MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JENNIFER LANDELS
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Jennifer Landels, and I write fantasy and historical fiction under JM Landels.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
Allaigna’s Song: Overture is a bildingsroman. It’s a coming of age novel about a girl who discovers she has the dangerous and illicit talent for singing music into magic. As she discovers who she is, Allaigna must decide who she wants to be: the skilled courtier her mother wants her to be, the political chess piece her father bargained on, or the hero her grandmother foresaw.
This character sprang into my head, fully formed as an adult. I wrote the book to discover what made her into the hero she grew up to be.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I grew up reading fantasy and have a degree in Medieval English Lit, so the genre has always seemed most natural to me. My current WIP is historical, set in 17th century France, which is really just an excuse to visit France – for research purposes of course.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Not a lot. I am a doula, musician, sword fighter, and equestrian, so a lot the story elements were ‘pre-researched’ by life experience. For my historical novel I am researching more, but I try not to dive into research rabbi tholes. Instead I make notes that say [research] in my first draft, and just continue writing with the intent of fixing inaccuracies in 2nd draft.
Can you tell me about your Series?
There are two more books in the Allaigna’s Song series, Aria, which is currently being serialized in Pulp Literature magazine, and is coming out in 2019; and Chorale which is due in 2020. Aria takes her to that fully formed character I first imagined, and Chorale takes her beyond that.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I do almost all my first draft with my writing group. We write together each week using The Hour Stories, a series of inspirational writing prompts by Dale Adams Segal. We write for an hour, generating about a thousand word, then read back to each other immediately. The instant feedback of a listening audience is highly encouraging, and the pressure of having something to read at the end of the hour is incredibly motivating.
Second and third drafts mostly happen in the coffee shop, and revisions beyond that happen under deadline pressure, usually between 10 pm and 3 am.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
The first book, and the series title in my historical thriller works-in-progress is La Bergere (the shepherdess). The main character is a shepherdess-turned-spy during the reign of Louis XIV. There are court intrigues, poisoners, rapier duels, and carriage chases taking place across the varied and epic scenery of France.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
The fact that everything that happens in life, good or bad, is grist for the mill. As a writer, there are no wasted experiences, relationships, or emotions. Its all research.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Well, I just bought an equestrian facility this summer, so I’m hoping to still be here in 10 years, gazing happily out my window at my horses as I write.
Have you always liked to write?
Yes. My mum recently returned some storybooks that I made when I was four years old. I don’t ever remember I time when I did love books and want to write them.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read as much as possible, in as many genres as you can, good writing and bad. Good writing gives you something to aspire to, but bad writing is even more educational. When you find a book you can’t get into, instead of just putting it down, ask why. It may just be its not a genre or story line that appeals to you. Or there may be something you can learn about why the prose or story isn’t hooking you.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I already have many occupations: publisher, editor, sword fighting and riding instructor, artist, and barn manager. Between them, I’m pretty sure I’d keep myself busy if the writing well ever ran dry.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
From La Bergere
I was born in a small hameau near Paris. Mamam was a bergere – a shepherdess, is what you’d say. I suppose Papa was too, once, but he died when I was very young. The stories and paintings, they make the life of a shepherdess seem quaint and romantic, lolling about the hills all day, shepherd boys and noblemen alike lying at your feet and making cow eyes, with the sun shining and the meadows all in bloom.
It’s nothing like that, let me tell you. It’s trudge, trudge, trudge up the bloody hills all day, knee deep in briars, mud and cowshit, looking for one lost animal too stupid to stick with the rest. Or shearing time, when you stink of sweat and lanolin, and get butted, stepped on, and kicked by the ungrateful creatures for your troubles.
But you don’t want to hear about that, do you? It’s La Voisin you want to know about. How it makes you smile and titter to think about that evil woman. Seductress and poisonneuse. High society’s killer for hire. She wasn’t what you think.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It energizes me. Even if I didn’t feel like writing, I always feel better once I’ve got words on the page.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JMLandels, and find Allaigna’s Song: Over ture at Pulp Literature Press, as well as on Amazon.
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
Thank you for inviting me!