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Getting hearts racing, an interview with fantasy-romance novelist Suzanne Jackson

Today I'm chatting with Suzanne Jackson, whose debut novel has been picked up by Venus Ascending, a new fantasy/sci-fi romance imprint headed up by Teresa Edgerton. I'm lucky enough to be a critique partner of Sue's, and can confirm that this book is something special with a great, unique world, sumptuous writing, a fantastic female lead, and the so-bad-he's-irresistible Nicholas Jarrett.

So I thought I'd be the first to nab the elusive Suzanne and find out what makes her - and her world - tick.


Firstly, tell us a little about your world, and how you've managed to marry fantasy with romance?

Hi, Jo. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog for my very first interview. I’m thrilled to be able to talk a little bit about my book and characters.

The Beguiler is set in a fantasy world similar in many ways to Georgian England. Many people are superstitious, with good reason: a witch might kill your cow, destroy your house, or stop your heart, whichever takes their fancy - or so the Rangers would have the population believe. Most of the witches are innocent girls. Tracked down. Destroyed.

The Rangers – men with the ability to repel witch magic – travel up and down the country searching out witches to hang. Rebecca Vasteer can create magic: she is a witch. To survive she must flee her home town.

Rebecca crosses the path of Witch Trader Nicholas Jarrett, and expects to be handed to the Rangers for execution. Instead she is taken to Tarmain Estate where she is informed she is a guest and will be treated as such. Nicholas Jarrett intends to train her, altering her magic, making her more powerful and less detectable by the Rangers. Why, she does not know. But one thing Rebecca is certain about is the fact she must not trust her captor, for that is what he is, even as her heart begins to tell her otherwise.

Fantasy and romance work well together. My aim has been to make the fantasy an important part of the internal and external conflicts of the hero and heroine and not just have the fantasy running alongside the romance but to be an important part of the development. Fantasy can add another level to a romance, another wedge driving the characters apart, even though they want to be together.     

Any influences - either fantasy or romance - which you feel helped shape the book?

My interest in stately homes has probably had an influence. Georgian England, particularly the Regency period, has fascinated me for years. The opulence hides a darker side, one where servants work out of sight, dashing up hidden staircases and along corridors to empty chamber pots without being seen. Even whole villages were moved to make way for the latest magnificent building. It is the contrast of these two parts of society that fires my imagination so well. Also, Jane Austen. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Beauty and the Beast.

Your favourite character in the book and why.

Oh, that is a difficult one to answer. Nicholas was quite a challenge to write, and I had to get to know him very well to understand him, so I feel I am closer to him than some of the others. But I admire Rebecca. She deals with a lot, and was the first character I created, so the book developed with her. I definitely have a soft spot for her.

This is your debut book - how are you feeling about becoming published?

It still feels a little bit like a dream. Hard work, but still a dream. I’m excited, but also somewhat nervous to think of people reading my book. I’m learning a lot of new promotional skills, how to use Facebook for instance. I am lucky and very grateful for all the support I’ve received from my online writing group, and my editor Teresa Edgerton.        

Tell us a wee bit about your writing routine.

I try to write a bit each day, preferably when I first wake up, when my mind is not influenced or distracted by events of the day. Sometimes this is not possible, but it’s my favourite time to write. My writing is very character driven, and I begin with very little in the way of an outline. I like to edit at least a page or two before continuing with the story.

You write predominantly in first - what do you think this brings to the book? Any drawbacks to it?

I like both writing and reading in first. I can get right inside the character’s head, see through their eyes, feel their emotions. Close third is similar, but I feel first is more personal. The main drawback is only being able to write what the character knows.

Where did the idea for Rebecca and Nicholas come from?

The eeriness of the area around Pendle Hill on a dark and rainy day. It struck me how terrifying it must be, to be accused of witchcraft. From that first thought my story grew: what if some women were actually able to do magic, how would the laws control them? How would society develop?

Your book covers some dark themes - how did you find writing these?

I found it very difficult at times, and had to take breaks from writing, to step away from the keyboard just to separate myself from the world I’d created. To write in first person I need to keep the character close, so I can bring to life their emotions. A long walk, a period away from the keyboard, is essential.       

Any advice for those looking to be published?

If just beginning to write, I would say hone your writing, and don’t send your work out to agents or publishers too early. I made this mistake. I just wasn’t ready. Learning to write takes time. But if your story has been read by betas and is well edited, then make sure any agents, publishers or editors are thoroughly checked out and follow their submission process carefully. And don’t give up! This journey can be a very long one. 

And where can we find out more about you?

I am very much at home on the SFF Chronicles forum. I’ve recently joined Facebook, and Venus Ascending has its own forum on the Tickety Boo Press website.  

Lots of thanks to Sue for coming along (and honoured to host your first interview). 

If anyone wants to check the book out, it's on: 


Anonymous said…
Interesting book
Suzanne Jackson said…
Thank you.

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