Dec 5, 2015

Australia Days: Interview with Jennie Jones & Wonderful Book Giveaway!


Interview

1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?

I’ve been an Australian for 20 years and it’s very much ‘home.’ But I was born in Wales and loved anything with a romantic element from an early age. Books, movies, history – the lot. The only thing I wanted to do was be an actor. At age 15 my careers teacher told me I was a stupid girl for wanting this and he wouldn’t help me. He said I had two choices: become a secretary or a nurse. My drama teacher at school wouldn’t speak to me or have me in her class because I did Pantomime and she thought it degraded theatre. For a shy kid, I didn’t do too badly - I ignored them all and got what I wanted. 3 years of poverty in drama school in London, another 10 years of semi-poverty working in theatres all around the UK. Life was grand! Then I met a New Zealander and eventually we moved to Australia where I worked as an actor occasionally but more often as a secretary! After bringing up our daughter, I suddenly needed an artistic outlet again, so I took up writing. So far, it’s another grand life.

2) Your Swallows Fall is about a small countryside town, what inspired (or which place) you to write about this town?

The House on Burra Burra Lane (book #1 in the Swallow’s Fall series, although all books can be read as stand-alone novels) was my debut book. I started writing it before I thought about where it might be set. As the characters formed, I knew it had to be the country, and preferably remote. As I knew next to nothing about cattle, sheep, droving or mustering I stayed clear of the beautiful outback (I was too scared then, as a beginning writer, to take a chance on messing up the story with pitiful research). Instead, I found the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. I loved it instantly because they have four distinct seasons, not just snow. It’s also a beautiful area, with much on offer – and it’s very countrified rural. So it was the area itself that inspired me as I wrote the stories, using a different season for each.

3) Your main characters come to Swallow's Fall to find something, why is it the best place for them to go to?

Most of the main newcomers to Swallow’s Fall are looking to get out of something else in life that’s bothering them or that they’re not happy with. I think they’re looking to find themselves, and think that by tucking themselves away in a rural town with only around 89 people they’ll have that chance. But life isn’t so easy, is it? Not even when we run away from trouble. So they face new challenges: of fitting in, of adjusting, of falling in love and of coming to terms with themselves as people. So regardless of doubts and conflicts, it’s the town itself that eventually creates their future. 

4) What are the 3 key qualities your main characters always have to have?

Integrity – because it’s a virtue that can be relied upon no matter how hard. Courage - for themselves, and for others in need. And humour - because I believe humour has a kind of courage and integrity too, and who doesn’t like a person who can smile or laugh, especially when things get tough?

5) You know how to make the inhabitants of the small town come to life, are they inspired by real people or did you get the idea for them elsewhere?

Those colourful, sweet or quirky characters in Swallow’s Fall found me. Or maybe they found themselves on my page, and I liked their company so allowed them to stay. Not that some of them gave me much choice, there are a few opinionated townspeople in Swallow’s Fall but fortunately, their hearts are usually as big as their opinions. But I think it’s the wise and rugged character Grandy that I love the most. He is in each story – I couldn’t not have him around Swallow’s Fall, even in memory. He has helped each of my main characters through their troubles.

6) What's your favourite place in Australia and why?

My favourite place is everywhere I haven’t yet been! I still need to see so much: the Kimberley in WA, Queensland, Uluru and Alice Springs and most importantly – the Snowy Mountains (it’s true – I haven’t been there yet).

7) What does the word romance mean for you?

It means life. There’s romance in everything we do. Romance is love, and love is there all around us even when it doesn’t appear to be and even when horrid things are occurring in the world. Love is friends, family, and commitment. Love is having integrity, courage and humour to just get up every day and get on with whatever we need to do. So the word ‘romance’ has a very definite connotation for me. It’s drama, for a start – and we all have drama in our lives. So when I write a romance story, I focus on the drama and the issues my characters face and hopefully grow the romantic side of the story through those aspects.

8) Christmas in the UK (Wales) versus Christmas in Australia, is there a big difference?

Oh yes, definitely. The heat and lack of snow is the first, obviously. I admit it took me a good ten years to come to terms with Christmas being in summer and not in winter but now it’s normal to wear bathers while decorating the tree. Otherwise, the sense of giving and holiday atmosphere is no different. There’s a kind of freedom to having Christmas in summer too because you can go outdoors without the need of Wellington boots, thick coats, hats and scarves. Those snow scenes are very beautiful – but it’s incredibly cold and hard work (think digging three foot of snow from your driveway just to get the car out and attempt to drive to work.)

9) You've travelled a lot, what's your favourite place in the world and what do you call home?

I call Australia home, there’s no doubt about that. I truly believe I was meant to come here. But I would like to return to Buenos Aires one day as I loved that vibrant city and all its history, and if the chance came up I’d live in Wales again for a year or so, because we never forget who we are and where we came from. I’d also like to tour Europe and visit all the stately homes and castles I can. I would never tire of doing that. 

10) What are your three favourite Australian books?

My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin was a great incentive to me as a teenager. I longed to visit Australia because of her book. Next is S’pose I Die by Hector Holthouse and is the story of Evelyn Maunsell, an English girl who arrived in Cairns in 1912. Then – one of my favourite stories ever, A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. Oh my, the drama, the romance, the pain and the joy – these books touched my heart. I wanted to be every single heroine in every single story. As I read all these books in my youth in Wales, it’s no real surprise I landed in Australia, is it?

11) What can we expect from you in the future? 

I have a rural romance coming out in the first half of 2016 which I’m very fond of. It was the first story I wrote after 5 books set in Swallow’s Fall so it was quite a challenge, but so refreshing. Again, it’s a small country town, again in NSW. There are three stories in this anthology, the other two written by good writing friends Catherine Evans and Lisa Ireland.

I’m also just about to slap The End on another small town story. This one set in the Goldfields in Western Australia which focuses on a heroine in a bit of trouble and a hero who’s officer in charge of the shire’s Police force, but regardless of their jobs and the troubles, the intent of the story is to focus on the remote small town atmosphere and what it offers – for those who wish to stay. After which time I may return to Swallow’s Fall and write three shorter length novels around the daughters of the hero and heroines in the original series.

Thank you so much for having me here! I have loved answering your excellent questions.

Amazon USA Amazon UK Amazon Au

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a book from Jennie Jones. If the winner's in Australia it will be a paperback and for the rest of the world it will be an eBook.

Good luck!


16 comments:

  1. Wow. Sounds so wonderful. I love hearing about authors and why they write the stories they do. And I love Jennie Jones.

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  2. Wonderful interview Jennie. I can see why you write the characters in your book with such humour and integrity. Your voice is very real, and comes from a place of understanding and empathy towards newcomers in a strange land. I have read one of your books, and look forward to reading more.

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  3. Wonderful interview and I love the book covers. I am a book series junkie.

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  4. interesting interview and setting

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    1. The Aussie Snowy Mountains have so much to offer, bn100.

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  5. A most informative interview thank you. The series sounds wonderful. I look forward to catching up with the first book of the series; The House on Burra Burra Lane. A lot I will identify with.

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    1. That would wonderful, Mary. Thank you for reading the post!

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  6. I love the intriguing title! I'd love to read this series.

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  7. great interview :) the book looks interesting and thought provoking would love to read it xx

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  8. Lovely interview! I really hope I win!

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  9. Interesting to compare Christmas in Australia and England

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