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!
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Latest books by This Author

Princelings Revolution
Series: The Princelings of the East. Pre-release—available October 1, 2020. Price: $0.99 USD. Language: English. Published 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-seeking 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.
Curved Space to Corsair
Series: Viridian System, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 86,880. Language: English. Published: January 22, 2019 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.00 from 1 review)
Big Pete and the Swede, together with Maggie and Dolores, take a holiday in the miners’ new spacecraft while their villa is rebuilt. Pete is been summoned to save his home planet, Corsair, from disaster, so they plot their curved course accordingly. Then they encounter an unmapped wormhole. Aliens, power plays, and a quest form the recipe for this second exciting Viridian System series adventure.
The Princelings of the North
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 8. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 47,010. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2018 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The Princelings of the North is the eighth in The Princelings of the East series. It tells how irrepressible Princelings Dylan and Dougall, who live in the far northwest of an island off the northwest coast of the Realms, rescue an exiled prince, and battle against the odds to restore him to his birthright.
Willoughby the Narrator
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 7. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 56,490. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: April 27, 2017 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
(5.00 from 1 review)
Willoughby the Narrator first appeared in the Talent Seekers, as a talented ninja and mentor to Humphrey. As might be expected from a Narrator, Willoughby tells his story with style and panache, starting with his somewhat surprising arrival in the Realms. He picks the best of his adventures, treating us to a number of his special tales, until he compromises his career. Will he ever get back home?
The Princelings of the East Books 1-3
Series: Princelings of the East box set. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 134,430. Language: British English. Published: November 25, 2016 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
A time tunnel, a pirate king, a lost city. In three separate adventures, Princelings Fred and George aim to solve trifling problems, but uncover dangerous and sometimes desperate foes, each with his or her own agenda, threatening the peace of the Realms. This first box set from the series comprises the Princelings of the East, the Princelings and the Pirates, and the Princelings and the Lost City.
The Perihelix
Series: Viridian System, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 92,610. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2016 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
(4.00 from 1 review)
Two asteroid miners, three women, one spacecraft, and a hunt for five pieces of a legendary weapon scattered around the galaxy. Big Pete and the Swede bring their latest haul of orichalcum back to Viridium C for a long vacation, but messages and maneuverings from two opposing powers threaten to drag them back to their pasts - pasts they have tried very hard to erase. Second edition 2018.
BookElves Anthology Volume 2
Series: MG BookElves. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 40,970. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2015 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent, Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
(5.00 from 1 review)
Seven authors, seven new tales to twang your heartstrings and tickle your toes. Will the Christmas fairy be ready to grant your wishes? Will Shirley Link solve all the clues to her presents? And will Santa's reindeer, a lost and forlorn hero, and a man under the spell of a wicked witch find their way home during the bleak midwinter? Find out in this second anthology from the MG BookElves.
Viridian System Sampler: 8 Short Stories
Price: Free! Words: 10,860. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2015 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
(4.00 from 4 reviews)
This anthology of eight short stories shows the genesis of the Viridian System series, a science fiction adventure starring two asteroid miners, Big Pete and the Swede, and their female companions. From their early appearance in search of real books to read, to a life-or-death situation on some far planet, these stories show Pete and the Swede in the raw - sometimes literally, in the Swede's case
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