Interview with Barbara Jaques

Published 2017-05-15.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The mainstream world of publishing has narrowed, rather like the film industry. The vogue is for dead-cert money spinners. No one appears to want to test ideas or expand the market; taking a creative gamble and seeing if it pays off seems to be a thing of the past. Nowadays, unless the genre is very clear and specifically commercial, forget finding the more regular sort of support. Fortunately, the emergence of independent publishing platforms has allowed for greater expression once more.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For me, writing is like painting: shape it, colour it, give it mood with subtle shade; perhaps re work it or throw it away and start again with a new canvas. The process of creation is wonderful.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has a broad base so work reaches across the globe. As a set up, it is very easy to use, and what I really like is how flexible the whole thing is. If I want to give away my short stories I can. I don't have to sign up for any exclusive deals in order to do so.
What do your fans mean to you?
The question, I guess, is really how much value do I put on support? It is a very lonely road without it. I am eternally grateful for every positive comment received.
Who are your favorite authors?
I did not have a favourite author until last year, when quite by accident I discovered Zola. I told someone recently (in a bookstore) that he was my comfort read and I still do not understand the look I received. He created beautiful images and pushed boundaries. I admit I do occasionally skim the odd description - even Zola should have known better than to give three full pages over to a description of an orangery, whatever his reasons!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
With my family
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
By chance, or through friends.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote many as a child, though I drew pictures more than I wrote. The oldest story of mine I have found was written when I was around 11. Almost an entire family was dead within a page, but the bereaved child protagonist still went out with friends, and sort of ' got on with it'.
What is your writing process?
For novels and short stories I wait for an intriguing idea, for that unusual question: what if this happened or that happened, what then? I am always making notes, regardless; little one-liners or observations that might be useful. And I edit. I enjoy going back over the first draft many times, deleting or adding, tweaking and so on. Then the work is ready for my editor's eyes, and she has sharp ones.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I can readily recall was Bimbo and Topsy by Enid Blyton. It was a very simple tale of a puppy and a kitten. They were always getting into scrapes, but what stood out were the simple yet evocative descriptions. I can still picture the gravy and biscuits, dashed on the floor of the larder in a tasty mess. Lucky Bimbo and Topsy!
How do you approach cover design?
I employ a designer.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Brothers Grimm complete collection; always my favourite as a child and I still love the tales.
The Testament of Gideon Mack, by James Robertson. Imagine meeting the devil.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. She does handsome and aloof rather well.
La Bete Humaine, Zola, my introduction to this great writer.
The series - Number One Lady's Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith. So easy and funny.
What do you read for pleasure?
Classics mostly.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My phone using my glasses.
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