Today’s Interview with an Author is with Jenny Lloyd, author of Leap the Wild Water and The Calling of the Raven.
What got you into writing?
As a child, I wrote poetry and my primary school teacher entered one of my poems in a national contest. I didn’t win but I did come second which I realise now was a quite significant achievement and it did inspire me to want to write more.
What’s your favourite book and why?
I have too many favourites to mention only one but if I can choose just one book which has most influenced me as a writer then it would be Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I love all his books; they are classics, in the style of rural realism which I aspire to.
What’s your writing routine?
That depends on what stage I am at with a project and whether I’m in other employment while writing. If I’m in the research, redrafting, or editing stages, I am quite disciplined and aim to put in a minimum of thirty hours a week.
If I’m otherwise employed, then these hours will take up most of my evenings and weekends. When I’m in the first draft stage, routine goes out of the window; I lose count of time and just have to write as the muse takes me.
Tea or Coffee?
Tea. The Welsh love their tea. If you visit anyone in Wales, the first thing you will be offered, before you’ve had time to take off your coat, is a cup of tea. I do love a cappuccino or a latte but I’m naturally too highly strung to drink too much in the way of coffee, so they tend to be occasional treats only.
What’s your favourite genre to write?
Definitely historical, I love researching and writing about the ways people used to live, especially rural people. I think I was born in the wrong century. I hanker for a wardrobe of 18th and 19th century clothes, and for a pony and cart and chickens scratching in the yard, though I would have hated living under the social constraints that women did back then.
How long did your first novel, Leap the Wild Water, take you to write?
From the first draft to date of publication was over four years, and to that you can add at least a year of research beforehand. It wouldn’t have taken that long only I suffered two bereavements after I finished the first draft, and that set me back for a long while. The sequel was written in less than a year.
I created a big problem for myself by deciding to restructure Leap the Wild Water after it was written. I changed the order of the chapters so that the conflicting first person narratives of the brother and sister alternated from one chapter to the next. It truly made my head spin at times, making such major changes, but it hugely improved the whole novel in terms of pace, tension and plot.
You have written a sequel to “Leap the Wild Water”, called “The Calling of the Raven”. Could you tell us a little more about it?
I enjoyed writing this sequel so much. When writing Leap the Wild Water, I waged a constant battle with my voice of self-doubt. Self-doubt is a crippling obstacle to a writer. I kept putting off the decision to publish because of it, afraid that no one else would love my story and its characters as I did. The praise I’ve received for that book has been a revelation and inspiration to me.
So much so, that it silenced that voice of self-doubt so that I was able to wholly enjoy writing the sequel and I think it is a better work for that. The Calling of the Raven continues Megan’s story. It’s an exposition of sexual jealousy, oppression, the destruction born of the need to possess, and the redeeming power of forgiveness.
I hope my readers enjoy it as much as Leap the Wild Water. It is written in defence of all women, past and present, who are denied their rights by those who choose to control them.
I confess that I’m never certain what is going to happen to my characters until I am in the process of writing. I have a vague idea but characters take on a life of their own in the writing process and I simply follow where they lead. The plot is driven by the character’s actions so it gathers momentum continuously throughout.
Jenny, you are the ninth of ten children, you must have a very chaotic family life. Is it hard to stay in touch with them all, as well as continue writing?
I no longer live close to any of my siblings so hardly get to see them and even if I did, it would be impossible to keep up with them all. We’ve all grown up and gone our separate ways, had children, and grandchildren. These days, a sign of us all getting older, I only ever seem to see them at funerals.
You told me that your “greatest inspirations come from things which have happened in the past to my own female ancestors.” Could you tell my readers why?
Until I researched my family history, I had no real idea of the struggles they went through. My maternal great-great-great grandmother had her illegitimate child removed from her and placed with a woman who boarded these children.
My grandmother was placed in a mental asylum by her violent husband because she had become depressed following his having tried to kill her. She tried to escape to get back to her children. It was eighteen years later when her oldest daughter finally came to take her home to live with her.
These discoveries shocked me and led me to read all I could about women’s lives in the past; lives blighted by inequalities which were endorsed by every sphere of society.
Are you self-published or with an agent?
I am self-published.
How do you keep motivated?
I keep writing stories because it’s what I love to do above all else, so I would say it is the writing itself which is my motivation.
Thank you, Jenny for such an interesting interview. I know I am certainly going to be buying copies of your books, and I hope my readers do too.
To see more of Jenny’s work, click the links below!
Amazon UK: http://ow.ly/uEv3O
Amazon US: http://ow.ly/uEuXQ