She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic. In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.
Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angel, was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon, was published in Spellbound, in September 2011, Jamey and the Alien and Uncle Albert's Christmas were published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011 and Mantequero was published in December 2011 in the anthology Winter Wonders.
You can connect with Jenny online here:
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When I moved to Spain ten years ago, I was horrified to find out about the dreadful atrocities committed by both sides during the Spanish Civil War and the appalling cruelty perpetrated against the Spanish people under Franco's fascist dictatorship – which lasted from 1939 till his death in 1975.
I didn’t actually set out initially to write a novel about it. What happened was I wrote a short story and it grew. But as it grew I realized I had a lot to say.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I believe they are entirely from my imagination. They seem to create themselves. But I don't suppose anything anyone writes is entirely from imagination. You have to bring your real life experience to your stories.
I agree with your sentiments. What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?
I enjoyed researching the mantequero, for a short story of the same name in the Winter Wonders anthology. I knew about it from a reference in a book by Gerald Brennan – it's a Spanish version of a vampire, which sucks the fat from your bones. It seems there are real historical instances of people believing they are mantequeros, who actually did collect the fat from their victims. Ugh!
And right now I'm doing some research into Hindu religion and culture. If anyone is reading this who has first-hand knowledge, I'd really appreciate an email from you.
So, where do you go to do your research?
Google – usually Wikipedia. What a tremendous boon the internet has become. You can find out nearly anything.
The Internet is definitely a great tool for authors. How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
I think about it over a long period of time, not writing anything down, just keeping it in my head until the whole plot has developed. Then, when I have it all clear, I 'download' it. So far I have always done it that way and it works for me.
If I just write and do nothing else, I can do the first draft in a month. I have just discovered this from entering the National Novel Writing Month competition. But I found that really hard work. My natural speed is more like one book a year.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
Right now I'm going through the novel I wrote in such a hurry for NaNoWriMo and tidying it up. It's about an old lady who mysteriously begins to get younger.
Sounds like an intriguing story. Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
Write about what you know.
Avoid long paragraphs and purple prose.
Make sure your work is grammatically correct. It is simply not true that it's the story that matters and not the language. Nothing spoils a good story like bad grammar and careless editing. Your readers will notice and it will affect their ability to concentrate on the story.
Listen to criticism, but don't feel you must respond. Remember it's YOUR story, not theirs and you have the final say. If several people make the same criticism, maybe you need to address it.
When it comes to publication, don't give up. Remember Stephen King papered his wall with rejection slips when he was first starting out. And JK Rowlings DID give up and only had one last try when a friend persuaded her. The last try paid off.
I'm still learning about promoting. This is what I've found out so far.
It is word of mouth that makes a best seller, so the more people read your book and talk about it, the more chance you have of it making the big time.
So – join author groups – Yahoo has lots of them – and contribute to them.
Send your book for review to anywhere that seems appropriate.
Work with other authors and review their books in return for them reviewing yours.
Get all your friends to put reviews on Amazon.
And finally, do what I am doing now. Newspapers, magazines and internet sites are always looking for copy. They WANT to interview you. Contact them and ask.
Persistence pay off.
Very sound advice...thanks for sharing. How did you find your publisher? What was your journey to publication like?
I spent several years sending stories to magazines and getting them rejected or ignored and I had really given up hope of ever getting any published. It seemed there just wasn’t a market for the kind of stuff I like to write. I tried my hand at more middle-of-the-road romance, which is what the English magazines prefer, but they all have their existing stable of authors and aren’t really interested in looking at anyone else. Most didn’t bother to reply at all. Those who did were usually quite obviously using a form letter and clearly hadn’t read the work in question. I once, to my amazement, got quite a rude letter from a major magazine publisher which appeared to be criticizing an entirely different piece. The comments didn’t relate to my story at all. What amazed me was that they should be so unkind to people who submit stories to them. Surely many of these are their own readers. Do they really think it’s a good idea to insult them?
By this time the novel was nearing completion and I began sending it out to publishers and agents. I had higher hopes for the novel because it seemed to be a more commercially viable proposition.
During my research on publishers I had a very close shave with a vanity publisher which had disguised its true nature so cleverly that I was about to sign the contract when my husband, re-reading the small print, noticed it was ‘author-funded.’ I could have committed myself to paying £3,000 (about $5,000) to a publisher who would have had no interest whatsoever in marketing my book, since it had already been paid for printing it.
Then I discovered the site The Passionate Pen. If you are an author looking for a publisher, you really need to know about this site. It not only lists all the publishers who pay YOU (rather than the other way round), and all the reputable agents, but it also has a list of the ‘bad guys.’ Through this site, I found the wonderful publisher, Melange Books, then called Midnight Showcase.
I sent them the novel, but I noticed that they specialised in short stories, albeit with word counts considerably longer than mine. So I enquired whether they would look at shorter stories if there were enough for a whole book. They would and they accepted the anthology a few weeks later.
Thank you for letting us in on your writing journey. Perseverance really is key to finding success and following your dream.
When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones.
But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realise that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel.
This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.
The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.
Where can readers find your book online?
Purchase Link for Domingo's Angel
Jenny, I'm so glad you stopped by today to be interviewed. I enjoyed chatting with you and getting to know more about you and your work.
Readers, if you'd like to enter for a chance to win an eBook copy of Jenny's book, please comment on this blog post. Hope you all can stick around for a bit to chat!