An Interview with JG Dow, author of Jane of Manchester
I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
I basically started writing chick lit type novels as a new venture and so under my pen name, J.G. Dow, Jane of Manchester is my debut and Jane Once More the sequel. I have written other novels under my own name a few years ago however but these are very different and so I like to separate the two by having a pen-name for the chick-lit ones. As for a personal favourite, I don’t know if I have one as I like aspects of them all but if pushed, maybe I’d go with a science fiction one I wrote called Head of an Apostle.
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
My first novel was actually the one I just mentioned above- Head of an Apostle. It is the first in a trilogy and all are on amazon and so it hasn’t been stored away in a cupboard and forgotten about. I think it is probably my best book so far which is odd as it was the first novel I ever wrote. It is pretty dark and weird and so is worlds apart from my J.G. Dow pen-name books but one reviewer said it reminded them a bit of H.G. Wells which was a lovely compliment!
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
That debut novel I have mentioned, Head of an Apostle, actually took quite a long time in total to write and the planning and research were quite tricky and another few I wrote under my own name also took a long time. One called Symmachia took over a year to write and is pretty long and complicated as well as having an experimental structure that was a real nightmare trying to work out. My J.G. Dow chick-lit novels are much easier to write and plan however and take less time but still a good few months- maybe five or six before editing.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
I always write in my bedroom, sat in a blue Ikea armchair, surrounded by piles of books and CD’s with a plant over in the corner and clothes hanging off hangers and stacked up near the books. I never write anywhere else and couldn’t write in a cafe or even a library I don’t think as other people being around is too distracting- I would end up people watching! I write straight onto my laptop as i find that the easiest way to do things I suppose.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
I don’t have beta readers or editors. I plan the novel, write it and then edit it carefully myself and then that’s it apart from these J.G. Dow chick-lit novels where I have gotten my Mum to read them afterwards to see what she thinks and to see if they read well as I’m not an expert in chick-lit…she seems to like them (or says she does which is fine!)
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
I do like bookshops and did have a favourite second hand one in the town centre which was an Oxfam one but it has closed down now sadly. I used to love going in there and perusing the different sections and seeing if there were any bargains or hard to find titles among the shelves. I still have a few from there yet to read actually. I do buy books online as well and get some for presents for birthdays and Christmas…there was another good bookshop in Manchester as well when I lived there in a place called Withington that sold lots of philosophy and science books as well as cheap novels, poetry and plays- I liked that one as well- also now sadly gone.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?
I like lots of genres of novel I suppose- science fiction, fantasy, experimental, contemporary as well as the odd philosophy book and poetry and plays occasionally as well. A favourite childhood author would be Roald Dahl I suppose as he was so wildly inventive and entertaining. In adolescence I quite liked Tolkien and other fantasy writers as well as a bit of sci-fi and the odd Hardy Boys book. Young adult and adult blends together a bit in my mind, but I love writers like Bukowski, Kerouac, Salinger, Brautigan, Fante, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Queneau, Cheever, Bryson and many others.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you manage it?
I do use social media but I’m not great with it and do find it a struggle in a way. I go on Twitter and tryto promote my books but it can feel like yelling into a canyon at times! I am on Facebook and have a separate page for my pen-name- J.G. Dow@homeofJane and post links to interviews like this one I’m doing now on it as well as the odd review and things like that. I also post about my books on Facebook book groups which gets the word out a bit and try to do this every day.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
It can take a while doing interviews but I don’t recycle answers and just answer as well as I can. The questions here are quite specific which is a good thing as you can give a focused answer and that often brings responses that you won’t see somewhere else…thanks!