INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF "MATILDA PEPPERCORN, MANX" AND MANY OTHERS, JILL MARSHALL
Hello Jill, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. It is a pleasure to have the chance to get to know more about you and your writing. First tell us about your newest novel and why you decided to write it.
It’s such a pleasure to be here, all the way from my office in Auckland, New Zealand!
My latest novel is the first in new series for girls in the 9 – 13 bracket, MATILDA PEPPERCORN, MANX, written because I couldn’t resist writing about a character with such a great name (my mum found it during one of her genealogy sessions!), and because the fans of my Jane Blonde series were clamouring for more girl power. Prior to that, the last novel I wrote was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MAN IN THE WORLD, which is most definitely for women and not for girls. That book actually came about because I was due to write a new novel for my publishers at the time, Penguin, and the publishing director didn’t like the sound of my new title or the plan for it! Luckily, I had this title floating around in my head; once I turned my focus upon it, the whole book just flowed out of me at a rate of knots. I’m so glad I wrote that novel, and not the one I’d been planning!
Tell us about some of your hobbies, things you like to do in your spare time.
Spare time ... hmm, remind me what that is?! Not only am I an author, I’m also a writing coach with courses and programmes for authors from new to established (www.jillmarshallwritingcoach.com), and I have my own publishing company where I take some of those fabulous books and present them to the world in four different formats (www.pearjambooks.com). And I’m a single parent! When I do have spare time, I trot around the streets of Auckland with my dog, and I love to dance. For quite a while I was having lessons with one of the professional dancers from Dancing with the Stars (NZ, not US) and absolutely loved it. Business did get in the way for a while, but I’m really hoping to get back to it soon.
(3) What is the one most rewarding thing in your opinion, about being a parent?
Gosh. Which of the many things shall I choose? As mentioned, I’m a single mum and I’ve brought up my daughter on my own, so we’re very, very close. She’s nearly 16 now, and we couldn’t be more Gilmore Girls if we tried. She’s my best friend and my inspiration, and makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world. So I guess the greatest thing for me is knowing that I brought this incredible human being into the world!
When reading for pleasure do you tend to stick to the same genre you write or do you like to read other genres as well?
Good question. One of the things that goes out of the window somewhat when you’re as immersed in books as I am is reading for pleasure, but it is still – and always will be – a treasured past-time. And, of course, I get huge pleasure from reading the books I’m working on through the coaching or publishing work. When I’m writing, however, I will only read the opposite genre so as not to influence myself. Writing an adult book? I’ll read some children’s fiction, and vice versa. Quite often, to be on the safe side and because I thoroughly enjoy it, I’ll read non-fiction. My shelves are piled high with Bill Bryson!
When was it that you realized writing was what you wanted to do with your life?
I had that childhood dream that so many of us have of one day writing a book, and then when I was at my secondary school in the UK, I told my English teacher I wanted to write historical fiction for children as a career. To her enormous credit, she took me seriously! Then life interrupted the plans somewhat and I went off to Cambridge University to do a history degree and ended up in a career in Human Resources and Training (which is great, because that’s something else I want to do with my life). It all hit me again on January 2nd 2000, when I looked the new millenium in the eye and decided I wanted to spend the second half of my life writing (I was 34, so maybe I should have said next two thirds!). I signed up for a Masters degree in creative writing, and never looked back.
When can we expect your next book out and can you give us a sneak peek?
I’m now publishing my own books so the next Matilda Peppercorn (Siamese) will be out before the end of the year, and I’m hoping to write my next adult novel in the next few months too. This one has been growing in my head for a long time, so if I can find a time to sit down and let it escape, I’m sure it will spill out at the same rate as Beautiful Man. My working title is Twenty Four Hours of Insomnia ...
Back in your high school career, who was the one teacher you would say made a profound difference in your life, if any?
That English teacher, Mrs Reed, certainly had an impact. And then ... my history teacher at Sixth Form who encouraged me to sit the Cambridge exams. He was a real character, with a broad northern English accent and a penchant for story-telling in the classroom. He was also a clever psychologist who realised that I was gifted but lazy, so he didn’t try to make me do too much as he knew I’d just have stopped! To this day, I can picture Mr Whittle on the day we found out I’d got into Cambridge, saying: ‘Bloody ‘ell, Marshall. Just think what you could do if you did some bloody work.’ It took me many years to figure that one out. But I’m working now, Mr Whittle!
What dreams do you have for future generations that you'd like to share with others?
I dream for future generations to love story in all its forms, and to use that love to write, read and tell their own great stories. I dream of a life where bullying is no more, and children are allowed by their peers to love learning, caring about each other and making the most of life’s opportunities. And I dream that everyone, somehow, finds their Mr Whittle.
One off the board question I like to ask, is what are your views as far as 2012, and do you believe in the Mayan Calendar?
I believe in the Mayan Calendar but not that the end of it signifies the end of the world. One of the books I’ve published is about the end of the world that was meant to happen last year and didn’t, in the form of the Rapture. I’m very grateful, too, because now Phillip W. Simpson can go on to write the next two books in the dystopian YA trilogy – Tribulation and Apocalypse – and I can publish them! As for 2012, actually I’m more interested in the transit of Venus across the sun in just a few days time, and all the wonderful things that will bring.
Finally, do you have any advice you'd like to give to other aspring authors, also please leave us your links where we can find out more about you.
I’d advise aspiring authors to read widely and voraciously, write energetically and endlessly, and be forever honing their craft. It’s a tremendously exciting time to be an author, with all the opportunities that digital publishing is bringing, but the book they’re offering to the world still has to be of the highest quality possible. Finally, I’d like to advise them all to keep going, even when rejection and waiting around for agents or publishers makes it all seem unbearable. It’s all part of your character’s journey – only this time the character is you. Create the perfect ending for your own story.
To connect with me go to www.jillmarshall.co, and there you’ll find my own books with www.jillmarshallbooks.com, my writing consultancy for online training, seminars, coaching and editing with www.jillmarshallwritingcoach.com, and www.pearjambooks.com for my publishing company.