Today we travel to Surrey, England to chat with Jacquelynn Luben about how a bungalow in a field, a mature garden, being a daydreamer, a theatrical agency, and a police car come together in the garden of Jacquelynn’s life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Having worked for my husband for many years, as his secretary/bookkeeper and general factotum, I am now, in theory, a free woman. (The saying – I married him for better or worse, but not for lunch – comes to mind.) I live in a country village near Guildford in Surrey, England, where, many years ago, we built our bungalow in a field, which was full of blighted apple trees. For the first six months of our life there, we had no laid-on gas or electricity because an awkward neighbour wouldn’t let us take pipe along a lane in front of our house.
During that time, we had to heat our water in saucepans on an old gas cooker, converted to bottled gas. We lit candles every evening, and had a log fire in one room of the house – our only source of heat. Now it is an idyllic spot and we have a lovely mature garden, which gives us both a great deal of pleasure. I try to have something flowering in every month of the year, from early bulbs – snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils to more exotic rhododendrons later on.
I am a daydreamer, and do not enjoy housework, but I am a reasonable cook. I go regularly to both a writing circle and a reading circle, and I also am part of a small independent publishing company run by three very different writers, including myself. I deal with the accounts, and also contribute to the editing of other books. Some years before forming this company, I self-published one book under my own imprint, and sold it to numerous bookshops. When my commissioned non-fiction book was published, I went on a publicity tour of many radio stations in the UK.
In which genre do you write?
I do not stick to one genre, but in my fiction, I prefer writing about the present time – give or take 20 years or so – whenever that happens to be. I don’t write fantasy, sci-fi or historical novels (though my genealogical novel does dip into the past). I have also written many short stories, which are about anything and everything. My most recent book is a crime novel, but with a strong human interest element. I like to write about human relationships with a definite plot, and there’s always a bit of romance thrown in. I don’t write what I would describe as ‘literary’ novels, and I will never win the Booker Prize. My first two books were non-fiction and and I’ve also written and published a few articles.
How many published books do you have?
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I wanted to write when I was a child, but I had an optimistic view of a writer’s life. I envisaged sitting in an armchair, notebook in hand, while my children frolicked around me. Later on, on leaving school, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in journalism. Instead, I worked as office junior in a theatrical agency, and started a short story correspondence course, but my interest fizzled out.
Later on, after my marriage, my 8-week old daughter died as a cot death victim, and I was overwhelmed by the need to write about the experience. I wrote several articles, but this was not enough, and I went on to write an autobiographical book – The Fruit of the Tree. This book, inspired by my daughter’s death, covered five years of married life and included two early miscarriages and the births of my other children, but also other aspects of our family life. This is still in print and also published as an ebook by Untreed Reads.
What are you currently reading?
Just finished ‘Old Baggage’ by Lissa Evans. Just started ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith.
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
I was once on a BBC Radio Four programme, investigating ‘Vanity Publishing.’
For my degree, as a mature student, I wrote a dissertation on the four Harry Potter books written at that time, and compared them with other children’s books from the 20th century.
When I was a fairly new driver, I drove into the back of a police car.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
A news item on TV.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
The pleasure of mixing with other writers of all age-groups through writing groups, etc. and giving talks to groups interested in books.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
Writing a love scene in a scary thunderstorm.
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
I no longer keep a diary, but I used to. When writing my genealogical saga, Tainted Tree, I used it to remind myself of events and feelings in my teenage years, and put some entries into the mouth of one of my characters. (On the assassination of President Kennedy, for example.)
What do you miss about being a kid?
Having my whole life and opportunities in front of me.
At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?
Couldn’t you be a bit less sensible?
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why?
I would choose to be Adrienne Heron from Tainted Tree, my genealogical saga, because she was much more of a risk-taker than I am.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
I am logical and I think that the structure of the book is important and being logical has a role in creating a good structure.
What are you currently working on?
A sequel to my crime novel, Lost Innocents.
Tell us about your most recent book.
My most recent book is Lost Innocents, a crime novel with a human interest thread running through it.
It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jacquelynn! Your garden sounds amazing and beautiful! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla
Nick Delmar has left his well paid job in the City to write a novel and is enticed by an acquaintance to work on a local paper, in a suburban Surrey town. In this area where, normally, nothing much happens, a man is found dead on a local estate with an unconscious woman at his side. A few days later, a ten year old boy goes missing on the same estate. Nick gets involved in both stories and is drawn into the lives of the people involved, putting his career and life in jeopardy.
Where to find the book:
Lost Innocents (paperback) can be found at:
Goldenford Publishers Ltd.
Also available as an ebook from Amazon:
It can be ordered from Waterstones and other bookshops.
The Fruit of the Tree: https://www.untreedreads.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8_107&products_id=508 or p.m. me for a paperback.
Connect with Jacquelynn:
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1247610.Jacquelynn_Luben
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/jackie.luben
Lost Innocents, FB page: https://www.facebook.com/lostinnocents/
Tainted Tree FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TaintedTreeJackieLuben/
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