Jacqueline Farrell is about to publish her latest novel, The Scrying Stone – and, as an added bonus, it will be free to read.
The author of historical and paranormal romances has written six books (some under the name Jacqueline Webb) but is trying a new strategy with her seventh in a bid to boost her readership.
Inspired by the Twilight series and cult television programmes such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, she created a vibrant, mature witch, with plenty of adventures still to be had – whether she wants them or not. Her new book is the third to feature Sophronia Sheridan who has proved a hit, especially with more older readers (like me) – with the majority of her Amazon reviews five stars.
With so much experience I was delighted when she agreed to talk to me for my latest Behind The Book post.
Here’s what she had to say.
I know your first novel was published when you were 45 but has writing always been a dream? What about afterwards, was it easier from then on? Have you always self-published?
I have always loved writing and wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager, but I didn’t get published until after my children were born. I wrote a couple of historical romances, which were originally published by Robert Hale, but although I love this genre I enjoy writing others as well. I have just finished a paranormal romance, The Scrying Stone, Book Three in a trilogy about a character called Sophronia Sheridan, and I am now in the middle of editing an alternative history romance using the premise that the Roman Empire did not fall. I have also co-authored a Pride and Prejudice spinoff, Pride And Prejudice: Mr Darcy in Egypt with Amanda Grange, which is published by Source Books. Romance is always my default setting but I enjoy difference challenges. Getting each book published doesn’t get any easier, unfortunately.
You write historical and paranormal romances, how did you get into those genres? Do you have a preferred one to write?
I wrote the historical romances originally because that was the genre I loved reading as a girl and they were fun to write. I wrote the paranormal because I became interested in this genre as an older reader, having enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight novels and watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer on TV. However, I was coming up to my fiftieth birthday in 2011 and felt it was a bit undignified having to try to identify with teens and twenty-somethings all the time. I hit on the idea of writing about a crone – that is a woman in the third stage of life (Maid, Mother, Crone) – because I could identify with her and I wanted to read about a woman who wasn’t young any more but still had some life in her!.
What makes a good hero for you? How can you be sure other people will fall in love with him too?
My heroes have to have a sense of humour. That is a must. I often find myself irritated by heroes because they come across as being terribly po-faced. But I also don’t like it when they get all the good lines all the time and the heroine seems to act as the ‘straight man’. I hope I captured that in the relationship between Sophronia and Hagen. As to whether readers will fall in love with my heroes, I can only write them from my point of view and hope others agree. I don’t write with my heart on my sleeve, as it were, and I know that for some reviewers that has been a problem, but I am part of a generation that doesn’t feel comfortable telling everyone I love them all the time. Hagen and Sophronia are older (he’s a 2000 year old vampire) so they don’t spend every book constantly reiterating how much they love each other; Sophronia does say it once at the end of the book and I hope that makes it all the more powerful because of that. Hagen never says it to her at all, but he makes great sacrifices for her without a moment’s hesitation, and, for me, in stories, as in life, talk’s cheap, but actions speak louder than words.
Is writing your fulltime job? If not, how do you find the time?
I work part-time as a teacher, so I manage to juggle the two, although around exam season time, I find it hard not to be looking at my lesson plans and trying to figure out a new way of revising a topic that will help my pupils, which means I don’t have so much time for writing. I also marked exams this year for the first time and had to give up writing completely for the month of July.
How important is editing?
I think, like most writers, I find editing is the most fun part. The first draft for me is where you write down the basic plot; the editing is where you hone and polish the story so it flows smoothly. You also know your characters better too, so things you wrote originally you realise don’t sound right, or make sense or you just realise the character wouldn’t behave like that and so you have to change it and then you know the story is all the better for it.
From the reviews I’ve seen most people love your work. How does that feel? What about the odd occasion someone might not appreciate it for one reason or another? Do you just ignore it or take it to heart?
All the reviews I have had have been great. As I said, some reviewers have been a little confused by the fact that despite being billed as a romance, they have found the ‘romantic’ element in my writing muted, and I can understand that. As I’ve said, I’m not comfortable writing sweeping great passionate speeches; I can’t do it, although I sometimes wish I could and I admire writers who can do it well. But I think there’s room for all sorts of writing in the romantic genre.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
The Scrying Stone is the last book in a paranormal romance trilogy, following the adventures of 50 year-old English crone, Sophronia Sheridan in America. She has become caught up in a feud between two vampires, whilst befriending young witch who has only recently become aware of her powers.
Do you have any tips to pass on that could help fellow writers?
I would say write because you love it. We all hope to be published and in today’s digital world that’s no longer a pipe-dream. However, most of us won’t get rich, unfortunately and sometimes, when you see the amount of work that is out for all the world to see, the feeling that what you’re writing is rubbish can be overwhelming.
Thank you very much to Jacqueline for sharing her knowledge. I am excited to see how The Scrying Stone, which should be out later this month, gets on. I also really love her last piece of advice. I think I get too caught up in the whole idea of publishing a book and sometimes forget that writing it is supposed to be fun.
With thanks to the lovely Susanna Bavin for introducing us.
I’ll have another Behind The Book for you later this month. I hope you’re enjoying them as much as I am.