Name Jennifer C. Wilson
Where are you from? Darlington originally, now living in Whitley Bay, right by the coast, which I love.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m a marine biologist by training, and had a great time studying at Hull University. After graduating, I moved back to the north-east for work, and have been based here for the last eight years. My family are in Darlington, so it’s nice being so close.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Publishing on 27th October, and I’m still excited about it! It follows the ‘lives’ of the ghosts of the Tower, including Richard III, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loved stories, and the bedtime stories I was told as a child really inspired me. I spent time writing some ideas down when I was younger, but really only started focusing on it after I graduated, and signed up for an adult education class at the local college in creative writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a difficult one. I suppose I can now, but it’s still an odd sensation.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My very first attempt, when I was about twelve, was inspired by a holiday to Scotland with my best friend. Kindred Spirits was inspired by a poetry competition in Writing Magazine.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not that I’m aware of, but I’m probably influenced by all the historical fiction I read. As a lot of it has been romance, that’s probably the style I’m closest to.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
There was a line in the novel, where two characters are referred to as ‘kindred spirits’ and it just struck me as a good title. It started as a working title only, but the more I used it, the more I liked it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I wouldn’t say so, it’s mainly intended as a light-hearted read.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well, all the characters are real, I suppose, and the locations, but being ghosts, also not, in a way! But there’s enough of real places and emotions that it’s believable, at least (I hope).
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, everything is entirely based on my imaginings of how the characters would interact with each other, if they were to co-exist.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
In terms of style, Elizabeth Chadwick and Philippa Gregory are probably the biggest influences – I love the way they bring in historical details without lecturing, or letting it get in the way of their stories.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“The Story of Scotland” by Nigel Tranter. It’s been written as a story, rather than a history book, and I’m really enjoying it.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Through Crooked Cat Publishing, I’ve met some really lovely people, and am gradually getting hold of their novels, and have enjoyed all of them. I’m always keen to read as much as possible in the fields I’m interested in.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on another Kindred Spirits tale, taking the adventure north of the border this time, to Edinburgh. It’s a city I love spending time in, and has plenty of interesting characters to investigate, so it’s proving fun so far to research and draft. What will happen to it, I have no idea, but it’ll be fun finding out.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’ve been really lucky and attended some great writing groups and workshops over the years, so I’d say having a great network of writing friends to keep me going has been a main support.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Sadly not yet, but it’s the dream! However, I do take it as seriously as if it was my career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
So many things… Every new book I read, or documentary I watch, which features the Tower of London, seems to turn up a new character who would have been great to include.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My parents and grandparents all told me plenty of bedtime stories, including making some up themselves, so I think that just stuck with me. I wrote some stories when I was younger, and enjoyed the act of making up worlds and people.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Of course. Below are the opening lines of Kindred Spirits: Tower of London. These are genuinely the first lines I wrote, and although they were reviewed and edited, they haven’t changed much since the first draft.
Anne sighed. “We’ve been through this before, Richard. It wasn’t funny then, and it isn’t funny now.”
“Well, it’s this lot. All these years, and I could swear they’re getting worse.” He leaned back against the cool brick, and shaded his eyes as he scanned a group of already-bored teenagers being herded by an increasingly frustrated tour guide.
“Perhaps we are simply getting jaded. Come on, I know you love your school trips.”
She gave him no choice, pulling him away from the wall. He sighed. Anne was right; he did enjoy independent tours like this one, although he would enjoy them so much more if they got their facts right. He watched her as she wandered around the back of the group, looking for targets.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I used to hate writing dialogue, and was so bad at it. In Kindred Spirits, I forced myself to put more in, which helped a lot – I’m going to stick with that approach.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love Elizabeth Chadwick’s books. She writes about a time I’ve never really read much about, and yet I feel I know it through her works. I keep meaning to take the next step and start reading some non-fiction and biographies.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not too much, but it was really helpful to get a second visit to the Tower once I’d started, to work out directions, distances etc. I’m currently planning a trip to Edinburgh to do the same there. Happily, I’m setting stories in places I already know, and enjoy going back to, so no trip is a chore.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
They were by Crooked Cat Publishing, and I was so excited when I first saw them. I’d been given free rein to go and look for ideas and possibly-suitable images online, but I hadn’t really known what to expect. When the drafts came through, I thought they were fantastic, and had only the tiniest of tweaks to request for the final versions.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Actually writing it wasn’t that bad – I produced the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2013, so I didn’t really have time to stop and think. It was the editing I found hard, going back over things, working out what should stay and go.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The importance of a good edit! I managed to get through mine, but equally, the review and comments from Crooked Cat were also great, and will definitely help stop me making (as many) rookie errors in my work going forwards.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Not me… I’m definitely at the stage of taking advice, rather than giving it, so nothing beyond the usual really.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just a massive “thank you” really. Seeing my name on Amazon, seeing the book go up the sales ranking, everything has just been incredible, and I am so grateful.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
One of the earliest was The Animals of Mulberry Common, by Hilary Cannock. I still have it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Everything. I am so soppy – happy or sad, anything remotely sentimental will get me sobbing.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’m torn on this one… I’ve said King Richard III in the past, or Mary, Queen of Scots, but I think I should be sensible, and say David Attenborough. He inspired me into marine biology, and has inspired so many people – he really is a great man.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
This is so hard… Simply to be remembered, that would be enough, in a positive way, hopefully!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I do. I love making jewellery, and have quite a stash of gemstones and findings. It’s another way of being creative, and I enjoy just spending time looking through them all, working out what could go together, and how. I like my jewellery to have a tale behind it, so making pieces for special events is a key thing of mine.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries, but the less gory or brutal ones, so Midsomer Murders, Lewis, Marple, Poirot, Death in Paradise, that sort of level. I’ve tried the new Scandinavian scene, but it’s not for me, sadly.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I adore Italian food, and Mediterranean cooking in general, and am going to try and make more of this in the New Year. Colour-wise, I’m a blues girl, and yet, not with my music, where I am 100% cheesy-pop! Give me a nineties boyband (ideally Boyzone, Westlife or 5ive) and I’ll be happy.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I cannot quite consider myself to be a writer just yet, so I’m going to keep that as the dream job.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My blog is: https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/
Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is available on:
Tower of London