The writing career of Jemima Pett can be traced back to when she was 8 years old. The evidence is a small booklet found in her mother’s box of treasures, written in a very childish hand, entitled The Little Stream. Jemima has created articles and event reports for newsletters and magazines ever since, but early fiction attempts failed for want of suitable inspiration: characters and plot eluded her. She had a career in business and in environmental research which kept her chained to a desk for many years. Determined to keep writing, she ended up doing manuals, reports, science papers, blogs, journals, anything and everything that kept the words flowing. Finally the characters jumped into her head with stories that needed to be told….
She now lives in a village in Norfolk with her guinea pigs, the first of whom, Fred, George, Victor and Hugo, provided the inspiration for her stories.
What inspires you to write?
In general, it’s the things I imagine that come out of my brain, whether it’s a story or an article that I thnk might be of interest to people. I like reading, and I write the sort of thing I like to read. I didn’t really write fiction until I had the characters of my pets to inspire me, but now I’ve done a Creative Writing Course and been doing a Flash Fiction Challenge, I find I have more situations and characters that I build on.
Maybe the more you write, the more you are inspired to write.
Tell us about your writing process.
If I’m working on a story, even a short story, I find my brain works on it while I’m asleep, then I wake up and have to get as much of it down as possible until I run out of steam.
Although my first few stories almost wrote themselves in terms of plot, these days I find a five sentence outline does wonders to send me down a better line. Otherwise my characters get totally out of hand. But unexpected things happen when I’m writing because they are the choices the characters make – they are who they are.
I’ve found some really interesting developments happen when I’m doing character interviews for my blog. Everyone should do them. It’s amazing what you find out!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Yes. Both. With the Princelings series I have the distinct advantage of actually talking to them – the major characters are inspired by my guinea pigs. Their personalities are the foundations for the characters. It’s interesting that with the two books (one in progress) that are first person narratives, I tend to listen to them, whereas with the others I tend to talk to them about what happens next, although they still do exactly what they want.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing. If you’re stuck in the middle of a book and don’t know where you’re going, just keep writing. It doesn’t have to make sense, the story will come back to you, because the characters do what they do. The editing process is the most important part. That’s where you take out the rubbish. And write it better. And give up those wonderful bits that you love, because they don’t really advance the story at all. You can always make them into another story!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I did the usual round of sending manuscripts to agents, and when I got replies it was usually along the lines of “difficult to place in today’s commercial market”. Well, I knew that. My books are definitely not mainstream, but I think they are quirky enough that a fair number of people would enjoy them.
But I’m a bit of a control freak anyway, and I’ve had a lot of business experience, so when I realised how fast ebooks were growing, I decided to self-publish. The marketing is hard, but I’m getting better at that.
I’m lucky that I’ve been self-employed on a couple of occasions before so I can navigate my way around the business side of self-publishing. I’m not sure I’d recommend it to someone without a basic grasp of business management, but there are lots of advice books out there, so get a couple of good ones, and follow your star!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it will be more and more mixed up as people explore new ways of doing things. There will probably be some other way of getting stories to people in my lifetime – maybe dream readers or something! I think there will always be books, but maybe they’ll be cherished antiques like in Star Trek. As long as they don’t get banned as in Fahrenheit 451.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Adventure, Middle-grade, YA
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print