Today we travel to Greater London UK to chat with Jackie Marchant about how walking in the woods, a great big comfy bed, birdsong, volunteer work, experimenting with food, watching videos of tarantulas, penguin-friendly door-knockers, and stubbornness come together as part of Jackie’s life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born near Nottingham, the middle of three sisters. My father was a mining engineer and we moved with his work – to Scotland, Zambia, South Africa, South Wales and London. I still love travelling and meeting up with friends I made along the way. Now I’m settled in Greater London UK with my husband and fellow traveler. I spend a lot of time walking in the woods, which have provided much of the inspiration for my Sword of Red Series. Luckily we have a dog who loves long walks and doesn’t mind me muttering to myself (aka plotting).
In which genre do you write?
I write what is called epic low fantasy. ‘Low’ means it is set in a world pretty similar to ours, ie no wizards, elves, etc (Game of Thrones is a low fantasy, despite the dragons). Imagine the world of Robin Hood, but one in which everyone, including men and women, are equal – that’s why it has to be a fantasy!
I also write mid-grade humour, which is completely different.
How many published books do you have?
I have three mid-grade children’s books published in a series about a trouble-magnet called Dougal Daley. The Sword of Red is my first fantasy.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I was about six. At school, we had to draw something and then write a sentence about it. I don’t remember what I drew, but I still remember how long I took to write that sentence. It had to be just right. I still have that need, with every sentence I write. Even a text.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
A great big comfy bed with a pile of soft pillows and a fluffed up duvet. A cup of steaming herbal tea on the bedside table, a fresh breeze bringing in birdsong.
That sounds like such a wonderful, cushy writing space. I’d love to read there, too! What are you currently reading?
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
Normally, I’ll be visiting schools and libraries, which I love. Or speaking at a festival or other event, or maybe just visiting as a reader. I’ll be out researching, nipping into London and wandering around a museum, toiling in the garden, walking the dog, planning a trip, travelling, setting questions for a children’s literature quiz, volunteer work for a small charity I’m involved with, trying to complete a giant jigsaw puzzle, experimenting with food, watching as many films as I can, reading avidly and thinking about my next writing project. But, now we are in lockdown and most of that has gone out the window, I’ve taken to making videos for my fledgling YouTube channel. You’d be surprised how long it takes to make a video, especially when you have to teach yourself how to do it as you along.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
Meeting my readers, especially the children. There is nothing better than having a long signing queue and children bouncing up and down with excitement because their book is being signed by a real author.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
I spent a whole day on YouTube, watching videos of tarantulas eating live mice, giant frogs eating crickets and various other creatures’ eating habits. All in the name of research for a Dougal Daley book in which he has a pet tarantula called Sybil.
Oh my goodness! I don’t think I could have done that. HA!
How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?
It’s vital to prepare well for events. I spend a lot of time practicing on my dog – he knows every detail of my writing process. I also read the book I’m going to be talking about. It might sound strange, having spent so much time writing it, but I still need to refresh my memory.
A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?
He’s there to ask me to sign a petition for penguin-friendly door-knockers, as it’s very difficult to knock on a door when you are short and only have little wings.
Hahaha! Love this response, Jackie.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
My stubbornness. Without it I wouldn’t have stuck to my aim to be a published writer. And my propensity to daydream – vital for meeting my characters and talking to them. Often out loud.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just delivered Book Two of the Sword of Red series to my publisher (yay!) and I am now writing a new mid-grade book, which is the second in a new series about a girl who tries to sell her grandmother. Book 1 in that series is out later this year.
Tell us about your most recent book.
The Sword of Red:
A land of plenty where everyone was happy? Pool couldn’t think of anything worse. What this place needed was a famine. Or a war.
For generations Rebels have been risking their lives over treacherous seas, razor sharp rocks and fierce currents to flee from the tyranny of Kamoria, seeking refuge in the land they call Langrinia. For generations the descendants of the surviving Rebels have done all they can for those who still struggle over. For generations they have lived in peace with the Forest and its elusive people.
But now a new survivor has washed up, battered and bleeding to death, insisting that he be tended by no one but the apprentice healer, Neekra. But when Neekra discovers that he is none other than Pool, bastard son of Supreme Lawmaker Daner of Kamoria, the most feared High Ruler of all, she needs more than her healer skills to help him lose his violent past and accept their peaceful ways. And why is he so interested in her?
Now a war with Kamoria is brewing and Pool their only hope – but whose side is he really on?
Teach him to love, my Neekra. Do not let him burn us.
It was lovely to have you on MTA, Jackie! Wishing you all the best and hopefully you can return to all of your fun activities very soon. – Camilla
Where to find the books:
The Sword of Red – Amazon.
Dougal Daley – I’m Phenomenal: All good bookshops or direct from the publisher. https://www.wackybeebooks.com/product/dougal-daley-im-phenomenal/
Connect with Jackie:
Trailer – Sword of Red –
Trailer – Dougal Daley series
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JMarchantAuthor
YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/marchantjackie
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