Hello there, Welcome to my Authors Let’s Chat – An Interview with… Feature. If you want to know more about the authors I feature, please carry on scrolling.
We are so very lucky to have authors in this world. Books are an essential need. We find or lose ourselves within the pages. But while we are reading their books. We would also love to know the person, the genuine person behind their writing.
So without further ado, Let me introduce you to YVONNE MARJOT and let’s get to know her together. I am honoured to have you here on Reading Through The Pain. And Thank you very much for being interviewed.
1. Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
I was born in England, grew up in New Zealand (where I ran wild in the hills and forests behind our back garden) and eventually washed up on the Isle of Mull in Scotland as a lone parent with two tiny boys and a grown-up daughter who had already left home. Now my boys are both at university, and my daughter (and grandson) live right here on the Isle of Mull. I’ve always loved to write, although it doesn’t pay the bills, and living in Scotland has proved to be an inspiration.
2. What inspired you to become a writer/author?
The first books I remember consciously imitating were the Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson. Tove has a great grasp of character, and character has always been at the centre of my stories too. The grown-up book I most admire is Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, with three wonderful character arcs, and exemplary ecological science underlying her stories.
3. What is the best thing about being a writer/author?
Reading! Any excuse to read a good book. Honestly, I think every writer would tell you the same: we write because we love to read.
4. What is your writing routine like?
Normally I run the public library, four afternoon/evenings a week and all day Saturdays. So in theory I can write in the mornings, although I have very poor discipline. Just at the moment I’m furloughed during the Covid-19 pandemic so I am making myself do my 2 hour morning stint 5 days a week. Most days, anyway.
5. How much time is spent on research?
Loads! If I’m stuck with the writing, I can take a nice break by looking something up, or reading an author who’s written something similar. Because I try to get the history/archaeology right in my fiction, I read a lot of non-fiction as well as indulging in fiction as much as possible.
6. How much of the book is planned out before you write it/them?
Almost none. I need to know my characters before I start, and I usually write (or at least plot) the climax/ending, so I know what I’m writing to. Someone described my technique as ‘mosaic’ which is a very polite way of saying ‘all over the place’. Sometimes I have several important scenes written and then have to patch them together. Plan? Synopsis? They come after the first draft.
7. What do you think is most important when writing a book? The characters, plot, setting, etc?
The plot needs to make sense, the story arc needs to rise, climax, and resolve. But the really vital thing is character. I want my readers to believe in those people, to sign up to their lives and their beliefs, at least for the duration of the book. I like my characters to feel as though they are really speaking to you off the page.
8. What is your latest book about?
Walking on Wild Air is a ghost story with a twist. Depressed and injured, Sushila Mackenzie (who lost most of her family in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami) is living in her dad’s old house in Scotland, following his death 10 years later. She meets local man Dougie MacLean, but Dougie is much more than an ordinary man. The collision of their two worlds will change them both forever.
“Escape to a place forged not by time, but by memories.”
9. What inspired it?
I’m immensely inspired by the beautiful island where I live (Isle of Mull) and much of the book takes place there, but the location of Dougie’s valley owes its existence to the lush Isle of Ulva, a tiny island off the coast of Mull, which is even greener and more beautiful than the big island. As for the plot? A friend of mine challenged me to write a romance novel in 6 weeks, and I did it—at least Sushila’s part of the story. But as I wrote, it became less of a romance and more of the heart-rending story of two damaged people trying to come to terms with their past experiences. And adding Dougie’s point of view (down all the years of his long, long existence) gives the story another dimension entirely. But don’t worry. There’s plenty of romance in there, too.
10. Why did you pick the genre or genres that you write in?
My favourite reading is Fantasy and SciFi. And my own life has been pretty difficult, with no sign of a happy ending, although I’m an eternal optimist. So what I write tends always to reflect that.
11. How did you go about getting a publishing deal? Or how did you become self-published?
Back in 2013 I was lucky enough to be offered a publication contract by Crooked Cat Publishing, a small indie publisher (after a friend told me they were open for submissions). They published my three archaeological romances, then Walking on Wild Air, and now my book of short stories, Treacle and Other Twisted Tales. Now that the novels are out of contract, I’m self-publishing with author collective Ocelot Press.
12. Would you be enthralled in making your books into a movie or TV series?
I’d be over the moon! I try to write in a visual, descriptive style. I can see just how it would translate into a mini-series. I try not to imagine my characters too closely, because I want my readers (or script writers) to envision them for themselves. But the thought of film crews here on Mull, interpreting my creation for TV? Wonderful.
13. Any new books or plans for the future?
I’ll be self-publishing my trilogy of archaeological romances with Ocelot Press, starting with The Calgary Chessman in July 2020. I’m also working on my second post-apocalyptic fantasy (the first has had its publication contract deferred due to the global situation, so at the moment I don’t know when it will come out). I have the beginnings of a second book of short stories in my files.
14. What authors have been an influence on your writing?
The most influential by far, in terms of my writing style, are Ursula K Le Guin and Barbara Kingsolver. But I read very widely, and there are lots of living writers I’m inspired by. We writers like to tell each other our life stories. That’s one way that social networking and self-publishing have made the world a better place for those who feel compelled to write.
15. What writing advice would you have given yourself when you started?
Do it for love. Be as organized, professional and hard-working as you can be, but ultimately do it because you love it and can’t imagine stopping. Isaac Asimov once said, “I write for the same reason I breathe: because if I stopped I would die.” And I really feel that’s true.
16. What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer or a new author to the block?
Be prepared for many years in the wilderness. Most writers don’t make any money (or, at least, not enough to give up the day job) so you need to love this expensive and demanding hobby. Find your tribe: the people online who think like you, and will support and challenge you. Work hard. And love it.
17. What has been your favourite book so far this year?
At the moment I’m rereading a lot of old indie author favourites from my bookshelf. I’d especially like to recommend Storm Bound by Dani Harper, one of a series of books about magic and the world of the Fae, and Jennifer C Wilson’s Kindred Spirits series, which is about the ghost of Richard III (and some of his royal relatives).
18. What is your all-time favourite book and why?
Favourite book by a dead author: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which inspired me so much. I reread it every year. Favourite by a living author: Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. This is the book I wish I’d written—lush and loving.
19. What genre do you read?
About 50% Sci Fi and Fantasy, 25% non-fiction, and the rest across lots of fiction genres.
20. What are you currently reading?
Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist, the story of a year in the life of an autistic teenager who is able to cope with life because of his close connection to nature. (NB Dara prefers to be referred to as ‘autistic’ rather than ‘person with autism’).
21. What is on your To be read list?
In fiction, my next read will be Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, a SciFi author I adore, part of my vow to read more fiction by black authors during 2020. And I’m awaiting delivery of a non-fiction title, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi, but it’s out of print at the publisher so I’m having to wait to see if they can source me a copy.
22. Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to Yvonne for this lovely interview and for your cool books.