On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo
I'd delighted to welcome author, Jennifer C. Wilson
☼Good Morning, Jennifer. Happy Sunday !
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today!
What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?
Since visiting Canada when I was 16, I have had a definite soft-spot for a cinnamon bun, with icing. Even now, if I see one somewhere, I have to go for it, and especially for a special occasion like a Sunday brunch.
Would you like a pot of English Breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?
As I have a celebratory cinnamon bun, it has to be the fizz!
Which of your literary heroes are joining us today?
I would absolutely love to sit down and chat historical fiction with Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, and Anne O’Brien. I love their writing, and in particular, their skill in bringing jeopardy and drama into stories that most of their readers surely already know the ending to. For example, when you find yourself reading about Anne Boleyn, and thinking that actually, perhaps Henry VIII IS going to let her leave the country or retire to a convent… Given that her execution is one of the most notorious tales in our royal history, that’s some skill!
What’s the title of the book nearest to you?
It’s currently My Good Life in France by Janine Marsh. I bought it for my parents, after having written a couple of articles for Janine’s website, and I’ve temporarily borrowed it back to read myself. I haven’t managed to start it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?
I have a beautiful old natural history book, which is just stunning.
Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet!
It’s terrible, but I’ve never read The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, despite being practically required reading for Ricardians. It’s reached the point where two lovely people have given me copies to read, so it’s definitely on the list for 2020…
Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it?
I’m a recent convert to the belief that there’s no such thing as a ‘guilty pleasure’, but if there was, then for me, it’s a soft-spot for the Horrible Histories books. I’m sure I’m not alone in having that feeling from time to time, when you want to be reading a book, but don’t have the mental capacity available to take in a new story? For those times, I love rereading my old Horrible Histories, especially ones which cover my historical passions, like Bloody Scotland and Dark Knights and Dingy Castles.
If the house was on fire which book would you rescue?
That’s so hard! I have a signed first edition of The Other Boleyn Girl, which would be near the top of my list, but honestly, the idea of any of them going up in smoke is horrible…
Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading/writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?
I’m a bit fussy when I’m writing; I need to have background noise, but can’t have anything that I’ll actually ‘listen’ to. It has to be music which flows over me, keeping any traffic sounds etc. out of my head. For that then, I tend to go back to my teenage years, and play all my old boyband albums, which I know inside out, so I can enjoy them, but almost not hear them, if I get engrossed in a piece.
I have been experimenting with playlists for my books though, so I can get myself in the right frame of mind. That’s been interesting, and for The Raided Heart, the main song was “The Dance” by Westlife. It really fits one of the scenes in the book, and so whenever I began writing or editing the story, I played that first, to get myself into the mood.
Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read/write?
I love doing ‘thinking writing’, like brainstorming, or first drafts of ideas, on trains! I like the feeling of not really being able to do anything else, so no distractions.
If I’m trying to actually get a lot of words down onto the page, then I have my desk in the spare room. My goal for 2020 is to make the area a lot more suited to writing; it currently feels a little bit of a dumping-ground.
For reading, I have a lovely uplighter in the living room, with an extension positioned just right to light a book when I curl up on the sofa, so that’s my favourite spot.
Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?
That’s tricky… I would go for:
Writing implements which make you happy. For me, that’s beautiful notebooks, and pens which remind me of people and/or places, but whatever it is for you, go with it.
What can you tell us about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?
The Raided Heart came out in November 2019, and it’s a project I’m so proud of. Here’s the blurb, to whet your appetite…
Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with. When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build. Both begin to realise they might have met their match, and the love of their lives, but 15th century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray. When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?
The first draft of this was the very first full-length piece of fiction I wrote, back when I was 13, and although it’s gone through a lot of revisions since then (including the addition of dialogue; in the 2009 draft, for NaNoWriMo, there was hardly a word spoken, as I was so nervous about getting it wrong!), it’s essentially the same plot. The action takes place during the time of the border reivers, a group I find fascinating, so it was great to get stuck into the research, as well as developing the story and characters
As for what’s next, I’m working on a collection of short stories, set in the Kindred Spirits world, following the ghosts of historical characters ‘living’ in contemporary settings. I’ve got about ten so far, and I’m really enjoying exploring some of my favourite historical sites.
About the Author
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she 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. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books, alongside a self-published timeslip novella.
She is also a co-founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers' Circle, and has hosted various events and workshops across the Tyneside area.