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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jackie Keswick here today talking about writing, characters and her latest release Leap of Faith (FireWorks Security #1). Welcome, Jackie!
Thank you very much for hosting me on the blog today. And thanks also for some very intriguing questions… It’s so easy to run out of words or struggle for topics when preparing a blog tour, so I appreciate the prompts. A lot.
How much of yourself goes into a character?
There’s always a bit of me in there somewhere. Anything from little mannerisms to things I need to get out of my system. Most often, I share things I love with my characters. Away from fiction I blog about England, English history and food, so every so often a character inherits a part of that. Gareth Flynn in the Power of Zero stories is an awesome cook, as is rock god Tempest, who cooks when he’s too tired and wired to sleep. Strangely enough, none of the characters in Leap of Faith are any great shakes in the kitchen – Kieran can make toast and pour cereal and Joel doesn’t mind much what he eats as long as there’s sugar involved – but I’m thinking of making up for that in the sequel, where I don’t have just one but two characters who bond over stuff that’s served on plates.
Does research play a role in choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?
I like both, researching and making stuff up. It depends very much on the plot bunny or on what I’ve been reading. For Leap of Faith, which for some reason ended up in Connecticut where I’ve never been, I was scouring maps, Google Earth, and local history. Lissand, the city where FireWorks Security has its HQ, is entirely fictional. It’s a construct of various bits of geography along the Connecticut coast, re-jigged to fit the story I wanted to tell.
Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?
I have to say yes to this, even though it’s not obvious when you look at the stories I have published so far. For me, reading and writing was always an escape. When I was younger I didn’t like reading anything contemporary. I had my nose buried in either historical novels or sci-fi and fantasy. And ever since I could hold a pen that’s what I’ve written. My first “novel” was a story set in England at the time of the Norman Conquest and I’ve written too many space operas to count. I still love to write medieval-ish fantasy. In fact, I have one on my desk right now which is close to being done.
Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?
Both. Jack’s story has a lot of sharp hooks. I knew the story needed telling, but I had to grow up and grow out of a lot of stuff before I could do that successfully. Even then, I still had nightmares writing Job Hunt. And Leap of Faith lay around half done for three years because I had too much fun with making Kieran and Joel jump through hoops until I’d written myself into a corner and had no idea how to unravel the mess I’d made. It took a question from my husband for me to realise that it wasn’t Kieran, but Marius who had the key to the story. And then, predictably, the whole thing went off the rails…
Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?
I prefer HFN. HEA means the story is done and if I’ve loved what I’ve read, it’s now time for the book hangover. In real life, I think that falling in love and deciding it’s real is the easy part. Living together and making it work is harder, which is probably why I absolutely adore series where I follow the same characters for book after book until they’re secure with each other.
Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?
Romance as a genre has never really been my thing. Not as a teen and not later. I didn’t discover Georgette Heyer’s books until I was in my forties… but then I acquired all of them in very short order because I love the history and her characterisation just left me in stitches. I do like a good, gripping love story with twists and bumps, multiple plots, and a lot of character development. But it doesn’t have to be a romance in the strict sense and it doesn’t have to end happily.
Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?
Leaning a bit on the previous question, one of my favourite love stories of all time is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. I can read that one backwards, forwards and sideways and quote it, too. That book taught me not to take things at face value and that a love story doesn’t need a happy ending to be consuming. My other favourite growing up was German author Johannes Tralow. My two go-to books were Irene of Trapezunt and The Eunuch. Both with very strong female leads and wonderful, unconventional love stories.
I like both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett for their use of language, and Desmond Bagley for the way he created action plots based on science. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with Patricia Correll’s Late Summer, Early Spring. It’s very sensual without being obvious, but it still tugs on your heartstrings.
How do you choose your covers? (curious on my part)
With great difficulty. I find it tricky to describe the vibe of a book so the designer can do their magic. I write suspense and mystery, so a really romantic cover doesn’t usually work for me. For Leap of Faith, the cover designer was Garrett Leigh, and she’s done an outstanding job. It’s the first time that I have men on my cover 🙂 and she actually found Kieran for me… I love how that turned out.
Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?
I tend to fall in love with the story I write, and because I like to experiment with different styles and genres I enjoy different things in each story. Writing Leap of Faith was outsize fun. I was trying for almost non-stop action and I got so buried in the story at times that I was literally out of breath. At the moment, Mouse Hunt (another Jack & Gareth) is one that chokes me up when I read it over.
What’s next for you as an author?
I want to write Jack’s story to the end, so there’s closure for me as well as a proper HEA for Jack and Gareth. That will take a while. Writing Jack is getting easier, but it still takes a lot out of me emotionally, so one thing I’ve learned is that I need a break every so often, to regroup and write something else. Leap of Faith was the result of one of those breaks, and my next challenge will be the sequel, Burned Once, which is about halfway there. I also have a paranormal series on my WiP stack that won’t leave me alone. I’ve never written anything paranormal before, so I’m rather excited about that one. And I’m about to try my hand at self-publishing later this year….
Close friends and partners at FireWorks Security, Joel Weston and Kieran Ross know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They have each other’s backs, make a formidable team, and carefully ignore their volatile chemistry.
When Kieran struggles with the aftermath of an assignment gone wrong, Joel is there to help. When Joel is caught in an explosion, Kieran jumps into a burning marina to rescue the man who means so much to him. But they never discuss what’s closest to their hearts, not prepared to risk their friendship for the mere possibility of something more.
Faced with bombs, assassins, and old ghosts, Joel and Kieran must find out why they’re targets, who is coming after them, and—most of all—how each would feel if he lost the other. Should they continue as best friends, or is it time to take a leap of faith?
- Genre: Contemporary M/M Action/Thriller
- Length: 41,600
- Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
- Release Date: 5th April 2017
About the Author
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.
For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places: