Today on the spotlight, we welcome award winning author, Jaye Ford. Welcome Jaye and congratulations on the release of ‘Blood Secret’!
Thankyou! And thanks for having me.
You’ve always been involved in writing, either your novels or prior to those, journalism. What prompted your jump from Journalist to Author? Was it a natural transition?
I wish it was as easy as a jump from one job to the other but it took a long time! I’d wanted to write a book for years and had more than a few goes at it but didn’t really get serious until after I’d left the media. I’d closed down a PR consultancy, was looking for a new challenge and realised if I didn’t sit down and write that novel, I’d probably be on my death bed wishing I had. It then took almost ten years and three manuscripts to get published.
Beyond Fear’ was the highest selling debut Crime novel in Australia in 2011 and also won two Davitt awards. How did that feel?
After ten years trying to get published, I was more than happy just to see Beyond Fear on the shelves. I can count on two fingers the awards I’ve won in my entire life, so getting anything for a first book never crossed my mind. When the long list was released, I felt incredibly flattered to be included in the nominations for Best Debut. I was so excited to be on the short list that I booked a ticket to Melbourne for the dinner just to see it announced, without any expectation of winning. I ended up winning both Best Debut and sharing Readers’ Choice and it was unbelievable, overwhelming and incredibly satisfying.
Your novels are packed full of suspense and intricately choreographed action scenes – how do you go about plotting those? Do you act them out in order to get the moves translated onto the page accurately?
I’m not a plotter so the action is usually pretty freestyle. Mostly, I get the characters to the place where the action happens and let it play out in my head. By that stage, I know what needs to happen in terms of story, what’s driving the characters and what each is capable of, and then I let them at it. There’s a bit of arm waving from my chair as I work out various moves and the occasional discussion with my husband about the mechanics of various moves. I’ve also racked up a bit of research now on self-defence and some fight techniques.
I don’t act out the fights but I’ve tied my kids up to work out how to do it and once I tied a friend to a tree. I also had my son show me how he might attack a woman from behind. He’s six-foot-four and grabbed me around the throat and it scared me so much I had to tell him to let me go.
Your novels have been translated into eight languages – how is a story translated into a different language without losing the author’s intention and voice?
You really have to trust your publisher on this job. They want to make money on the book so it’s in their best interests to have it done well.
Not only do you write gritty suspense novels, but you also write romance, as Janette Paul. Are there any other genres you’d like to move into?
Two genres feels like plenty at the moment! I’m really enjoying both and it’s been nice to be able to balance out the fear and angst of the thrillers with the fun quirkiness of romantic comedy in Just Breathe.
Of all the characters you’ve created, which one is your favourite and why?
It’s like asking which of my children is my favourite! I’d have to go with the female lead characters in my thrillers – Jodie in Beyond Fear, Liv in Scared Yet? and now Rennie in Blood Secret. They all have their issues, they’ve all driven me nuts at times but I’ve loved teasing out their layers and letting them find their strength.
What was the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The best writing advice I ever had came from my critique group – a fabulous group of nine women in Sydney who told me at my first meeting to keep writing. At the time, I’d finished my first manuscript and they told me not to stop there but to keep writing. I did and it paid off. I still use the advice when I get stuck – keeping at it is the only way to get unstuck.
Do you ever get writer’s block, and if so, what are your tips for getting around it?
I tell myself writer’s block doesn’t exist! If I come to a halt in forward progress, I figure there’s a reason for it and I just need to figure out what. It’s usually a problem with the story and the stop in the flow of words is my brain telling me I need to rework something or find a new direction. Sometimes the problem is with me and I need a break or a bit of time off to regroup my ideas. Walking is great for the ‘me’ issue. Editing or reading back can help with the ‘story’ problem. My other tactic is to just keep throwing words at it until something sticks!
What would we find on your bookshelf or e-reader?
A lot of crime novels. I read crime because I enjoy it and because it seems to help my writing process to keep my mind in the genre. I have favourite authors that I go back to time and again, especially when I need some inspiration, but I also like to read what’s new or different.
What do you do in your down time, when you’re not writing?
I walk my dogs and ride my bike to try to reverse the effects of all that sitting. My husband and I have a boat and we spend a lot of weekends boating with friends and family. I also like to grow vegies and potter around in the garden.
Finally, could you give us a sneaky peek excerpt from, ‘Blood Secret’, please?
I’d love to!
Max turned at the lake’s edge and took his eyes off the road to absorb the one hundred and eighty degrees of stunning, hot pink sunset in front of him. He’d watched the sun rise and fall over this stretch of water his whole life and it could still knock the breath out of him. Tonight, a gentle breeze skipped across the water’s surface, shattering the reflected image of perfection into a million pieces. If he was a philosophical man, he might come up with some crap about his life and the gust of wind he knew was heading his way, but he wasn’t so he didn’t try, just held onto the magic a moment longer.
The small roundabout up ahead was just a kink in the quiet lakeside road and Max was going straight through but he worked back a gear anyway, in no hurry to start the rest of the evening. He was in the bend, almost at the adjoining street, when the car approaching on the left jerked forwards suddenly, launching itself into the intersection, it’s silver chassis suddenly large and solid and right in front of Max’s grille.
He slammed the brake. Rennie gasped. In unison, they were launched into their seatbelts and thrown back into the upholstery. As the compact four-wheel drive coasted past Max’s much larger work ute, a pale-haired kid eyeballed them through the driver’s window. No fear in his face, no apology.
Max thought briefl y of the wreckage his bull bar might have caused and made the words large on his lips. ‘Good driving, mate.’ He flattened his palm on the horn to reinforce the message but the car continued without pause, the driver lifting a fist to the window and flipping his middle finger.
Jaye is gifting a copy of her latest release, ’Blood Secret’ to one lucky Australian resident. All you have to do is leave a comment below to go into the draw.
This competition is open Australia wide only and will be drawn on October 1st, 2013.