I can’t tell you how excited I was when I was asked to participate in the blog tour for UK’s Jessica Chambers. Jessica is the author of the new chicklit novel Voices on the Waves. And of course, I was afforded the privileged of reading this wonderful book. I have to say that this is a surprisingly poignant story. The characters are real and varied, giving a glimpse of all sorts of personalities under one roof. As the “winners” of a contest, each guest at the lodge owned by Faye Wakefield brings their own set of issues and pasts to the table, which play off each others’ weaknesses and strengths and those of Faye as well. Miss Chamber’s rendition of their lives is insightful and a perfect study of human nature. Even now after I’ve finished the book, I find myself wondering about Leah and Will, and all her other fine characters. To sum it up in one word, it was delightful!
But enough about what I thought…I want to hear from the author herself. And I’m so glad to have her here with us today. So take it away Jessica.
First, Amie, let me say a huge thank you for inviting me on your blog today to talk about myself and my debut release, a sweet women’s fiction novel called Voices on the Waves. It’s so great to be here!
I’m so glad to have you. Or…have I said that already? <g> Tell us Jessica, how long have you wanted to be a writer?
I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Sounds clichéd, I know, but it’s true. I’ve invented stories for as long as I can remember, and wrote my first novel, all 30 pages of it, when I was seven. As a shy person, I love being able to escape into another world, and the sense of power that comes with controlling everything that goes on in that world. I especially love writing contemporary women’s fiction centred around larger than life characters, who I hope will stay with readers long after they close the book.
Seven years old? That’s amazing. Do tell about how you made your dreams of publishing a reality.
Of course, as with so many authors, my journey to publication has been a tough one, fraught with rejection letters and endless rewrites. Yet, I somehow managed to hold on to my dream of being a published author, and, perhaps even more amazingly, my sanity! Then, towards the end of 2009, I received the contract from Red Rose and was able to step onto the first rung of the publishing ladder. In September 2010, Voices on the Waves was released as an ebook, and two months later, became available on Amazon Kindle. I can’t tell you how exciting these past few months have been for me, and what a great learning experience, and I’m thrilled to bits with the positive feedback from readers.
What’s your writing process? Do you map out every detail or are you a “pantser” and see what happens as you write?
Actually, it’s changed a little over the years. When I first began writing Voices on the Waves, I felt I had to map out the entire novel chapter by chapter, scene by scene. I suppose I was too frightened of getting stuck halfway through. However, I soon found this approach stifling as it left little room for creativity. Now what I tend to do is have the main storyline worked out beforehand, but allow the relationships and sub plots to develop as I go. Much more fun that way.
Tell us more about the cover. Was it an inspiration for the book or did it just fit after the fact?
Oh, I was so lucky with this. My publisher gives its authors a lot of input on the covers, and while my mum and I were trawling the internet for images that captured the feel of my novel, we stumbled across Gillian Jansen’s website. She’s an artist who lives in Cornwall where Voices on the Waves is set, and has painted some stunning pictures of the local landscape. As soon as we saw this particular painting, I emailed Gillian and she very kindly gave me permission to use it for my cover. I was thrilled to bits.
Voices on the Waves has such a wide variety of characters, which one was the hardest for you to identify with?
I do always try to be sympathetic to all my characters, however unpleasant. If I don’t understand what’s made them the person they are, why they do the things they do, how can I expect my readers to? The character in VOTW I found it hardest to relate to though, was Marcus Armitage. He has everything he could possibly want—a loving wife, two bright children, a successful business—and yet he indulges in one affair after another. I admit, there were many times when I lost patience with him, although he was enormous fun to write!
Ah, Marcus. <shaking my head> On reading your bio about your visual impairment, how has that changed your writing and how you connect with other people?
That’s a really interesting question, and one I’ve never been asked before. I suppose growing up with a disability, one that relatively few people have experience of, has meant that I’m more understanding of others’ troubles. Although most people I meet take my visual impairment in their stride, there are always going to be those who patronize or ridicule you for it, especially when you’re a child. Still, having encountered a certain amount of ignorance and prejudice over the years, I think it has made me more tolerant of people from all walks of life and I hope that comes across in my writing.
It most definitely does. Now, I have to know…what was your inspiration for this novel?
The inspiration for Voices On The Waves, and my passion for writing contemporary women’s fiction in general, came from my fascination with people. I love to observe the ways in which they interact, their capacity for both kindness and cruelty, warmth and hostility. What would happen, I asked myself, if you forced a group of strangers together in one place for a set length of time, and then left them to their own devices? Rather like a chilled out version of Big Brother without the cameras, if you will. Well, this is precisely what happens in Voices On The Waves, where nine individuals win a two-week holiday in a beautiful farmhouse retreat in Cornwall, England.
To create as much tension and discord as possible, I made sure to invent characters from all walks of life. Among the guests are Leah Shaw, a working class girl with a big heart and troubled eyes; feisty interior designer Karenza Jackson, whose need for independence masks a difficult childhood; Patrick O’Leary, a gruff Irishman with an affiliation for the whisky bottle, and womanising business tycoon Marcus Armitage, who seems hell bent on seducing every attractive female unfortunate enough to cross his path. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Faye Wakefield, generous owner of the retreat. Though seemingly uncomplicated, she has her own reasons for gathering these people under her roof.
Having assembled a host of such diverse personalities, all I had to do was let my imagination flow and the sparks fly. Voices on the Waves is a novel of self-discovery and of coming to terms with the past. With newfound love, illicit affairs and the sharing of long-buried secrets, I hope it has something for everyone.
I can vouch (firsthand) that it does. Now, how do we get a copy?
Voices on the Waves is now available to purchase on Amazon Kindle
Or as an ebook in various formats direct from the publisher
You can also find out more about me by visiting my website
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your novel with us, Jessica. The best of luck to you and all your writing endeavors!
All right, folks. Now it’s your turn…Go out and get Voices on the Waves–ASAP! <3 Amie