***Welcome to my blog and thank you for letting me interview you***
I met you on twitter over a year ago and have been entertained by your tweets and blog posts ever since. And you love cake - need I say more... :0)
You also welcomed me on to your Pink sofa months ago… thank you!
I have read “Jigsaw Pieces” and was intrigued by the concept.
I have to admit that, even though I enjoyed it, it was not a book I would normally read, mainly because I could personally not relate to the main character. However, I can see why this is a book many would enjoy, as put so well by one of your latest reviewers…
5 stars – Review via Amazon by Lyndell Davey
“Not until I was half way through this book did I realise it was classified as Young Adult Fiction. Well, I'm not exactly a "young adult" but nonetheless it had me mesmerised. To me it is simply a novel for any age which happens to have a teenager as its heroine and more than deserves a place alongside similar classics such as `Stand by Me' and `To Kill a Mockingbird'. Carol Hedges is a teacher herself and her command of the subject shines through in the painful authenticity of the urban comprehensive in which much of the action takes place - right down to the smell of sweaty trainers in the sports block - and of the savage world of teenagers seen through the eyes of Annie - an outsider by virtue not only of being Norwegian but also of being more mature, more sensitive, more thoughtful and more perceptive than most of her peers.
Annie is by no means an adult narrator in teenage clothes, however; she is every inch a teenager - touchy, confrontational, worried about her figure, contemptuous of the herd yet secretly wishing, at times, that she could be part of it. The story moves along at a cracking pace, carried not only by Annie's ebullient personality and dry, comical observations of the world around her but by the intriguing and seemingly unconnected threads in the plot - the murky circumstances surrounding the suicide of one of her classmates, her passion for a long dead First World War poet and her friendship with a traumatised centenarian war veteran eking out his final years in a retirement home.
These threads are drawn deftly together in the profound and deeply moving conclusion, binding the centuries and proving that the beautiful and the ugly in human nature remain unchanged.
Do not be put off by the Young Adult label - this is a novel for everyone and a stunning novel it is too.”
Do you get a kick out of this kind of reader feedback? How do you deal with reviews that are critical?
I have a funny policy about reviews - developed when I wrote the Spy Girl books, and a rival author got readers to post negative comments (yes, it happens). So, I will check them and summarily read what is said...and if it is one where the reviewer has clearly taken time to write it, and has thought carefully about the book and their reaction to it, I thank back. Other than that, I regard reviews as being for future readers... and at the end of the day, good or bad, they are still only one person's opinion.
Where do you find inspiration from for your characters? Which character is your favourite, and why?
Characters come from real life, in my head, a book I may have read...it all goes into a melting pot. I think one of the characters I liked was Annie in Jigsaw Pieces - she was partly based on a Year 11 girl I taught, but a lot upon me!!
What is the most satisfying thing about being a teacher? Do you try to “teach” readers via your writing?
Sadly, I no longer teach - I am 63 and too old for the classroom.... but I used to encourage students to write as recreation, beyond the dreaded syllabus.
Do you think social media is important? Your blog is fantastic. If so, how do you prioritise your time?
You CANNOT be a successful Indie writer now without using social media! I have been blogging/using Facebook and Twitter for 2 years and I love it - not for promoting my book, but for the chat and fun. The blog, which I started after a frustratingly long period of not being published, is part of this. I post a new blog every Saturday morning at 8.am. I usually start the next blog on the Sunday after. It's good practice at meeting deadlines - another thing all writers have to deal with. Sadly, I spend far too much time on Twitter/Facebook!!
I know you have had an agent. Can you explain the process of getting one, and what it was like?
I got an agent via a fellow author's recommendation - but I had already had 3 books published before I did. Initially, it seemed a great idea...in hindsight, it wasn't. My agent only placed one book...and we parted on bad terms due to her criticism of my writing and my feeling that I was not being prioritized. It should be remembered that agents also take 10% of your royalties....so this needs to be factored into a decisions to get one. And you are not free to submit to any publisher on your own behalf.
What is the most important thing you have learnt, as an author, since you published your first book?
That I can write. Most of the time, I sit and stare at the screen feeling that I am writing dross. I have to remind myself that 12 books on, I can do it. I really can!
Which of your books did you enjoy writing the most, and why?
I loved writing the latest book: Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian MurderMystery ... it was based on my favourite period in history, and I had fun referencing and playing with the contemporary novels. I had never written a full length adult novel before, so relished the challenge.
Do you have a favourite author or genre? Did anyone inspire you to start writing?
I love crime fiction... (what a surprise!) whether it is Ian Rankin, the Scandi authors, or Conan Doyle. I think I was inspired to write by an inspirational English teacher at Secondary school, who encouraged me. Isn't that often the route?
Thanks for joining me...
Vanessa :) xx