I am honored to invite Felicity Pulman to Misty's Book Mess. Flick's latest novels in the Janna Mysteries, Sage for Sanctuary and Thyme For Trust, have just been released.
Felicity, you are an Australian author but your most current series, The Janna Mysteries, is set in Medieval Europe. What kind of research/travel did you undertake to ensure your writing feels authentic?
Writing the Janna Mysteries has been a 10 year journey for me. It's terribly difficult writing about medieval time in England when you live in Australia - quite insane probably! But the story catches hold and fires your imagination - and off you go. I've had several field trips to the UK, to walk in Janna's footsteps so that I can see the landscape through her eyes. Often what I see (eg a visit to Stonehenge) changes - and improves - my plot in unexpected ways - viz #4 Willows for Weeping. I go armed with guides to trees, wildflowers, birds etc so I can identify what I'm seeing. I visit the buildings (or ruins thereof) of the places she might have gone to, and everywhere I go I buy books, guides, maps and anything else that can inform my journey. I've amassed a HUGE library of all things medieval, from illustrated children's books (what a castle looks like, an abbey etc) to clothing of the time, society, politics, history, chronicles contemporary to the time (eg William of Malmesbury & the Gesta Stephani), biographies of Stephen and of Matilda, medieval herbals, etc etc. I try to make my books as historically accurate as possible (without losing sight of the story) and I discuss them with a friend of mine, Gillian Polack, an expert in all things medieval, who also reads the mss, which is a huge help.
Ghost Boy, unlike many of your novels, is set in Australia. Was this story easier or harder to write when compared to your stories set in Medieval Britain?
In terms of research on the ground, Ghost Boy was so much easier to research than the Janna Mysteries, because I live quite close to the Quarantine Station in Sydney and was also able to access an account of the Royal Commission in 1882, which informs so much of the book, from our local library. But Ghost Boy was my first 'real' book (I'd written a teen romance before that) and it was also my first taste of writing historical fiction - which brought a whole set of new challenges - and which also ignited my passion for researching and writing from history. There's a special Ghost Boy tour at the QS for students studying the novel in schools, and that's a particular joy to watch my story 'come alive'.
What is the number one piece of writing advice you would give to an inspiring author?
Only one? I would say polish and perfect your craft and never give up. And if I can go to Writing Tip No. 2 which is so useful - if you're not sure whether something is working or not, try reading it aloud. It's astonishing what your ears pick up that your eyes skip over.
You self published books 5 and 6 of The Janna Mysteries. What advice would you give to someone considering this option?
From an author's point of view, and depending on how hands-on you like to be with your own work: a publisher acts as a safety net, editing the mss, and making the decisions about 'the look', covers + distribution etc etc. I'm not very techno-savvy, so publishing through createspace was a huge learning curve for me. I'm also not very good about making decisions and taking responsibility for everything from how the book looks, size, type, cover, structure etc etc plus having to do the whole process on line. Having said that createspace was very helpful, you can always send them an email or ask them to phone you if you get stuck (bearing in mind the 19 hour time difference.) And they offer a full range of services, from editing to preparing a video book trailer to advertise your work - so you can pay as much or as little for the service as you wish. It's exhilarating (and somewhat scary) to see the finished product finally for sale, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I did it, and that the Janna series is now complete - and for sale on amazon.com.
Coolies! And lastly, is there anything else you would like to add?
Writing is a roller-coaster ride, and not for the faint-hearted. The best advice I can give is to tell the story you're passionate to tell (rather than trying to read and copy the latest trend). Be professional, take advice, give it your best shot, and don't give up. Getting a rejection is a wound to the heart. On the other hand, holding your new published novel is (almost) as good as the birth of a child.
Thanks Felicity! That's inspirational :)
And thanks to Felicity's generosity, I have one copy of the bindup Rosemary for Remembrance and Rue for Repentance (The Janna Mysteries book 1 and 2) to giveaway!
The rules are as follow:
- Australia only.
- You must leave a comment at the end of this post
- All followers of Misty's Mess will receive a second entry
- Giveaway ends on the 30th August at midnight Sydney time
- The winner will be randomly chosen via random.org
- The winner will be announced on Misty’s Mess on the 31st August