Author Interview: Josie Jaffrey

a stack of books, one being held open by hands; text says 'author interview'

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Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

All three! I read paperbacks in the bath, hardbacks when they’re fancy editions or picture books, and I listen to audiobooks every night to help me get to sleep.

Pick a genre, any genre!

Fantasy romance. My favourite escapist treat!

What is the first book you remember reading?

A non-fiction hardback my dad had about the lifecycle of ants. It was fascinating and weird, which suit me down to the ground.

What book shaped your childhood most?

Probably the Famous Five books. We were always trying to go on exciting adventures in really mundane places. And getting in trouble for it!

When did you first start writing?

With purpose? In 2014 with A Bargain in Silver. That was the first book I ever finished writing. Before that, I’d started a couple of books in university, but they never went anywhere.

What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

To start with, I think I just wanted to see if I could do a book. These days, my drive comes more from wanting to get the stories that are in my head out and onto the page so they’ll stop bothering me. There’s nothing more irritating than a story left untold.

What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

Probably May Day, the first in my Seekers series. It’s a bit different from my previous books and I’m really proud of the voice.

Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

The books I left uncompleted before A Bargain in Silver will never see the light of day!

How many books/collections have you published so far?

I’ve published ten novels so far in four different series, plus a whole bunch of short stories that will eventually be compiled into collections.

What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

I’ve published fantasy, sci-fi and historical so far, but I also have my eye on a contemporary thriller series I’m plotting at the moment.

Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

The kind of fantasy I write requires less research than the kind of historical fiction I write, but I’d say there’s always some research involved, even if it’s just about how far a horse can travel in a day.

To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I used to go straight in without any planning, but the world in which I’m writing has become so big that I can’t really use that approach anymore. These days I tend to create a rough plot for an entire series, with more detailed plotting for individual books before I start the actual writing, but I always leave room for a lot of improvisation. Sometimes I need to be surprised by the directions my characters take.

What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

I’ve self-published, but hope to become a hybrid author in future, because some of the novels I have planned will – I think – do much better if traditionally published.

If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

The worlds of all my favourite books are frankly terrifying and I would be dead within five minutes! So for that reason, let’s go live in AA Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood with Winnie the Pooh, shall we? Honey, bread, sunshine … Sounds good to me.

Do you currently have a WIP?

Yes: I’m working on Winta’s Day, the third book in my Seekers series. If all goes well, it should be out later this year.

Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

This is a tough question because I love writing Jack Valentine – a vampire detective with a serious attitude problem – but I have a real soft spot for Cam Sawyer. He’s a vampire who turns up in most of my books, who’s a complete softie and resembles nothing so much as a giant golden retriever stuffed into human clothes. I just love him so much and he has such a hard time. I feel bad every time I screw him over, but it’s sometimes necessary for the plot.

What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

If I can go this wide with it, then I guess my magnum opus is the Silverse, the world in which all of my vampire novels are set. It’s just becoming enormous, and I have so much more planned!

Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

Definitely the romance/rivalry between Jack Valentine and Killian Drake. They are so messy. They each spend all their time desperately pretending that they hate the other one, but they’re fooling no one except themselves. It’s such a childish romance and I just love it.

Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

I don’t listen to music at all while writing – I’m easily distracted and need quiet to concentrate!

Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

I do! I have some excellent character designs by Morgana Anagrom for my Sovereign series that you can see on my website. She’s also done some character art for the Seekers series, but I’m not ready to reveal that just yet …

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Read a lot, and read widely. I’ve found it the best way to learn technique.

Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

I have! I entered BBNYA in 2020, placing 4th with The Gilded King, and that was a great experience, so I entered again in 2021 and placed 1st with May Day! I was completely blown away by the response to the book, and all the bloggers involved were so kind. I’ve entered again this year with The Wolf and the Water, but I’m not expecting to win this time!

I also entered the Friday Night Live competition that Jericho Writers ran at their Festival of Writing in York in September 2019, and was shortlisted along with seven other authors. That meant reading the first 500 words of an as-yet-unpublished book, on stage in front of about 400 people. It was a terrifying but wonderful experience.

Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

In no particular order: Terry Pratchett, Gail Carriger, Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Michael Marshall Smith, Jodi Taylor, Melinda Salisbury, Michael Crichton, Tessa Dare, and lots more I’ve forgotten, I’m sure!

Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

Details for all my books are on my website, but if you want to get in touch then I’m usually hanging around on Twitter.

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