Interview with Jemima Pett

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.
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!
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!
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's the story behind your latest book?
The one I'm bringing out next is the sixth in the Princelings of the East series, although it was originally intended to be the fifth.

It stars Victor, many people's favourite from the first three books, and my original idea was for it to be a kind of detective story. "Victor solves the crime when the real detectives can't - but did he really?" Victor does tend to be an unreliable narrator. He's very clever, but he often misses the obvious.

I got a long way through this book about four years ago, until I got stuck for two reasons. One was that I realised I'm not very good at putting a detective adventure together. I couldn't put the characters together in the right sort of way to make both a crime and enough red herrings. The second problem was that I couldn't resist putting in a bit of business that could make a really good plot twist, but gave me huge problems in working out how to handle the time aspect. You should know that there is an element of time travel in some of my Princelings books, and in this story I had two people that knew each other as younger and older people meeting in the same place. What would they know about each other? What could they say and do, yet not give away the 'future' of one and the 'past' of the other?

I went back and decided to do a summary of what each person in the book was up to; I thought about it some more, and eventually came up with a new version, which gets rid of most of the crime element completely. Deceit and treachery rather than crime!

I'm doing the chapter illustrations for it at present and it should be out in May 2014. It's called BRAVO VICTOR.
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!
Published 2014-03-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

BookElves Anthology Volume 1
Price: Free! Words: 39,490. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent, Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
Seven stories, seven situations threatening the festivities – a postbag that gets bigger, a Santa in summer, the strange disappearance of the gifts, a petnapping gang, a snowstorm in the wilds, a kidnapped messenger, and a whole raft of celebrations that are too strange to contemplate. Will the holidays be a disaster? Or will seven bookelves weave seasonal magic?
Bravo Victor
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 6. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 49,300. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: August 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
After a smuggler visits Victor, he seeks help from King Fred of Castle Marsh. He is sent with the mysterious Sundance and his beautiful accomplice to unmask a criminal, and investigate why George has not returned after his visit to a flying festival. He narrates his amazing adventure in the Rhinelands, and his quandary when he meets a friend from his past - or is it his future?
Dylan's Yuletide Journey
Price: Free! Words: 7,280. Language: British English. Published: November 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates, Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
(4.00)
On the north west tip of the Isle of Mull, Castle Haunn faces a bleak Yuletide. Their strawberry juice has run out and the extra delivery to keep their power cells running was lost at sea. It's going to be a cold, hungry holiday. Dylan takes a message to the mainland calling for help, but fails to return. Dylan's Yuletide Journey is a short chapter ebook for Middle Grade readers over 8 years.
The Talent Seekers
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 49,600. Language: English. Published: August 18, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Humphrey is on the run. He has no friends, no past, no purpose, and no future. The king of White Horse Castle is battling against the avaricious intentions of his neighbour, the lord of Castle Deeping. But White Horse has a secret. He knows that there are special people out there, people who need a purpose, people with strange skills and talents. The trouble is, how to find them?
The Traveler in Black and White
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 42,340. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
(5.00)
A strange tunnel appears in the wall of Castle Hattan. Of course it must be investigated. What lies at the other end is a strangely backward land where things are not quite as they seem. Lord Mariusz adopts the pseudonym Hugo to explore the business opportunities he sees, only to be accused of murder; witness a vampire slaying; rub shoulders with ghouls, and have a close encounter with a werewolf.
The Princelings and the Lost City
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 58,740. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The Princelings and the Lost City is the final part of the Princelings trilogy. Fred, now Crown Prince, decides to introduce Princess Kira to their home castle. A simple journey ends in kidnap, mistaken identity, heartache, and the discovery of a totalitarian society hidden in the forest. Our guinea pig heroes, Princelings Fred and George, at their very best!
The Princelings and the Pirates
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 37,850. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
The second Princelings book, The Princelings and the Pirates, starts with Fred and George at Castle Buckmore. The non-delivery of wine makes Prince Lupin despatch them to Dimerie to discover what has gone wrong. Captured by pirates, shipwrecked, and in danger for their lives, the heroes are drawn into the Battle of Dimerie, where Fred meets his true love and George gets more than he bargained for.
The Princelings of the East
Series: The Princelings of the East, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 37,360. Language: English. Published: December 7, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
(5.00)
The Princelings of the East (2nd Ed.) is an adventure trilogy in a fantasy world. In the first book our heroes Fred and George leave their isolated castle to solve the problem of the Great Energy Drain, meeting dubious businessman Hugo, irrepressible barkeeper Victor and other engaging movers and shakers. Time is the essence of this tale and competition between castles drives the action.