I am thrilled to be able to present to you today, Jackie Kewsick in an interview. It’s a fascinating read and, towards the bottom of the page, you can find links to her books, more info, and a sample of her writing.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background (short bio)
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Who, or what, first inspired you to write?
If I had to guess, I’d say something historical. I wrote my first “novel” when I was twelve. It was set in England during the time of the Norman Conquest and had a very dashing hero. After that I got bitten by the sci-fi bug. My love affair with thrillers and suspense is much more recent.
Where does your inspiration for a story come from?
Usually a line of something – a song lyric, a snippet of dialogue, or a sentence in something I’m reading. The inspiration for one of my current WiPs, Sound Judgement, was the song Me and Mrs. Jones, playing while we drove home after a holiday. The plot bunny for another story, Undercover Star, turned up while I was reading the news about a court case involving undercover work. Most times, the plot bunny fairy lands me with the first line and I go from there.
What is your writing process?
I’m fairly happy-go-lucky in the early stages. I let the plot bunny loose and follow where it goes. That tends to take me over the first 5k or so and by then I’ll know whether the story has legs or not. Then I write myself a stack of signposts… that’s usually either the emotional story arc, or the mystery plot, if it’s suspense. If I get to the last line, I keep going. Otherwise I set the story aside until I come up with the end. Once I have first line, last line, and my stack of signposts, I can get going. And no, I don’t write in a straight line.
Can you list your favourite books (by other authors) and say what attracts you to them?
I have three “forever” books, which I can read without the need to take them off the shelf. The one that’s been with me the longest is Johannes Tralow’s The Eunuch, a historical novel set in the 1760s. I first read this when I was fourteen or so, and I still find new bits to admire every time I go back to it.
The second of my forever books is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin, which has been with me since my early twenties. Amazingly detailed world building, lots of gorgeous imagery and… Estraven. One of my favourite characters, ever, and I still choke up in places when I read it – never mind I can quote whole pages!
I only found the third book a couple of years ago and Late Summer, Early Spring by Patricia Correll knocked me flat. I hadn’t expected to find another forever book, but the language is gorgeous, so quiet and sensual, and the love story between Iwata and Hiroshi just blew me away. It’s so understated it’s barely there, but it packs a punch.
I write for a living, which doesn’t mean I’m at all confident submitting fiction anywhere. Dreamspinner Press took a chance on my suspense novel Job Hunt (they’ve also published the sequels Ghosts and House Hunt, as well as Leap of Faith) and they’ve been an exceptionally good place to learn the ropes.
I treated the production of Job Hunt very much like an apprenticeship and their support for new authors is awesome. [Me: Click Here for more info about Job Hunt, in Pdf format.]
I’ve just started to branch out into self-publishing with The Power of Zero, the prequel to Job Hunt and a story I’m using to fundraise for the Albert Kennedy Trust and the Banbury Young Homelessness Project. It’s trickier, since I’m my own project manager as well as the author, but using what I’ve learned from DSP it worked out well and hasn’t put me off doing it again.
What are you working on now and what’s coming out next?
I’ve just completed Swings & Roundabouts, which is the fourth book in the Power of Zero series. That’s with the betas and editor right now, and I’m very much hoping to have Jack & Gareth out on amazon before Christmas.
Meanwhile, I’m playing with Undercover Star, a light-hearted romantic suspense novella, and Sound Judgement, where I’m building a dystopian England, six years after a military coup. Of course, there’s always more Jack and Gareth in the works.
Where can we find out more about you and follow you? (Blogs, Facebook links etc.)
For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:
A sample of Jackie’s excellent writing, ‘Dinner‘ (Click for Pdf)