Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Featured Author: Katrina Jack

I'm happy to have Katrina Jack here today to talk about her novel, Land of Midnight Days, a YA urban fantasy.

About the book:

Your book blurb: What would you do if your life was filled with fear: hide, run away - or would you fight back? In a city at war with itself, Jeremiah Tully already knows how to survive, now he must learn how to live. Mute from birth, of mixed race heritage and his only possession a charmed flute, Jeremiah tries to discover where his remarkable talent as a musician will take him.

Interview with Katrina Jack:

Welcome, Kate. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I started way back when I was fourteen. Somebody gave me an old leather bound diary. I filled it with short stories and drawings. I stuck to writing short stories and magazine articles for a few years, before joining a writing group and from there expanding my writing ambitions into novels.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favorite thing?

I love the creative process of developing characters and building worlds. I hate having to “kill” off characters that simply don’t work, or have served their purpose.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I wanted a title that depicted the world the characters inhabited and gave the prospective reader a hint of the darkness of the story. Originally it was simply called “Midnight Days,” until I discovered that Neil Gaiman, renowned fantasy writer, had already published a book under the same title.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, I work full time as an office clerk.

How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

YA dystopian fantasy, with a touch of faerie, a soupcon of horror, and a measure of romance thrown into the mix.

112 characters. I'm impressed! How did you create the plot for this book?

The inspiration came from a number of sources. The first strike came when I was at work. I was staring out of the window at the Littlewoods building on Edge Lane in Liverpool. It has a rather elegant art deco tower, and I thought what a wonderful location it would make for a story. That sewed the germ of an idea. The next came from St Luke’s bombed out church, in Liverpool City Centre. Over the next few months, more and more locations inspired me and then the final piece of the jigsaw slotted into place, when I was listening to a CD of 70’s rock band, Jethro Tull, whose lead singer plays the flute.  Ideas came thick and fast after that and so the plot of Land of Midnight Days was born.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I used to write by the seat of my pants, but found I was constantly had to backtrack and rectify inconsistencies. So now I plot from start to finish, but when I actually begin to write the story, I sometimes find the characters steer me in completely different directions.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, particularly those featuring my favourite, Sam Vimes. I’ve read Guards, guards!, Jingo, Snuff and many more, over and over. I also love Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series and have read it several times. 

What do you do to market your book?

Since I have a zero budget for advertising, I post on Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon and my blog. My publisher, Ecanus Publishing, is also going to be marketing the book in the near future.

Wow, that's great. How do you get to know your characters?

I hold “conversations” with them in my head. I know it sounds crazy, but it enables me to form their personalities, idiosyncrasies, likes and dislikes.

Do you have a favorite of your characters?

Yes, I’m afraid I do. It’s the main protagonist, Jeremiah Tully. Why? Because there’s quite a bit of me in him.

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

Not always. I usually have an idea of who the first four or five characters will be, but as the story progresses more can and do appear.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?


Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

It’s in the opening chapter, where Jeremiah is fleeing for his life from a group of “wannabes,” my name for yobs or hooligans. I’ve tried to make it fast paced, breathless, almost, so that it sweeps the reader along in its wake.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.

Hah! Nice try. I think I’d invite Terry Pratchett, because he’d make me laugh. I’d try and find out first what he’d like to eat and then get someone who can cook to prepare it.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m currently reading in paperback, White Mountain, The Darkling Chronicles, by Sophie E Tallis. It’s a wonderful blend of high fantasy and contemporary fiction.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I used to get quite upset by negative criticism, and it still stings. But once I’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff, and subdued my outraged ego, I’ve come to appreciate the genuinely helpful feedback. I’ve also forced myself to realize that not everyone is going to like my work, and I just have to accept that.

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

Because I work full time, 5 days a week, I tend to get up early, 5:15 am, and write for about an hour, before going to work. Then again for a few hours in the evening.

Where’s home for you?

The great city of Liverpool.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"Without hard work, talent is not enough." ~ Henri Matisse

About the author: 

My name is Katrina Jack, and I write YA urban fantasy. I began writing many years ago, but Land of Midnight Days is my first published work. A few years back I had a bit of a windfall and invested some of it in obtaining a degree in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University.

Although I primarily write urban fantasy, I also enjoy other genres, such as murder mysteries, romance and biographies. My favourite authors, in the fantasy genre are: Robin Hobb, Jim Butcher, David Gemmell, Jack Vance and many more.

I was born in October 1956, in the wonderful city of Liverpool, at the now demolished hospital known as Sefton General, which was so ill-equipped in those days, that my poor mother's drip was hung from an old broom pole! Talk about the lap of luxury, eh?

I still live in Liverpool, in an area rich in public gardens and parks, plus a cemetery and a crematorium - great for inspiration, believe it or not. Included in some of the wonderful historical buildings in the area, is the mansion house known as Allerton Hall, former home of Richard Lathom, who fought as a Royalist during the civil war and is a grade II listed building. It makes a guest appearance in my novel, under a different guise of course.

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