Aspiring-Author Interview #3: Jean Clement

FictionPress is a growing network of over 1 million writers/readers,
and home to over 1,200,000 original works.


Jean Clement
(Read her work on FP)

1. Tell us about yourself!

I am a first-year English student at the University of Southampton in the UK, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it – except for the fact that writing essays on other people’s books tend to get in the way of writing my own.

Becoming a published author has been my dream for many years. I’m still shaping my writing style, so I always have various different types of stories on hand, most of which (mercifully perhaps) end up being abandoned. I am a voracious reader, both because I enjoy it and because it helps me improve my own writing. Having a keen interest in modern history, my preference is for historical novels, although I will read practically anything which looks good. I love poetry, too, provided I am not required to analyse it.

Some of my other interests are music, art, film and drama, and going for rambles on Southampton Common when it’s sunny.

2. What is your novel about? (It can be a completed story, or the new story you’re currently working on–whichever is your biggest project that you want to draw attention to)

Mary Banks, subtitled ‘A Victorian Life’, is the story of an ordinary middle-class single woman in the mid-Victorian era, and her quiet and lonely struggle with the role society imposes on her. Her talents and intelligence cause her to want more out of life than a career as a governess in a country squire’s household can offer. A visit to London with her brother, catapulted to fame by a début novel, allows her to meet the authors she knows only through their writings, and shows her an alternative life, in the shape of her own writing career, and one of her literary idols and his young family. Yet every time she considers seizing her chance, a problem arises in her large family – and her sense of duty and responsibility persuades her that the only way to show her love is through self-sacrifice. My story explores the effect the two-faced, sanctimonious Victorian conception of a woman’s role must have had on many talented young women at the time.

3. What inspired you to write this story?

Funnily enough, an academic article. Two years ago, when I was in the midst of feverish research for a school essay about William Thackeray’s authorial manipulation of the reader’s sympathies, I happened upon an article by Richard A. Kaye: ‘A Good Woman on Five Thousand Pounds’. Centring on an apparently casual similarity between Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair, which came out in the same year, it described the literary rivalry between Thackeray, struggling to keep up the reputation he had built for himself, and Charlotte Brontë, his timid admirer whose début had taken London by storm. When Brontë visited London in the following year, she met Thackeray, and neither of them knew very well how to deal with the other, which led to some painful and some comic episodes. The article proved useless for my essay; but the curious relationship between two great literary names which it described gave me the idea for the main characters in this novel and their behaviour towards one another.

The rest of my story has simply grown out of this basis. I fed it by reading and re-reading the great Victorian novels I admire, and gradually resolved on making Mary Banks’s autobiography at once an homage to the era that shaped the modern novel, and to the ordinary women for whom this was simply a very difficult time in which to live.

4. Where are you in your journey to publication?

Nowhere much, I’m afraid. I’ve been a contributor to FictionPress for just over a year after trying out various other websites, but other than that I have made no attempt to explode my work onto the world as yet. I am learning a great deal from others going through the process at the moment, however: June kindly shares her experiences of publishing The Runaway Courtesan with me, and the contributions to Let the Words Flow have been extremely helpful. My own aim just now is to finish my manuscript, and redraft it until I’m satisfied – which will very probably take a while yet.

5. Your top five favorite books?

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell – for its insight into human nature and its subtle wit

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – for the credible normality of its hero and heroine, and its lively yet courageous parody of the popular Gothic genre

White Teeth by Zadie Smith – for its almost Dickensian, big-hearted inclusion of all its different characters, no matter how flawed they are

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson and Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter – for their creative experimental narratives, exploring and challenging the boundaries between different genres of fiction

(Having said this, I am in honour bound to confess that not all my reading is this high-brow: I am a dedicated lover of the novels of Georgette Heyer. She taught me nearly all I know about the Regency, and the witty repartee of her spirited heroines has beguiled many of my evenings. My favourites are The Grand Sophy, The Unknown Ajax and Cotillion.)

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Aspiring-Author Interview #2: Rika Ashton

  FictionPress is a growing network of over 1 million writers/readers,
and home to over 1,200,000 original works.


(Read her stories on FP)

1. Tell us about yourself!

I’m a twenty-year-old aspiring author who refuses to tell anyone her real name. I wrote my first book at the age of seven, self-published it with illustrations and sold it to my sister for a quarter. I never thought I’d turn to writing as a career, in fact most recently went through a phase where I chose to brood and pose like Hamlet near windows, while loudly reciting “To write or not to write…”

2. What is your novel about?

As of now, I have two things to be proud of. Firstly, my first full-length novel, Masquerade, is complete. For those of you not familiar with it, here’s a synopsis:

Hidden secrets. A possible murder. Matchmaking grandmas. Scandalous, well, scandal. And last but not least, the romance of a lifetime. Let the masquerade begin!

Lucien Castello, a former student of Oxford and the heir to a weathly dukedom, has been ordered to commit the most grevious of deeds…GET MARRIED! To make matters worse someone has been sabotaging his secret empire. Really what’s a man to do?

Enter Jade…

She is Lucien’s every wish fulfilled and the perfect wife to boot…only she refuses to surrender her independence for anything! Jade knows that marrying Lucien would mean revealing the very secrets she has worked to hard to conceal, yet the young duke-to-be is proving far more persistent that she would have imagined.

And so the masquerade begins…

I had so much fun writing Masquerade and working with the characters of Lucien and Jade was a blast. I’m going to miss working with them as the focus of the story, but that hasn’t stopped me from looking forward to writing the sequel, Midnight Phantom.

But all that doesn’t start until my second biggest project is underway. So announcing…drum roll please…the first ever Regency ezine! I’m proud to say that the Regency Times, will be a free ezine available to anyone with an internet connection. It’ll feature fashion from the time, book reviews, interviews with aspiring authors, character interviews and more! This is great project that me and my editor, Illiana, cooked up when I announced that Damon would make a great cover model.

And don’t forget folks, you read it first on June’s blog!

3. What inspired you to write this story?

Masquerade was my answer to a reading dry spell. A few times while reading a book, I would get so disappointed by the way things were going that I would put it down and never pick it up again. Of course, this meant that I was rapidly running out of reading material. So I decided I should write my own book, one that would interest me enough to read till the end and one that wouldn’t disappoint. And, naturally, it had to be a comedy.

4. Where are you in your journey to publication?

Currently, I’m stuck in the dreaded querying process. Being the perfectionist that I am, I’ve written and rewritten my query letters a dozen times, now it’s a matter of getting them out to the literary agents.

5. Your top five favorite books?

Ah, the million dollar question. I would have to say that my favourite books, or for that matter any books that I like, would have to be the same ones that inspire me to write. Julia Quinn’s “How to Marry a Marquis”, Johanna Lindsey’s “The Magic of You”, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Dance With the Devil”, Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, and J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.” These books taught me that good books break conventions, have unlikely heroes and sometimes, bad guys are allowed to win!

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Aspiring-Author Interview #1: Priscilla Shay

  FictionPress is a growing network of over 1 million writers/readers,
and home to over 1,200,000 original works.



(Read her stories on FP)

1. Tell us about yourself!
About myself…hmm… Well, I’m nineteen, turning twenty at the end of the month. Currently, I’m in my second year of college, but I’m a junior. When I graduate I’d love to pursue a M.F.A. (Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing), but I also want to attend Sign Language school so I can become a certified American Sign Language Interpreter. I’m a mass of contradictions. I write romances, although I’ve never had or experienced one. (I don’t think I would ever approach my characters if they were real people.)

I want to be an author, but I’m afraid of being an adult.
I’m afraid of commitment, but also abandonment.
I like candy, but prefer chocolate.
I have many books; I’ve started building books cases out of them.
I like origami, knitting, drawing, baking, English, History.

And finally, my current motto: “Everyone’s going to have their happy ending even if I have to kill them!”

2. What is your novel about? (It can be a completed story, or the new story you’re currently working on–whichever is your biggest project)
Let’s see. For Willful Wisdom, this is the working summary I had:

“William Somerset, Lord Rawley is a spy for the Crown and as always, his latest mission was a success. His new assignment, however, has him in knots. A fellow spy, Grey, went undercover, but is now missing. The Crown believes Grey is either dead or a traitor; Will has to go in, complete the mission, find the missing agent, and save the Prince Regent. On top of all that, his father’s cousin dies, making him the Duke, he meets this random girl and he can’t explain his attraction to her, making an ass of himself whenever he is around her.

The girl he meets is Lady Sophia. She is a strong, intelligent, independent woman who doesn’t need a man in her life telling her what to do or where to go. But, unfortunately for her, everywhere she goes Will seems to be. He irritates her to no end, yet they seem to have a connection. Sophia is also a spy working for her country. She needs to find information, send it to her spymaster so he can utilize the information to save lives

But what will happen when they discover each other’s secrets? Will the unexplained attraction for each prevail or will the love for their country??”

But, it’s currently undergoing major revisions and there are many, many changes.

I wrote another Regency romance, “Listening to Love” that’s posted on my fictionpress account. It’s not a major project since I wrote it because I wanted to give NaNoWriMo a try (I failed, but managed to escape with a new story in the end). I’m especially fond of the plot and characters and the lack of awareness during the 1800s is intriguing. I’ll probably go back and revise it, but for now it’s on the back burner. The summary is on my blog as well as the link if anyone is interested.

3. What inspired you to write this story?
Inspiration, inspiration. It came from a very odd place. There’s a kid’s show “Liberty’s Kids”. It’s about the American Revolution told through the eyes of three children who worked for Benjamin Franklin as journalists/apprentices (all fictional of course). There was an episode where Franklin received a blank missive in the middle of the night from a harried courier. Everyone was wondering what it could say, when there was nothing on the page save for a fancy “F” in the top left hand corner. Franklin explained that there were secret methods to decipher the letter and the “F” was a clue to use fire. Her held the paper over a lit candle stick and voila! the words appeared on the page.

Naturally, I wanted to do it too! But, alas, mother always told me not to play with fire – which is how I ended up creating a code. Once I had to code, however, I needed something to do with it and here we are two years, 100K+ later.

4. Where are you in your journey to publication?
Currently, I’m in the revision stage of my first project and I hope to finish and start querying agents by the end of the semester. But, I’m also penning the second and third MS of the series…along with any other idea that pops into my head. For example, I created a new group of characters for a YA series I wanted to work on and then I realized, WW is set in 1814 England, but my new group exists prior to 1814…making them older than my ragtag group of spies. Then, I had another brainwave and somehow managed to connect everybody and work my YA characters into the Adult series (although, I’m still trying to grasp what exactly YA is.)

5. Your top five favorite books?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult
Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples
The Impostor by Celeste Bradley
Splendid by Suzanne Enoch
(For an ongoing list check “My Book List” on my blog)

*Side note: I’d love to write at least one novel in each time period, past to present, in my lifetime.

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Author Interview: Mandy Hubbard


“If the shoe fits, wear it–and if you’re in the mood for a frickin’ awesome romance, this is definitely the shoe for you.” – Lauren Myracle, New York Times Bestselling Author of TTYL

Pride and Prejudice meets The Wizard of Oz meets The Princess Diaries in this enchanting story of a young girl’s journey back in time… With delicious romance around every corner, and tantalizing mysteries waiting to be uncovered, Prada & Prejudice will satisfy the sweet tooth of dreamy, young readers everywhere.” – Kristin Walker, author of A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL, Coming from Razorbill in 2010.

“Based very loosely on Pride and Prejudice, this humorous teen time-travel romance is the perfect escape.” – Cyn Balog, author of FAIRY TALE, coming from Random House in June 2009.



Here’s my interview with Mandy Hubbard, author of the soon to be released YA novel, Prada & Prejudice (June 11, 2009).

For the people who’ve just learned about your book, Prada & Prejudice , could you tell us a bit about it? It’s a young adult novel about a fifteen year old girl who trips in her Prada heels– and ends up in 1815.
What inspired you to write it? 
I am completely in love with Regency romances, but sometimes I wish the heroines would think and act more like me. So I thought– why not make my dream book and put a modern girl into 1815?
How did you come up with your characters? Do you develop them from people you know?
I always come up with the “hook” or plot first, and the characters second. I create the kind of character who would have the most trouble with the set-up so that I can have a lot of conflict. In Prada & Prejudice, Callie is from the twenty-first century, so I created Alex (a duke) who is, like most guys in 1815, sexist. He doesn’t understand or believe that girls can be just as smart and successful. Callie herself is used to trying everything to conform and be popular, but when she meets someone as maddening as Alex, she does the opposite– she speaks her mind and sticks up for people.
Do you have any plans to publish Broken Road, the story you posted up on Fictionpress?
Right now, no. I do love that story, but it needs some extensive revisions to be ready for publishing. I do sometimes play with the idea of tackling it, but at the moment I have enough projects to keep me busy! I am, however, THRILLED that it continues to find readers on Fictionpress. It is by far my most popular story– more so than the rest of them combined.
Both fictions are based on romance. How would you define ‘love’? And what elements do you believe are required to make a good romance novel?
I’m not sure how to truly define love– it’s an emotion that consumes us until we can’t think of anything else, that’s for sure! It’s the ability to see the best in someone else, it’s finding someone who snaps into your life like they were made for it. I think a good romance is one that takes two flawed characters who can come together and be better because of it. A good romance needs plenty of conflict, though. I HATE Romances in which the only conflict arises from a very simple misunderstanding– one which if one of the characters said about two sentences about it, the whole book would be wrapped up and the conflict would be gone. I prefer ones in which there are both external and internal conflicts, and the reader really has to wonder how the problems will be solved in time for a Happily-Ever-After.

And yes, a HEA is a must for me.
What do you do when you’re in a writer’s block?
Force it. Truly. It doesn’t always work, but if I’m having trouble and I have a deadline or a goal, I just write pure, utter drivel until it starts flowing. Sometimes it only takes a few pages, other times a chapter or two, but eventually I strike gold and things start flowing again. Then I have to go back and cut the yucky stuff.
Are there any authors that influenced your writing?
Kat Martin wrote the first ever regency romance I read (THE BRIDE’S NECKLACE) and is the one who inspired me to try and go from Fictionpress to published.
How long have you been writing for?
I created my Fictionpress account in 2003, so I suppose six years now! 
What do you find most difficult about writing?
Staying motivated to make it through the middle and to the end. I like to say, “I don’t like to write, I like to have written.” 
What are your favourite 5 books?
Oooh! In no particular order:
 Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
The Season by Sara Maclean
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Hate List (fall 2009) by Jennifer Brown
A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL (2010) by Kristin Walker
Favourite movie?
Empire Records
Do you have any advices for aspiring writers?

 If you love it, it is worth it, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It’s impossible to NOT encounter rejection or bad reviews, but as long as you stick with it and put the time into improving your craft, it WILL happen. The question is, will you stick with it long enough?