Today I’m excited to have author/blogger and horse trainer, Deborah Jay here to share some of her experiences as an author, and about her newest labor of love, The Prince’s Son, sequel to The Prince’s Man, an epic fantasy.
Deborah is a prolific author who draws a lot of her writing inspiration from the Scottish Highlands where she is known to take off on her little ventures for a dose of inspiration from her home near London, England. Her day job and passion for horses also keeps her busy as a rider and trainer, and she also judges at horse dressage competitions. I would like to also add that Deborah was one of my first blogging pals when I became a blogger 3 and a half years ago. She is a huge supporter of Indie authors and does a lot of sharing and promoting book blasts and book promos of others on her blog. So without further ado, let’s get to know a little more about Deb.
Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.
Jay’s debut novel, epic fantasy THE PRINCE’S MAN, won a UK Arts Board award, and was an Amazon Hot 100 New Release. She is also the author of several non-fiction equestrian titles published in her professional name of Debby Lush.
This epic fantasy can be read as a stand alone story.
Nessa Haddo has been raised to pursue what every young noblewoman needs: a suitable husband. Unfortunately for her, as a younger twin, her prospects are limited. Things start to look up when she lays eyes on the handsome foreign envoy sent to escort her sister to an arranged marriage, but her romantic fantasies quickly entangle her in events beyond her darkest nightmares.
Compared to his last mission, ex-spy Rustam Chalice’s new assignment sounds simple: wrangle an unwieldy bridal caravan across a mountain range populated by bandits, trolls, werecats, and worse, try to cajole a traumatized princess out of her self-imposed isolation, and arrive on time for the politically sensitive wedding. What could possibly go wrong?
Meanwhile, Lady Risada—the woman who haunts Rustam’s dreams—is struggling to adjust to a normal life. All her carefully honed assassin’s instincts scream warnings of foul play, yet she can find nothing obviously amiss.
And deep in the halls of a mountain clan, an old enemy plucks his victims’ strings with expert malice.
1. Tell us a little about your life working with horses, and about how you manage to fit in the time to write books.
Do you know the saying, ‘if you want something doing, ask a busy person’?
Well that person’s me. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to make a living doing my hobby at a professional level, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything, even a lucrative publishing contract, so writing has to fit around my working life.
I train competition horses and riders in both dressage and eventing. I’ve had a successful competing career, representing GB internationally in 2007, and riding Grand Prix dressage at National level for the past 7 years. I’m currently bringing on a new young horse, having just retired my long term partner, appropriately (considering I write fantasy) called Merlin. I have a couple of clients on the UK World Class programme, so I’m hoping one day to make it to the Olympics as a coach. Oh, and I’m also one of the UK’s top judges, which can keep me very busy at certain times of year.
My coaching work is highly variable – time of year, weather and financial climate all come into play, so I may end up with a ridiculous run of work (flat out for months at a time), or a slack period lasting weeks, and it’s in those slack times I get much of my writing done. Also when the weather is really bad and I don’t feel guilty about sitting indoors!
I know all the advice is to ‘write every day’, and, ‘cultivate a writing habit’. I simply can’t do that, I have to take opportunities when they appear, and make the most of them. I do try to write every evening (my favorite time of day, when distractions are minimal), but I’m often too tired.
As a result, my books take longer to write than many indie authors. I also write large books – this latest is a chunky doorstop of a 500 page paperback – but I figure I’m in it for the long term, and I can’t, sadly, magic more time into the day, so I’ve finally stopped beating myself up for not publishing new work every few months.
2. Was there something in particular your read or watched when you were young that inspired you to write in the fantasy genre?
I actually started out reading and writing science fiction. I loved the old TV series, like Star Trek and Thunderbirds, and the incredible scope for imagination hooked me.
My first fantasy read was at school – A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin – and that introduced me to not only the genre, but also the concept of flawed characters, leading on to amazing possibilities in character development.
My first serious attempts at book writing (I can’t really class the children’s book I began writing when I was 8 as serious), were both SF. Then I came across a publisher calling for short fantasy novels, so I swapped an idea I had for an SF book into a fantasy setting, and hey presto! My first fantasy novel was born.
Annoyingly, the publisher folded just as I sent my manuscript…
3. Are you content to continue writing in the fantasy genre, or perhaps contemplating exploring writing in another genre in the future?
I’m sure I will go back to SF sooner or later, and I write in two very different sub-genres of fantasy (epic and urban), all of which satisfy my vivid imagination. I’ve had two non-fiction (horse training) books traditionally published, I’m collecting funny stories on the horse judging circuit for what I hope will be an illustrated humor book, and I have a yen to put together a writer’s guide to horses in fiction. Not sure that leaves me time for much else!
4. What types of posts do you write about and share on your blog?
To quote my blog mission statement: To write primarily, but not exclusively, for readers. There are tons of blogs out there giving advice on the nuts and bolts of writing, and I’m more interested in connecting with readers, so I host other authors with blog tours and occasional interviews, and I review books when I can find the time. I focus mostly on fantasy novels (surprise, surprise), but I also like a cozy mystery, and an odd delve into something totally different, like a memoir!
I blog a little about my job, and how some sports coaching techniques can be applied to writing, and I share pictures and videos from my frequent visits to the beautiful Scottish Highlands, where one of my novels series is set.
5. Of course I’m going to ask you for a nugget of wisdom you can offer new writers from your own experience.
Read widely, particularly in your chosen genre. From well written novels you can pick up a feel for pacing and technique without formal study. Also read poorly written books and notice what annoys you about them, then don’t make the same mistakes!
You can pick up a lot about pacing and storytelling from watching films and, bizarrely enough, soap operas – script writers are expert at manipulating our emotions and keeping us hungry for more.
6. I remember reading a post on your blog, talking about the intricate details of what to beware of when writing a sequel to a previous book. Can you share what you’ve gleaned from the process?
The first thing I learned was to not allow myself to feel pressurized by the reviewers of the first book. Many expressed opinions of what they would like to happen in the sequel, and at first I felt obligated to try and incorporate those ideas in an effort to please everyone.
Then I got sensible. I have a plan for the overall arc of the series, and I’m going to tell it the way I see it.
It’s also a challenge to make the stakes bigger second time around, even when you felt your first book climax was massive. When you set out to write your first book you throw everything into it, to make it the best you possibly can. Then suddenly, you have to top that. This leads to a lot of self-imposed pressure, which for me, dried up my creativity for a while.
Eventually, I gave myself a good talking to and got back to writing, putting off that pressure for another day. And it really worked. This book was a new challenge, with four view point characters and even more plot strands than the first, but somehow it all came together when I stopped focusing on the pressure to produce, and just got on with it.
The last piece of advice I would give for those writing a sequel, is to go back and re-read your first book, and make sure your ‘bible’ (character details, important plot points etc.) is in order. You don’t want to find you’ve changed something in the second book without realizing it. I was very fortunate one of my writers group pulled me up over a detail I’d inadvertently altered that was fundamental to my world building. Phew!
7. I know awhile back you were experimenting with promoting your books on other sites besides Amazon. What is your opinion from your findings, on staying exclusive with KDP Amazon, or distributing your books on other channels?
Jury is still out, I’m afraid. I have one set of books (the Sprite novels) in KDP, and the borrows bring in some income, plus the ease of running promotions is very attractive.
The other set (epic fantasy) is wide on lots of platforms, which is a pain when running a promo, but I sell a few copies on those other sites that I wouldn’t otherwise, which pretty much balances out the KDP borrows.
I think I favor the wide approach on principle, but I like the ease of being in KDP. For the moment, I shall continue with one foot in each camp.
8. Now please tell us about how your new book, The Prince’s Son, came to be, and please share a snippet for us to read.
The Prince’s Son is the sequel to my first published novel, The Prince’s Man, though I’ve worked hard to ensure each book can be read alone. I can’t abide cliff hangers!
My characters were begging to continue their lives, plus a few minor ones had a bit more to say, and I couldn’t deny them. I struggled to contain them to a degree, and ended up cutting out a couple of threads which will now form the core of a companion novel, so those people will all get their share of the limelight.
The logline for The Prince’s Man is ‘Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’. The Prince’s Son goes by ‘Think Lord of the Rings with a Game of Thrones edge’.
* * * * * * *
Excerpt from Chapter 1
Nessa flung the doors open and hurried into the pleasantly appointed sitting room. Enya appeared scant moments later through the connecting door from the servants’ quarters.
Nessa pounced. “Enya, who is the delectable young man with the scar?”
The maid’s pretty round face lit with an impish smile. “That, my lady, is Rustam Chalice.”
“No!” A shiver of excitement ran up Nessa’s spine. “The Rustam Chalice? Really?”
“Yes indeed, my lady.”
Enya bobbed her head in emphasis and several blonde curls slipped from beneath her cap. She reached up, trying to stuff them back in, and Nessa stepped over to help her. The young noblewoman sighed in envy of her maid’s crowning glory. Not that she begrudged the girl her doll-like prettiness or her mop of golden curls, but as ever Nessa wished she had been born with something more striking than her straight brown hair and hazel eyes. While her irises had unusual streaks of light and dark coloring—the only visible difference between her and Julin—people had to inspect them closely to notice.
And surely it would take something special to get a second glance from the infamous Rustam Chalice.
Even Julin appeared mildly interested and asked: “Did he come by that mark in the fire? How sad; he must have been very handsome before.”
So Julin had noticed, but she was wrong—the scar made him all the more attractive. Nessa dragged her attention back to Enya.
“… already had it when he was captured. The way I heard it, it was punishment from the goddess for being vain, although some say it was for daring to use magic.”
Nessa pursed her lips. In her opinion anyone who looked that good had a right to be vain. And as to the other, she found it hard to believe the power responsible for saving their kingdom from the vile pretender might be abhorred by the goddess.
“Magic! Ugh.” Julin shuddered. Nessa opened her mouth to point out where they might be now if Rustam Chalice hadn’t used magic when something else struck her.
“But how come he’s here? I thought using magic got him exiled, with his life forfeit if he entered Tyr-en ever again.”
“He’s here under diplomatic protection,” explained Enya, who had obviously quizzed the other servants. “He’s a special envoy for the Kishtanian king.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Nessa as a thrilling notion struck her. “Do you suppose he’ll be travelling back to Kishtan with us?”
Buy Links for Deborah’s Books:
Amazon smart link myBook.to/PrincesSon
Visit Deborah’s Amazon Author Page to view all of her books! And drop by her blog and say hello at DeborahJayauthor.com
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