Wednesday, April 19, 2023

#AtoZChallenge P is for Jemima Pett

Operation Awesome 2023 #AtoZChallenge theme is interviews of established authors 
#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter P

Jemima Pett
Today on the blog we had a chance to interview Jemima Pett. Jemimia writes across a variety of age groups and genres. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us!
1- What is your favorite book you've read and why is it your favorite?
This is like asking me to name my favourite grandchild! How can I possibly pick ONE favourite book!
If I was going on a desert island, I would probably choose either Wind in the Willows or Lord of the Rings. If pushed, maybe I'd stick with Wind in the Willows for the feeling of a simple life in an older England, with lovely characters and the Piper At The Gates of Dawn which must be the most beautiful chapter ever. I skipped it as a kid; it's a go-to now.
Recently I've been reading a lot of brilliant books featuring women of science or the sort of intelligence that was discriminated against in the 20th century. Fantastic historical adventures. From those I would recommend the Rose Code, Lessons in Chemistry, and the Physicist's Daughter. I’m dying to have time to read them again and make them my new favourite.

2- In what category/genre do you write? Why? 
I’m a bit eclectic, as my short stories used to come from a ‘mash-up’ prompt. With novels, I write science fiction with humans and aliens, and fantasy in an English landscape, especially with animal characters (even if disguised as humans). That pretty much got designated ‘middle grade’ when I started, but they are really mystery adventures for all ages.

Why? Because I like living in other worlds, I suppose. I used to invent fantasy islands for fun when I was a kid, drawing the maps and everything. Maybe I just tell myself stories all the time. There are so many possibilities to invent.


3- What part of one of your stories was the most fun to write? The most challenging? (And which book/s are those in?)
When I’m talking about my scifi books, I have to warn people about the raunchy passage in Curved Space to Corsair (Viridian Series #2). Some people then buy it just for that! It just sort of happened: four people stranded on the far side of the galaxy with no hope of a quick way home. First, the girls protest they are not going to have sex, to go on strike if you like. Then the stresses mount up and someone decides to change that. I was very surprised when the writing took the turn it did, unplanned on my part, but it was just one of those things of writing 'in the moment’. I had to take a break afterwards!
The most challenging was a death scene in the Chronicles of Marsh (Princelings #9). I had to kill off a major character, and I realised later (after the book was out), that it was the same reason J K Rowling had to kill off a major character - the protagonist has, in the end, to solve the problem themselves. Challenging, because I didn't want to write it. I kept putting it off, and I had to come up for air and to wipe the tears away many times while I was writing. And I’d like to thank my beta readers again for doing the major part of editing it, because I couldn’t after my first read through.

4- Would you please, in 160 characters (not words) or less, give a #WriteTip?

Your book may be much better if you cut the first two chapters completely. Write them… get it out of your system, but don't inflict them on your readers.

5- Do you find there to be challenges associated with writing across multiple age groups?

Only inasmuch as you have to frame your idea of your reader more clearly. I'm currently working on a pre-middle grade book, i.e. for seven-year-olds or thereabouts. For that I need to change how I word things. But with research on what's in the library for seven-year-olds, and what reading stage they should be at, it becomes clear on phrases and words. Then I wrote the adventure as I normally would and did a lot of editing—and then I cut out the first two chapters!
Probably the biggest challenge is finding beta readers across the different age groups. (and before they grow out of them!)

6- What do you love and hate most about being a published author?

I love having those books on my shelf (one good reason to do a paperback of your ebooks!), and I love seeing them online in the stores.

I hate the creative writing mafia who sneer at people who aren’t 'traditionally published’. Some of them write a good deal worse than many indie authors. But it takes all sorts.

7- Do you publish traditional, self, hybrid, other? Why?

My original series was definitely ’niche’. I knew it wouldn't attract a commercially minded agent, and that was the feedback I got when I queried. Mind you, I would probably query better now. And having gone independent, I don’t see any reason to change. I’ve been self-employed for a long time, so I can handle the business side. Although I’m poor at effective marketing.

8- What question are you dying to answer (about your writing, life, or even a fun fact)? What's the question and then answer.

If you hadn’t got the guinea pigs Fred and George when you lived in Norfolk, would you have still written the books?

Almost certainly not, and not those books, anyway. I believed I couldn't write because I’d been told my early scifi attempt was rubbish. It may have been, but the ‘friend’ convinced me I didn't have the imagination for fiction. I only started writing because Fred and George inspired me to make up some adventures about them. And it was three or more years before I published them.
I once did an ‘alternative me’ story, where I changed one thing in my life… it was my job choice at 21. The person I became would have been very different from who I am now. Would I have had guinea pigs anyway? Maybe, as kids' pets. Would I have written about them? No, and not in Norfolk, almost certainly.

PS Read about Fred and George in this 2018 A2Z post :)

9- Would you please ask our audience an intriguing question to answer in the comments?

Who is your ‘alternative me’? Find one key thing that would have changed the entire course of your life… what is it, and who would you become?

10- What are your plans for your next book?
I mentioned above I’m working on a book for 7-year-olds. I have the feedback from my now eight-year-old beta reader, and am a good way into doing the illustrations (and edits). If all goes well, I may have it ready by mid-May--in paperback. 
It’s called The Cavies of Flexford Common, and stars Roscoe and Neville, two of my guinea pigs who came from a rescue on Tyneside (NE England). It’s set locally, on an imagined common (green space) that is now a housing estate, but still next to some woods. They meet two lady guinea pigs on their first outing… their names came from one of the visitors to my local craft fair last year. And it seems to be subtitled 'Story 1: Double Trouble’. I have no idea what Story 2 will be called, but it may involve a squirrel and a fox!
I’m concentrating on the paperback so I can sell it at the craft fairs I do in southern England over the year: Salisbury, Chichester, Lyndhurst, Lymington and Romsey. So if you are in/visiting southern England, look out for them! I always have my 'next appearance’ listed on my blog landing page (
Will I do an ebook version? I don’t know. I don’t think it would work so well for that age group.
Thanks Jemima! It was awesome getting to know more about you and your books. Lots of twists and turns. I found your intriguing question very intriguing indeed! I also think it would make a great writing prompt. I'm excited to read Cavies of Flexford Common. It sounds like so much fun!

#AtoZChallenge 2023
Please check out the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge
#AtoZChallenge 2023


Jemima Pett said...

Thanks for the interview, Brandy!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Animals are so great at helping us to be creative. Great interview.

Ronel visiting for P:
My Languishing TBR: P
Playful Phoukas