Name Deborah Jay
Age Old enough
Where are you from The UK near London, and the Scottish Highlands when I can spare the time.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc I have a Life Sciences degree, with a special interest in genetic engineering, though my knowledge is way out of date. In between graduating and the start of a planned PhD, I worked as a horse riding instructor, and somehow never came out of that industry.
Nowadays, I am a freelance dressage trainer, with clients all over the country up to International level. I have represented the UK myself, and currently compete and judge on the national circuit. Being self-employed has the advantage of setting my own hours, although there are never enough of those to go around!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m nearing the end of writing the second novel in my epic fantasy series, The Five Kingdoms. The first one goes by the tagline of ‘Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’, which allowed me to combine my love of spy stories with a fantasy setting.
I also just published a short story (Sprite Night) in my urban fantasy Caledonian Sprite Series, in which I explore environmental issues combined with action and dashes of both humor and pathos, set against the awesome backdrop of the magical Scottish Highlands.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began my first novel before I was 10 years old. It never got finished because I was distracted by the fun of producing my own comic book, complete with terrible drawings (I’m no artist). My first serious attempt at writing a novel was at University, and that became what I consider my apprentice piece – a 200,000 word science fiction opus that wasn’t of publishable quality, but was my first completed novel.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer, since that early start, but I began to believe I could really produce something worthwhile when my third book won a UK Arts Board Award which sent me on a residential writing course, and the tutors there took me seriously.
I also had encouragement from the much-missed prolific fantasy author David Gemmell. I attended a writing conference where he was taking a workshop, and he critiqued a piece of work I’d submitted. We corresponded for a while afterward during which time he gave me both advice and encouragement.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I started my first book (as an adult) after watching a particularly stirring episode of the sci-fi series ‘Blake’s Seven’ (yes, that does age me) in the university common room. I went back to my digs bursting with the desire to produce something as creative, and voila, my first novel began.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not really. I’ve sold a lot of non-fiction articles to magazines, and learned early on that you must study each publication’s style and produce just that, if you wish to sell to them. As a result, I’ve written in many differing styles, and for my fiction I do similarly: my epic fantasies use very different language choices to my urban fantasies, each in line with reader expectations of the sub-genres. That doesn’t mean to say I copy other authors, but I like to think of my prose more as invisible, with stand-out characters and dialogue as the prominent features.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’m a huge lover of double meanings, and ‘The Prince’s Man’ refers to a character who turns out to be just that, but in more ways than one. More information would spoil the surprise.
‘Desprite Measures’ is homage to my love of puns, with other ‘spritely’ titles already planned for future additions to the series.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In Desprite Measures, definitely. I chose the character of a water sprite – a creature of nature – to highlight environmental issues that we are all facing right now, and I hope it will give people cause to think about the health of the planet even as they read the story.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The settings! Desprite Measures is set in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and the text has active links embedded so those with appropriate E-readers can click on the links and see photographs and information about the locations where the story takes place.
The environmental concerns addressed are also sadly all too realistic.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Both, though I wouldn’t want to admit which.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’d say the first adult SF novel I read – Dune by Frank Herbert, which opened my mind to the incredible possibilities of the genre, and my first fantasy, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, with its amazing depth of character development, which began my (amateur) interest in psychology – an interest I apply both in the characters I write in my own novels, and my day job, in the form of applied sports psychology in my coaching.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Wickedly Wonderful, by Deborah Blake. It’s the second in her Baba Yaga series, and I’ve enjoyed her fiction from the moment I found it, back when she was still an indie author.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Far too many to mention! I keep reading indie published books, so they are all new authors to me. My favorite so far is Kaitlyn Davis.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m just drawing the second of my Five Kingdoms novels to a close, and I’m in the planning stages for the novella that runs concurrent to that. I also have a couple of short stories in mind to write, one in each of my series.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The writer’s group I belong to – we meet once a month and critique a couple of pieces of work, so there is time enough between your ‘turn’ coming around to get some writing done! There are around 7 or 8 of us most of the time, though numbers vary a little as members come and go. Some of us have been there since it began, back in the 1980s, and we are all now published in one form or another.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Not for me, at least, not full time. I’m too accustomed to leading a physically active life and I love my day job. I do see writing taking up a larger chunk of my time as I get older and don’t want to be out in all weathers all of the time, but I can’t see myself ever being totally desk-bound, unless I’m incapacitated by accident or illness.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nothing springs to mind.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been an avid reader from as early as I can remember, and it just seemed natural to want to write stuff that I’d like to read. It never occurred to me not to write.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Yes, but of course it is a work in progress, so the finished article may be different after editing.
From Usurper’s Legacy, the sequel to The Prince’s Man.
“So what’s to be seen?” asked Enya after she had settled herself on the footboard, leaning against Julin’s legs.
Nessa looked around. “Oh, lots of mountains, rocks, sky. Mountains.”
Enya giggled again. “Same as yesterday then.”
“Not truly.” Nessa shook her head before pointing towards a nearby peak. “See there, look at the shape: it’s a dragon, if ever I saw one. And there,” she lowered her arm a little, “a leaping stag.”
“Oh! I see them,” squealed Enya with delight. “What else?”
“Look for yourself. What do you see?”
Enya turned her face up towards Julin. “What about you, Jules? Do you see anything?”
The older girl considered the craggy peaks with an anxious air. “I see lots of places for bandits to hide. Or worse, trolls.”
“Oh Jules,” said Nessa. “Must you always worry so? Look at all the guards we have with us. Not to mention him. He won’t let anything bad happen to us.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping a rein on my imagination. I have so many ideas, I have to keep remind myself that they will not all fit into the current book. This has already resulted in my planned trilogy expanding (so far) into a quadrilogy, with attendant short stories and possibly novellas too.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I really don’t have a favorite, I love so many. To me, the most important features are great character development set against imaginative backgrounds. I’m not over bothered by writing styles, I enjoy a wide range although I’m not thrilled by the current trend of using present tense.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not really, although I thoroughly enjoy travelling around the Scottish Highlands and everywhere I visit has the potential to become a new setting in my urban series.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Jennifer Quintenz, (author and graphic designer) designed the cover for Prince’s Man; I saw her own book covers and loved them, so I contacted her and asked who did them. When she said they were her own work, I cheekily asked if she’d do mine, and she agreed.
The cover for Desprite Measures is by Alexandria N. Thompson of GothicFate.com, and my short story cover is from ‘The Cover Collection’ – a great source of pre-made covers.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Forcing myself to stop re-writing; I really enjoy editing, and I struggle to say ‘enough, it’s ready to go’.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Mostly how to edit. I was shocked when my first non-fiction book came back from my publisher with loads of editing questions and suggestions – I thought I’d turned in a finished product! So when it came to editing my own fiction without the aid of a professional editor, I had to learn a lot of self-editing techniques.
I must be doing okay if my reviews are anything to go by – no one has flagged up any problems yet.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Know your genre really well – that means being well read in it. You don’t want to discover half way through writing a book that your idea has already been done to death. At the same time, genre readers (and publishers, if you go that route) will have an expectation of a certain type of read, or else they won’t be interested in buying.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
If you enjoy my writing, please tell me. Emails from fans are such a lift to an author as we work so much in isolation. Lovely reviews are even better!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not clearly, although I recall trying to get through Wuthering Heights before I was ten, and not making it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The animals that share my life.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Any of the authors I admire, such as Kim Harrison or Richelle Meade, just to chat about writing.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
With writing, my day job and my animals, those are my hobbies – no time left for anything else!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
SF and fantasy, spies and superheroes, the odd romcom, and good comedy. I’m also a sucker for classic black and whites.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Chicken, orange (I’m a redhead, so it goes) and movie soundtracks, which are what I have playing while I’m writing.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’m doing it already – horses all the way.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
You can also find me at:
THE PRINCE’S MAN
THE WORLD AND THE STARS (multi-author anthology)