Hey there everyone.
It’s time for another enlightening insight into the mind of a published writer.
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May I present to you all author Fiona Jeeves, as she blazes on to the scene with her Young Adult Fantasy debut novel “Burning Embers (The Shadows Return)”.
Let’s find out more about what sparks her inspirational passions and writing experiences.
Have fun reading and a great weekend too folks.
Hi there Fiona, fantastic to have you over here to discuss your debut novel release and chat about your writing endeavours further.
Let’s start with your debut novel release – “Burning Embers- (The Shadows Return)”, available on pre-order, due out on 1st December 2017, which is a young adult fantasy, with danger, romance and a desperate need for self-discovery. Congratulations to you for getting it finished and published! Please tell us more about the plot/theme of this book, where and when it is set and what is ultimately at stake for your protagonist Feia across the course of her adventures.
Hi David and everyone, thank you for having me!
Burning Embers is set in a shattered world. The empire of Arenith has been crumbling for three hundred years. But among the kingdoms fighting for dominance, Feia must learn that the most powerful thing in any world, is to be able to accept and love who you are.
Feia was left abandoned at a Temple. She has no idea who her parents are or why she was left behind. An outsider, she finds a way to protect herself with dangerous firey magic; an abomination in a country that only accepts the one true goddess of light. Punished for her use of illegal magic, Feia dreams that destruction is coming to her homeland, Angeir. She runs away from the only home she’s ever known to find someone who will listen to her warning. After all, in the past her dreams have come true.
Following rumours that the Lord of Angeir left her at the Temple, Feia races to warn him about the coming destruction and to find out if she might just have a proper family. During her journey she’s faced with all the danger of a young woman setting out in the world with nothing but the clothes on her back. She learns harsh lessons about who to trust, and the importance of compassion and friendship.
You also mention on your website that you have crafted a series of articles regarding writing advice (https://fibijeeves.wordpress.com/writing-advice/). What kind of topics have you covered so far in the series and what topics will you be looking to cover in the future?
So far I’ve covered a range of topics; from starting out on a novel and planning the narrative arc to fine tuning and editing. I’ve also got some tips for writing dialogue (my least favourite thing in the world) and how to overcome the dreaded writers block. In the future I’ll be posting up some tips for specific genres such as Horror and Fantasy. But I’m always interested to know what is needed and am happy to take discussion requests.
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
This is such a hard question! I’ve been thinking about it all week until I was reminded of my favourite creature – the dragon. I love dragon’s. Perhaps it’s a cliché for a fantasy writer, but I have always adored them. I have a gorgeous glass dragon that hangs above my computer which gives inspiration. How do dragons relate to my style of writing? You think of a dragon and you have a clear image of what that might be, but if you look closer you’ll find subtle and nuanced detail to appreciate. I’d like to believe this is an accurate representation of my writing. I’ve also always upheld the idea that dragons can be shapeshifters, and I enjoy the flexibility that provides. Although my focus is YA Fantasy I like to dabble with flash-fiction, poetry, horror and even urban short stories.
If your novel was to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
Oh tricky! When I originally started writing Burning Embers, I would have said Alyson Hannigan because she has this real quirky way of portraying her characters. Now that the story is finished I’m more inclined to think Jennifer Lawrence; she just seems to have a positive energy and ability to move through a range of emotions. For Rhyode, Kit Harrington has been suggested and I must he’s a good fit for the mysterious Hunter. If nothing else, it would be an interesting pairing!
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
Whenever I start a new piece, the light of the scene is what first catches my attention. I’m dyslexic and although I love words, writing and reading, I’m happiest when I have a clear visual image when I start out. This doesn’t mean a picture, but more something that I’m able to imagine and daydream. Throughout my writing, you’ll find plenty of references to light and the way it plays through a forest or a window.
I want to write the books I’d want to read, so I try to write strong female protagonists. Young women who don’t need rescuing at the critical moment in the story, or could be replaced by an inanimate object.
A final theme you’ll find in most of my stories, is hope and characters who never give up hope when they’re trying to do the right thing. I always remind myself, that no matter how bad a day is, or a week or a month, a year – the world is always changing. There will be a new sky in the morning.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
The hardest thing about writing for me, is getting started. I’d like to write a horror story for a competition that closes soon but I’m struggling for a clear idea of what happens. I’m not a big planner and don’t make meticulous maps, but having one clear emotion or visual is what I need to begin.
Once I have a clear idea, then I find that the writing comes easily – sometimes too easily. If I’m typing away for hours on end, I tend to get carried away by the rhythm of the narrative and lose my reader. If I get too excited, I’ll end up somewhere and it’ll take me a few edits to realise that I didn’t bring my reader along with me; because the story was so clear in my mind, it wasn’t expressed very well on the page. Phillip Pullman was speaking about the Book of Dust on the Radio, and he was explaining how he felt that he was simply uncovering more of a story that already existed. My heart was pounding when I was listening, because it’s how I try and explain a good story. When all the pieces of a story are coming together – it doesn’t feel like I’m making it up. It feels as though I’m an archaeologist scratching away and revealing what is already there. They’re the best moments.
I must admit, that I’m not great with critique. There have been several times that I’ve been informed of a narrative problem and denied it vehemently. Undoubtedly, a few weeks later after I’ve been thinking it over…I’ll reach the same conclusion and be able to solve the problem.
Who are some of the authors, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
I’ve always loved mythology and so King Arthur and his knights of the round table used to fill my thoughts. I always wanted to be a Knight and would spend days and days reading fantasy books. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens however that I found Tamora Pierce. It was like a light being turned on, finally, here were young women, like me, who were knights! I could live out my dreams through their stories and it was incredible.
Along the way I also found Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. They both have such unique voices and are able to weave this dry humour into their narratives. I’ve read Pratchett’s Guards’ books so many times that I know them back to front, and I’m always amazed at his portrayal of humanity.
A final, true historical figure that I’ve always admired is Eleanor of Aquitaine, mother of Richard the Lionheart. I just find her amazing, she had a suit of armour and rode into the crusades – which is just astounding.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
I learn through actions and repetition best. So, it’s probably no surprise that in order to research all the things I’ve wanted to include in Burning Embers, I’ve taken up more than my share of hobbies! I’ve ridden horses from a young age, and hope that this lends authenticity to the horses in the story. However, I also took up medieval re-enactment, long-sword fighting and archery. I just felt that the best way to be able to describe how it feels to walk around in a heavy woollen dress, or use a longbow, would be to do it.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I suppose for a lot of people, why they write comes from why they read. I used to escape through books and dream of the day I’d fall into Narnia or be called up to Hogwarts. Sadly, I’m still waiting… but in the middle of a good book, when you’re racing to the end, there’s a sense of joy and satisfaction. I became a writer because I wanted to share that experience with others. I wanted to pull my friends and family into other worlds and drag them on an adventure.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
Writers Block – that old enemy. I think as writers we can be hyper critical of what we’re achieving. We set ourselves deadlines and sometimes we don’t meet them. What then happens if we feel bad about the missed deadline, and generally it’s easy to feel demotivated and then suddenly we’re on a downward spiral. Missing one day of writing turns into two, then a week, a month…
My best advice is to write now. Right now! Set a small target of 100 words for the day – then when you meet that target, allow yourself to feel proud of that achievement. Tomorrow, try 250 words and slowly over a few days increase your goal to where you’re comfortable. It’s just a way to break out of that spiral, without setting yourself a monster goal which is then terrifying.
I also find that it’s useful to change projects. I’ve hit a wall on a second YA novel I’m writing, which is frustrating because it’s 90% complete. I had a few weeks (months) away where I was beating myself up about it, but I’ve decided to leave it for a while and work on other things. I’m determined to complete some flash-fiction, attempt a couple of short stories in different voices and then I should hopefully be able to return to the novel, fresh and get it finished.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Everything is going to be okay. Short and sweet. It’s advice that I try and tell myself every day.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Free time? What is this? I currently work full time, and occasional weekends in addition so I feel very very lucky that I get to spend my evenings and weekends doing what I love – writing. This is only possible because I have a supportive Mr Lovely. In gaps of time I try and read (back on Men at Arms by Pratchett) or go for walks and enjoy the outside world.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I may have already given these away – but I’m dreaming up a couple of short stories, one from a first-person perspective and on horror piece. I’m also working (cough) to finish a second YA Fantasy Novel called the Poisoned Well. It’s so close! I hope to publish the Poisoned Well around April next year.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
The best advice I ever received was:
You can’t edit a blank page.
If you’ve hit a wall, or writers block – just write something – anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible, the worst thing ever written or even a lump of mumbo jumbo – it will be something. Just keep putting stuff down on the page and you can always come back and edit it to your heart’s desire. But you can’t edit a blank page.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for all of your generous writing advice, we can’t wait to check out your debut release and scorch our way through that too 🙂
Thank you so much for having me!
Although I’ve forgotten to talk about it very much – Burning Embers is available for pre-order on Amazon in paperback and e-book form.
Fiona Jeeves lives somewhere between England and the place where we go to day dream. She has a BA in Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. She is also dyslexic and tends to interpret the world with a slight twist.
Fiona loves writing about strong female protagonists, usually in a fantasy setting but has been known to venture into realism – but not for long!
You can connect with her via the following Social Media channels:-
Blog/Website:- The Blog & Website of Fiona Jeeves – Author of YA Fiction
Facebook:- Fibi Jeeves – Author (FB)
Twitter:- @fibiwolf (Twitter)
You can buy her books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
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