I am so-oo parochial. Understandable then how excited I am to have another West Australian author visiting, especially one as talented and successful as Anna Jacobs! I know you know Anna from her historical romance novels, but her science fiction, written under the name Shannah Jay, is also available from Smashwords.
But today it's all about history. Anna is offering a prize to a randomly selected commenter -- a copy of her novel Farewell to Lancashire, the first novel in her Swan River Colony series. If an Australian commenter wins, Anna will sign the copy (sorry to everyone else who loves autographed copies, but international postage from Australia is not cheap).
Welcome, Anna! I have questions.
If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be? and what would you ask them?
I think, rather than fictional characters, I’d like to meet two of my favourite authors and I’d like to talk writing with them.
The first would be Georgette Heyer, the author who introduced me to historical romances and whose books I still re-read today. I love her wit and the brilliant minor characters who add sparkling colour to the main story. Ferdy, in ‘Friday’s Child’ is still my favourite minor character of all - and my husband’s.
I’d ask her how she developed her minor characters, whether they just ‘arrived’ as mine sometimes do, or whether she planned them from the start. In my recent book, ‘Beyond the Sunset’ a young man with intellectual disability, but a gift for working with horses, became an important minor character. I hadn’t the faintest idea that he would until he suddenly joined in the action.
You can read about this book at: http://www.annajacobs.com/book.asp?pageID=62
The other author I’d like to meet would be CJ Cherryh, who writes fantasy and science fiction. Her ‘Foreigner’ series is now up to Book 11 and I’ve had to buy them in hardback, something I rarely do, because I can’t bear to wait for the paperbacks to find out what happens next. As a reader, I love them; as an author who has written SF/F myself, I very much admire the way she’s kept this series going for so long.
I'd ask Cherryh how much she planned this series in advance and whether she had any idea it’d go on for so long? I had a four-part fantasy series published in the 90s (written as Shannah Jay) and as with my historicals, I hadn’t a clue what was going to happen until it did. All I knew when I started writing was that on this planet people had developed their psychic gifts, instead of relying on technology, and that would bring them into conflict with the Galactic Confederation.
I’m just putting my Shannah Jay books up for sale on line as ebooks. I wish I still had time to write in that genre, which I love, but I’m working for three publishers and I can’t squeeze any more waking hours out of the day. Isn’t it annoying how much sleep we humans need - and every single day, too!
You can find my books on Kindle and at:
What has someone said about your writing that you still treasure?
I’m still chuckling at the reader who said ‘The ironing is piled up, the dog’s begging to go for a walk, and my children are complaining that tea isn’t ready. It’s all your fault, Anna Jacobs, because I couldn’t put your latest book down.’ The reader’s comment made me laugh, but it was also a very great compliment. It makes me happy to give people pleasure.
Secret knowledge. Name one site on the web that no historical romance writer should be without?
Jenny, I don’t do a lot of surfing the web, so you’re asking the wrong person about that. I write three long novels a year and that keeps me extremely busy. What me, addicted to story-telling? I certainly am.
In "Farewell to Lancashire" Cassandra and her sisters journey to the Swan River Colony, the nineteenth century colonial beginnings of Perth, Western Australia. What do you imagine surprised them most about their new home? (I've only ever lived in Australia—actually I grew up pretty much where Cassandra begins her new life—so I'm curious about immigrants' perceptions. My great-gran is on record as taking one look at the summer dry bushland and saying "is sad". I think she regretted leaving Poland till the day she died.)
I think they’d be surprised at how few people there were. In 1863 there were only about 30,000 people in the whole state, which is big enough to fit ten Texases in. There were about 3,000 people in Perth itself and roughly the same in Fremantle, but nowhere else were towns as big as that. In fact, most places wouldn’t even be considered ‘towns’ today, and not even villages sometimes.
And since there weren’t any passenger railways at all in the Swan River Colony, they’d be very surprised about that. They’d have to go back to old-fashioned and much slower forms of horse transport. It was very different in the England they’d left behind. Even in 1851 a quarter of the population of England went be train to see the Great Exhibition in London.
And for anyone visiting Western Australia today, what would you say they absolutely had to see?
Well, everyone sees Perth and of course it’s a great city, but they shouldn’t miss the Margaret River wine-growing region. Not only are there vineyards and wine to try, but some excellent restaurants and great scenery.
Then the American Civil War cuts off supplies of cotton to Lancashire, the mills fall silent and there is no work. There is a stark choice, stay and risk starvation or pack up and begin again elsewhere.
Cassandra has fallen in love with Reece Gregory, but he can’t support a wife. When he’s given the chance to start a new life in Australia, he seizes the opportunity, promising to send for her.
Then an old feud tears the family apart. Cassandra is kidnapped and her sisters are forced to sail with a group of desperate cotton lasses to the Swan River Colony. Penniless and alone, Cassandra is determined to find them again but when she is offered a way, there is a painful price to pay. [Text from amazon.co.uk]
Since I'm so parochial, and since Farewell to Lancashire has a happy ending in my home state, why not add a comment on what you'd like to do or see in Western Australia.
Hot foot it over burning hot white sand to swim in the Indian Ocean? Eat the gorgeous food? Visit me? Yay! See the glorious spring wildflowers? Go kayaking underground? (I'm not kidding. This is a tourist attraction in our prison -- ask me about it!)
Add your comment and go in the draw to win a copy of Farewell to Lancashire.