Friday, February 24, 2012

Interview with Jan Jones

A very warm welcome to Jan Jones, who has been shortlisted for one of the Romantic Novelists' Association awards for the third year running. Many congratulations on your short listing with The Kydd Inheritance, Jan. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

My most recent book is The Kydd Inheritance. It is the prequel to my Newmarket Regencies, Fair Deception and Fortunate Wager.

What is it about the regency period that so excites you, and how do you set about your research?

It was such a period of change. The Georgian era as a whole saw the start of consumerism, but with the Regency, the Arts and Sciences became fashionable and society's mind began to expand. As for research, I wander round my local area studying the buildings, I look at prints, visit museums, read the books of the time, read the adverts in contemporaneous magazines...

I know that you also write serials which are not easy to do. Can you tell us in what way they differ from the novel?

My serials are quite short (21K for People's Friend, 16K for Woman's Weekly), so the story structure has to be much tighter. The writing itself has to be more disciplined. I am always conscious of the need to provide - not necessarily a cliff hanger - but a reason for the reader to buy the next issue.

Is it true that you must have fewer characters in a magazine serial, and how do you set about creating them?

Creating characters for a serial is exactly the same as creating them for a novel or a short story. They have to be fully rounded and live in my head as real people or I can't write them in the first place. I do think that if you have too many characters in a serial, it's impossible to keep track of them from week to week, both as a writer and a reader. If I need a minor character for some reason, I try to resolve that strand within the same episode.

I know that you are very involved with organising the conference for the RNA, tell us about your work schedule and how you fit everything in.

I have no idea how it all fits! I just get on with it. Going without sleep certainly helps.

Tell us about your previous award short-listings and any awards you've won. Do you think they help with a writer’s success?

All three of my Regencies have been shortlisted for the Love Story of the Year (now the RoNA Rose) in succeeding years. My d├ębut novel Stage by Stage won the Joan Hessayon NWS award. It is a wonderful boost to one's belief in oneself, and it keeps me writing when things get tough, but I don't think they have helped with success in any wider sense.

Are you ever driven to write by hand?

I always used to write by hand at night in my kitchen (because it was quiet), then transcribe onto the computer next morning, editing as I went. Now I have a netbook for evening use. It speeds the process up, but I lose that first round of tightening up. I still edit hard copy by hand.

Do you cry over your own emotional scenes?

Goodness, yes. How else would I know if they were any good?

What should every good writer avoid?

Don't read bad reviews of your work. They are appalling for your self-esteem. You don't write for those people, you write for readers who like your stuff.

Are you good at ignoring the ironing?

I'm degree standard at avoiding all housework. I have a distinction in not-dusting, but minimum-ironing runs it a close second.

Who is your favourite hero?

I quite like damaged, faulty heroes. Diana Wynne Jones (fantasy) was very good at them. Thomas Lynn from Fire&Hemlock, for example, and Mordion from Hexwood.

Thank you for talking to us Jan. The best of luck on 5th March when the winners of the RNA awards will be announced.

Jan's latest serial "Written on the Wind", a four-part mystery, starts in the Woman's Weekly in the 6th March issue. The first episode is on sale Thursday 1st March.

To find out more about Jan and her work visit her website at


Lesley Cookman said...

Jan, I agree about reviews. I don't read them. I've always thought I would be found out one day. Someone will tap me on the shoulder and say "Oi, you. Stop pretending you're a proper author." Reviews only reinforce that feeling.

As for non-dusting and minimal ironing, I must be at least A level standard.

Joanna Cannon said...

Wonderful interview, Jan. Huge congratulations on the short-listing xx

Bluestocking Mum said...

Smiling at Lesley's comment about the housework/ironing and I'm not even published yet!

Great interview with Jan.
And best of luck with the RNA awards

Jan Jones said...

Thanks very much, all. It was a fun interview to do.

If anyone is wondering, my next serial for Woman's Weekly starts next week.

Deborah (Debs) Carr said...

I have no idea how you fit everything in, despite your degree in housework avoidance.

Congratulations on your short-listing and good luck for the 5th March.

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Debs! It's a fabulous shortlist, so it is terrific just to be on it!

Margaret Kaine said...

Lovely interview Jan. And congratulations on being shortlisted, you must be so thrilled. I'll be there on the 5th March so lots of luck!

Kate Hardy said...

Lovely interview, Jan, and congrats on the shortlisting. Really looking forward to seeing you on 5 March!

Susan Bergen said...

A good insight into serial writing. The best of luck with the awards.

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Margaret and Susan. And thank you and congrats to you too, Kate! It'll be lovely to see you at the Awards Do :)

Liz Harris said...

An interesting interview, Jan. Many thanks for it.

I, too, am amazed at how much you do, and how well you do it. So the answer is no sleep, is it?

Liz X
P.S. I loved The Kydd Inheritance.

Annie Burrows said...

Keeping my fingers crossed for you on 5th March Jan,

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Liz and Annie :)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Lovely interview, Jan - looking forward to your new serial!

Evonne said...

Glad I'm not the only one with fluff under the bed - and on top of it too, if I disturb the light shades :)
Many congrats on making the shortlist.

Gina Rossi said...

Wishing you all the best and good luck!