I’m delighted to welcome Jean Moran to my blog.
Hello Jean, I’m so thrilled to have you as a guest on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat today. Over the years, we’ve met on many occasions and shared countless laughs (and a drink or two) with fellow members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association - BathWiltsChapter at our local watering hole in Lacock. The hilarious stories you’ve told of the ups and downs of being an author have had us practically rolling on the pub floor in stitches. But before we discover more about your latest release, Tears of the Dragon, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Arabella: How did you manage to get your first novel published and what did you learn from the experience?
Jean: I studied the markets and happened on an opening with Virgin. It resulted in me obtaining a publishing contract just fourteen months after I started writing. I went on to write twelve in that particular genre.
Arabella: If you could choose, which would it be: A walk in the woods, a walk along a beachfront to dip your toes in the sea, or a day shopping for clothes?
Jean: The woods or clothes, though I will let you into a secret – I buy most of my clothes in charity shops or on ebay – secondhand. I’ve had some great bargains – Phase Eight dresses and jumpers for around £8, ditto Ted Baker, Betty Barclay and All Saints. I look to look good but at a reasonable price.
I spent too much time on the sea living on a sailing yacht, so that’s well and truly out of my system. I prefer the quiet of a forest – notably Tintern Forest where I used to live and take walks with my dog. Fabulous views and full of red deer.
Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest release, Tears of the Dragon?
Jean: I’d had enough of writing about WW2 Home Front. I wanted to expand the genre into historical epic and depict my characters against the momentous happenings in both the military and political arena. One of my favourite books was King Rat by James Clavell, also Shogun. I was interested in the Far East. I had written touched on the fall of Singapore in previous books that I wrote both as Lizzie Lane and Erica Brown, but so too had a lot of other authors.
I can’t recall anyone writing about the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day in 1941 and I got interested. Along the way I became interested in Kowloon Walled City, a Chinese enclave in the midst of a British Crown Colony. Doctor Rowena Rossiter, my main character, is imprisoned there for a while and it’s oddly comfortable compared with the prison camp she ends up in – and funded by opium.
Arabella: Where do you read? Sofa or bed or ____?
Jean: Anywhere except when travelling. I get travel sick reading except on an aircraft.
Arabella: Some authors write at first light, others need a mug of coffee or a glass of wine before putting pen to paper. When writing, are there any “essentials” you need to help the words flow?
Jean: Whenever I feel a need. I don’t need any essentials. I’ve been told I’m a natural born storyteller. As long as I’ve got a scrap of paper, the stub of a pencil and an idea, then I’m away.
Arabella: You’re halfway through the work-in-progress, you’re about to kill off the hero and there is going to be no happy-ever-after. In other words, you’re stuck! If you had to contact an “author/publisher/editor friend” for guidance, who would it be?
Jean: Nobody. If you’re any good you work your way through. I’m experienced enough (over fifty books published) to know that a better idea will come along if I just let it simmer.
Arabella: The T.V. is on and you’re in control of the remote. Which is it to be: A quiz programme…An afternoon of sport…A family soap…A romantic film you always wanted to see but missed when it was shown at the cinema?
Jean: Might do a quiz, never watch a soap, do watch cricket, but rarely watch or read romance – which might be something of a surprise. Unless the film is Casablanca which I’ve seen many times. Other than that, no romance please. Give me a thriller or a war film.
Arabella: Do you have any great writing, publishing, or marketing tips you’d like to share to “want-to-be” authors starting out on their writing journey?
Jean: Get a job in Tesco – it’s less work! Seriously, understand that your reader becomes your lead character when they’re reading. Tell the story and always keep on board that your main character takes the story forward not a load of cleverly crafted prose. You’re the storyteller, the descendent of those who sat round the fire in Neolithic times and told stories verbally. If you can tell a good story across a pub table, you’ve got the makings of a writer.
Thank you so much for sharing some of your writing secrets with your readers, Jean. I’m sure, like me, they were amazed you never watch or read romance stories. I’m now wondering where you get your inspiration from so you can write such blockbusting bestsellers!
Best wishes and good luck with Tears of the Dragon.
ABOUT JEAN MORAN
Best-selling author of over fifty novels mainly concentrating on World War Two. Winner of BBC New Writers Award.
Once keen on breeding and showing dogs, now keen on sailing around in warm climes, writing books and sampling Italian wine.
FAVOURITE QUOTE -- I'm the right weight for eight feet tall.
BLURB – TEARS OF THE DRAGON
A sweeping, exotic historical saga for fans of Dinah Jefferies.
One sultry evening in Kowloon, Dr Rowena Rossiter and Sister Alice Huntley are off-duty and in search of fun – little knowing that their world is on the brink of collapse.
That night, Rowena will meet two men who will fight for her heart for the next four years. Connor O'Connor, the rebellious Irish soldier, who will woo and then lose her, and Kim Pheloung. Immensely rich and the most beautiful man Rowena has ever seen, he is also the most ruthless, with a sinister need possess and control.
When the Japanese invasion leaves this previously strong and independent woman raped and broken, who will succeed in claiming Rowena's body and soul? And will she ever learn to love the child born of that terrible Christmas Day?