Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spotlight Interview with Jenny Twist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family. 
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.



INTERVIEW

How did you start your writing career?

I had always wanted to write but life kept getting in the way, so I didn’t actually get started until my husband and I retired to Spain ten years ago. I started writing stories and articles for a local magazine and also entering short stories in competitions (which I never won). These later became the basis for my anthology Take One At Bedtime.

Tell us about your current release.


My latest release is Domingo's Angel, which is set in Los Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) of Southern Spain and tells of an English girl who travels to Spain in the early 1950s when it was ruled by the dictator, Franco. She falls in love with one of the villagers and stays, becoming completely integrated into village life.

This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.

The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.

Tell us about your next release.

Since writing the two novels, I have contributed to two anthologies – Curious Hearts and Spellbound 2011, both published by Melange Books, and a third, Warm Christmas Wishes, will be released December 4th. I have two stories in this: Jamey and the Alien, about a little boy whose father is seriously ill and who asks Santa Claus to bring his Daddy home; and Uncle Albert's Christmas, about an old man who is afraid his niece is plotting to take over his life, and how he outwits her.

Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

I have been inspired all my life by wonderful authors, beginning with Enid Blyton and most recently Kate Atkinson. Of all of them, the most inspiring for me were John Wyndham, M R James and the great Stephen King. It was Stephen King's On Writing which prompted me to write my first short story, Waiting for Daddy, which I think is probably still the scariest thing I've ever written. I cannot thank him enough.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

I was very surprised to discover that you had to promote your own books. I think I supposed once you got published you just sat back and waited for the money to roll in. But my publisher, Melange, has been extremely supportive and helpful and I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it now.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Doris Day, all-singing, all-dancing film star. I practised for hours singing into my hairbrush as a substitute for a microphone. I just knew somebody walking past the house would hear my wonderful voice and discover me.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?


Write about what you know. Keep it simple with short sentences and paragraphs. Listen to what people say, but remember it’s your story and you decide whether to change something. I have about a dozen long-suffering friends who read and comment on what I write. If several of them make the same criticism I take it seriously. And finally, do not be put off by criticism or rejection. Stephen King papered his wall with rejection slips when he was first starting out. J K Rowling had so many rejections for her Harry Potter stories that she gave up and only tried again when her friend urged her to give it another go.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

I am the worst person you would want to meet first thing in the morning. I hate staying in hotels because I have to speak to waiters. The chirpy birds of this world drive me insane. As far as I am concerned they can go and chirp somewhere else until I have had at least three cups of coffee.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Santorini. It's one of the Greek islands. It was the site of an enormous volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago when Greece was ruled by the Minoans. The entire island was covered in volcanic ash and a whole city has been preserved, not unlike the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy. Only this is even older. 1,600 years older, in fact. It is one of the candidates for the lost city of Atlantis.

I am actually writing a novel about Atlantis which is on the back burner at the moment, so it would be really appropriate to send me there. Are you reading this, Melange?





GIVEAWAY


4 Lucky Winners - One copy each of Take One At Bedtime, Domingo's Angel, Curious Hearts and Spellbound 2011 - will be given away. Enter the giveaway for the book(s) of your choice. Kindle or PDF formats are available. Comment on this post and/or "Like" Jenny's brand new Facebook page for bonus entries. This Giveaway ends December 24th 11:59PM CST.


Take One at Bedtime

Nobody ever goes upstairs in Margaret’s house. So what is making the strange thumping noises up there? And why is there a toy rabbit under the kitchen table?

Margaret’s Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.

There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess’s Girl.

But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.

It’s bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look.
A-mazing Shift by Jane Carver:  A maze in 2011 throws Jolie back to the summer of 1969. Away from her husband Al, now with her lover Remy, will she stay in the past? Where does her heart truly belong?


Just one look.


WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.

Domingo's Angel

When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones.


But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realise that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel.

This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.

The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.



EXCERPT from Domingo's Angel

The next day he took his goats to the top of the ridge near the pass and looked down on the smallest casita of Guillermo the mayor. There was a mule tethered outside and a string of washing had been hung between two almond trees. Otherwise there was no sign of life. Halfway down the slope was a large algarrobo tree. He decided it would be an ideal place for lunch.

But although he sat and watched the little house all the time as he ate his bread and cheese and olives and drank his wine, nobody came out and nothing happened. Only the mule moved along the side of the house to keep in the shade as the sun moved round. So he went to sleep.

When he woke up, someone was calling him. “Hola, goatherd!”

He squinted up into the sun and there, standing before him was an angel. It was very tall and thin and there was a fiery halo round its head. “Hello,” it said, "Soy √Āngela - I am angel. I am delighted to meet you! Who are you?”

In absolute panic, Domingo shot up into a sitting position and shuffled backwards into the algarrobo tree. His head hit the hard trunk with a resounding crack and he subsided and slumped back down, feeling a little stunned.

The angel came forward into the shadow of the algarrobo tree and he realised that the halo was, in fact, hair - very long hair - falling in waves down beyond her shoulders and almost to her waist. It was exactly the colour of oranges that have dried on the tree. Her skin was so white it was almost blue and her eyes were so pale they had no colour at all. “How could they think she was a dead person?” he thought in a confused fashion. “She is obviously an angel.”




Curious Hearts
by Jane Carver, T.D. Jones, Nell DuVall, James N. Cricket, Walt Trizna, Jenny Twist, Ellen Margret



Just A Little Too Late by T. D. Jones: When Sujo Crane's past calls her home, she has to make the decision of staying with her past or moving on and marrying her future.
The Corpulent Chiropteran by Nell DuVall: A naive young man, seduced by an older woman, finds himself unwittingly turned into a vampire, but has no desire to kill human.


Mission to Doom by James N. Cricket: Jack's fantasy dream has come true. He has been assigned as co-pilot to the perfect woman for a mission to deep space. Jack discovers some shocking truths about Dana that he could never have anticipated. Perfection proves to be a subjective definition.


Bi-Curious Wife by James N. Cricket: (GLBS - Bi-Sexual)  Distraught with her husband Evan, Jennifer, during his business trip absence, samples forbidden pleasures with her bi-sexual coworker Sue. But her feelings of guilt overcome her and she admits the affair to Evan. Can they deal with the infidelity and find a way to cope and heal from her actions?


Elmo's Sojourn by Walt Trizna:  Elmo, a retired scientist, enjoys tinkering in his basement. One day, he suddenly travels to a distant planet, and experiences a host of adventures.


Doppelganger by Jenny Twist: When Christine wakes up in a sumptuous white room with silken hangings, she assumes she is in heaven. But she soon finds out she is not in heaven. And before too long she begins to wonder if she is even still Christine.


Retrograde Travellers by Ellen Margret: Interfering with the past is forbidden but an apprentice angel attempts just that. She knows soul mates, David and Morag, were meant to be together.


Spellbound 2011

Spellbound at Midnight by Isabelle Kane and Audrey Tremaine:  In the sultry Big Easy, Viole Godin is hired to restore Magnolia Place, an antebellum mansion which is crumbling under a mysterious curse. Marie Verret and her dangerously attractive grandson, Lucien, believe Viole is the key to ending the curse one magical Halloween night.


Room 1309.5 by John M. Mecom:  Inspired by the works of Poe and Stephen King, Room 1309.5 is a story of revenge and despair. It is the author’s first story to be published and received honorable mention in the Fifth Annual Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards.


Mansion of Nightmares by Walt Trizna:  A mysterious mansion, long abandoned, harbors a past that claims those who enter. Then one day, by a stroke of luck, an intruder survives and uncovers its secret.



43 comments:

Debby said...

Hi, I have never read any of your books but I can see I need to change that. I love the places yo have lived. I studied in Spain and love the country.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Jewel's Gems said...

They all sound like great books!

Teresa K. said...

I really enjoyed the interview. I bet you Spain is so beautiful. I look forward to reading you in the future.

Teresa K.
tcwgrlup41@yahoo(dot)com

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you, Debby, Jewel's Gems and Teresa. What lovely comments. I'd love to know more from Debby. Whereabouts did you study? My son and daughter-in-law studied in Granada and they moved here permanently the same time as we did. We now have two wonderful grandsons living just a couple of hours' drive away from us in a village near Granada.
Best of luck all of you
Love
Jenny
xx

Tara Fox Hall said...

I highly recommend Jenny's work. I'm looking forward to reading her newest short story in Warm Christmas Wishes. I'm hoping it will put me in the spirit of the season :)

Shereifa said...

I've always wanted to go to Spain, your so lucky, all that history and culture. I loved your interview and your books sounds really good. Happy Holidays!

Shereifa said...

Oh my email is rshereifa at yahoo dot com

desitheblonde said...

this is so cool and then i i would love to read all of them i ma not picky wow i bet the plce is great i have a lot of pen pal there and got some cards form there

Jenny Twist said...

Well, thank you, Tara, Shereifa and Desitheblonde. So nice to get your comments. Good luck with the competition.
Love
Jenny
xx

Kathryn Merkel said...

It seems like I've always had my nose in a book. When I discovered romances as a teenager, my mom complained about how much time & money I was wasting & did not believe me when I explained I was learning a lot of history. Yet here I am, still learning new things about the history of our planet by reading romances. I've been facinated for years about the tragedy at Pompeii & now I can add Santorini to my list of places I want to learn more about.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com

Ruby Johnson said...

I thought your advice regarding critiques was right on. When I first started writing I would rush home after a critique session and make the changes suggested. One day, I realized I didn't have the same story anymore and I did as you suggested. I started only looking at the parts where several critters commented. Thanks so much for a great interview and good luck with your books.

Jenny Twist said...

Thanks Kathryn. We sound like twin souls. Have you managed to visit Pompeii yet? It is truly amazing. What I couldn't get over was the sheer size of the site. You could literally spend days there and not see everything. We are so fortunate that because we live in a lovely sunny place, we don't need to chase the sun for our holidays and we went in January. It was, as it happens, very sunny the day we went, but because it was January there were very few other tourists and we were able to really get the atmosphere. Wonderful place.

Jenny Twist said...

Hello Ruby. I'm so glad you liked it. I've just finished the first draft of another novel and one of my readers said the action was too fast and another said it was too slow! You just have to use your common sense. Good luck with your writing.

desitheblonde said...

HI jenny again do you do the holiday over there and do you get snow for xmas we do not have any yet my name id desi and i would love to win all and read them

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the interview. I don't like people in the morning either. Would love to win any and all books showcased here.
Patricia
panthers.ravens@yahoo.com

E. Ayers said...

It's a shame you waited so long to start writing. I envy these young girls in their twenties who are writing, but I think that sometimes we need to live a little before we write.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Desi. We don't get snow or even frost here most years. It once snowed when my grandchildren were here and we just had time to build a snowman before it all melted. The other time it snowed we were in Italy and missed it. Apart from those two occasions it hasn't snowed in 50 years. But it snows on top of the mountain. So at this time of year we sometimes have lovely sunny days, warm enought to sit outside without a coat and on top of the mountain there is a cap of snow. My son lives near the Sierra Nevada near Granada and some of the peaks there have snow most of the year round.

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you Patricia. It's nicve to know I'm not the only person who is horrid in the mornings.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi, E Ayers. I know what you mean about waiting so long. I kind of resent it myself. Now I've started writing I feel like my real life is just beginning.
I always wanted to write and never had time because for so many years I was the main bread winner for my family. And then when I met Mr Twist we lived in such an expensive place I had to keep working.
But you are so right about life experience. If I HAD been able to do it earlier, it would probably not have been worth reading.

Anonymous said...

What a great giveaway. I have 2 of the books, but would love to win Spellbound. Love anthologies and have heard great things about this book. Loved Curious Hearts. Have Domingo's Angels but still in my TBR pile. Thanks for the chance to win.
christinebails@yahoo.com

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Christine
I hope you win it too.
Love
Jenny
xx

Jacquie Rogers said...

It's nice that you're not one of those chirpy morning people. It takes a pot of good strong coffee before I can face people like that.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Jacquie
I also require a whole pot. In fact today I feel like I could do with a bit more.

Andrea said...

I'm not a morning person either and must have my coffee before I can function. Living in Spain sounds interesting.

ainfinger(at)comcast(dot)net

Laurie said...

I almost hate to admit it here, but I think I'm more a chirpy birdy. I Love early morning. I'm at my most energetic and my mind is fresh. By mid-afternoon I'm draggin' and want my nap.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Andrea. Thank you for that. I feel less alone in the world. Living in Spain is fabulous. I don't ever want to leave

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Laurie
It's OK. Just don't talk to me in the mornings!
By the way, I've had lots of nice comments on how lovely your site is.

Laurie said...

My husband must have at least 2 cups of coffee in the morning before I say anything more than "good morning" to him. Me, I like the smell of coffee but I just never have developed a taste for it. Give me an ice cold diet coke and I'm happy. :)

I love giving my blog facelifts and changing the backgrounds and banners often...it's a labor of love for me to find new looks. :)

Jenny Twist said...

Uggghhh!! Ice cold diet coke?

Laurie said...

Yep, I know....my husband thinks I'm weird, too. LOL

Brenda Whiteside said...

You've had quite an interesting life, Jenny. I bet that really enriches your writing.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Brenda. I must confess I have drawn upon it shamelessly.
xx

Kathryn Merkel said...

Jenny is a new to me author, that I just recently added to my massive books to buy list. Thanks for the opportunity to stretch my budget by winning her work.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Kathryn
Good luck with the draw.
Love
Jenny
xxx

Debby said...

Great to read so many excerpts. Great looking books. I did visit your FB and liked it.
debby236 at gmail dot com

CelticAmazon said...

Enjoyed your interview. Would love to have all 4 books. Thanks for the chance to win.
Patricia
panthers.ravens@yahoo dot com

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Debby, thanks for your kind words and for liking my site. I appreciate it so much.
Love Jenny
xx

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Patricia
I hope you win, too. Happy Christmas
xxx

desitheblonde said...

hey why not make my day and say i win well i been having good day so far and love your post here and facve book
deis the blonde2msn.cm

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Desitheblonde. I would if I could. I don't choose. It's a draw on Christmas Eve. Keep your fingers crossed, Honey
Love
Jenny
xxx

Mindy said...

Hi Jenny :)
Merry Christmas to you and yours,
I LOVE the excerpts from your books & just had to add them to my TBR pile!

Mindy :)
Birdsooong@aol.com

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Mindy. What a lovely thing to say. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas day and that you have a great New Year.
Love
Jenny
xx

Laurie said...

I'm pleased to announce the giveaway winners. Congrats to:
Lori: Take One at Bedtime
Ruby Johnson: Domingo's Angel
Teresa Kleeman: Curious Hearts
Mila Ramos: Spellbound 2011