Jennie Jones is a talented author who lives in Perth, Western Australia. We have been lucky enough to feature two of Jennie’s books before, and with the release of Christmas Among the Gumtrees, we were able to interview her.
I hope you enjoy getting to know a bit more about Jennie!
What was it like working with four other authors on Christmas Among the Gumtrees?
Actually, it wasn’t a collaboration as such. Each of the stories have been previously published in eBook-only format. It was our publisher HarperCollins/Harlequin Australia who put our work together in this special paperback bindup and I think they’ve chosen brilliantly.
But I do know each of the authors and have read their work. They are experienced, fabulous writers with big reader followings and it’s a delight to be a part of the Christmas anthology with them.
What is your favourite part of publishing?
The really exciting part is being shown your book cover for the first time. I rarely open up the pdf immediately. I sit and look at the closed document for a few minutes wondering if I’ve got the nerve to open it!
But so far I’ve been relieved and thrilled once I hit ‘open’. And of course, seeing your book on a bookstore shelf. There is nothing like that feeling. It’s an almost unreal moment.
What was your favourite book to write?
They’re all favourites when you’re writing them. There’d be something wrong if they weren’t. As I look at my books on my bookshelf I fondly recall distinct moments of the writing process for each of them.
I suppose those are the memories the story and working on it gives us, as authors. We might forget the name of a secondary character in a book we wrote six years ago but we never forget the feelings that came with writing the story.
Who is your favourite author?
Dozens over the years. Just dozens. I’ll stick with one because her work impressed me the most when I first began writing. Sara Donati. She wrote the epic historical series Into the Wilderness. I also absolutely adore her contemporary novel, Tied to the Tracks.
I read snippets of it constantly while I was writing my first books and I still turn a page on that book today if I get a little overwhelmed or lost. She’s inspirational. A beautiful writer.
And what are you reading right now?
I’ve just started Where the Crawdads Sing and I’ve also downloaded a few Christmas stories from Aussie, American and British authors so I can enjoy Christmas around the world.
Do you prefer ebooks, printed books or audiobooks?
I read on my Kindle quite happily and I also like a paperback in my hands. I’m yet to get into audiobooks and keep saying I must get onto that.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Character. Then their job or career and current situation. Then their personality type. From those, come the plot.
What advice would you give to someone who is working on their first book?
You don’t have to stick to all the rules but you have to know all the rules before you can break them.
The second piece of advice is ‘listen to your clues’. That kneejerk reaction to a word or a sentence you’ve written that tells you something’s not right means something’s not right. So think about it and change it or delete it, whatever you need to do to make it the best.
What kind of research do you do before starting a new book?
I’ll choose my setting first and as I usually create a fictional town or village I’ll research the real area and see where I can slot my town into it. Then I’ll get to know the real community, the types of farming, agriculture or shopping or touristy things my characters will be faced with.
Depending on the jobs or careers my characters have I’ll then research those so I know spot on what they do and how they might feel about what they do.
I love research. On those mornings when words don’t come I skip to research. I’m still working on the book but I’m not getting bogged down with the word problem.
Strangely (and wonderfully) enough, researching something often produces another something that might fit a different character’s personality trait or life experience or even help with the plotline. And that has to be written down. So I usually find words after all.
How many plot ideas do you have at the moment?
For future or planned books? I’ve always got something bubbling or tucked away.
Can you tell us about one?
Years ago I had an idea for a book titled Ghost-Town Girls of the Outback. ‘Three sisters are back in the outback they thought they’d left behind ten years ago.’
I’ve even got the blurb drafted!
Armed with love for their grandfather and respect for his last wish to regenerate his now deserted property, Gentleman Station, the Andrews sisters are out of the city and back in their hometown of Newgent in the Australian outback—population 52 or 12 depending on the season—determined to see his hopes realised.
Together, berating red dust, loneliness, and occasionally each other—they lament their bad luck at being stuck in a remote rural environment, discover what duty really means, and find a common quest to turn the old ghost town of Gentle Springs into a luxury camping ground.
So there is a typical plot idea that has been worked on a little then pushed aside when something else took over or I was contracted to write a different book or series.
One day I really must get down to it and write this one.
What is next for Jennie Jones?
I’ve got five books on the go in various stages of development!
Thank you so much for having me over. What a joy to answer these questions.