An Interview with JM Peace, author of The Twisted Knot
I’m going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
This is only my second published novel. So I have no choice at this stage but to say my first is my favourite. Though I do have high hopes for my third!
I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?
It never occurred to me to write a sequel until a publisher asked me where the storyline was going for the second book. My first book was self-contained and each plot line was resolved. For the sequel, I used some of the characters and a location from the first, and used these to bind the two novels together rather than continuing a particular storyline. As a reader as well as a writer, I like loose ends tied off.
There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?
I am working on number three in the series. It involves a death in custody at Angel’s Crossing Police Station. Although the manuscript is developing quickly, it is still only called ‘#3’. A title has not yet presented itself.
Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!
I wrote my first full-length novel when I was in Grade 12. It was so long ago, I wrote it on a typewriter. I believe the manuscript is still lurking in the darkest corner of my most bottom drawer. And – that’s where it belongs. I have edited both my first and second novels very heavily in response to advice from editors and trusted readers. I don’t have a problem with heavy editing. As I am still new to this business, I feel it’s wise to listen to the professionals.
Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?
No dedicated writing space for me, although I wish there was. I work at the family computer which is in a nook across from the kitchen and close enough to the TV to get distracted if something interesting comes on. There’s no door I can shut myself behind and with two kids running around, I do find it hard to focus. I try to make the most of the times when the story spirits me away and everyday life disappears.
What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?
I’m a terrible planner. Notes for my first book consisted of some scribbles on a single page. It was all in my head. I attempted to be more professional with my second manuscript. I got a notebook and bought Scrivener but I still find I’m just kind of making it up as I go along.
How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?
Due to my particular circumstances, the story is often ‘finished’ when I have run out of time. It is important to me to meet my deadlines. I think this is why I’m happy to do lots of editing.
Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.
I prefer paperback. I’m generally hopeless with technology and although I have an ebook reader, I rarely use it. I know where I stand with a paperback in my hands. And there is nothing quite like holding a book with your own name embossed on the cover.
Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?
I try to blog regularly and post to Facebook a fair bit. I’m on Twitter, but it confuses me slightly. The social media thing can be time-consuming and I find I use it as a distraction when I should be writing. ‘This is work’ I tell myself whilst scrolling through my FB author page…
You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?
The question I wish someone would ask me – ‘Would you like a million dollars to give up your day-job and become a full-time author?’