Getting hearts racing, an interview with fantasy-romance novelist Suzanne Jackson
Today I'm chatting with Suzanne Jackson, whose debut novel has been
picked up by Venus Ascending, a new fantasy/sci-fi romance imprint headed up by
Teresa Edgerton. I'm lucky enough to be a critique partner of Sue's, and can
confirm that this book is something special with a great, unique world,
sumptuous writing, a fantastic female lead, and the so-bad-he's-irresistible Nicholas
So I thought I'd be the first to nab the elusive Suzanne and find
out what makes her - and her world - tick.
Firstly, tell us a little about your world, and how you've managed
to marry fantasy with romance?
Hi, Jo. Thank you for inviting me onto your
blog for my very first interview. I’m thrilled to be able to talk a little bit
about my book and characters.
Beguiler is set in a fantasy
world similar in many ways to Georgian England. Many people are superstitious,
with good reason: a witch might kill your cow, destroy your house, or stop your
heart, whichever takes their fancy - or so the Rangers would have the
population believe. Most of the witches are innocent girls. Tracked down.
The Rangers – men with the ability to repel
witch magic – travel up and down the country searching out witches to hang.
Rebecca Vasteer can create magic: she is a witch. To survive she must flee her
Rebecca crosses the path of Witch Trader Nicholas
Jarrett, and expects to be handed to the Rangers for execution. Instead she is
taken to Tarmain Estate where she is informed she is a guest and will be
treated as such. Nicholas Jarrett intends to train her, altering her magic,
making her more powerful and less detectable by the Rangers. Why, she does not
know. But one thing Rebecca is certain about is the fact she must not trust her
captor, for that is what he is, even as her heart begins to tell her otherwise.
Fantasy and romance work well together. My aim
has been to make the fantasy an important part of the internal and external
conflicts of the hero and heroine and not just have the fantasy running
alongside the romance but to be an important part of the development. Fantasy
can add another level to a romance, another wedge driving the characters apart,
even though they want to be together.
Any influences - either fantasy or romance - which you feel helped
shape the book?
My interest in stately homes has probably had
an influence. Georgian England, particularly the Regency period, has fascinated
me for years. The opulence hides a darker side, one where servants work out of
sight, dashing up hidden staircases and along corridors to empty chamber pots
without being seen. Even whole villages were moved to make way for the latest
magnificent building. It is the contrast of these two parts of society that
fires my imagination so well. Also, Jane Austen. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
Beauty and the Beast.
Your favourite character in the book and why.
Oh, that is a difficult one to answer.
Nicholas was quite a challenge to write, and I had to get to know him very well
to understand him, so I feel I am closer to him than some of the others. But I
admire Rebecca. She deals with a lot, and was the first character I created, so
the book developed with her. I definitely have a soft spot for her.
This is your debut book - how are you feeling about becoming
It still feels a little bit like a dream. Hard
work, but still a dream. I’m excited, but also somewhat nervous to think of
people reading my book. I’m learning a lot of new promotional skills, how to
use Facebook for instance. I am lucky and very grateful for all the support
I’ve received from my online writing group, and my editor Teresa Edgerton.
Tell us a wee bit about your writing routine.
I try to write a bit each day, preferably when
I first wake up, when my mind is not influenced or distracted by events of the
day. Sometimes this is not possible, but it’s my favourite time to write. My
writing is very character driven, and I begin with very little in the way of an
outline. I like to edit at least a page or two before continuing with the
You write predominantly in first - what do you think this brings to
the book? Any drawbacks to it?
I like both writing and reading in first. I
can get right inside the character’s head, see through their eyes, feel their
emotions. Close third is similar, but I feel first is more personal. The main
drawback is only being able to write what the character knows.
Where did the idea for Rebecca and Nicholas come from?
The eeriness of the area around Pendle Hill on
a dark and rainy day. It struck me how terrifying it must be, to be accused of
witchcraft. From that first thought my story grew: what if some women were
actually able to do magic, how would the laws control them? How would society
Your book covers some dark themes - how did you find writing these?
I found it very difficult at times, and had to
take breaks from writing, to step away from the keyboard just to separate
myself from the world I’d created. To write in first person I need to keep the
character close, so I can bring to life their emotions. A long walk, a period
away from the keyboard, is essential.
Any advice for those looking to be published?
If just beginning to write, I would say hone
your writing, and don’t send your work out to agents or publishers too early. I
made this mistake. I just wasn’t ready. Learning to write takes time. But if
your story has been read by betas and is well edited, then make sure any
agents, publishers or editors are thoroughly checked out and follow their
submission process carefully. And don’t give up! This journey can be a very
And where can we find out more about you?
I am very much at home on the SFF Chronicles
forum. I’ve recently joined Facebook, and Venus Ascending has its own forum on
the Tickety Boo Press website.
Lots of thanks to Sue for coming along (and honoured to host your first interview).