5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Julia Ibbotson

Indie Author Interview with Julia Ibbotson - Author of the Contemporary Romance Novel Drumbeats.

Julia Ibbotson is the award-winning author of The Old Rectory and is an author and academic. She and her husband have four children and live in a renovated Victorian rectory in the heart of the English countryside. She just released Drumbeats - a story of a teenager growing into the adult world.

Interview with Julia Ibbotson

Author Julia Ibbotson
Author Julia Ibbotson
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Julia Ibbotson: I have always written but got side-tracked with my career as a school teacher then university lecturer. As an academic I have written many papers and texts, but I returned to creative writing a few years ago when I had a little more time, and wrote a memoir/recipe book called The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen, about renovating our Victorian rectory in the heart of the English countryside and about food that feeds the soul. I loved writing it so I have now published the first novel of a trilogy called Drumbeats, and am currently writing the second in the series. I also have a children’s book called S.C.A.R.S due out this autumn which is about a troubled boy who slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe to become a knight in a fantasy universe in medieval England. I’m now focusing on writing three days a week and for the university two days.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I would love to be able to write as well as Kate Atkinson (Life after Life is one of this year’s favorites), Jodi Picoult (The Storyteller is another favorite) or Tracy Chevalier (The Girl with the Pearl Earring). They all create a vivid sense of time and place, with wonderful narrative structures. I love books that make the reader think about the human condition, and I hope that I do the same in my own writing. I like to not only read a good story but also feel that I’ve learned something too.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I could hold a pencil in my tiny hand! But it wasn’t until I had earned a reasonably good living and developed a name for myself in my paid career that I felt I could make time and space for really focusing on a new writing career and take the leap of faith that may not make any money!

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Goodness, yes! It was a short novel about farms, horses and dogs which were my passions at the age of 10. Then I wrote the first brief draft of what was much later to become the basis of S.C.A.R.S.

"I don’t really set a target number of words; I just carry on until I have to stop"

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

I try to concentrate on writing on the three days a week that I’m not at the university. I get emails and so on out of the way first, then I’m either planning or writing my novel at my computer for most of the day, with breaks for coffee, lunch, gardening/reading in the garden if the weather’s good. I try to exercise (cycle or swimming) at the start of the day, otherwise I just get absorbed in my writing and forget to move! I don’t really set a target number of words; I just carry on until I have to stop. If I get stuck I do something else, like read or check Facebook. I try to take the weekend off to do something else completely and refresh my mind – but in reality when I’m in the middle of writing a book, it’s never far from my brain and I tend find that scenes pop into my mind and I have to write them down before I forget them.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
My desk is an antique Victorian one dating from 1860 which is when our house was built. It’s in our conservatory which means I’m surrounded by windows and I can look out onto the garden, trees and fields. I need to be in contact with the outside.

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
The writing process itself is great – although not always exactly easy. But I don’t like the marketing, promotion, advertising that we all have to do these days. I enjoy writing interviews and guest blog posts, but I’m not so keen on the self-promotion of signing events, talks, putting yourself around, although I’ve done lots of it. I’m happier just writing, although it is quite lonely so I have to compensate by seeing that I’m out socializing, traveling, talking and drinking coffee and wine with friends and family!

"Language is my field, so I love words."

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being able to let my imagination fly, the process of working with language to express my story. Language is my field, so I love words. I like reading books that use vivid language using all the senses, and make you feel that you are in that place at that time, so I try to do the same in my own writing. It is very satisfying.

Julia, please tell us a little about your Contemporary Romance Novel Drumbeats.
It’s the first novel in the trilogy, just out, hot off the press. It’s set in the mid-1960s and the location is Ghana, West Africa, where eighteen year old Jess has fled her stifling religious home background for a gap year to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the African bush. In Drumbeats I wanted the novel to evoke the vibrant colors, noises, smells and tastes of Africa. These senses are intense through the eyes of a young woman from a repressed puritanical English background at that time. It’s about her struggles, to escape her past, to maintain the relationship with the guy she left behind, to face the realities of the horrors, joys, dangers and tragedies of that year in a small war-torn country with a very different way of life from the one she grew up with. Along the way she meets an American Peace Corps guy who befriends her and … well, I won’t tell you any more, you’ll have to read the book!

Drumbeats (Julia Ibbotson)
Click to Read an Excerpt

I hope that I have created a strong sense of period (the 1960s) and place (Africa). I did a huge amount of research which I loved, listened to a lot of music because the story has a lot of music in it (Ghanaian highlife, 1960s popular songs, jazz and classical choral music). I read a great deal about the mid-1960s and what was going on then. I looked at loads of photographs of Ghana and read memoirs.

The next two books in the trilogy follow Jess’s life story and they’re called Walking in the Rain, which is due out summer 2015, and Before I Die, which isn’t about dying but about Jess’s bucket list.

What inspired you to write the book?
I lived and worked in Ghana and I loved the place and its people. I always wanted to set a novel there. 1965-6 was a very dramatic time in West Africa, especially in Ghana – for reasons you’ll, again, just have to read the book to find out …

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
I would say my target audience is mainly women, perhaps especially 30+. But in some ways it also appeals to a YA audience because it is a coming of age/rite of passage novel.

What makes your book special?
I hope that the story is engaging as it covers many emotions and situations: joy, excitement, romance, danger, horror, tragedy. It’s a romance but with lots for the reader to think about, with some serious issues too. It has a strong sense of time and place and there’s a thread running through it that’s the haunting message of the talking drumbeats of the West African bush villages.

"As soon as it came out, it gained an award at the Hollywood Book Festival"

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
It’s very early days but I’ve had some great comments already and hope for some good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. There’s been a lot of interest. As soon as it came out, it gained an award at the Hollywood Book Festival which was wonderful.

How long did it take it to write the book?
About a year for the research and planning, and about eighteen months to write.

"[...] keep going, persevere and don’t give up."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Try to write something every day if you can. Personally I think it helps if you’re systematic about your writing time. Try to get other things done first so that you can really focus without anything else on your mind: avoid keeping going into Facebook, twitter etc, because you’ll get stuck there! But mainly: keep going, persevere and don’t give up.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Sadly, I’m afraid that I think that many smaller bookstores will disappear; they already are in England, with the advent of internet sites like Amazon where you can get cheaper books and they’re easy to search and order. I do think eBooks and internet stores have encouraged reading which is all to the good. But I hope that there is still a place for book shops on the high street, although they may become diversified like book cafes, coffee shops or tea shops that also sell books, and so on. I know of some great book shops that do a wonderful job with author and music events. Why not? We have a book cafe locally; we had lunch there yesterday – great idea!

What is your e-reading device of choice?
My kindle; I use it almost always these days. I have a house full of books, which is great but I have no more room!

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like traveling, walking (hiking), swimming, gardening, cooking, choral singing … Mainly I just love relaxing with my family and friends, usually over a home-cooked dinner and a glass or two of wine.

How can readers connect with you?
My books are available from Amazon.
My website is: www.juliaibbotsonauthor.com
My author facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julia-Ibbotson-author/163085897119236
My Goodreads author page is: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6017965.Julia_Ibbotson
If you like the visuals my Pinterest page is: http://pinterest.com/juliai1/

I also have a Youtube book trailer for Drumbeats at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OYlEXhHvsc&list=UUP3hKZjeUBuTMoyvZmBXbow
I love to connect with readers so would be pleased to do so via the above.

Thank you very much for the Interview, Julia.

About the Book Drumbeats

Drumbeats (Julia Ibbotson)
Click to Read an Excerpt
Drumbeats is a story of a teenager growing into the adult world - embedded in a spiritual recognition of the haunting message of the talking drumbeats of the West African bush villages. It’s a novel that makes the reader think, about issues, about human dilemmas, and will enable them to identify with the emotions and events.

It’s 1965 and eighteen year old Jess has fled her repressive home for a gap year in Ghana, West Africa. She faces danger and tragedy as well as joy and romance, as she teaches and nurses in the bush villages. She leaves behind a difficult family background but can she escape her past or will it always haunt her?

Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is, and do some good in the world, but she must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected new romance.

But why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams? Is it her past – or something else?

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Drumbeats with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook Drumbeats with Excerpt on Amazon

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