Thursday, 20 February 2014

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Young

I’m delighted to extend a warm welcome to fellow Scot, Jennifer Young, whose debut novel, Thank You For the Music, is now released from Tirgearr Publishing. I love to see writing colleagues get that first publishing deal and start on the exciting journey, even though Jennifer has plenty of other types of publications behind her. Thanks for joining me here today! I’m reading and enjoying Thank You For the Music at the moment. First, a little taster of Jennifer’s novel.

Thank You For the Music

Are things looking up for Abby Mortimer? After the death of her father it seems as though her long-term boyfriend, Edward, is about to propose – but their romantic walk on the beach doesn’t end as Abby expects when Edward breaks the news that he’s found someone else.

Heartbroken, Abby flees to Majorca to stay with her sister Liv and brother-in-law Robert, who run an upmarket hotel. Liv and Robert are looking for a singer for their piano bar and Abby, who’s a talented member of the local dramatic society, steps in to fill the gap – and finds herself immediately attracted to Rafa, the hotel’s pianist.
But what looks like a new-found happiness becomes complicated when Edward returns to apologise and win Abby back. And she’s aroused the bitter opposition of waitress wannabe Ellie, who’s trying to catch the eye of musical impresario Marcus Paterson, a guest at the hotel and always on the lookout for a new act. Torn between the contrite Edward and the flighty Rafa, between a steady life in Scotland or a career with her beloved music, Abby has difficult choices to make…especially when she learns that Edward has a secret…

Thank You For The Music is available from: Amazon US and Amazon UK and in all e-formats from Smashwords.
You write scientific articles as well as fiction, Jennifer – which do you prefer and why did you turn to fiction?

I can’t say that I prefer one above the other. They express different sides of my personality - the science part of my brain likes accuracy and answers but when I’m in fiction mode I’m the exact opposite. When I’m writing creatively, I don’t feel the need to have everything defined. I’ll bend scientific accuracy to fit my story - but if someone suggested I do that in a science article I would be dreadfully offended!
In my current fiction project, I’ve finally managed to bring the two sides of my personality together - the hero is a geologist whose endless quest for ‘real’ answers and failure to deal with anything emotional and abstract are what drives the plot. Fiction is my first love, though - I came to science quite late.

How have you found the whole process of being published by an independent e-publisher? Anything surprise you about it?
I was surprised at what fun it was. I envisaged a situation where the book gets put up and that’s it. At Tirgearr I was welcomed not just by the publishers but by fellow writers and the whole process has been an absolute pleasure. I’ve discovered an online community which I wasn’t expecting - although I shouldn’t have been surprised, because these communities do exist all over the internet.

Did you have to do a lot of research for Thank You for the Music?
Er…none at all. (Perhaps I shouldn’t say that.) Unless by ‘research’ you mean holidaying at a lovely hotel in Majorca, lying in the sun, visiting ancient towns, eating ice cream and drinking chilled white wine as the sun set over the Mediterranean. I did all that, with the utmost diligence. In fact, every cup of coffee and every ice cream in the book is (or was once) real and was lovingly researched.

I can imagine that wasn’t too much hard work!

How are you promoting your book? Is it easier with e-books, do you think?

Never having had hard copies to sell, I can’t make the distinction. I’ve always known that no matter which type of media the book is in, most of the promotion would be done in the virtual world and that the days of the book launch with wine and nibbles are probably fading.
I’m promoting it mainly through Twitter and Facebook, trying to establish an online presence and an association with good quality readable fiction. I embarked on promotion with great trepidation but in the event I’m finding it both easier and more fun than I thought. And I’m delighted to say that I just got my first review for Thank You For The Music - five stars from someone I don’t know in California.

An excellent start!
What is the most difficult part about starting a new book?

Oh. Ah. Hmm… It’s all hard. I keep changing my approach to see if I can find one that works better than any other. But I think the hardest part is probably knowing when to start writing. I don’t fly by the seat of my pants, although nor am I a really detailed planner. There’s a point at which I haven’t overthought the plot but I still know pretty much what I want to write. The last one I got just right. The one before I left too long and got bogged down. It’s now in a drawer, waiting for me to go back and try and sort it out.
Do you have a favourite writing place?

I wish I did. I dream of a turret with views in all directions - I know some people who have little dens like that and I’d love one, though in reality I’d probably spend most of my time staring out of the window. My desk is in the bedroom but I’m a gregarious soul and like to be around people, so I often end up typing on my laptop in the living room watching the telly with the family. This is not only bad for the posture but it also generates a very high level of errors, in typos and plot. Fortunately I love the editing process as much as the writing part!
Do you find time for hobbies?

Writing is my main hobby and always has been. But I do like to do other things too. With my background in geography and Earth science I love travelling and visiting places - and they usually provide inspiration for a plot, or for a travel article. I love cycling, which is another pastime in which I spend most of my time thinking up plots. But it’s usually writing, writing and more writing, in some form or another.
What are your current writing plans?

Plans? That implies a little more organisation than I think I can lay claim to! At the moment I’m working on completing my Masters degree in Earth science with the Open University so that’s taking priority; and I’m still writing regular science articles for a website called Decoded Science. And my fiction output may have slowed but it isn’t on hold - I completed a novel (awaiting polish) in November as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) scheme and there’s a whole line-up of ideas for short stories, novels and novellas forming a disorderly queue in my mind. Just wait until I have more time…
Any tips for new writers?

How many tips do you want? I’ll confine myself to two. The first is often-repeated and can’t be said enough. NEVER give up. The second is something that, when I look back, shaped my career as a writer without my knowing it. Surround yourself with writers. Hunt them out and talk to them. Join their groups. They will understand you in a way that your nearest and dearest non-writers won’t; they’ll pass on the befits of their experience; they’ll share your successes and feel your pain. I’ve found this to be true for both fiction and non-fiction. And for an unpublished writer, being surrounded by other writers makes you realise that everything you go through, both the pain of rejection and the pleasure of success, is normal.
Many thanks for answering the questions, Jennifer.

Jennifer Young is an Edinburgh-based writer, editor and copywriter. She is interested in a wide range of subjects and writing media, perhaps reflecting the fact that she has both arts and science degrees. Jennifer has been writing fiction, including romantic fiction, for a number of years with several short stories already published. Thank You For the Music, which is set on the Balearic island of Majorca, is her first published novel.

Find out more about Jennifer on her website, blog and Facebook. Jennifer also blogs with a few other friends at Novel Points of View.  


Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi there, Jennifer and Rosemary. I think I need a wee lie down after reading about Jennifer's projects.
I have the book on my kindle, with Midwinter Masquerade, and I'm just about to have a few days of reading time. Really looking forward to it. Anne Stenhouse

Bill Kirton said...

Congratulations on the debut, Jennifer. It sounds as if there are many more to come, too (books, not debuts). And I have to endorse what you say about writers - singly or in groups. For people who are theoretically in competition with one another, it's surprising and very reassuring to find how friendly and helpful they are.

Cathy Mansell said...

Well done Jennifer. I enjoyed reading your interview answers. Love your book title and wish you every success with it and many more.
I'm not surprised that you like Tirgearr. It's like belonging to a family of writers and the group is amazing.

David O'Brien said...

Great interview, Jennifer. As someone who's also spent many years writing fiction with little connection with other writers as a hobbie very disconnected with my day job as a biologist and teacher, but who just now found the very community you're talking about, I wholeheartedly agree with your advice to writers!

Gwen Kirkwood said...

Congratulations Jennifer and I wish you great success with all the other novels which are clearly incubating in your head. I have Thank You For the Music and I look forward to reading it even more now. I also agree with your advice and I can say honestly that today you are with one of the most supportive and friendly writers I know - Rosemary.

Paula Martin said...

Great interview, Jennifer (and Rosemary). Loved your 'research' in Majorca :-) You're right about surrounding yourself with other writers, too. As you say, they understand you in a way that non-writers don't. I have had so much support from fellow-writers, for which I am very grateful.

Kate Blackadder said...

Jennifer, glad your publishing experience has been a good one and all the best with Thank You for the Music - look forward to reading it very soon.

Jane Riddell said...

Good interview, Jennifer. I particularly liked your advice about surrounding yourself with writers (whether or not you are published, I would add). This helps to reduce the isolation which writers can experience.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Anne - thanks for the comment and for getting MM!

Thanks for dropping by to support Jennifer, Bill!

Hi Cathy - thanks for commenting. You are so right about Tirgearr!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi David - nice to see you here. Glad you're finding your way round the writing community!

Gwen - that was a lovely comment. Thank you.

Hi Paula - thanks for dropping by and you're absolutely right about the support we can get!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Kate!

Hi Jane - thanks for supporting Jennifer!

Jennifer Young said...

Thanks for the kind comments - and thanks to Rosemary for hosting me too.

Jennifer Young said...

Bill, David, Gwen, Paula and Jane...Yes, it's so true that too often there's perception that writers are self-centred and 'pull up the ladder' once they find any kind of success. I haven't found that. I would never have been published - at all - if I hadn't had so much support and advice.

Thanks to everyone who was there for me (sorry if that sounds like an Oscar speech!).

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,
Lovely to get to know you here on Rosemary's blog. I agree with you about the community of writers. Making friends with like-minded people across the world is one of my best experiences since being published. I'm looking forward to getting to know you, too, when you visit my blog in March. Congratulations on release of Thank You for the Music, which is on my Kindle at the moment - itching to be read! Best wishes!

Jennifer Young said...

Thanks Helena...I hope you enjoy it. And I'm looking forward to 'guesting' with you in March!

Joan Fleming said...

Congratulations (once again!) Jennifer on the publication of Thank You for the Music. As some others have done, I agree with your advice on making contact with other writers. I'm almost half way through TYFTM, and I'm really enjoying it. Thank you for hosting, Rosemary.

Elizabeth Delisi said...

Your book sounds great, Jennifer. I enjoyed a chance to get to know you a little better! Welcome to Tirgearr.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Helena - thanks for commenting!

Thanks for dropping by, Joan!

Hi Elizabeth - thanks for your support!

Wendy's Writing said...

Thank you for letting us know a little about your writing life, Jennifer. Your research sounds arduous - I must try it!

Tegon Maus said...

Very good Jen... I enjoyed it a good deal

Janice Horton said...

Super interview. I really enjoyed hearing about your writing process and road to publication, Jennifer, and I'm looking forward to reading Thank You for the Music (love the cover!)Huge congratulations! xx