I am particularly pleased to welcome Jane Lovering, winner of the RoNa Award 2012. Jane lives in North Yorkshire, and works by day in a local school. She lives on HobNobs and marshmallows and is forced to write by her five children poking her with sticks, plus the need to feed her family, which includes two dogs, four cats, five chickens and she daily expects a partridge in a pear tree to march in demanding dinner too. She has a phobia about slippers, and rarely bites, although she can get most annoyed about wrongly-used apostrophes. Jane likes Doctor Who to an almost unhealthy degree, and her taste in men is, now, almost legendary.
Looking at the list of past winners I still can’t believe that I am now among them. It is an absolutely incredible thing winning the Romantic Novel of the Year, awesome and, indeed, gobsmacking. I feel like that chap that knocked Nadal out of Wimbledon must feel – I have no idea how it happened, given the level of competition. As to why it won, well, I don’t know, I only really have the judges’ comments to go on, and they seemed to like my, very different, hero. I wrote the kind of man that appeals to me – not in the least ‘Alpha male’, a man who is quiet and slightly shy and who is more interested in being friends with my heroine than in ripping her knickers off.
So what made you want to write in the first place, and how did you get your first break?
I’ve always written. I think I started by loving some books so much that I didn’t want them to end, so I used to take the characters and ‘extend’ them, giving them new adventures. Then I found I could create new characters – and it was like taking the stabilisers off a learner cyclist, away I went! My first break came when an e-publisher in America, Samhain, took a chance on my first novel, REVERSING OVER LIBERACE, and from there on things just spiralled.
What inspires you most, people or places?
Gosh, a bit of both, I suppose. Is that allowed as an answer? Most of my characters come from inside my head, but all my locations are real, so maybe I should say places... but then, my characters must be informed by snippets of real people, so maybe it’s people? No, I think I’ll leave it at both.
A favourite local beauty spot.
Can you work anywhere, or do you have a favourite place to hideaway and write?
I hide in my bedroom. I can’t get to the biscuits in there, which is a good thing, and the cats and dogs and kids can’t get at me, which is even better. I snuggle up in my bed, which is my favourite place on earth, and I have a fantastic view over the Vale of Pickering out of my window, so it’s a great place to be. Oh, all right, maybe sometimes I do have biscuits in here with me...
Only for the dog, of course. Here is Jane's dog who she says is no help at all in the writing.
What do you have to say to critics of the chick-lit genre?
Nothing really. They are entitled to their opinions, aren’t they? I suppose, if I had to say something, I’d just say, ‘read it’. Not just one book, but widely, across the whole genre. Chick-lit is as varied as any other sub-genre, and if you want to criticise, then you should do so from a position of knowledge, So, yes. I’d just say ‘read a lot of chick-lit, (including my books, obviously), and then, if you still want to criticise, at least you know what you are talking about. If you still don’t like it, well, that’s up to you. But it gives a lot of people a giggle, and surely that’s not a bad thing.’
Is there a different type of novel you are still yearning to write?
I’m still hankering after writing a real hard sci-fi novel. Maybe one day I will, but, for the moment, I’m still more interested in the characters and their motivations, and I’ve found romantic fiction is the best genre for exploring personalities in all their glories. So I think I’ll stick to writing what I do, for now.
What tips would you give an aspiring writer on dealing with rejections?
Yell loudly, sulk for a while, and then realise that a single rejection is just one person’s opinion of your work. Then you can sulk a bit more, if you want. Eventually you come to realise that rejection is quite valuable (honestly, stick with me here). If one rejection says…oh, I don’t know, something like ‘you write well but your characters need more definition’, then go away and learn how to really write well defined characters.
Then resubmit, safe in the knowledge that your characters are as defined as a well-defined thing on definition-day, as Blackadder would say. Honestly, helpful rejections will make your writing better in the end. Those unhelpful ones which just say ‘not right for us at this time’ mean just that. In one person’s opinion, it’s not right. You can yell at those.
Are you a Kindle or ipad fan, if so what do you most enjoy about it?
I love my Kindle, because I’m an instant-gratification person. I see a book and I want it, right NOW, and, with a Kindle, I can have it! Also there are free samples, sometimes entire books free – and what’s not to like about free books? Plus, whenever I go away I can take shedloads of books with me on my Kindle, and, as a very fast reader, that’s an amazing thing. I got used, during childhood, to holidays spent reading one book over and over again. Now I can move from book to book, from genre to genre, as the mood takes me. And no, I’m not being paid to say this… I don’t have an Ipad. I’d like one, but can’t really afford it right now. Maybe in the future… or Apple could sponsor me…? Just a suggestion.
If your book could be a movie, who would play the hero?
Ah. Now, my taste in attractive men is a little...ahem...subjective. Everyone who knows me will be groaning and covering their eyes here, because I am about to invoke Tony Robinson and David Mitchell (I know they aren’t film stars, but they are my idea of attractive men, although my heroes aren’t in the least based on them. Oh, well, maybe only a bit...). Although, thinking about it, I do quite like Johnny Depp, and he could play Ben Davies extremely well. Hell, he doesn’t even have to act, he can just walk up and down for a couple of hours. I’d pay to watch that...
What advice would you give to the younger you?
Get your hair cut. Oh, you mean writing advice? Don’t Give Up. However many rejections and knockbacks and truly horrible things happen to you - Don’t Ever Give Up - keep writing, through thick and thin because, if nothing else, it will keep you sane. Oh, and hang on to the negatives, because blackmail is always a second career option...
PLEASE DON'T STOP THE MUSIC - winner of RoNA ROMANTIC NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2012. Shortlisted for Melissa Nathan Award 2012 How much can you hide?
Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail - until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts. But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse? And the curiosity is mutual - which means that her own secret is no longer safe ...
Jane’s latest novel is VAMPIRE STATE OF MIND coming soon from Choc Lit Publishing
Jessica Grant knows vampires only too well. She runs the York Council tracker programme making sure that Otherworlders are all where they should be, keeps the filing in order and drinks far too much coffee. To Jess, vampires are annoying and arrogant and far too sexy for their own good, particularly her ex-colleague Sil, who’s now in charge of Otherworld York. But when a demon turns up and threatens not just Jess but the whole world order, she and Sil are forced to work together, and when Jess turns out to be the key to saving the world it puts a very different slant on their relationship. The stakes are high. They are also very, very pointy and Jess isn’t afraid to use them, even on the vampire that she’s rather afraid she’s falling in love with ...
Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today Jane. We wish you continued success with your wonderful books.
Best wishes, Freda
Jane can be found at http://www.janelovering.co.uk
Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org