Hi and welcome to my stop on Petra Jacob’s Peddling Doomsday blog tour.
With thanks to Petra Jacob and to Kelly @ Love Books Group Tours
Interview with Petra Jacob…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m an inquisitive gardener by trade, whose hobbies include asking strangers questions and getting lost in the jungle. I like the reality we’re in, but I enjoy inventing bizarre and unexpected things, so my writing tends to involve curious possibilities hidden inside the mundane. I’ve so far written two books. The first, Riddled with Senses, is a magic realism tale, the second, Peddling Doomsday is a satirical, psychological suspense novel about a cult.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I never know what will spark off an idea. The original idea for Peddling Doomsday came from learning more about the cultish religions that had a hold on my family when I was growing up. However, going to Borneo, working with tropical plants, a dream about being trapped in a building, experiences with psychosis, an argument with a colleague, and learning about narcissism, all played a part too. Life is so complex, the more you pay attention, the stranger it gets, so there’s always something to write about.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
No, I’d feel a bit bad if I did that, plus real people are unknowable. I’d rather create a character from scratch so I know exactly what the inside of their head looks like.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I go through online lists and books, pick out tens of options and then try to narrow it down. It also helps to have a reason for a name. In Peddling Doomsday my main character’s name is Deirdre, she believes it has blighted her life and wants desperately to change it. Having a basis for her name made it sound more right to me, and gave me a way of getting inside her head.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I’m more an unconscious than a conscious writer. I get my best ideas when I’m doing something that isn’t writing or when I let my mind wander. This leads to a lot of daydreaming and scribbled notes on scrap paper, plus some leaping out of bed just as I’m going to sleep because I’ve suddenly worked out a plot twist. When I have enough ideas, I need to put them into an order that makes sense, which is the less fun bit.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
I’m not good with these kinds of decisions, but I’ll give it a go. Stephen King, Salman Rushdie, Louis de Bernieres, Douglas Adams, Jodi Picoult.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Jeff Torrington – who really should have been in my top five writers – he spent thirty years writing his first book and published it when he was fifty-seven, having worked and raised a family alongside. His book, Swing Hammer Swing! was a masterpiece. I’d ask him if he wished he’d written a book sooner, or if he’d ever lost faith in what he was doing.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Definitely. With books I could escape to anywhere, learn about how others thought – something that constantly confused me – and imagine impossible worlds. Life is quite confined and inescapable when you’re a child, but books give you a way out.
When did you start to write?
I’m not sure the age, but probably seven or eight. I’d rewrite TV programs that ended with my favourite characters dying, although my solution was mostly ‘And then they didn’t die and it was all fine,’ so I didn’t show a massive amount of promise. I started writing my first book around that age too, but it was destined to only be a few pages.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I’d like to change the ending of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The tragic finish was fitting for the time, but so hopeless, as if being victim was a romantic ideal. I wanted Tess to fight back, write some abusive graffiti on Angel’s house, or to just run away and leave her tormentors to stew in their own juices while she set up home somewhere new.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I wish I’d written Catch 22, even to have come up with the idea behind the title would be great.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
The only ‘me’ thing I’d want to write about would be the serious brain injury I got thirteen years ago, and the slow, complicated process of recovering from it. I’d call it Growing a Brain from Scratch.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Dirk Gently, we could meet in a café, pick someone who looked like they knew what they were doing and be ready to follow them. A holistic adventure would probably happen, but we might not get to drink the coffee, which is good because I need to cut down.
What are you working on right now?
A book about a utopia/dystopia where everyone is forced to be nice, and how that gets exploited.
Tell us about your last release?
The latest is Peddling Doomsday, released in June. It’s about a cult run by a charismatic prophet, Myra, whose narcissism starts to get out of control.
Do you have a new release due?
No, still writing it, the dystopian book has a little way to go.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I chew my nails, wander about aimlessly, panic that I’ve done something wrong, realise that I’ve done something wrong and frantically try to change it. Then finally go back to panicking and wandering. It’s not a glamourous day.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
One of my favourite things about this writing malarkey is hearing from readers, so if anyone out there likes what I do and wants to chat, vent or wax lyrical, then please visit me at my blog or if you happen to read my book, write me a review on Amazon. It will make my day!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Petra 🙂
Thank you for asking!
‘You don’t know how significant you are. We need you.’
No matter where she is, Deirdre feels out of place. So when a cult known as the Center contacts her, wanting her join up, she’s intrigued. They say a terrible war is coming, humanity is in danger and without explaining why, say she’s needed for the fight. Suddenly the chance to be spectacular is within her grasp. With the charismatic Myra as the cult leader, and talk of prophecies and psychic abilities, Deirdre is soon seduced and ditches her humdrum life to join up.
Once inside, her understanding of the world shifts. She learns the truth about the elite, a secret organisation that has meddled with humanity since the beginning of time. The elite use entertainment and the media as a constant distraction to stop people from reaching their true potential. To free themselves of this conditioning, the followers must give up ‘excessive’ food and sleep. They also carry out increasingly bizarre rituals under the critical eye of the Captain, a minor leader of the new followers. He seems to take pleasure from turning them against one another.
Tensions increase. The followers gain odd new abilities, but bullying and hysteria also grow. Meanwhile Myra’s prophecies become increasingly extreme. As paranoia intensifies, Deirdre questions where the belief ends, and delusion begins.