Interview with Jemima Pett

Published 2019-10-25.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was about 8 years old I made a little booklet (about 1 inch by 2, so I mean little) with a handwritten story called "The Little Stream". I think I wrote a few more stories before homework and science projects overtook me at school. I tried a scifi novel when I was about 19 but was put off by a friend who said it was rubbish. So my first published books have been a long time coming.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Firstly, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Graham. I felt really at home with these characters and the settings. I wasn't fond of Mr Toad, and didn't like his adventures, but I liked the friendship of Moley and Ratty and the terrors of the Wild Wood. When I was small I thought the chapter "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" was boring, and used to skip it. As an adult, I really love the imagery of it, it's real magic to me.

The Lord of the Rings. I used to read this every year, or thereabouts. I found it when I was about seventeen, took the first volume out of the library on a Friday, and went back on Saturday for the second and third parts. I was totally hooked from the first. There is so much to explore in it, even now. The relationships and interactions between different people, the development of various characters... I often skip the more tedious Gollum bits, though.

Black Beauty. This was a childhood favourite, and I re-read it last year. I found both an old friend and surprising new things. Anna Sewell was campaigning for better treatment of animals, and unfortunately we seem to be heading back into ill-treatment - now for the sake of status rather than from ignorance. I'm planning to write a modern version.

The Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffrey. Totally different from the others, this is scifi/fantasy with a spunky, independent heroine and some lovely offworld settings. There are three in the series and I think I like the second one, Killashandra, the best, but the Crystal Singer seems to me the ideal space opera.

The Silver Brumby, by Elyne Mitchell. Another horse book (and series), this time the wild horses of the Australian Snowy Mountains. I think the author did a fine job on wild horse herd interactions and the dangers they face, natural and human. I originally found them when I was about fourteen, and I've kept them with me ever since. I was lucky enough to visit the Snowy Mountains and was bowled over to find these place names that I knew so well. I found someone else staying at the youth hostel who also knew about the books, and we spent a day brumby hunting! We found some, but they were all browns and bays, no silvers or creamies!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Chronicles of Marsh is book 9 in the Princelings of the East series. I finished the first draft, and immediately continued to the first draft of book 10, which is the last in the series.

I had the idea of everything ending in revolution as far back as 2012, and even wrote the first four chapters in 2014. Not much of that draft has made it into the book, though some of the concepts survived. But I couldn't write it then, because so much time would elapse between where I was in 2014, and the scenario for the last book, which is set in 2020-21. Then a couple of years back I noticed I was running out of time. That was when I realised how closely my saga of the Realms was reflecting life in post-referendum Britain. The UK has been really a horrible place to live since 2016; the lies we are told by the politicians, and the media, turn people against each other; hate crimes have risen tremendously. It was painful to write my dysfunctional story at all, just continued the stress.

Then something in me changed, and I was able to get that stress out through writing again. I made a forecast of events through from 2017 to 2021, what 'had' to happen, and started writing book 9. The title had been in me for some time, and I turned it into Fred's memoir, with some aid from his nearest and dearest. With help from my editors and beta-readers, it has now turned into something that I think stands as a book on its own pretty well. Although I apologise that I've nearly left it in a cliff-hanger. You just know what has gone over the cliff; it isn't really important to the book. A bit like 'The Italian Job'!

So, I'm all set to get on with editing the last in the series. I hope it doesn't all end in tears.

I should tell you there's a chapter in Chronicles that leaves me in tears, every time I read it. I've put it down as a possible trigger warning for people in the Princelings website entry for the book.

Oh, and I'm working on the audiobook for the first in the series, just to test the water. If you're keen to get audiobooks, let me know.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I follow a number of blogs which either feature the sort of books I like or are written by authors I enjoy. One way or another we share information about books we like. And then of course, there's Goodreads, which I use a lot to keep tabs on my reading, and also for the Great Middle Grade Reads Group - full of nice readers and authors!
Describe your desk
Well, it's hard to see the desk itself! Clutter seems to be my state of choice.

But I'm lucky enough to have a window at the side and in front of my desk - the side one looks over the front door so I can see people coming, and the front one looks over the river. I'm a great one for gazing out of the window for inspiration. But other than that, the desk is covered with computer, screen, printer tucked in the corner since I hardly use it these days except for scanning the illustrations for my books. There's a rack of back-up CDs I havent looked at for years, an ipod speaker system, a pile of reference things like a bird book, a dictionary, and somehow my illustration pack (a folder of paper, pens and reference material like the biplane George flies) is sitting in the middle of those. On my right is a pile of papers, most of which need attention, and there's a large notebook, another laptop, some bills....

And I confess there are three mugs, one of which is one the go and the rest need to be taken downstairs to be washed!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
In this day and age, a story about guinea pigs living in a mediaeval society that has advanced technology doesn't exactly sound like a blockbuster. So although I did my best approaching agents and publishers, getting back much the same comment from the few who deigned to reply "not easy to place in today's commercial world" fit my view exactly. Yet I was certain there was a market for the books, a niche market, but still a market. Also, the more I read about the publishing world, and the huge waste of books that get pulped if they don't fly off the shelves, well, that made me very angry.

There was a good amount of interest in the rise of e-publishing in the summer of 2011 and so, when I found more about it, I decided it was for me. Fortunately I have enough background in business to cope with the business end of being an indie publisher, which is what I am as well. The hardest bit is marketing the books. I made myself write a marketing plan at the start of this year, and it's given me a lot of help. I'll do a new one in January.

But I'm really glad I chose this route. The books are out there and will not be delisted, and people are reading them and enjoying them.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting all these people out of my head! I realise that I've always had these fantasy stories going on in my head, in parallel to the real world. Fortunately they never got in the way of reality. I'm hoping to find some of the others I've forgotten about and get their stories out there too. I think they'll entertain my readers!
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. I've been a fan, and I really appreciated those people that made me feel I was important to them. I hope to do that too. I hope I've learned from them.

Fans bring the rest of the book to life, bring things to the characters I write that make them completely their own. It's great to know that they want to be involved in my worlds, to take them into their own world, and give them new life there.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Although I'm lucky enough to have different things to look forward to each day, rather than the same old routine, the priority every morning is getting out of bed and visiting my guinea pigs! If I'm very late I'll hear them 'wheeking' at me, complaining that their breakfast is late. I think it's the same with all animals. They expect you to give them the attention they deserve. And I really enjoy greeting them each morning - they are all so different!

Having said that, there are some mornings when I wake up and I'm just desperate to get down the story or development that I've thought of overnight! And some when I'd rather turn over and go back to sleep - but that doesn't often happen, with me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like being out of doors and I find a number of excuses for this. The one that gets me meeting people and having a social life is golf, which is a funny sport, because it's a really good sport but in some places it's got a reputation for being snobbish or worse. I think most activities can get highjacked by snobby people at times, but there are always good people, friendly people around too.

I also spend a lot of time with my garden, especially growing vegetables. It doesnt really take a lot of time, a half hour every day is ideal, but an hour at a weekend will get lots done. I also go birdwatching, and I'm lucky enough to live in a part of the UK that has lots of lovely places to do that, as well as my back garden!
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Latest books by This Author

Snowflakes and Shivers: Heart-Warming and Toe-Curling Seasonal Tales
Series: Unexpected Twisty Tales. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,530. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2021 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction, Fiction » Holiday » Christmas
Fantastic beasts leave their footprints in the snow; Christmas tree fairies reflect on their lives; snowflakes discover their destiny; raccoons save Father Christmas, and some randy space cadets have the Christmas of their dreams.. These and other short stories with a twist will delight and tingle your nerves in a seasonal flash fiction collection from Jemima Pett.
Zanzibar's Rings
Series: Viridian System, Book 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 92,110. Language: English. Published: February 22, 2022 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
A galactic crisis: the entire comms system destroyed. How will spaceships in flight get home? Dolores is stuck in warp with a very dangerous passenger, Pete gets his shuttle home on manual. Why does anything in close contact with orichalcum fix itself? Just flying through Zanzibar's Rings solves the problem, as the Federation's Fighters find, as they invade the Viridian System's settled planets.
Weird and Weirder: The Horse-Drawn Lighthouse and Other Unexpected Tales
Series: Unexpected Twisty Tales. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 29,960. Language: English. Published: July 8, 2021 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Smugglers moving a whole lighthouse? People turning into animals? Scarecrows attacking a village? These and other strange and atmospheric flash fiction stories will get you thinking and wondering. What on earth will happen next?
Time and Tinplate: Sir Woebegone and Other Timely Tales
Series: Unexpected Twisty Tales. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 29,000. Language: English. Published: June 10, 2021 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
There was a time when Sir Woebegone was merely a character mentioned in passing. Now he has a series of tales, all resulting from his ineptitude and method of travelling time or space (or both). Fortunately, other time travellers are more intelligent - some more than human, some less so, and some, well... some may develop from us if we're lucky. And sometimes people can be in two places at once.
Greed and Retribution: The Carruthers Collection and Other Twisty Tales
Series: Unexpected Twisty Tales. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,150. Language: English. Published: May 6, 2021 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
Carruthers is a less likeable Indiana Jones. He channels the classic adventurers of the past, all mixed in with my father’s adventures in Africa in the 1930s. Among these flash fiction stories there are other collectors of ancient or dubious goods that maybe should have been left behind. Some are even quite nice people. Whoever they are, I think they all deserve what they get. Mostly.
Critters and Crises: a Flash Fiction Menagerie
Series: Unexpected Twisty Tales. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 25,390. Language: English. Published: March 4, 2021 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(5.00 from 1 review)
In my ten years of short-story writing there are definitely favourite themes. Between these pages you’ll find dragons and other fantasy animals, cats, rats, insects, guinea pigs, birds, cows, foxes, bears, raccoons, sea creatures, viruses, and supernatural beasts. Some are straightforward nature stories, but most are fantasy, speculative fiction, weird, or a mixture of genres, a mash-up.
The Messenger Misadventures
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 29,680. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2021 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals » Mythical animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
In north-west Mull, three guinea pig friends live in a remote castle. Tale no.1: Dylan's life is in danger when he discovers something brewing in the hillside. Tale 2: Deirdre uses her initiative to find Dylan when he is washed into the sea. Tale 3: Dougall gets into trouble when he makes friends with a reindeer. Tale 4: Dylan is tempted by some mysterious lights. Fantasy adventures for age 8+
Princelings Revolution
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 10. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 52,890. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2020 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Children’s books » Dystopian
Jasmine's birthday party ends in disaster. George seems to have lost a phial of highly dangerous liquid. And King Fred is battling politics, relatives and self-serving dignitaries in his aim to give the people a better way of living. But can Fred keep the promise he made to an engaging chap from another time when he was just a princeling? Or will all their hopes fail?
Chronicles of Marsh
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 9. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 61,530. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2019 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
(5.00 from 1 review)
The Princelings of the East are now King Fred and Prince Engineer George. Gone are the years of innocence when they travelled for adventure, uncovering time tunnels and pirate plots. Fred, with his queen, Kira, is responsible for his people, his lands, and persuading the lords and kings of the Realms to act together. George just has to work on his inventions. Nothing is as easy as it sounds.
The Princelings of the East Books 4-6
Series: Princelings of the East box set. Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 140,760. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2019 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
A time tunnel; a castle with paranormal powers, an assignment in foreign parts. Three adventures take us further into the world of the Princelings. Lord Mariusz finds both opportunity and trouble when he steps back in time; Humphrey, a refugee from the Lost City, seeks a place to call home, and Victor, the ambitious young barkeeper, travels to the Rhine to unravel industrial espionage and kidnap.
View their profile to see all of their books