Happy New Year peeps! Yes, I confess, Iike a cheeky guest making a dramatic, late night entrance to a party I’m about 6 weeks late, but hey I am HERE. And I’m not here to blow my own trumpet, but rather blow it on the behalf of a new author who really deserves it. I’ve interviewed Jan Brigden for you. If you’re regular reader of my words you will have seen comments from Jan on my posts, she has been extremely supportive of me while all the while she was working on her own debut, As Weekends Go. She worked on it through backache, through proof reading other novels, through redrafts and submission for critiques to the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer’s Scheme. She’s testament to hard work, tenacity and taking risks. And the icing on the cake? She won the Choc Lit Search For a Star Debut Novel Award. How awesome is that? I am so pleased to present her to you! So sit back and enjoy and there’s a wee bit of Yasmin news at the end, but this one’s for Jan
YSB: Hello Jan; finally I get to grill you here. Tell me about your writing journey, how did you become an author? Have you always loved writing or did the passion develop with time?
Jan: Oh, Yasmin, I’ve written for pleasure for as long as I can remember; short stories at school, odes for workmates, fun quizzes for family and friends. It was whilst doing one of the Writers Bureau’s creative writing course assignments that the idea for ‘As Weekends Go’ first came about. I had to create a tense scenario involving two characters only. I picked a husband and his wife’s best friend. He’d secretly invited her round to his house on the pretence of discussing his wife’s surprise 30th birthday present. Instead, he confronted her about some gossip he’d heard regarding a recent weekend trip the two women had taken together. Which afterwards begged the question in my mind: ‘Well, what did happen during that weekend?’ And so I was off and running …
YSB: I remember following the evolution of that novel with you. Congratulations again on landing Choc Lit! For those who don’t know the background, can you tell me how your publishing deal with Choc Lit came about?
Jan: Yes, my novel won the Choc Lit and Whole Story AudioBooks Search for a Star Competition back in March of last year which led to my contract offer. It was a magical feeling, especially as there had been times I thought I’d never get the book finished. I still pinch myself like crazy when I see its cover and blurb.
YSB: I know you’re a big reader, Jan; who are your Top 3 favourite authors and why?
Jan: Lisa Jewell for her observational strengths, she never fails to penetrate the deepest layers of her characters’ personalities. She’s also not afraid to be controversial. Maggie O’Farrell for her ability to make me cry which rarely happens when I read books and to capture the rawness of emotional situations. ‘After You’d Gone’ is still one of my fave reads. Stayed with me for days. I love so many different authors for different reasons, so it’s hard to choose just three. I’d probably say Maeve Binchy for the fab Irish settings and warmth and spirit of her characters.
YSB: I remember us bonding over our love of the Jewell! She’s awesome. Who was your favourite author as a child?
Jan: Enid Blyton. I especially loved the St Clare’s series, seeing what all the schoolmates got up to and imagining I was there. Loved The Magic Faraway Tree too.
YSB: My own faves were the Mallory Towers books, I read a whole bunch of them in hospital. When you were writing your novel, did you have a vision of your ‘reader’ in mind, who do you feel would enjoy your novel and why?
Jan: Not particularly. I’d hoped, given the multi viewpoints including both male and female, that it might appeal to anyone, really.
YSB: Thumbs up from me on that score. Did any personal experiences creep their way into your book?
Jan: Well, I worked a season in Spain with my best friend many moons ago and witnessed all sorts of carry ons, so that’s where the Spanish connection comes in for my character Nick’s story. I’ve also met several footballers over the years – at both ends of the personality spectrum – and enjoyed the challenge of portraying a player who wasn’t the stereotype we so often hear and read about.
YSB: I had no idea you’d met footy players?! We’ll have to have a proper chat about that sometime. What advice would you give to would be scribes picking up a quill in 2016? What qualities do they need to succeed
Jan: I’d say read as much as you can, fiction, non-fiction, all genres to get a feel for what flows and sounds right. If you can get to any author events or sign up for any creative writing workshops, go for it, the variety of info and expertise offered is invaluable. Qualities needed, I’d say are mainly passion, patience and persistence.
YSB: Definitely on the persistence score and learning as much as possible. As you know, I am huge on music. Does music play a part in your writing routine?
Jan: I love music with a passion and can listen to anything from Michael Jackson to Nina Simone, but NOT when I’m writing. I need it as quiet as possible. I do associate certain songs with certain scenes though. When I’m editing though I have music on. Loud! J
YSB: I was the same with Gunshot Glitter with scenes and songs, good to know I’m not alone on that score. I wish I’d seen Nina Simone live. What does Jan Brigden love doing most in her free time?
Jan: Reading, walking, catching up with all those friends and family members I’ve neglected when I’m writing or camped in my editing cave. Listening to music. Dancing. Meditating. Exercise. Spending time with Dave (my husband) who makes me laugh every single day.
YSB: You missed existential dilemmas over chocolate off that list😉 What does 2016 hold for you as an author, Jan?
Jan: Well, obviously with ‘As Weekends Go’ being newly published, to hopefully see that do well and, in the meantime, crack on with Book 2 which is a sequel, although a standalone too. To enjoy more writerly events and continue to grow the group blog I belong to ‘The Romaniacs’ where we try and offer a good balance of writerly news and chats. To say Yes and No more in equal measures.
YSB: That sounds brilliant, as you know I’m a huge fan of The Romaniacs blog too. I wish you lots of luck and success with all those aspirations. Let’s finish up on a quickie session of word association. What pops to mind when I say the following, Jan? And be honest!
Chest rug: Ryan Giggs when he whipped off his shirt and ran from one end of the pitch to the other after scoring a wonder goal in an FA Cup semi-final.
Moist: If I say so myself, my Victoria Sponges
Rug: Roaring fire.
Tinkle: Cow bells
The Oxford Comma: Debatable
2016: Happiness, good health, prosperity and lots more writing.
Piqued your interest? Here’s a bit more about ‘As Weekends Go’. Read on!
What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?
When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.
She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …
But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?
Here’s where you can buy ‘As Weekends Go’
As Weekends Go– Amazon.co.uk
Keep in touch with Jan here:
Jan Brigden (Author FB Page)
The Romaniacs (Group Blog)
A touch more about Jan Brigden
En route to publication, Jan attended many author talks and literary events and connected with writers and readers on Facebook and Twitter, where she learned of and subsequently joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. An avid reader and all round book devotee, Jan is also one eighth of the on-line writing group The Romaniacs (www.theromaniacs.co.uk) who in 2014 released a charity anthology ‘Romaniac Shorts – Fashionably Brief’. The Romaniacs also received in November 2015, the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Industry Media Star award.
Jan lives in South East London with her husband & motley crew of cuddly toys.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Jan Brigden.
How has your year been so far? What have you been doing?
Drop me a comment and tell me?
Can you believe it’s already February? So what have I been doing? I’ve been enjoying showing my new honey around London. I’m partway through a prequel series of novellas to Gunshot Glitter, collectively titled Velvet Devils, the first of which is entitled ‘Kissed By Fire’.
This month, I’m also embarking on the recording of an audio book of Gunshot Glitter. I’m primed with a headset, pop shield and everything! Last week I went to a Kingsbury High School reunion organised by two determined friends. It was seriously inspired and inspiring seeing peeps after twenty five years. That’s crazy; a quarter of a century, if I really want to rub it in! I took along copies of Gunshot Glitter and it was really special signing them for folks who’d known me at the tender age of sixteen when the notion of being an author was a gentle dream of mine. They were really psyched for me.
Here’s a very late night pic from the evening. Until next time, I really will try not to leave it so long. I feel bad that I missed out on telling you about meeting Marlon James, the Booker prize winner, last year, the day after he won with ‘A Short History of Seven Killings’, that was really cool. The dude likes Mogwai! Okay, now go and check out Jan Brigden’s book and click her links above ! Stay safe and out of this grim wind. Big love to you all, thanks for reading, Yasmin Selena Butt xxx