Today I would like to welcome author Jenn J Mcleod to The Burgeoning Bookshelf.
Hello Jenn, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how many books you have had published?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog again.
I’m five-times published with Simon & Schuster in Oz and the UK’s Head of Zeus. My first book, House for all Seasons, was the #5 best-selling debut fiction novel in 2013. I have since downsized my life into a purple and white caravan called Myrtle the Turtle and, as Australia’s nomadic novelist, I am not only ticking things off my bucket list while finding inspiration for more contemporary stories with a backdrop of country life, I am also Wild Myrtle Press – publisher of my 6th novel—House of Wishes.
What inspires you to write?
My need to tell stories keeps me writing but my readers keep me inspired to keep publishing them.
For several reasons, I came close to not publishing book #6 last year. I’d been finding the whole business of being writer, promoter, marketing expert, businessperson and general dogsbody sucking the joy from the storytelling side. Of course, then I had to go add publisher to my crazy list of job titles!!
But it was the achievement of publishing House of Wishes (now available worldwide in all formats, including audio) that has reinvigorated me. I entered self-publishing all gang-ho and confident, but then I started to wonder . . . Am I only as good as a ‘real’ publisher made me? As a result, I panicked and almost pulled the pin.
But, wow! What a reception House of Wishes had had – from the stunning cover by Bookcoverology (who didn’t mind a fusspot Jenn getting involved) to the words inside.
What is a typical writing day for you?
There is nothing typical about me at all! You’ve known me long enough to know that!!!!
Where is your favourite place to write?
Being fulltime nomad, I can’t get too attached to any one place—geographically speaking.
But when I do get to sit, I try to work outside with Mother Nature to inspire my scenes and settings.
Do you have any writing rituals or good luck charms?
Oooh! No! “Do many authors?” (she asks, quickly skimming previous blog posts to check if she’s with ‘the norm’!)
Is that where I’ve been going wrong? I’m joking, but I am a tad superstitious when it comes to mirrors, ladders, and joins in the footpath. (The latter is why I love country life. There are a lot less footpaths and cracks to avoid stepping on.)
What are you currently reading?
The third Chalk Hill novel – Last Bridge Before Home. I love, love, love a Lily Malone book. But I’m also fast becoming a fan of audio books because I can read while walking.
(Small and not too subtle segue into BIG announcement: House of Wishes is now available in audio: ask your library to add it to their catalogue or listen via Audible. Disclaimer, I did not produce my own audio book. The lovely folk at Unverscroft/Aurora Imprint bought the rights for that.
I have heard you were working on a picture book series for children, can you tell us a little more about this venture?
Oooh, you have been listening! That’s good to know. Yes, and I’ve already had fabulous feedback from several six-year-olds!! But I have a lot to learn and it seems everyone with a high profile is writing picture books. Perhaps the difference is, I did actually pen this one myself. That said, if there is anyone famous reading this—someone who will sell a few million copies just by putting their name on the cover—I’m your gal (ghost writer).
Your latest book House of Wishes was released on 19th November, how did you come up with the idea for House of Wishes?
My readers have been asking for a story that covers the early years at Dandelion House, in Calingarry Crossing. In that way, House of Wishes is a kind of return to my debut – House for all Seasons (as well as the second Calingarry Crossing novel – Simmering Season.)
All three are all standalone reads, with the Calingarry Crossing setting in common. The reason for the return is to give voice to some secondary characters from House for all Seasons. Readers (and I) got attached to a couple of characters so explored their stories and before I knew it . . .
I have to say, House of Wishes is probably the work I am most proud of for several reasons (and Goodreads has also let me know). Although my first novel will always be special, I’ve learned I am capable of spinning a good yarn and bringing my characters (and the book) to life. Phew!
What would you like readers to get out of House of Wishes?
Thank you for this question . . . Due to the number of family and social issues I cover in this novel, I could go on ad nauseum. Instead, here’s me being brief:
- How far we’ve come as a country in terms of women’s right to choose, but how easily the work done by generations of women in the past can slip away if we don’t keep speaking up about a woman’s right to choose.
- Strength from the realisation that life can throw us curve balls, but to keep believing in the power of wishes.
- An understanding that family is about connection rather than blood.
What's next for Jenn J McLeod? Do you have a new WIP?
I hope the next bit of news is about Jenn J. McLeod - picture book author. Until then, I’ll carry on with my 7th signature small-town story. A father-daughter themed plot about (you guessed it) secrets, but with a bit of mystery thrown in, and set in a beachside caravan park. The structure is my favourite dual timeline and moves between 2015 and 1981. (Ahh, the memories!)
Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.
And I’d like to thank you for supporting authors, especially Australian authors and offer one of your readers a Kindle version of House of Wishes (in return for sharing this post—or at least telling their Mum or sister or best friend!
Thank you Jenn for your generous offer. To win a Kindle copy of House of Wishes please enter via the Giveaway form below (open internationally).
House of Wishes:
A story for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons:
about the choices we make, the connections that matter,
the secrets we keep, and the power of a wish.
(available in print, ebook and in audio)
Facebook: Friend Jenn to follow her travels and shenanigans https://www.facebook.com/JennJMcLeod.Author or LIKE her author page for bookish news www.facebook.com/jennjmcleod.books
Jenn’s Books: https://www.jennjmcleod.com
Jenn’s eBooks: https://books2read.com/ap/RWKlqv/Jenn-J-McLeod
Dandelion House, 1974
Two teenage girls—strangers—make a pact to keep a secret.
Calingarry Crossing, 2014
For forty years, Beth and her mum have been everything to each other, but Beth is blind-sided when her mother dies, and her last wish is to have her ashes spread in a small-town cemetery.
On the outskirts of Calingarry Crossing, when Beth comes across a place called Dandelion House Retreat, her first thought is how appealing the name sounds. With her stage career waning, and struggling to see a future without her mum, her marriage, and her child, she hopes it’s a place where she can begin to heal.
After meeting Tom, a local cattleman, Beth is intrigued by his stories of the cursed, century-old river house and its reclusive owner, Gypsy. The more Beth learns, however, the more she questions her mother’s wishes.
When meeting Beth leads Tom to uncover a disturbing connection to the old house, he must decide if the truth will help a grieving daughter or hurt her more.
Should Dandelion House keep its last, long-held secret?
From the author of HOUSE FOR ALL SEASONS . . .
"A painful exploration of estrangement, loss, truth, redemption and the power of wishes." The West Australian