This book is set in Dartmouth where I lived and where my children were born. I love the town and the history of the surrounding area. Anybody who knows the town and the area will be able to recognise familiar places – some are named and some are hinted at. During World War II, the area around Dartmouth, Slapton Sands and Torcross was evacuated and the beaches used to train the troops for the D Day landings. It is the far-reaching events of 1943 that are the cause of shadows in the 21st century.
2. Your stories are about relationships, what is the particular appeal of this genre for you?
I write the kind of book I enjoy reading, and I find contemporary woman's fiction that deals with relationships of all sorts, family, couples, siblings, mixed marriages etc., the most interesting to read. I prefer emotional conflict in a story as opposed to crime or gung ho conflict.
|Littl'un knows how to get comfy|
3. Which author has most influenced your work?
Difficult to answer. I am in awe of writers like Erica James, Marcia Willett and Jill Mansell. They produce the kind of books I love to read, and aspire to write, time after time – particularly Erica James.
4. In what way does living in France influence your writing?
Before we came to France fourteen years ago, I'd written mainly non-fiction features and had my own column in the South Hams Group of Newspapers in Devon. But I'd always wanted to write fiction and finally had time. Living in France, particularly down south, gave me first hand knowledge of locations like Antibes, Cannes, and Monaco. People are always intrigued by what is perceived to be the glamour and luxury of such places, and here I was, living a very ordinary life but with the opportunity to eavesdrop and observe how the other half lived and spent their vast wealth. There is also another, poorer, side to these places too.
5. Do you edit and revise as you write, or after you have completed the first draft? What method works best for you?
I tend to edit and revise as I go so that the first 'dirty' draft isn't too horrendously dirty before I fine-tune edit at least twice. I have to say a big thank you to Nell Dixon for sharing her method of editing – going backwards page by page! I now do this as my final edit and also on the copy edit as it really helps in picking up typos, missing words etc.
6. What do you think makes for a really strong romance novel?
I think with any book, romance or mainstream, it's all down to caring about the characters and their lives and wanting a good outcome for them.
7. With the increasing popularity of e-books, how do you think digitisation has helped or changed your own career as a writer? Have you self-published anything?
So far digitisation hasn't really helped or changed my writing life. I have self-published on Kindle my first two books that were published in Large Print by Ulverscroft and FRENCH LEGACY is slowly selling. Hale have also started to e-book publish titles but it's early days for them. For a little known author I've found it very difficult to get the necessary reviews and publicity to market a book successfully. Marketing my books is still a very steep learning curve but hopefully I'll master it!
8. If SHADOWS OF CONFLICT were ever filmed, who would you choose to play the hero and heroine, and why?
Because of the storyline there would have to be two heroines and two heros. I'd love Brenda Blethyn as the older heroine Mattie – I think she's a brilliant and under-rated as an actor. Her hero Henri would have to be the French actor François Cluzet (“The Untouchables”). Carey Mulligan as Katie, and Rupert Grint as Leo her hero. I think he'd play a Devonshire farmer brilliantly.
9. How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing?
I love the theatre but rarely get to go these days. In Brittany the only theatre available is in French, and despite living here for so long my language skills are sadly not good enough. I buy a lot of romantic comedies on DVD - “Midnight in Paris” is a current favourite! I love cooking and having friends around for a meal – usually a lunch which runs into supper time! France is a fun place like that.
10. Do you have an itch to write a completely different sort of book?
Not really an itch but I'd quite like to write a trilogy based around the jazz age of the 1920s and set in the South of France. There were so many different, eccentric characters living down there in those days.
Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to talk to us today. We wish you every success for the future, and happy writing!
SHADOWS OF CONFLICT tells the stories of Katie and her god-mother Mattie. When Katie, redundant from her media job, accepts Mattie's offer to take over her shop, A Good Yarn, in Dartmouth, she expects her life to be busy and unexciting. But with an American film crew in town intent on uncovering buried secrets from World War II, a disgruntled relative, and Mattie herself still refusing to face up to the lingering shadows of an unhappy childhood, life is neither simple nor quiet. When Patrick, her ex-boss, offers the chance of her dream media job Katie has to decide whether accepting it is worth turning her back on everything and everyone in Dartmouth - including Leo, a friend from the past who plans to be a part of her future. Will Katie make the right decision? And as the Americans uncover a secret from her past, will Mattie shake off a lifetime of regrets and shadows from the past to finally find happiness with Henri, her new ami?
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