8 January 2018

Special Guest Interview with Author Jennifer C Wilson

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Along Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, royalty and commoners – living and dead – mingle amongst the museums, cafés and former royal residences. From Castle Hill to Abbey Strand, there is far more going on than meets the eye, as ghosts of every era and background make their home along the Mile. 

Today I would like to welcome author Jennifer C Wilson:

Tell us about your latest book

Last summer, Crooked Cat Books published my second Kindred Spirits novel, Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile, which follows the ‘lives’ of the ghosts of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. I’ve been trying to write about Mary, Queen of Scots for years, so when I decided to write a sequel, she was the obvious person, and I thought that Edinburgh would be the city she felt most at home in, despite being buried in Westminster Abbey.

The novel follows Queen Mary and her small court of ghosts, each with their own issues, and Mary especially, when her second husband Lord Darnley turns up. We also follow an Edinburgh ghost tour, where visitors and guides alike get a little more than they bargained for…

What is your preferred writing routine?

I always considered myself haphazard, but a writing friend told me I use the ‘mosaic approach’. I initially write lots of short scenes, snippets of dialogue and character-based scenes, until I reach 20-30,000 words. After a brief panic that nothing makes sense, I put everything on index cards, number those scenes and snippets, and shuffle them all around into something which resembles an order. Then I start linking them, and pulling the narrative together.

I also try to write something every day, whether it’s a blog post, an idea for a scene, or sitting down and building the word count. If I have a clear weekend, I can write up to 5,000 words, which makes me feel happier about weekdays when I cannot face more typing.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

To keep going. I wrote my first draft novel when I was in my teens, and rewrote the same plot for my first NaNoWriMo attempt in 2009 – both were awful. Next, I decided that ‘tale with a twist’ short stories in women’s magazines were easy, and clearly the way forward – I was wrong (short stories are difficult at the best of times, and definitely those with a twist you cannot see coming a mile off). I had some success with poetry, and went in that direction for a while, until finally stumbling across the Kindred Spirits idea (thanks to a poetry competition). I could so easily have given up, but I’m really thankful I didn’t.

Getting involved with other writers really helps too. Rejection or writers’ block doesn’t feel as bad when you’re with a group of other writers, all sharing tales of woe. And it’s even better when that same group can start sharing tales of joy. I joined a writing group a few years ago, and now co-run one of my own too, and I love their sense of community.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books? 

I struggled with this, and feel it’s only been the last year or so that things have begun to change. I fell into the ‘buy my book’ post trap on social media when my first novel came out, but luckily, Crooked Cat organised a series of webinars which explained the importance of not doing that! This last year, I’ve joined more Facebook groups interested in my field, and although still a bit of a ‘lurker’, I’ve really enjoyed chatting to people, and as a result, when I do share about my book, I feel less guilty, and I get more engagement as a result.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

This is difficult. I think, for Westminster Abbey, it was the sheer number and range of people buried or commemorated there. Over three thousand burials, including seventeen monarchs, as the ghosts repeat from the guidebook a couple of times. We all know how important the place is, as England’s, then Britain’s, national church, but it was still a surprise. You really cannot move without finding yourself standing on somebody’s grave, and having such a large potential cast-list was initially overwhelming, and why Westminster Abbey is the third in the series, not the second – I was originally too scared to tackle it.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

As part of the Kindred Spirits series, several spirits have found and passed through their ‘white light’. I won’t say who passes through in Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey, but when I was writing it, I was surprised to find myself in floods of tears. I hadn’t realised how invested I was in the scene!

What are you planning to write next?

I’m at an interesting crossroads right now! Last October, I self-published for the first time, and I am tempted to do it again with another timeslip project. I’ve also been working on a more traditional historical fiction (featuring Richard III – there’s a definite theme…). Finally, I’m contemplating a fourth Kindred Spirits novel, so am brainstorming possible locations.

Jennifer C Wilson
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About the Author

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside. Jennifer’s debut novel,Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website. Her timeslip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? Is available for download from Amazon.

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