family forever.

Overall, I thought this was a fascinating story and I am so looking forward to seeing what this talented writer comes up with next.


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