Edinburgh-based writer Jennifer Young’s first novel Thank You for the Music was published as an e-book in February 2014 by Tirgearr Publishing. I asked Jennifer some questions about the novel and about her writing. STOP PRESS Thank you for the Music has just been short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award.
Jennifer, congratulations on the publication of Thank You for the Music. Can you pitch the book to us – in 140 characters?
Jilted Abby’s off to Majorca to recover. Will she choose repentant Edward or charming pianist Rafa? And what’s Edward’s secret?
Tell us how the novel came about – and are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’ve always been very strongly influenced by place and most of my novels are inspired by either places or situations. We were on holiday and Majorca and I was able to spend some time sitting and people-watching, thinking about them, why were there and so on. Inevitably, a plot emerged.
As to plot or pants…it depends on my mood! Sometimes I plot and sometimes I just write. I haven’t found a foolproof method yet. Thank You For the Music was written from half a plot. I didn’t realise the twist in the tale (I won’t give it away) myself until I got there — I was genuinely surprised at what Abby discovered about someone she thought she loved.
The novel is published by Tirgearr Publishing in Ireland. How did you find the publishing experience?
It was an absolute dream. I kept thinking things would go wrong or get complicated but nothing did. Everyone involved was terrific.
Did you listen to Abba while you were writing it?
I should have done but I didn’t! I did have a playlist for when I was writing it, though — one that included Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance. And actually the song which probably describes the plot best (though perhaps not its theme) is Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts.
I love Feather Carmen Paterson’s name. How did you decide on that?
I didn’t quite steal it from someone I know, though I almost did. There is a real Feather out there in the world, though she bears no relation to the fictional Feather Carmen Paterson, who turned out to be one of those characters you can’t reign in. I began with the name but the character took off in a completely different direction.
Set in balmy Majorca, the book has a great sense of place. Is it somewhere you know well?
We’ve spent several family holidays there and it’s a place I really love. I find it relaxing and it’s when I’m relaxed that I have most of my ideas. So it’s somewhere I associate very strongly with writing and creativity. It seems natural to set a story there (and in fact I’m working on another set in the same area).
I think it’s true to say that traditionally romantic novels did not include a male point of view but it is a requirement of some publishers now. Did you know from the beginning that you were going to include Rafa’s pov?
To be honest, I can’t remember. I do know that the original version was mainly Abby’s point of view but at some point early on I must have thought that the plot needed something from Rafa to explain his background before they met. And I think you need a balance — 90% from one point of view and the rest from another feels wrong — so I consciously rewrote some scenes to take his PoV when they were originally from Abby’s. And yes, I was aware when I did it that some publishers like that. But it did work for me. I think the balance is about 2:1 in her favour.
What are you writing at the moment?
I usually have at least two on the go. I’m polishing up a romantic suspense book (for which I’m struggling with a title) also set in Majorca. I’ve never written in this genre before and it’s not easy trying to merge the romantic structure and the suspense structure, though I’m enjoying it. When that’s done I need to work on the other current novel, which is a romance but with a slightly darker theme – the heroine has a dangerously possessive ex-husband and the hero has a guilty secret. Oh, and I had another idea last week that I need to work up into something.
Where can we buy Thank You for the Music?
Thank you for answering my questions, Jennifer. Look forward to your next novel(s). Where can we find your website/blog/twitter?