Hi, Christina, a huge Romaniac welcome to you. It’s so lovely to see you here at HQ today. A little light refreshment before we start? Tea? Coffee? Slice of one of Celia’s mouth-wateringly fantastic cakes?
Ooh, Jan, it’s lovely to be here, thank you so much for asking me – and yes, please, coffee would be lovely… Ooh, and cake too! Fabulous! I’ll never say no to cake…
We know you’re busy working on your next novel ‘That Red Hot Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer’ (FAB title, by the way!) Any chance of a cheeky little preview?
Thank you for liking the title – one of my own this time, not one of my editor’s umpteenth suggestions! – and a cheeky sneaky preview? Of course. Well, this is the current blurb with a bit added on…
“The Berkshire village of Daisybank has held a traditional summer fete for as long as anyone can remember and twenty-eight year old American Diner waitress Tiggy Dunmore can’t think of anything worse. Having been dumped by her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, Tiggy needs something to take her mind off her heartbreak, and as she and her friends, Scarlett and Cordelia, discuss the ‘fete worse than death’ over coffee and doughnuts in the diner, they come up with an alternative idea. Instead of the fete with the same old tombola, bric-a-brac stalls and raffle to win a hamper of almost-on-sell-by tinned food, why not have a music festival? Just a little one, of course. Nothing like Glastonbury. Oh, of course, nothing like Glastonbury… Surely it can’t be that difficult to set up a stage and find a few bands, can it? As the months roll on towards the last weekend in July, and despite furious opposition from Daisybanks’ movers and shakers (i.e. the original fete committee), the Daisybank Music Festival begins to take shape, and things really start to look up when the gorgeous Liam Maxwell, ex-boyband member and now the guitarist in The Red Hot Rockers, agrees to get his band to play. Tiggy begins to discover that a broken heart can mend quite quickly when a black-haired, blue-eyed rock guitarist is involved. OK, so he’s engaged to the pneumatic and mainly plastic reality telly star, Lolly Latimer, but that’s only a minor hiccough, surely? As the hot and sunny festival weekend dawns, life for Tiggy and Daisybank, will never be the same again.”
What inspired the idea for this novel and how much research has been involved?
I came up with the idea because it had to be another summer book, and summer is festival time and I was a big festival-goer in my youth – you know, back in the days when it wasn’t all glamping and a million quid for a ticket? You just went and sat in front of the one and only stage and amazingly famous (and infamous) bands turned up and played all day and night and you got muddy or scorched or both, and ate nothing but brown rice for three days and didn’t sleep and stank to high heaven and it was utterly blissful. We’re also into high village fete season too, and these are fiercely organised by the same-old committees doing the same-old things – and I just thought what if one of these very traditional village fetes suddenly morphed into a mini-Glasto…? Think of the conflicts! And the romance! And the research? Well, loads of happy memories of what my husband refers to as my “groupie period” (I did have a bit of a thing for bass guitarists in my youth), plus the time I spent as a sort of music journalist for the teenage mags, and the bliss of being at the early Glastonburys, Isle of Wights, and Reading festivals… aaah, now I’m off in a purple haze of nostalgia…
Clearly you love being a writer, but as your website bio states, you’ve had a wonderful array of previous jobs, blood-donor attendant and waitress being just two of them – some great (and not so great!) characters encountered there, no doubt? Have you worked a few of their traits into your novels and does creating the actual characters themselves, come easy to you?
I’ve had 27 Proper Jobs and been sacked from 19 of them (I think I’ve always been virtually unemployable, really. I’m not that good with authority…), and yes, I’ve met lots of “interesting” people in my chequered career and bits of the ones I’ve disliked most have somehow found their way into my books. All the officious, charmless, rather cruel ones (a certain office manager who had me crying in the Ladies EVERY day springs to mind here!) have merged to become the characters you love to hate. It’s great therapy! But most of my characters are totally fictitious – well, all the main ones anyway. Except, to me, they’re not. They seem to live inside my head, scampering around for ages, and are sometimes more real to me than real people… Sorry, I think that sounds as if I might be a little bit mad. Once they’re inside my head, they somehow emerge fully-formed on to the page, so, yes, creating characters does come easily to me – again, it’s a sort of happy insanity, isn’t it really, this writing business.
How exciting is the build-up to launch day? Talk us through the routine and how you plan to celebrate publication?
Oh! How I long to say it’s all rainbows and lollipops and cascades of fireworks! How I long to say I have book tours and back-to-back interviews and the entire media circus camped outside my front door. Sadly, I can’t say any of that. These days my publication days go by without even a congratulatory email from my publishing contacts – but I do have my own little hoolies. The local bookshop always does a lovely window display, and I usually have a signing session on the nearest Saturday morning with bunting and balloons (I’m very fond of bunting and balloons) and all my friends come and don’t buy a book because I’ve already given them a copy but we all have a good gossip and sometimes total strangers wander in to see what the fuss is about and sometimes I even sell them a book! And my lovely husband always buys me an ornament of some kind that ties in with the book – I had a lot of little Hindu gods last time – I’m hoping for a small Fender Telecaster for this one! But honestly, I think the days of huge publisher launches have gone and are reserved only for the mega-famous authors. Sob!
You did one of the Writers Bureau home-study courses ten years ago and subsequently became the face of their advert (I can remember your success and your lovely beaming smile being my inspiration to finish my own WB course!) Put into words its value and also the value of attending author events/workshops.
Oh – wow! Thank you! I don’t think I’ve ever been anyone’s inspiration before. That’s lovely – I might show-off a bit about that… Yes, I did the WB course 10 years ago because I wanted to learn how to write proper non-fiction. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was already published (in fiction) when I signed up, but I was complete pants at non-fiction. I tended to drift off into the realms of “let’s pretend”. So, the WB course put me firmly on the right track, and I started selling my coursework to quite serious magazines and it was a revelation. I signed up for the comprehensive course, which included fiction, and I found new markets there, too. So the course was invaluable to me – it opened up many, many doors – which is why I was so happy to endorse the entire WB set-up – and became their cover girl – lol! (Well, I’m never going to be a cover girl any other way!). I also think that anyone and everyone, whatever stage of writing you’re at, can benefit from author events and workshops – mainly because writing is such an isolated business and it’s so nice to hear what other writers do and know you’re not alone… http://www.writersbureau.com/
As well as penning award-winning novels, you also write short stories and articles. How easy/hard do you find it switching between the three?
Short stories were and are my first love. I love writing them – I’ve written them and had them published since I was 14 – I can hear a snippet of conversation or read a newspaper headline or watch someone in the street and “ping” – there’s an idea for a short story. I find them fun to write and quite easy really, and as I’m very, very lazy, to think I can finish a piece of work in possibly less than 2,000 words is a delight to my idle soul! And thanks to the WB I know how to get to the nub of a non-fiction story so can write articles quite quickly, too. I’m not showing off – honestly – I just find writing short pieces easier than long. I try not to write short stories when I’m writing a novel – but sometimes, if I’m asked by a magazine to provide a short story or article for a particular edition, then I just do it. I don’t find it very difficult, I just have to get my head into a different place really – oh, sorry – does that sound precious? I’m not precious, honest! I’ve just been doing this for so long it all comes as second nature.
And Chris, no visit to HQ would be complete without our famous Romaniac quick-fire round, so here goes:
Favourite fictional Cat? (we know you ADORE them!) Orlando
Dream dinner date? Jim Parsons
First celebrity crush? Keith Richards
Three things that make you belly-laugh? Peter Kay, my husband, The Big Bang Theory
Theme Park or Ice-Skating? Theme Park
Footie or Tennis? Footie
Rock concert or West End musical? Rock concert
The sentence which best sums up Christina Jones? I’m an old-fashioned, optimistic, gentle Pollyanna wearing huge rose-tinted glasses.
Thanks so much for visiting us here at HQ, Chris, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you. Best of luck with ‘That Red Hot Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer’
Bucolic Frolics @ http://christinajones-writing.blogspot.com/
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