Hello everyone! This month I’m thrilled to bring you an amazing speculative fiction author, Deborah Jay. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.
Today is my birthday! Interviewing Deborah was great fun. I hope you’ll all join us for cake – it’s gluten free! Grab a slice and some coffee or tea (flowers optional). ❤
Please meet my guest, Deborah Jay:
Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time.
Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.
THE PRINCE’S MAN (#1 The Five Kingdoms), winner of a UK Arts Council award, and an Amazon Top 100 Hot New Release, is her debut novel.
Book #2 THE PRINCE’S SON and book #3 THE PRINCE’S PROTEGEE are also now available.
Urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, is the first in a projected 5 book CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES, and a stand alone short story SPRITE NIGHT is now available.
Deborah has also published a multi-author SFF anthology THE WORLD AND THE STARS, which includes her SF story, PERFECT FIT.
She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published under the name Debby Lush.Amazon.com
Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. I’m really looking forward to our discussion.
Thanks, Deborah. I’m glad to learn more about you and your writing. So, tell us more about the genre you write in. What makes it so special?
I write various types of speculative fiction, which covers a wide range of sub genres, including all varieties of fantasy and science fiction. It’s both the most challenging, and the most liberating of genres to work in, and I’m not one to back down from a challenge!
If you are a spec fic reader, I’m sure you’ve come across books that enthral you, that suck you in, and that, despite all their weirdness, feel real. You’ve probably also tried some that left you scratching your head, and wondering what on earth (or elsewhere!) was going on.
If you aren’t a reader who analyses books, you might not realise the most likely difference is in how successful the writer has been at world building.
World building is a huge task: unless you’re writing in a contemporary setting, you have to create the nuts and bolts of the world and its civilisations from scratch. Geography, weather, flora and fauna, societies, including details like farming, law, economy, and magic systems to name but a few things. And they need to be convincing, logical and consistent, which requires the creation of a ‘bible’ for each world, so you don’t make bloopers by forgetting any of the rules of your individual world. Even in contemporary settings, you need to set the rules of magic/paranormal activity, and stick to them.
On the other hand, once you’ve done it, you can use the same stuff over and over, especially if, like me, you write in series. My fascination has always been for writing about people – people with problems, people with psychological hang ups, people trying to come to terms with themselves. And in a world where I get to make up everything, from the politics to the food they eat, I can explore human nature to the extreme, pitting them against events and environments beyond anything available in the real world.
I find the scope of the genre intoxicating. Yes, it’s a challenge and requires meticulous record-keeping, but I love it for the breadth of possibility and the satisfaction of being totally in charge of my own creation.
Did I mention yet? I’m a bit of an obsessive control freak…
No, not you! I do want to know your thoughts on writing a book series. Isn’t it more challenging?
Yes, and no.
Writing in a world you’ve already created, and working with characters whose backgrounds, personalities and quirks make them so real for you, you can hold a conversation with them about any topic, means half your work is done before you even start the next book in a series.
On the other hand, some challenges are greater. With each book, not only do you have to maintain total accuracy with what went before, not only in terms of names, physical characteristics, geography, social mores, and the like, you need to take into account the journey each character completed by the end of the previous book. For example, if your heroine grew from being a young, cocky, know-it-all, into a considerate and responsible adult in book 1, she might maintain traces of her original self, but she won’t have magically reverted by the start of book 2, so she begins the second volume in a different place.
Then you have plot threads to keep in order. While (hopefully) you ended book 1 on a climax (I can’t abide cliff hangers; I feel they cheat the reader), you will also have dangling threads of plot left over, just as in real life, where things don’t ever neatly wrap up all at the same time. These threads need continuing, and expanding over the course of not only book 2, but however many books you intend to write in the series. I have an overall arc for trilogies 1, 2 and 3 already worked out. Okay, trilogy 1 has now expanded to 4 books instead of 3, but the arc remains.
And the final, huge challenge of a series, is to raise the stakes with every instalment. Each book should top the last.
That’s some challenge!
I’ll say! Great information, too. Deborah, how long on average does it take you to write a book? And, do you have a day job other then being a writer? Do you like that job?
I do, and it’s a job I absolutely love, and would never consider giving up: I train dressage horses and riders for a living – how lucky am I?
When I was younger, I also rode professionally, competing horses for owners, Now, I just compete my own boys for fun – riding all manner of horses is a young person’s job, as even pro riders sometimes hit the deck, and I no longer bounce so well! I’m truly, incredibly lucky to be able to earn a living from my passion, and I’ve even reached the heady heights of competing Internationally, at Grand Prix, and have also been an official at two European Championships and the London Olympics.
I work for myself, which means I set my own schedules, and I also write non-fiction books and articles on horse training, all of which keeps me very busy! As I get older, I’m less inclined to be enthusiastic about being outdoors in all weathers, so I’m looking on my fiction writing as a long-term investment. Because of my schedule, it takes me upward of a year to write a novel (they are epic fantasy, which means epic length), so I’m never going to be in the league of those writers who put out multiple books per year, but I will keep adding to my catalogue steadily. I love my writing, but it won’t ever be my only job.
It does provide me with one way of ‘writing what you know’, despite my books being fantasy: horses are a big part of my character’s lives, and you’ll find memorable horses with big personalities in my novels – much like the ones I work with on a daily basis!
Amazon author page: https://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay
Newsletter Signup and FREE short stories: https://eepurl.com/bPZcmT
Thanks for stopping by to meet Deborah Jay. You’re going to love her books. ❤
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Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Poet who loves crafting paranormal fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre flash fiction, syllabic poetry, and creative nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, tanka prose, renga, solo-renga, haibun, cinquain, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry. Colleen's syllabic poetry has appeared in the Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, and in “Hedgerow, a journal of small poems.” She’s won numerous awards from participating in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo, a yearly flash fiction contest sponsored by carrotranch.com. In 2020, she won first place in the Carrot Ranch Folk Tale or Fable category, with her story called “Why Wolf Howls at the Moon.” Colleen is a Sister of the Fey, where she pursues a pagan path through her writing. When she is not writing, she is reading. She also loves gardening and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.