Interview with Mary Brock Jones

What are your five favorite books, and why?
"The Lymond series" by Frances Crawford. A series, yes, but the whole is amazingly rich in language, character and place. A jewel of a writer, Dunnett brings to life the vibrancy of the renaissance in books that I read again and again.

"The Lord of the Rings" by JRR Tolkien. Classic fantasy at it's best, I think it's the tragedy inherent in the story as much as the breadth of vision he displays here. I cry every time I read of Frodo's continued malaise at the end of the last book.

"Devil's Cub" by Georgette Heyer. All of her books are amazing; classics of comedy and romance, but this is my favourite, just. Over the top, hugely romantic, and with a larger than life hero and the most indomitable of heroines.

"Diamond Star" by Catherine Asaro. Romantic scifi and space opera at its best. I love her Skolian series, but this is the best, mainly for the fascinatingly creative spirit that rocks its way through it. A rock star and a Skolian prince, her hero's story is an absolute page turner.

"Naked in Death" - the first book in JD Robbs 'In death series - with again a tough heroine, deeply flawed, stubborn but with a heart of gold and a never-say-die attitude. The whole series is wonderful for the ongoing love story of the heroine and hero, two complex, damaged souls who find each other then must make their way through the travails of finding out to make a marriage work, rather than just falling in love.
What do you read for pleasure?
Romance of all kinds including science fiction (Linnea Sinclair, the Liaden books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, paranormal (anything by Nalini Singh, Thea Harrison, Jayne Castle), contemporary romance and suspense, some poetry (particularly Elizabethan). Pure science fiction, particularly those more character driven, eg by Lois McMaster Bujold, Robert Silverberg, Catherine Asaro, R A McAvoy, Julie Czerneda. Fantasy, including Juliet Marillier JRR Tolkien, Ann Bishop, Judith Tarr.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
A Kindle paperwhite - so I can read in bed at night.
What is your writing process?
It's variable, but a lot of it happens in my head before I ever start writing. Usually the idea for a book will come maybe as long as a year or more before I start the actual writing. When I do come to the first draft, I have a good idea of the main characters, the setting, and the basic problem they must face. I may write down the odd note, more as a way of working things out than as memory notes- but as my handwriting is awful, I can't always read them anyway. The first draft is very much a developmental one and I do handwrite a lot of the early parts of it, often in a cafe and always with music playing through headphones or earplugs. I find stories and words come to me more easily that way, particularly if I'm stuck.

I tend to write in blocks as well - I've never been able to think structurally in scenes, more in the situation facing my characters. But I'll write a bit, then cogitate some more, then write a bit more. Also, I'll get snippets of dialogue or actions come to me at odd times when I'm doing other things. Writing is probably as much cogitation and daydreaming as it is putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard!

This process does mean that I have to do a number of edits, though, and always dread the first edit as it feels very daunting. I imagine I'm going to have to cut out swathes of text, though in truth I usually end up adding more than I cut. Often, it's not till near the final edit that I really come to grips with the heart of a story and that's when I can really polish it and sort things out. Then it's off to an editor or other wise person - I'm far too close to the story by then to be totally objective.
Describe your desk
A cluttered mess, unfortunately! It's a standard, older style computer desk on an upstairs landing, and collects all the papers I'm working on, whatever reference I'm using and other stuff that I am sure walks there at night. Periodically I do a clean out, but it always returns to its normal state in an embarrassingly short space of time.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on various farms. As a young child, on a smaller farm in the North Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand, then my adolescent years were spent on various, very large farms in the central Plateau region of the North Island.
North Otago is drought prone, gently rolling country, but is next door to the amazing Central Otago region, the setting of my two, gold rush historical romances.
As for the Central plateau region, this includes volcanoes, (Mt Ruapehu was the model for Mt Doom in the Lord of the Ring's films) , cold temperate desert areas, chilly mornings and the largest lake in New Zealand (Lake Taupo). The Desert Rd area, a region of rolling sparse native grasses, shrubs and mountain forests was the inspiration for my Hathe series of romantic scifi. Books one & two are out now, and I am currently writing the third book in the series.
Published 2016-08-05.
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Books by This Author

Torn
Series: Arcadia. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 142,400. Language: English. Published: December 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Eons ago, ecological engineers like Caleb and Fee designed their world. But even the best designs wear out eventually. Now, Arcadia is threatened with environmental collapse, and only the men and women of the Survey can save it. The two must work in secret, altering entire landscapes before the locals find out and try to stop them.