Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m John Jackson, and I’m 68 and surprised I made it this far!
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in south Manchester, very close to what is now Manchester airport.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I am the oldest of two. My sister is an antiques dealer in Gloucester. I went to a minor public school in Hereford, and then worked in a bank for 9 months before going to sea in the Merchant Navy as a cadet.
I then spent most of my working life on board ship, going all over the world, or, latterly, working as a ship manager, and telling other people to go on board ship!
Apart from the UK, I have lived in the Solomon Islands, the Falkland Islands, Cyprus, Holland and the Isle of Man.
Now I live with my wife in pleasant retirement in a village just north of York.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is ALL about my first book. Heart of Stone is to be published on October 24th by Crooked Cat Books. This week it became available for pre-order, and entered the amazon charts in a positive Click-fest! It actually made #57 on the Historical Romance charts and isn’t even out yet.(I know its only clicks, not sales!)
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started penning stories for my kids when they were very young, and then stopped while my professional life took me in the direction of writing safety manuals and the like, for many years.
Then, when I retired, I found I wanted to pick up my pen again.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When some colleagues in the romantic novelists Association told me I was one! That was amazingly reassuring and encouraging.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to write a historical novel, but wasn’t sure where to start. I have been very keen on genealogy and researching the family tree – and found myself in the unbelievable situation of having some really interesting ancestors – some good, some vile, and some real scallywags!
When I found the story of my 5 x Gt-grandparents, I knew immediately that this would be the first book.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I had used a couple of working titles and knew that neither of them would do for the actual final title. A Heart of Stone just came to me about 18 months ago. The “A” disappeared when we started on the cover design. It looked better without, and still kept the “message”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Not really. I am lucky in that I can write at any time, with the TV on, etc., providing the muse is cooperating and the story is running. If the story is NOT running, I find it very tough.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The story in Heart of Stone is based on real people and real events. To make a proper story out of it, though, I had to use the people, facts and places as hooks for MY narrative. I’ve kept as much to the recorded events as I felt I could, though. My job is to tell a story, though, not write a history book.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I think so. I did some very extensive research using old and new maps and pictures, Google Earth and Streetview, etc. That allowed me to set out the narrative.
We went over to Ireland and spent some time in by books locations, and luckily all I had to do was some fine tuning.
I’ve already done some local research for the net book. I think you HAVE to go and see what the streets look like now, and compare with what we know of the book’s period, just to get into the feel of it.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did – in that I knew what I wanted. I found the picture, and supplied a copy of it to Crooked Cat, who got their graphic artists to work their magic.
The picture is of Robert Rochfort, one of the main protagonists in the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No, beyond the eternal human truth of never giving up!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I love Bernard Cornwell’s books. A brilliant writer, and an equally talented raconteur. Among modern authors I would have to add Liz Fenwick, whose work I love.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The RNA (Romantic Novelist Association) have been unbelievably supportive and helpful. I would recommend membership to anyone who wants to write. Their definition of what constitutes a romance is pleasingly large.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
For somebody younger, it can be a desperately hard career. I am retired, so I don’t need to write to pay the mortgage and bring up our children. People just don’t realise how hard it is to make a living just out of writing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not now – although it has certainly been changed very considerably from the initial draft!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Oh yes. Listen to what your fellow writers tell you. It is a craft that has to be learnt.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Keira Knightly in the female lead.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Yes. Don’t give up. Ever!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Apart from “Buy my book” LOL
Only that – if you read it, I hope you enjoy it.
I love reading books by my friends, because I can see something of them in the book. Sometimes quite a lot. This gives their work an added piquancy.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Persuading Austen, by Brigid Coady. Excellent!!!!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I still have some books from my childhood, and still re-read them occasionally. Wind in the Willows, the Jungle Books, Winnie-the-Pooh.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My funnybone is easily tickled, but equally, and really good emotional scene (the end of Madam Butterfly, for example) can cause unusual irritation in the eyes!!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Benjamin Franklin. A great brain and a great thinker. Besides giving us a phrase to live by! “Beer is God’s proof that he loves us!” Actually, it’s a misquote, but as a piece of advice it will do to be going on with.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Lots! Food and cooking, beer and wine, travel, rugby (watching these day, but playing and refereeing before) I used to do a lot of running and walking, but leg issues have miniised these unfortunately,
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Most good dramas, inc. The Night Manager, Happy Valley, Dr Who, Line of Duty &Sherlock.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food – too many to choose from, but especially Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, S American, etc. etc.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He was my friend
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My blog is at https://johnjacksonauthor.com/
My Facebook Page is at https://www.facebook.com/johnjacksonauthor/
And I Tweet at @jjackson42