Monday, February 4, 2013
Author Interview: Jane Dougherty
Jane Dougherty was born in Phildelphia, brought up in England, moved to Paris after university then to Picardy, and now lives in Bordeaux with five children, one husband, a highly sensitive dog, and three crazy cats.
The Dark Citadel, the first volume of her YA fantasy trilogy is to be released in May 2013.
When and why did you begin writing?
My first work was an illustrated history of ‘King Hedwood the First’, written shortly after I learnt how to hold a pencil. Nobody knows why.
What does your life as a writer look like? What is your schedule and do you work at writing full time?
Writing used to be something I slotted in surreptitiously when nobody was looking. There were always so many other things I ought to have been doing: work, the house to keep clean, meals to prepare, children to slap etc. Now, I realise most things can wait, and if I wait long enough somebody else will crack and do it instead. I work from home and take on as little as possible, I cook on automatic pilot, and the children are old enough now to do their own slapping. I probably write more than I do much else.
What books/authors have most influenced your life?
When I was ten, listening to my teacher read from Eleanor Farjeon’s The Little Bookroom. Her stories are set in a world I never knew; they might as well have been fantasy. But they left a lasting impression of the beauty of the English language, full of melancholy and nostalgia in their evocation of a lost time. Later, discovering the poetry of Yeats showed me how words can strike the deepest chords.
What are you working on now? Any new projects or books you can share with us?
I have the second volume of a Norse fantasy saga to finish, the second volume of a YA urban time-travelling (sort of) fantasy to polish up, and then it’s back to the world of ‘The Green Woman’ where I have a whole new generation to sort out.
As an author, how important do you feel social media is to your career? Is marketing a love/hate relationship with you (as many authors admit) or do you enjoy it? How much time daily/weekly do you spend promoting?
The very idea of Facebook filled me with fear and loathing before I signed with Musa and steeled myself to opening an account. Likewise blogging. I’m the kind of person who likes talking, especially arguing. I’m genetically programmed for it. I’d much rather sit down in a bar with a whole bunch of people and have a good old barney than ping pong messages back and forth with people I can’t see.
Facebook is growing on me, but promotion is different, less chat, more push. Apart from a few blog posts, I haven’t opened that particular can of worms yet. I keep being told, Promotion is important and you’ll just have to get used to it. It’s a bit like dental appointments, you can’t get out of going, but you don’t necessarily have to enjoy it.
Is there anything else you'd like to add? Perhaps some advice to any aspiring authors out there?
Just the same advice everybody gives out. When you’ve finished your book, read it a dozen times, edited and polished it, don’t, for heaven’s sake send it to an agent or a publisher. Put it away and write something else. Then join a reading group, let other aspiring writers look at it and LISTEN to their advice. When you hear the same criticism a few times it means you have a problem that needs looking at. You might think what you have written is crystal clear, funny, terrifying, exciting or whatever, but if a group of writers disagree, so will your average reader.
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your decision to become a writer?
There was always a great love of words on both sides of my family. Back to the great grandparents they were readers, writers and storytellers, though only my father was ever published. I also had the good luck to attend schools that placed great importance on literary creativity. I owe one to lots of people, and hope that they would be proud of our collective achievement.