I had the fantastic opportunity to host a Q&A with Jennifer C. Wilson, author of Kindred Spirits: Tower of London and Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile. Thank you so much Jennifer for answering my questions!
Now for the Q&A!
Q1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
A1. I’m a marine biologist by training, and work full-time in environmental consultancy, doing impact assessments for new projects. It’s really interesting, but as you can imagine, when you’re working on things like wind farms or power stations, everything has to be checked twice, and fully referenced, so I really enjoy the creative freedom that writing gives me. People might not like what I write, but they cannot usually tell me it’s wrong!
Q2. Kindred Spirits is a historical novel – is there a particularly reason why you were attracted to writing this genre?
A2. It’s the genre I read most of, and always wanted to write in, but falling into the ‘paranormal historical fiction’ genre was truly unexpected. I’d been wanting to find a ‘way in’ to write about my two favourite monarchs, Richard III and Mary, Queen of Scots, for so many years, but somehow it never seemed to flow right. Then I got the idea of writing about their ghosts, rather than writing about their lives. This suddenly reinvigorated my writing, and I realised I had found a way to write about them that felt right.
Q3. What’s been the best thing about publishing a book?
A3. Just holding that first printed copy. Kindred Spirits: Tower of London came out as an ebook first, and that was incredible enough, but when it was released in paperback, having that parcel come through the door – just unbelievable. As somebody who’s wanted to write and see their name in print since childhood, having that physical item in my hands will never be beaten.
Q4. What’s one thing you would have liked to have known when you first started writing?
A4. That I could do it! For so long, it was just a daydream, and although I jotted plenty of ideas down, submitted a couple of competition entries, and enjoyed attending creative writing workshops, I never really knuckled down and worked at it, probably because I just expected to fail. If I had known I had a shot, I would have started working hard a lot sooner…
Q5. How did you get into reading/writing in the first place?
A5. I’ve always been a reader; I remember being given permission to read the ‘upstairs’ library at school because I’d read everything I could get my hands on in the lower rooms.
As for writing, I remember compiling little stories, writing bits and pieces down over school holidays, and I found an old file on my uni computer which has some ideas I’d drafted in breaks from studying, but it was really when I left uni and moved back to the north-east that I started taking it more seriously. I had moved to a small town where I knew nobody, so my mum urged me to sign up to an adult education course. Creative writing was one of the options, and I’ve never looked back. When I moved again, to Newcastle, I found all the opportunities there, and got involved as much as I could.
Q6. If you could choose one book that would be compulsory for everyone in the world to read, what would you choose and why?
A6. Mine! Or, failing that, I will always have a soft-spot for Matilda. It’s such a lovely story, that being the smart one, the odd one, not fitting in for any reason, can win out in the end. It sounds soppy, but that’s such a positive message, so that would be the one for me.
Q7. Do you ever set a book target for the year and if so, how is 2017 going?
A7. I try, and I fail… 2017 is going spectacularly badly for fiction at any rate. I’m reading plenty of non-fiction (currently an account of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion), and love research, but am struggling with fiction. I’ve just signed up to take part in a couple of blog tours though, and I’ll be starting to make amends so I can leave reviews as part of that.
Q8. If you were granted 3 wishes, what would they be?
- More hours in the day! Well, in the evenings and weekends at any rate – I do not get enough done in the currently-allotted 24. I saw a mug in a friend’s photo once that pointed out Beyonce has the same number of hours in the day as the rest of us, but to be fair, she probably doesn’t commute for 1.5hrs a day, or have to do all the housework herself…
- To go on a round-the-world-cruise. I love travelling, I love the sea, and I like the idea of not having to unpack and repack every five minutes…
- To appear as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I’ve been obsessed with this show since I was seven, and I’ve seen it well over thirty times now. Sadly, to get this wish granted I would also need to somehow develop a singing voice and a heck of a lot of confidence, so maybe it’s a bit too big a wish to hit in one!
Q9. Is there anything you’d like to achieve by the end of the year?
A9. I’ve got two goals at the moment – to finish the draft of the third Kindred Spirits series which I’m currently working on, and to self-publish a short novella I’ve had on the back-burner for a while. It’s all starting to come together, which is quite exciting, and I’m hoping people like them both.
Q10. Where would you most like to travel in the world?
A10. Rome. I’ve visited once on a day-trip, and it’s a city I really want to get back to and explore properly. It features two great periods I’m a bit obsessed with – ancient Romans (obviously), and the Borgias – so seeing both in the same city will be very exciting. Might even result in the first Kindred Spirits trip abroad!
Again, thank you so much Jennifer for this Q&A! All the links to relevant pages will be below!
“Enrolling on an adult education course on her return to the north-east reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, she’s published several pieces online, and has published the first two Kindred Spirits novels, Tower of London and Royal Mile with Crooked Cat, in October 2015 and June 2017, respectively.”