Hi and welcome to my stop on Julia Ibbotson’s Finding Jess blog tour!
With thanks to Julia Ibbotson and to Kelly @ Love Books Group Tours 🙂
Interview with Julia Ibbotson…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Hi Kerry, lovely to chat with you today! Well, I’m the author of best-selling award-winning books with my lovely publisher, Endeavour. At the moment I’m promoting the last of my Drumbeats trilogy, called Finding Jess, which was recently published http://mybook.to/FindingJess The first one, Drumbeats, is set in 1965, and is a coming-of-age romance in the midst of civil war in Africa; there’s a spice of mystery too http://myBook.to/Drumbeatstrilogy The trilogy follows my main character, Jess, through the decades, starting with the 1960s at age 18, when she goes off to Africa for a gap year, and moving on to the 1980s and 1990s with Walking in the Rain http://myBook.to/WalkingintheRainDrumbeatstrilogy . And now, Jess’s story is completed with Finding Jess. Hopefully it’s feel-good story; it’s about a woman’s strength and spirit.
I have written in different genres: a memoir/history of food/recipe book (The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen) http://myBook.to/TheOldRectory a medieval fantasy children’s book (S.C.A.R.S) http://myBook.to/SCARSchildrensbook , the Drumbeats trilogy (women’s fiction) and a medieval mystery time-slip (A Shape on the Air) http://myBook.to/ASOTA .
I’ve just moved to writing fulltime, after a career in education, as a secondary school teacher (English and Drama) and a senior lecturer/researcher at university.
I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, which is a very supportive organisation and we meet up every month for lunch, and also the Society of Authors and the Historical Novel Society.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Sometimes from real life, my experiences and those of other people around me. Drumbeats and Finding Jess were inspired by my time working in Ghana; I’d always wanted to write about this fascinating country. I also find the 1960s an interesting period: I’m told that anything prior to 1968 is now history! And I’m intrigued by history, especially the medieval period, and by the concept of time and time travel, which inspired S.C.A.R.S and A Shape on the Air.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Hmmm, I don’t know whether to confess that! Seriously, I think all writers take bits of people they know but they might end up with creating a hybrid character who isn’t really anything like those original sources.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
Names come to me almost automatically; I do think that you tend to imagine a person from a name. In A Shape on the Air, I had an interesting system because the characters in the dark ages, 499 AD, had to be a reflection of those in the present day, as they were reaching out to each other across the centuries, and part of a ‘thread’, so their names were sort of similar. There is also a narrative in the book about the Lady of the Lake, and so names evolved from that literature and legend.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I start my day swimming about 25 lengths of the pool, followed by 30 minutes in the gym, then I’m all set to work for a couple of hours in the morning and 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon, although I try to take frequent breaks, which is difficult if I’m ‘on a roll’. I might go for a walk or do some gardening in the middle, if it’s a nice day. I spend the summer researching, plotting and planning, and the winter writing the manuscript. I’m an outdoor person so I research/read outside as much as I can, whenever the English weather permits. I plan fairly thoroughly and edit quite a lot as I go along but often just write a note in red if I know I need to work further on a particular scene, so that I don’t lose the momentum. I write through from chapter one (or the prologue – I’m quite keen on those!) right to the end, and I edit the whole thing several times again when the ms is complete.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
I love historical time-slip. Barbara Erskine is a favourite, Pamela Hartshorne who mainly sets her books in York where I went to school, Susanna Kearsley. I also love Jodie Picoult and Tracy Chevalier. I like books that make me think, and also that are evocative of time and/or place.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Tracy Chevalier, and I’d like to know how she goes about plotting her books and researching their background. I very nearly met her at an HNS conference, but just missed her.
Were you a big reader as a child?
I’ve always been an avid reader. I remember my mother reading to me at bedtime when I was little, especially the Anne of Green Gables series, which was her own favourite. I also recall reading the full adult version of David Copperfield when I was 8 and my teacher not believing me!
When did you start to write?
I’ve always written, ever since I could hold a pencil in my little hand: short stories and then a full novel at 10. It was about farms and horses and adventures. But later on I had a very demanding career and I was a single parent for 10 years so I didn’t seriously start to think about writing to publish until about 7 years ago, and was lucky enough to secure a publisher quite quickly. I’ve published 6 books since then and I’m writing my 7th at the moment.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I think it’s always interesting to see how other writers decide to ‘wrap up’ a story and work out what was the thinking behind it.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Well, it has to be the Harry Potter series, doesn’t it! But seriously, Lady of Hay (Barbara Erskine), or Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) – such imagination and skill, both.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
Saturday’s Child – or maybe Never Give Up
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Rev Sidney Chambers of The Grantchester Chronicles (preferably as James Norton who acted him) and I’d invite him over to mine for coffee and home-made ginger flapjacks. He’s the inspiration for one of the main protagonists in A Shape on the Air and my current WIP Azulejo – or maybe that’s James Norton!
What are you working on right now?
Another historical multi-period mystery, but a bit later in the medieval period than A Shape on the Air. It’s set in the present day, the 14 century and the 16th century, and it’s set in Madeira (which is a place I love) and closely reflects the history of the island, which is fascinating.
Tell us about your last release?
Finding Jess, the last of the Drumbeats trilogy, was published this summer, and sees single mother, Jess, struggling to get her life back on track after the betrayal of her beloved husband and of her best friend. On the brink of losing everything, including her family, and still haunted by her past and the Ghanaian drumbeats that pervade her life, she feels that she can no longer trust anyone. Then she is mysteriously sent a newspaper clipping of a temporary job back in Ghana. Could this be her lifeline? Can Jess turn back time and find herself again? And what, exactly, will she find?
Finding Jess is a passionate study of love and betrayal – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust after suffering great misfortune. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity http://mybook.to/FindingJess
Do you have a new release due?
I’m working on my new book, provisionally entitled Azulejo. I’ll let you know when it’s due to be released!
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
We go out for a slap-up dinner in a favourite restaurant, often in Madeira, and it entails a long glam dress, full make-up and heels. Or else, as it’s usually in the summer, I’m just lying in the sun reading and sipping prosecco.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
All my books are available on Amazon, in ebook and paperback editions:
But do check out my other sites:
Author website: https://juliaibbotsonauthor.com/
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/JuliaIbbotsonauthor
Pinterest page: includes boards with pics and images that inspired each book
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/juliaibbotson
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I also run an editing service for writers (who may be authors/aspiring authors writing creative work, or students writing academic work, such as dissertations) and you can find details on my website at https://juliaibbotsonauthor.com/ and email me through there.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Julia 🙂
Thank you for the lovely chat today, Kerry, and thanks for featuring me on your blog.
Single mum Jess has had her world turned upside down. Now it’s about to be turned inside out.
Jess has got a tough life back on track after love-of-her-life husband Simon walked out on her and their beautiful young daughters Katy and Abi. But she has long-time friend and confidante Polly to turn to…until Polly and Simon start having an affair together.
When Polly decides to apply for a job at Jess’s school, in the English department, Jess feels threatened. So why has Polly set her sights on the department head’s role? And why is the school now offering Jess a sideways ‘promotion’?
Jess can no longer trust anyone – including herself. Then out of the blue she is mysteriously sent a clipping for a temporary post in the Ministry of Education in Ghana, where she did a gap year as a teenager, and where she was happy. She is on the brink of losing everything at home but could this be a lifeline?
Julia Ibbotson’s Finding Jess is a passionate study of love and betrayal – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust after suffering great misfortune. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.
Happy reading 🙂