Author J.S.Watts is on today to talk about her newest book A Darker Moon, published October 6th, 2012 by Vagabondage Press
Please tell me about yourself –
I’m British and a Londoner by birth. I was born and brought up in North West London: Wembley (of Wembley Stadium fame) to be precise. I left London to go to university, where I read English at Somerville College, Oxford and subsequently spent many years working in the British education sector. I’ve also been involved, on a voluntary basis, with various mental health organisations in Britain. These days I’m a freelance writer, editor and consultant living near Cambridge in the UK. My poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a variety of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia and the States including Acumen, Envoi, Hand + Star, Mslexia and Orbis and have been broadcast on BBC and independent Radio. I have been Poetry Reviews Editor for Open Wide Literary Magazine and, for a brief while until its demise, Poetry Editor for Ethereal Tales. My debut poetry collection, “Cats and Other Myths” and a subsequent poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” are both published by Lapwing Publications. My first novel, “A Darker Moon” is published by Vagabondage Press.
What is your work space and routine like? –
I have a small, book-lined study on the top floor of my house with a large window over-looking my back garden and the fields beyond it. Most of my writing takes place in my study, but I am a bit of a gypsy when it comes to places to write. I also write in the lounge, in the kitchen, in bed, in the garden (weather permitting), cafes, libraries, parks, friends’ houses (until they kick me out): wherever I have the time, space and inclination (and something to write on and with).
Some favorite books and authors? –
I always have difficulty with this type of question. I love books, in all their diverse shapes and sizes, styles and genres. I therefore struggle to pick out one or even a few favourites. I can, however, remember the first ‘proper’ book I fell in love with as a child. It was Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. I was really too young to read it by myself, but I brought it home from the school library and demanded that my mother help me read it. She did and then I read it for myself and then I read it again, and again…
As for favourite authors, I can think of a whole sea of writers whose work has inspired me. I do realise lists make for a rather boring interview response, but to do justice to them all I’m afraid there is going to have to be a list of writers who have meant something to me: Ray Bradbury, Charles Causley, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Alan Garner, Ted Hughes, John Keats, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Sexton, Rosemary Sutcliff, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Terry Pratchett, Philip K. Dick and I could go on, but I won’t because I’m scared you are already becoming bored. Let’s just say I am an omnivorous reader.
What are you reading now? –
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.
A Darker Moon is your debut novel how long have you been working on it? –
I started writing it in 2009 and it was accepted for publication in 2011, so that would make a period of approximately two years. In practice, though, I would think there has been about a year’s worth of writing gone into ‘A Darker Moon’ and a year of it sitting around gathering dust while I reflected on it. Neither twelve month period was continuous.
Before A Darker Moon you’ve written poetry, what kind of differences are there between writing a novel and writing poetry? –
For me, writing poetry is a more consistently intense process, focussing on words and tone. Novel writing has its intense moments, but it is a looser, longer process and more focussed on story and characterization. As a poet and short story writer, I’m used to writing in short, sharp bursts. The long-haul slog of writing and re-writing and editing and re-editing and editing and editing some more was probably the most challenging part of writing a novel, but it was a challenge I learned to love. Notwithstanding the sheer physical and mental effort of writing a novel, I actually enjoyed the experience. I must have done, I’m now working on another two.
What was the inspiration for A Darker Moon? –
No one thing, but lots of different things coming together: I came across a portrait in The National Portrait Gallery in London, Louise Jopling by Sir John Everett Millais, which gave me the spark that started me towards the story that became ‘A Darker Moon’, but it wouldn’t have provided that initial spark if I hadn’t visited Birmingham Art Gallery over twenty years previously and seen a Nineteenth Century painting that reminded me of someone alive that I knew. My love of myths and legends also played a part, as did my interest in mental health issues. All that came together and ‘A Darker Moon’ evolved from it.
Your book is described as a dark psychological fantasy why go there? –
Because it’s interesting, because it resonated, because we all carry the possibility of darkness within us as part of our humanity.
Please tell everyone about your new book A Darker Moon –
‘A Darker Moon’ is a dark psychological fantasy, set in London, a mythical tale of light and shadow and the unlit places where it is best not to shine even the dimmest light. The lead character and narrator of the story is Abe Finchley. Abe is a damaged man, an orphan with no roots and no family ties who has spent his life chasing after the image of one particular woman. When he finally finds her, he finds not just love and overwhelming passion, but also a dark and violent family history that spans generations into humanity’s deepest past.
Eve is the woman of Abe’s dreams; but dream is just another word for nightmare, and Abe knows all about those. Amidst a confused web of lies and secrets, Abe is trying to discover who he is and make sense of what he may become. More than just his future and his new-found love is at stake. When he discovers that he has a brother, a man bound by mythic destiny to kill him, Abe is going to have to make a difficult choice. A choice that might redeem the world. A choice that might destroy it.
‘A Darker Moon’ is published by Vagabondage Press and is available in the US and the UK both as an e-book and as a paperback. You can find it at all the usual outlets including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It’s also available from the Vagabondage website at http://www.vagabondpressbooks.
What do we have to look forward to next and when? –
Reading ‘A Darker Moon’ if you haven’t already done so, of course! Otherwise, over in the UK, in the next month or so, I have poems coming out in two different literary magazines: ‘Small Word’, which is a printed, Cambridge-based publication and ‘A New Ulster’ which is both print and online, so it should be accessible on the US side of the pond. Short-story wise, I have several fantasy and SF shorts coming out in various publications over the next nine months. Longer term, I am hoping to find a publisher for my second novel, which is pure unadulterated fantasy, but I haven’t really started looking yet and then I am hoping to put together a third poetry book for 2014.
Abe Finchley is a damaged man, an orphan with no roots, and no family ties. When he finally meets the woman he has been looking for all his life, he finds not just love and passion, but a dark and violent family history that spans generations into humanity’s deepest past. Eve is the woman of his dreams; but dream is just another word for nightmare, and Abe knows all about those. Amidst a confused web of lies and secrets, Abe is trying to discover who he is and make sense of what he may become. More than just his future and his new-found love is at stake. When he discovers that he has a brother, a man bound by divine destiny to kill him, Abe is going to have to make a difficult choice. A choice that might redeem the world. A choice that just might destroy it. A Darker Moon is a dark, psychological fantasy. A mythical tale of light and shadow and the unlit places where it is best not to shine even the dimmest light.