Name Jane Lark
Age Oh, should I knock a year or two off, let’s just say, on the other side of forty
Where are you from
Most of my life has been spent living around Wiltshire in the UK, but I was born near Nottingham.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect
I’m married, and have a nineteen year old daughter who’s studying media at University, but I also have three step-children, two daughters and a son, all grown up with their own families, as my husband has a decade on me, and through them I have nine grandchildren.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
On the 5th December I am venturing out of writing in historical periods, and publishing a New Adult story, called I Found You, about two young people who meet up in New York on a cold winter night. But don’t worry, my popular Regency stories are continuing too.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Writing has always been a part of me, but I actually started writing with a determination to finish a novel when I was about thirty-five. I’d put it on my To-do-before-I-reach-forty list. I wanted to stop saying to people “I’ve always wanted to write a book”, so figured I just had to knuckle down and write one.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess I always have been, I didn’t pick writing – writing picked me. At the age of eight a teacher told me I’d write a book, when she read a story I’d written about giant crabs taking over the world. My English teacher at secondary school commented on my ability as a wordsmith too after I left school. But it wasn’t just the putting words on the page, I have always been a dreadful daydreamer, I’ve always carried stories around in my head even when I wasn’t putting them on paper, and I used to tell my daughter some really silly ones when she was little. Writing my first novel was just making what I already knew about myself official.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Reading. The first book I started writing was actually when I was sixteen but I didn’t finish it. Anya Seton was my favorite author and her amazing historical novels pulled me into history and romance, and so I sat down to write a Roman based story about a couple who travelled from Rome to England.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
The things I think will carry through both my Regency Romance stories and my New Adult stories are – I will drop you (the reader) into a point that will pull you into the story immediately, and I will continue to write intense and passionate relationships, as those are the stories which move me most, and some will be dark. Do not expect a rom-com that’s not my style.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I Found You, well it’s the start of the story, as Jason literally finds Rachel on a bridge at the beginning of the story, I can’t say any more than that otherwise it would spoil the book, but there are more things they both find in themselves.
The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, is literal too, as it’s the story of a courtesan who falls in love, and the second Regency period romance The Passionate Love of a Rake, again, Robert is a Rake, and is he’s a proper Regency Rake, he knows his way around a bedroom, hence the passionate 😀
But I think literal headings are better, because people then know what they are going to get in the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is in I Found You, but I can’t tell you what it is, as it would completely spoil a plot twist, but it is all around trying to develop acceptance for people who aren’t the stereotypical type… I guess I am challenging the reader to try to think like someone who is nothing like them.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I hope all my books are 98% realistic, I try really hard to build plots which are set in environments that are real, and characters who have a personality that may not be stereotypical but is real. Even my villains, their characters can be found in real life, but they are the ones I struggle with. In reality there are not that many villains, but to build stories you have to have a lot more than you would in normal life, so you do slip into unreal in that way. But it’s exactly the same in any drama, look at the soaps and how many murders and robberies etc they have in a village or one area of a town. To make a story impactful and enjoyable you have to sometimes take things to the edge of reality.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think there is a bit of the writer in every book. It’s hard to avoid, because it’s coming from my subconscious and all the experiences I’ve had in life, and I have had quite a few, and the emotions I’ve travelled through are what I call upon to write. The stories in my books are obviously imagination though, but that imagination is woven around other snippets of fact. In the Regency Romance stories I use events I’ve read about in memoirs and letters to build my own fiction on, and in the modern stories, I do the same, but from events that I’ve known, or heard about, now or in the past.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?
Anya Seaton’s, Katherine. I loved that story so much, she really stirred up my imagination and I have been fanatical about history ever since. She was the one who made me want to write my own historical books.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Rachel Brimble who writes for Harelequin and Kensington has given me some really good support in the last three years. Her feedback really helped me hone down my writing voice to what it is now.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Falling – the first in the Angels among us series by Linn B Halton
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Charlotte Phillips, who even in a Novella can really pull you into a story, Louise Douglas who writes really intense stories and I am also reading a lot of New Adults to build up my knowledge of the genre, so I’ve discovered J Lynn, J Redmerski, Jay Crownover, Molly McAdams.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’ve just finished writing the prequel to The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, which I hope will be out in March, after the third book which should be out in February, and while I am editing that, I am now writing a New Adult novella about two of the characters who appear in I Found You.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My friends who I named at the front of the first edition of The Illicit Love of a Courtesan have been so valuable, at times when I’ve felt that I would never succeed in being published, they would spur me on and tell me how much they’d enjoyed reading my work, and that I really had to keep trying.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I wish. Yes, I do, absolutely, but to make it a full time living when there’s a mortgage and other bills to be paid you need to be in the position that you are selling a consistent amount, as I am still in my first year on the market, I am a way away from that yet – but working towards it with all my heart – at the moment I’d define it more as a life commitment than a career J
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, you get feedback that readers would change a little bit here or there, but that feedback varies because everyone is different, I’ll never please 100% of people. So I think first and foremost, I have to write for myself, and there will always be readers who do absolutely love it.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I said before, writing picked me. I don’t really remember ever not being a storyteller. From the moment I can remember thinking, my mind was making up stories to tell.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I Found You – excerpt
The beat of the music pounded through my earphones, drowning out the loud rattle of the subway trains. I was in the zone. My heart was racing, my feet striking the pavement with the rhythm of the baseline, as I ran.
The monotony of city life swamped me in the day, but running brought me back from it at night.
God, I missed home, and fuck it was cold.
Too cold to snow. I heard the words Dad always repeated. I’d always thought it a myth. Was it ever too cold to snow? I didn’t know, but people had been saying it all day.
The pavement was dry, not icy. Dry with cold. There was no moisture in the air, only the cloud of my breath, as my lungs filled and then exhaled with the pace of my strides.
Maybe it was true. God, there were so many myths in the world. Like, New York was the place to be. It still felt like new shoes to me, like it just didn’t fit.
The tarmac felt firm beneath my sneakers.
I looked forward, trying to increase my pace and energy, burning away the doubts and disappointments I’d felt since I came to the city.
At the end of the bridge there was a figure, caught in the middle of a beam of orange lamplight, like some illuminated angel. I generally only saw other guys jogging on the bridge path. It was rare to see anyone else.
It was Thanksgiving in little over a week and Christmas in a few weeks. Lindy was pissed I wasn’t going back home, but she’d made up her mind to come to me for Christmas.
Was that good or bad?
The figure was facing the Brooklyn Bridge, probably looking at the reflection of the lights glinting and shifting on the dark water. It was mesmerizing when you focused on it.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I find writing fight scenes most difficult. It is one of those things I pull completely from imagination and that’s probably why. It tends to take me several drafts to get them to a point I’m happy with them.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ve mentioned Anya Seton twice already, so I suppose you’ve probably worked out it is her. She had a fabulous ability to craft a fictional story in a very realistic setting. So when people come up to me, or contact me via Facebook and say how much they’ve enjoyed one of my stories and comment on how well it was written and how involved they became in it, then I am really proud.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not too much, because I have to take time off from my day job so I’m using holiday time. But I went over the RT Booklovers convention in Kansas City, USA, for the launch of my debut novel, and I am going back next year as it’s in New Orleans so I can’t resist. I’m taking my husband with me this time though. I also travelled up to Bedford in the UK for my first Festival of Romance and did a reading from my historical story in Regency costume, on the Friday evening.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Alexandra Allden the cover designer for Harper Collins in the UK. I am thrilled with my covers, Alex is a very clever lady.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing is frustrating, a necessary part, but it takes so long. I write very quickly, I can write more than 1000 words an hour on a good day, but that means that the words do not pour out perfect, so I have to go back through a story about ten times to pull out typos and structure the story to the final quality I want. But you have to keep leaving it for days between because when you’ve written it, you can’t really see what needs changing, your head is still reading what you’ve pictured rather than the actually words. Then at other times you get so caught up in getting the words right you lose the story. Editing is a chore; writing is a joy.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I didn’t learn anything from the historical stories really, as the story comes from my research, but I Found You is the opposite of that, I thought of the story and chose to set it in New York, so then researched, I’ve learned an awful lot about New York and Oregon where Jason, the lead male character lives and grew up, and only because I wrote this book.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, two things, if you want to write, don’t put it off and wait for that perfect moment, just start writing, and the other is to really take the time to know your character before you begin, know them as a person. What’s their personality? What are their motives for doing things? They need to be realistic or you won’t draw your reader into the heart of the story.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only a huge, thank you, for your support. I cannot tell you how rewarding it is for an author to know their work is enjoyed, that’s the best part of writing for me; that all my imaginary characters now get to live not just in my head but in other peoples.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies
I have very little time for hobbies, but my husband does occasionally break me away from the laptop and take me out, and when we go out it’s to visit historic houses and castles, I do love soaking myself in history, and that quite often helps generate new writing ideas, the story in my second historical novel, The Passionate Love of a Rake, spun out of a sunny day visiting Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
All sorts, The Paradise, Downton Abbey, Game of Throwns, True Blood, Time Team I was really sorry to lose off the TV last year, and films well any period drama of rom com are my tops.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Prawns, currently a toss of a coin between orange and yellow and One Republic are my current favourites
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
What I am doing in my day job I enjoy which is Personnel Management, I passed my Masters Degree a couple of years back so I am now accredited with the letters after my name MCIPD and I work in employee engagement and well-being. I use my knowledge of psychology to help me write better too.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website is www.janelark.co.uk and I write a history blog which tells the true stories my fictional ones spin out of http://janelark.wordpress.com/ and I also write personal stories on another blog to support my New Adult books http://tipsreviewsandlittletruths.wordpress.com/