Welcome to the one hundred and sixty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with paranormal author Jeanne Bannon. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello Jeanne. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Jeanne: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. As a child, I wrote; as a teen, I wrote; as an adult, I wrote. I studied journalism in college and was a freelance writer for a while. So I wrote articles and news stories, but my true passion was always fiction. I started with short stories and made several attempts at writing a novel throughout my life, but it wasn’t until about three years ago when a neighbour inspired me to again try writing a novel. I don’t know what was different this time, perhaps it was finding a fabulous online writing group, but I stuck with it and my YA novel, Invisible is the end result.
Morgen: Wow, I’m amazed (pleasantly so) how many authors knew they wanted to write when young; it took me 38 years. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Jeanne: I like anything to do with the paranormal. For me it’s the most exciting genre. At present I’m finishing up work on a paranormal thriller. I tried to write a romance novel once … what a disaster!
Morgen: Ah but it was practice… maybe you could turn it into a paranormal romance. What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Jeanne: Invisible is my debut novel. I did have a short story published in an anthology titled “A Visitor to Sandahl.” I’ll have to pop into my local bookstore and have a peek around to see where they put Invisible. I’m sure it will be a thrill.
Morgen: I’d be there on the day of release, or overnight with a tent or sleeping bag, but then at the moment I’m only going the eBook route so it’s not quite the same. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jeanne: I do all of the marketing myself. I use Twitter, Facebook, have a blog and use other social networking tools. It’s exhausting work, but it has to be done. The drawback is that it leaves hardly any time for writing.
Morgen: That is true. I’m going to have to be far more disciplined come next year. At least with a day job (which I’m leaving at Christmas) it makes me focus and I know there are three days a week that I won’t be able to sit at my computer and tweet or facebook. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Jeanne: Not yet. I came close, but decided to sign directly with a publisher when I was offered a contract. I had a 100% chance of being published by signing the publisher’s contract and a who-knows-what chance of getting published if I had waited for an agent. However, that said, I do think agents are still necessary to get a manuscript published by a big house. I see things changing in the not so distant future, however with the popularity of self-publishing.
Morgen: Absolutely, it’s making agents and publishers sit up and, I think, take authors more seriously. We have a say now, especially where eBooks are concerned. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Jeanne: Yes, Invisible is out in both ebook and paperback format. My royalties are higher for ebook sales so I kinda like to see sales of the ebook outpacing the paperback. But, there is something special about holding a ‘real’ book and I don’t think books as we know them today will ever disappear completely. And yes, I do own a Kindle, ‘though I read ‘real’ books more than I do ebooks.
Morgen: Me too. I have so many looking pretty at home and the eReader is relegated to trips… so it’s just as well it has a 3-month battery charge hold. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Jeanne: Invisible was my first acceptance. I think I was more thrilled when I received the contract from the publisher than I was the day I actually held my paperback in my hands. I will have to answer the second part of the question when my next book is published.
Morgen: Yes please do. Do let me know and I’ll update this page. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jeanne: I’m finishing up on a paranormal thriller titled Dark Angel. It’s slow going because of all the promotion I have to do for Invisible. I’ve worked on Dark Angel for over two years now and I think it’s time I finally finish it.
Morgen: I’m not a long-stayer when it comes to one project. That’s what appealed about NaNoWriMo – a novel in a month? As a short story writer that appealed to me. Of course it’s not that simple, the editing process took much longer (especially as my second NaNo was 117K!) but it’s all about getting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jeanne: I like to plot. I can’t write unless I have an idea of where I’m going with the story. I hate sitting down to a blank page and not having any notion of what to write. Also I think a book is tighter with fewer loose ends when it is plotted from beginning to end.
Morgen: It does vary from person to person although I presume your characters take over too. 🙂 Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Jeanne: I usually post my manuscript to my writer’s group. They’re my first readers and I’ve learned so much from them. Sometimes I send a copy to my mother. She always gives me honest feedback.
Morgen: Mine does too, sadly it’s not always helpful… I write dark and she likes Pam Ayres light and fluffy so I’m more selective these days, but I have a great editor to likes various genres and is ruthless with me. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jeanne: I am an editor so I can’t help but edit as I write. I’m a pretty parsimonious writer and try to write tightly from the beginning. But that said, I do tend to do a lot of rewriting and polishing. There’s always something that can be improved.
Morgen: There is and it’s an art to know when to stop. 🙂 Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Jeanne: I like silence, but rarely have it. I’ve learned to write in any environment, though I am most productive when I’m alone with no distractions.
Morgen: Me too, classical music so I have some noise but no words to distract me. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Jeanne: Invisible is written in first person present and it was a lot of fun to write. It took me directly into my protagonist’s head and I think it helped readers to really understand and get to know her as well. Dark Angel is written in third person and there’s a lot more I can do with the characters since I can switch point of views. I would never write a book in second person. It doesn’t feel natural to me and I think it would be very difficult to pull off.
Morgen: There are very few people who’ve written a novel in second person (Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights Big City being one – I have it, it’s tough) but I love it for shorter pieces. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jeanne: I love having written, but not so much the actual writing process. Although I love to write, it still mostly feels like work to me.
Morgen: Oh dear. I have a poet in my writing group who calls it torture but she wouldn’t do anything else. 🙂 If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Jeanne: My biggest surprise has been the amount of work the author has to do. Authors write the book and promote the book and it’s a lot of work for not much in return. That’s why, more and more, self-publishing is looking like a better option to me.
Morgen: Seeing as I’m going the direct eBook route you’ll hear no complaints from me. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jeanne: I think finding a writing group was paramount to my success. I would advise any new writer to find a group, either online or in person. Also, write as often as you can. Don’t give up when those rejections come in because they will.
Morgen: Absolutely, they say a successful writer is one who didn’t give up and regardless of how good you are you’ll always need a second opinion. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Jeanne: I live in Ontario Canada. I don’t see being Canadian as a barrier. The only annoyance is that my publisher hasn’t made my book available on Amazon.ca so the shipping for my Canadian readers is more expensive.
Morgen: Oh yes, that would be annoying. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Jeanne: I think self-publishing is going to be big for established writers. Undoubtedly ebook sales will increase, but I believe ‘real’ books will never disappear. It’s a challenging, but exciting time to be a writer.
Morgen: I’m excited. 🙂 Thank you so much Jeanne.
Jeanne’s worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years. She started as a freelance journalist, then worked as an in-house editor for LexisNexis Canada and currently works as a freelance editor and writer.
Invisible, Jeanne’s debut novel, is about a teenage girl who isn’t happy with herself and wishes she could disappear. And one day she does.
When not reading or writing, Jeanne enjoys being with her daughters, Nina and Sara and her husband, David. She’s also the proud mother of two fur babies, a sweet Miniature Schnauzer named Emily and Spencer, a rambunctious tabby, who can be a very bad boy.
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