Friday, September 07, 2007

Interview with Jennifer Ross

Here's the next part of our monthly interviews with our authors. This month we're talking to Jennifer Ross, whose short story appears in No Law Against Love, Highland Press.

Why do you write historical?

I think it’s important to understand how we came to be where we are. I also think it’s fascinating! Even little things like expressions we still use today take on a whole new quality when we discover WHY we say them.

Take the way women were viewed, for example. The slow incremental steps that had us going from a piece of property indistinguishable from, say, a chair, to the really-close-to-complete-parity we have today. Every single one of those steps required a fight by the women of the time. I hate to think we take their sacrifices for granted.

What part of the Victorian era/setting do you write in?

At the moment, I’m in the very beginning of Victoria’s reign (and I say I’m in it because I spend so much of my time there it’s sometimes hard to return to the present).

What is it about the era that most intrigues you?

I didn’t pick the era, it just happens to be when the historical facts I’m writing about took place. But now that I’m here, I’m most intrigued by how quickly things are changing. Much like the 1990s and this decade (do you say the 2000s?) they were having an explosion of new technologies. Combine that with a new Sovereign, new countries, new morality, new wealth--it seems quite dizzying.

I also find it intriguing that the head of state of an ‘Empire where the sun never sets’ is one of those, you know, chair-like beings, and NOBODY seems to find that at all odd.

Where do you get your information?

Anywhere I can. I’ve read textbooks and diaries, visited archives and museums, and spend an incredible amount of time surfing the internet. I’ve joined Ancestry.ca and used to belong to the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions until they changed their policy to make individual memberships prohibitively expensive. I really miss access to the full collection a lot.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing the edits on A Test of Loyalty, and just beginning to do research for the next story in the series.

How many books have you written?

I have published a short story with Highland Press and have a few other short stories drafted, but A Test of Loyalty will be my first full-length novel.

Do you write outside of the Victorian era, genre?

My published short story, A Frightful Misconception (in the No Law Against Love anthology) was contemporary. I’m also thinking about a third story in the Test series that will take place in the early 1900s.

What challenges have you faced in your career?

Name every challenge for an aspiring writer. My biggest challenge, I guess, is the terror I have at public speaking. I’ve done a few readings and things that resulted in disaster. They certainly did nothing to improve my confidence! Maybe that’s not fair. The last thing I did--a romance author panel at my library--went very well.

What is you writing schedule like?

Schedule? We’re supposed to have schedules? I work on some form of my story every day, but that doesn’t mean writing, necessarily. It might be as little as thinking through a plot point, or reading a census entry or website. Often it means critiquing others’ work so they’ll return the favour. The editing process is a lot different than the writing process, but I don’t think I’m any more organized with it. I have tried to ‘write every day’ as so many established authors suggest, but that only erodes what confidence I have in what I’m doing and results in more writer’s block, several pages of absolute garbage, and depression. I finally decided to do it the way that comes naturally to me, and I do think I’ve been more productive. Happier, anyway.

5 comments:

Christine Koehler said...

Jenn, I agree with you about the public speaking...absolute terror. But congrats on being brave enough to do it. As a big fan of your Test of Loyalty, I'm looking forward to the others in the series.

Kristin-Marie said...

Terrific of you to share your positive outlook and methods of writing. Especially of getting past writer's block. I'll look forward to your first full-length novel.

Susan Macatee said...

Public speaking? Gaaads! I'm terrified just at the thought. Admire your courage in doing that.

You already know I love Test of Loyalty and look forward to seeing it in print.

Jennifer Linforth said...

I just blogged about self-promotion and marketing yourself as a writer before the call.
(Your comment on public speaking struck me.) How do you market your books? I know Highland is a visible press. Can you share some of your experience?

Jennifer

Jennifer Ross said...

Sure, Mav. Marketing for No Law Against Love was great, because we had 16 writers each doing what they could. I hit local bookstores (until I found out it was much more expensive for them to buy than individuals could get it from Amazon or Chapters), sent out press releases to local radio and newspapers, and snagged a spot on a radio show. Fortunately for me, I had Susan Barclay with me on the show so I could turn the mike over to her before I said something truly stupid.

The public speaking came when I had to give readings (twice for my work-in-progress, and once for a short story contest I did.) Those disasters are in the February archives under "Writer's Stage Fright" and I'd just as soon not relive the horror.