After reading her collection of short stories, I managed to snag an author interview with C.J. Jessop.
Find out a bit about C.J. and discover what other treats of reading pleasure this author is working on.
What genre(s) do your write? I write speculative fiction, under which banner comes fantasy, science fiction and horror. I don’t tend to write horror, although some of my fantasy can end up a little dark. And then, under fantasy, there are sword and sorcery, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, etc and I write all of those too.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m English, living in Colorado, USA with my American husband. I have two, wonderful grown-up children and when I’m not writing I love reading, exploring new places (especially up in the mountains) and playing video games. I studied creative writing as part of my English degree, but I learned most about writing from reading.
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I started writing stories for my friends when I was still at school, I wrote my first novel when I was in my twenties (it was awful), while my babies were napping and began writing more seriously when I hit my mid-thirties. I was inspired to write by all the wonderful stories I read—I was a voracious reader from an early age and every story I read inspired me to daydreaming my own stories. That’s why my blog is called ‘Off With the Fairies’ as
What is the last book you read? Aside from two of your Kalieri Tales, the last novel I read was Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I’m currently reading The Undivided by J Fallon.
Which writers inspire you? Terry Pratchett inspires me the most. His characters come alive and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. And the man is still writing, while suffering from Early Onset Alzheimers. David Gemmell inspired me to write characters who were human, flaws and all. Anne McCaffery inspired me to write my female characters strong and independent, without turning them into men.
Where did you get the idea from for your novel? My stories kind of develop as I go. For the novel series I’m currently writing, it started out with a scene in which a man wakes up with a hangover to find himself the prisoner of a woman bounty-hunter. That is not the first scene, but the whole of the first novel developed from that image. By the time I finished plotting the novel, I realized there was more of this story to tell and I’m now working on book two of three. But those aren’t published, yet. What I do have published is a collection of my previously published short stories, which are all very different. It was more of an exploration into the workings of self-publishing than anything else.
Can you tell us something about the story? Out of the Blue is several stories, some of which are quite bleak, some humorous, some hopeful. There’s no real connection between them, other than they’re all written by me, and all but two have been published in different publications in the past.
Who do you think will like reading your book? People who like short stories that give them pause for thought might enjoy Out of the Blue.
Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? I’m currently drafting the second novel in my sword and sorcery trilogy. And I just finished two short stories that wouldn’t be ignored.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Read. Read some more. Keep writing, and make friends with other writers.
Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I think all reviews have their value. You just have to keep things in perspective. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try. If your reviews are good on the whole, then a bad review won’t make a lot of difference, and maybe that reader is not your audience. That said, if you’re getting a lot of bad reviews then maybe look at your work again. You being anyone who happens to be reading this, of course (and me too!).
If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I’m honest, but not brutally so. I’ll always try to find something positive to say, and if I can’t then I won’t review.
Read an excerpt from Out of the Blue below.
An excerpt from Disintegration—the first story in Out of the Blue
Soft light invaded the bedroom, along with sounds of birdsong. Sal groaned. It would soon be time to get up. An edgy fluttering in her stomach had kept her awake for most of the night, and she had no idea why. Everything was as it should be. She had never been happier. Still, the feeling remained and even the familiar rhythm of Steve’s breathing beside her failed to bring reassurance.
She sat up, seeking comfort in her surroundings. The race-car alarm clock that the kids bought Steve last Christmas said six-thirty. Deep scratches in the oak closet door had been there since they moved in, six years ago. Flimsy curtains fluttered in the breeze from an open window. They were too short, but matched her favourite bedspread, so she had added lace to the bottom to make them reach the sill. She went on like that for some time, cataloguing every familiar item in her memory, but could not shake the dread.
Steve had pulled the covers tight around his neck, as he always did. Watching the rise and fall of his shoulders, Sal curled up against his back and tried to let the slow, almost hypnotic, rhythm soothe her. Perhaps she had been dreaming before she woke in the night. She could not dredge up any memory of a dream, but then she rarely remembered. Nothing else made sense; it had to be a dream—a nightmare—and only the anxiety had survived waking.
She pulled back the covers and swung her legs to the floor. Time to be up and about. The hour before she left for work was her alonetime, before Steve and the boys rose. No point in wasting it by lying in bed wide awake. Yawning, she crossed the room and reached to grab her robe from its hook on the back of the door. From the corner of her eye, she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror above the dresser, and she stopped, arm stilled in the act of reaching for the robe. Slowly, heart stuttering, she turned to face the mirror.
An attractive face stared back at her—lean and lightly tanned, with wide brown eyes and a full mouth. Short, dark, sleep-ruffled hair softened the angles. All in all, it was a pleasant face.
But it was the wrong face.