Interview with Josie Jaffrey

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I recall was one I wrote in primary school, in crayon, about a dinosaur. Or maybe it was a dragon. I definitely recall illustrating it with a picture of a green, lizard-like thing. It may have been my best work, sadly now lost to history.

The first longer story I remember writing was when I was about fifteen. It was for a school project; a seedy little story set in an unrealistic ghetto in southern England where I imagined myself as some kind of painfully cool, kick-ass, mafia out-smarting, model-looking, gun-toting hero. I've scaled my ambitions down a little since then and am trying to learn to write realistically rather than aspirationally. Or perhaps my aspirations have simply changed.

Either way, I no longer even attempt to be cool. I live with two cats. Nothing on earth can make you feel less cool than the scathing apathy of a feline companion on whom you dote shamefully. I love my cats. And my pyjamas.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who loved books, and who surrounded me with them from a very early age. They read Winnie the Pooh with me, and Wind in the Willows, and Swallows and Amazons, and every wonderful children's story you can think of.

The biggest fixture in my bedroom when I was a child was a huge bookcase my dad had made in his youth. it's about six feet tall and six feet wide, massively oversized for the small room, that towered over my bed crammed as full as possible with books. When I was bored I would pull them out at random and read them: my dad's old medical textbooks, one about the lifecycle of ants, Gulliver's Travels, a beautiful old bible and scores of others.

I loved that bookcase, and the vast opportunities it seemed to hold, so my dad let me take it with me when I moved out. I still have it at home, now crammed full of my Ancient Greek and Latin textbooks and my husband's medieval English texts, with a select stack of my favourite books from my childhood piled precariously on top.

But my earliest story memories aren't actually from any of those books. They're of my dad, who used to make up a story for us every night he was home early enough to put us to bed, of the adventures of Bertie Beetle and his friends. Bertie lived in a log in our garden, and although I can't now remember any of the hundreds of storylines, the imagined scenes I can recall are almost more precious for that.
How do you approach cover design?
Ha! This is a fairly apposite question.

Up until now, I've approached cover design with a very clear mental image of the composition I'm going for, and have then executed it poorly with an iPhone camera and a suite of free design programs. I don't recommend this approach.

I have just engaged a professional cover designer, who I am sure will do a much better job than I have, so watch this space!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
FIVE? Wow. Okay, here goes, in no particular order:

1. Red Dwarf by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

Red Dwarf was first on TV was I was younger. I followed each season as it aired and my friends and I knew each episode back to front (still do). This was back in the days when we used to record things off terrestrial TV - which had 4 channels in the UK - on VHS tape. That's how old I am. These days I like to crack out the book when I'm feeling under the weather, because it always cheers me up and gives me a warm hug of nostalgia. The audio book narrated by Chris Barrie is also excellent.

2. Soulless by Gail Carriger.

I love the whole Parasol Protectorate series, but the first book is particularly good. I love the romance, I love the fashion, I love the wit and the sparkle of Carriger's writing. It's a wonderfully entertaining and engaging read, with enough of the weird to keep you hooked.

3. Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith.

I love the twisted, horrifying stories that MMS comes up with, and (as his debut novel) this one is still a bit rough around the edges, not as sharp and directed as his later work. It sprawls a bit, and I enjoy the confusion that lends to the story. He also includes cats, which is always a winner with me.

4. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.

This series is what first got me reading romance. It wasn't something that was ever around in my house when I was growing up, but my mum started reading this series when I was about thirteen. I picked it up and loved it, and I still read each new release (also I have to confess that they are not as good anymore).

5. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett.

I love every single moment of the Discworld novels. I've read them over and over, and I now listen to one of the audiobooks read by Nigel Planer every night to get me to sleep (at the moment it's The Hogfather). The Witches are probably my favourite characters (though on some days I prefer the guards), and this book is particularly wonderful. I love the transformation of Greebo (the cat, obvious winner - see above) into a human, and the romance of Nanny Ogg and Cassanunda. Every bit of the writing is dripping with humanity and warmth. I mourn Sir Terry every day.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was submitting my first book to agents (with no luck) and my husband suggested that I self-publish in the meantime. I'm a bit of a control freak, so the whole process really appeals to me. I love having all of the platforms at my fingertips.

I haven't given up on agents and publishing houses, but I think the Solis Invicti series is actually better suited to indie publishing.
What are you working on next?
I'm in the process of writing the final book in the Solis Invicti series: The Silver Bullet. I'm also still writing my quarterly Solis Invicti short stories for Channillo.

Once that is finished, I'm starting on something completely different. It's a psychological thriller, and I don't want to say too much about it because it'll spoil the surprise!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cats. In fact, if my husband and I don't get up and feed them, they tend to yowl. Then chew our toes. They're very inspirational that way.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a fairly full schedule! I still have a day job as a lawyer for a UK publisher, which keeps me pretty busy. I also row for City of Oxford Rowing Club, which takes up most of my free time. Finding space for writing is a bit of a challenge.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have a book review section on my website, so a lot of the e-books I read come direct to me from indie authors in exchange for reviews from The Gin Book Club. We accept most genres, and you can find out more at www.josiejaffrey.com/the-gin-book-club
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything!

I like a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, but my absolute favourite is probably dystopian fiction, whether that be as a sub-genre of fantasy, sci-fi or any other genre.

I have a great local bookshop that runs a subscription service where you sign up for a year and they send you a book a month according to your preferences. I get some excellent recommendations there.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Kindle, although sadly it has recently expired so I'm back onto paperbacks until Christmas!
Published 2016-11-25.
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Books by This Author

The Silver Bullet
Series: Solis Invicti. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 88,570. Language: British English. Published: August 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
The Silver Bullet is the final book in Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance quadrilogy, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London where a deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience.
Bound in Silver
Series: Solis Invicti. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 94,600. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Urban
Bound in Silver is the penultimate book in Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance quadrilogy, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London where a deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience.
The Price of Silver
Series: Solis Invicti. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 118,440. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
The Price of Silver is the second book in Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance series, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London where a deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience.