Welcome Jennie to Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns, it’s lovely to see you here in Bath today.
Thank you for inviting me Jo. I love Bath but it’s ages since I’ve visited – despite my brother and family living here. In fact when I leave here I’m going to pop down and see my brother – he’ll be surprised to say the least!
As we settle down to await tea and cakes could tell me a little about yourself?
Well, I was born in Weston-super-Mare just down the road from here, grew up between there and Bristol when my parents divorced. Moved to Dartmouth, Devon when I got married and had my family, moved to Wales to farm, moved back to Devon and finally we came to France.
Oh, we’re having some of the famous buns – thank you. Haven’t had one of these for so long.
And you currently live in France, how long have you been there and what prompted the move?
We’ve been in France 14 years this May. We came on two push bikes with a trailer behind my OH’s bike for Holly our 14-year-old collie bitch, and rode down the canal paths to the South of France. The 1990s had been a disaster for us financially and we just needed to get away for a bit! Quarantine laws were still in effect so we knew we couldn’t go back until either they changed or Holly was no longer with us. In the event the law didn’t change until we’d be in France for 2 years – by which time Richard had got a guardien job and we were happy living in the South of France. So we just stayed put! Two years ago we were finally able to think about owning our own home again and we moved up here to a tiny cottage in rural Brittany.
When did you start writing and what was it that made you decide to be an author?
I don’t think I ever consciously took the decision to be an author! Writing is just something I’ve always done – either for fun or for much need funds when the family were small.
And what was your route to publishing?
I started writing features and then humorous anecdotal pieces about my life when we lived in Devon and Wales. I had my own column in the South Hams Newspaper Group for over three years when we lived in Dartmouth. And when we lived in Wales I was editor of the Carmarthenshire W.I. Area magazine. It wasn’t until we came to France that my fiction writing started to take off. My short stories have found homes in the UK, and internationally in Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Ireland – sadly not yet in France, where there doesn’t appear to be the same culture for woman’s magazines.
I see from your website that you are inspired by writers such as Erica James, Judy Astley and Katie Fforde. Are your books similar to theirs.
I write the kind of book I enjoy reading – contemporary woman’s fiction that deals with relationships of all sorts, family, couples, siblings, mixed marriages etc. I also prefer emotional conflict in a story as opposed to crime or gung-ho conflict. So I guess the answer is, yes I hope my books would be regarded as being in a similar genre to my favourite authors as they are real experts at exploring relationships and creating great, interesting characters.
You write short stories as well as full length novels. Do you alternate when you do this? i.e. novel-short story-novel or is it the next idea you have which dictates the length of the project?
No I don’t alternate in that way. I try to write at least four short stories a month – I need an income while I write my novels. As the world’s worst procrastinator – or the best if you look at it another way – these days I try to be stern with myself and set deadlines and goals and to stay off the internet! With all the publicity authors are expected to do these days, it’s all too easy to lose hours on Twitter and Facebook and the various writing forums I belong to.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would that be?
I’d love to be musical – and be able to sing in tune! I’m tone deaf.
And lastly, who would you most like to meet and why?
I’d love to meet Peter Mayle and talk to him about his novels as well as his books about life in France. His stories about the good life in France influenced a lot of people into changing their lives (for better or worse) and I’d like to ask him how he feels about that. I’d also like to talk to him about how easy he found the transition to writing novels – and then perhaps he could introduce me to his friend and neighbour Ridley Scott and they could make Rendezvous in Cannes into a film! Well I can dream can’t I?
Many thanks to Jennie for coming along to Sally Lunn’s today – to find out more about Jennie and her writing click on the links below: