October 5th, 2010

moon over ocean

Move over, Maeve Binchy: meet Jessica Chambers, awesome women's fiction writer!

Today's interview features one of the best new writers I've discovered lately--she pens romantic, addictive, suspenseful, beautifully written women's fiction, and she's English too, which of course always appeals to me. Please welcome Jessica Chambers!

Congratulations on the release of Voices on the Waves! As you know, I loved reading it, and am always impressed with how adroitly you handle an ensemble cast of highly diverse characters. How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel?

As far as my characters go, I like to know as much about them as possible before beginning. It really helps to understand what makes them the people they are, and how they’re likely to react in a given situation. With regards to the plot, though, I’ve discovered that too much planning dampens my creativity. I tend to have the main plotline worked out, but let the characters and subplots find their own way.

Give us a line from Voices on the Waves that you personally love.

Gosh, Molly, you’re really putting me on the spot here. I suppose this line always strikes me as rather poignant. It describes a point in the story where Faye Wakefield, the owner of the farmhouse retreat where the novel’s set, is analyzing the reason behind her attraction to one of her guests, the handsome but unscrupulous Marcus Armitage.

“Or perhaps, deep inside, she knew the chance to have one last fling, of enjoying the thrill of intimacy with another’s body, was slipping through her fingers as surely as the flour had done moments before.”

If you could step into the world of any novel, which would you choose?

Ooh, I’d love to be transported into the pages of Pride And Prejudice, to experience the world of afternoons spent painting watercolors and playing the piano, of taking tea in the parlor and attending grand dances. If Mr. Darcy happened to drop by, so much the better!

Your book centers around a vacation that changes the lives of all involved. Have you ever had such a vacation, for better or worse?

Hahaha! If only my life were that interesting. Most of my holidays have been family oriented, leaving little room for steamy romances. Admittedly, our holidays have seen a fair few explosive rows, when my relatives realize they’re not meant to be cooped up together in a poky caravan, and of course some entertaining moments when one or other of my cousins have gone to town on the cheap booze. All pretty run of the mill stuff, really.

What would your dream vacation be?

One that combines gorgeous weather, delicious food, plenty of historical sites to explore and miles of golden sand for me to stretch out on to read a good book and listen to the waves. In fact, where did I put those holiday brochures?

Now that you're a published author, how has your outlook changed about your future? Do you feel more pressure, or more optimism? Or both?

Definitely both. More optimism because I’ve cleared the first hurdle of getting my debut novel published, but also more pressure because now readers have certain expectations I need to live up to.

What's up next for you and your writing?

I’ve just started work on a novella, which will be written as part of a series with a group of my fellow authors at Red Rose. The idea is that we each write a book based on a reality TV show, and I’m taking the inspiration for mine from talent shows such as American Idol and The X Factor. It’s shaping up to be really great fun!

I’m also in the throes of editing a novel called Painting The Summer. More of a mystery than Voices On The Waves, it centers around a wealthy English family whose lives are torn apart when they invite a handsome young artist into their home to paint their portraits. All going well; I’m hoping both novels will be published some time in 2011.

Anything else you'd like to share with the world?

I’m a total book addict. If I’m not writing, I’m reading. So long as a novel has a great plot with memorable characters, I’m there. I also enjoy critiquing the work of fellow writers on The Next Big Writer online writing group, and helping to promote published authors on my blog.

Buy Voices On The Waves now from Red Rose Publishing:
http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=853

Thank you so much, Molly, for inviting me on your blog today, and to all of you for stopping by. Anyone kind enough to leave a comment here, or at any point during my blog tour, will automatically be entered into the draw to win a $15 gift voucher for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, so don’t forget to provide an email address in case I need to contact you. I’ll be announcing the five winners at the end of my tour on October 31st over at my blog -
http://www.jessicachambers.co.uk/blog
...so good luck!

Tomorrow, the Voices On The Waves Blog Tour continues over at the home of Hywela Lyn, where I’ll be answering more questions and sharing an excerpt from my novel. Hope to see you there!
http://hywelalyn.blogspot.com/

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Thanks so much, Jess! Everyone keep an eye out for more from Jessica Chambers--I'm certain she'll be climbing the bestseller ranks before long. Cheers, as they say...
bat

Dracula read-aloud: official sign-up!

Okay! Comment here, with the number of participants from your household, if you'd like to be assigned a line or two from Dracula to read aloud for a little Halloween audio project. I'm thinking we'll be doing the log from the doomed ship that carries Dracula (and his boxes o' dirt) to England.

Sign-up will be open until next Monday, Oct. 11. Then I'll close the door, divvy up the excerpt, and hand out lines. You will record yourselves reading them aloud and email the file to me by, say, Oct. 24, one week prior to Halloween. (I think I can take just about any normal audio file, and will let you know if it doesn't work.) I'll piece them together in the right order, apply spooky background music (professional composer madbard has graciously allowed me to raid his stuff), and put it online for your listening chills in time for Halloween.

Once more, I highly encourage youngsters, oldsters, foreign speakers of English, and those with strong regional accents to apply, as well as all average folk. The more varied the mix of voices, the cooler the end product. It says, "Literature is a realm any person can enter freely, and appreciating it will therefore save the world and keep it safe for democracy." Or something like that. In any case, our project will say, "Halloween is fun!"

To listen to the previous projects, check out 2007's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" or 2008's "The Raven". We didn't do 2009. I had a young infant and stuff.

Edited to add: For those curious, the entire text of Dracula can be found here for free (and probably other places). Our section begins with "Log of the 'Demeter'" (the ship's name)--though whether we cover the whole thing or just the more exciting middle-to-end section of the log may depend on the number of participants.