I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Jan Ruth back to my blog today. Jan was my guest last December, when we talked about her Christmas short stories and she announced her publishing contract with Accent Press. You can read all about her on her Amazon Author Page. Welcome, Jan. Lovely to chat with you again. Please tell us about your latest Accent release!
The close of July heralds the re-release of WILD WATER.
Although this is the second title Accent Press have released, it’s actually my first novel, a book which has endured the longest journey of all to arrive fully polished and published. It began as a humble paper copy – remember those? – and went through several transformations before arriving in a much less frazzled state.
This is the story of Jack Redman, the wronged alpha male who’s trying to make the best decisions for his family but more often than not, gets kicked in the teeth. How often we read novels in the contemporary genres which consistently root for the female character – nothing wrong with a strong woman of course – but no one seemed to be telling these stories from the male viewpoint, at least not twenty years ago when I began my quest. Divorce still seems heavily weighted towards the partner with the children, and the mother is usually awarded custody unless there are extenuating circumstances which can be proved. Most of the time this is all well and good, but there are a great number of cases where our ancient system is fully exploited. Sadly, a lot of the initial storyline was prompted by real-life experience but there’s no better starting point than this for fiction in the family-saga genre. Jack Redman is a victim not only of the court system injustices but of its inability to deal with the speed and complications of contemporary family life.
Links to Welsh history and heritage are unavoidable in Wales and it’s the visible remains of quarries, castles and farmsteads which give the area a strong sense of the past. And there’s richness in the landscape here which has certainly inspired my writing. St. Celynin’s seventh century church in the hills for example, is an evocative piece of living history and a landmark which is included throughout the series. It’s exactly the sort of place Anna, with her natural spiritualism, might seek sanctuary. Nestled in the hills 927 feet above the sea, its pretty inaccessible and best approached on foot, but this is no hardship.
Some of the area is chocolate-box pretty, a lot of it isn’t. The struggle to make a living in this community is mostly based on farming or tourism, although the mussel industry is alive and well. Since I know little about these subjects, Jack Redman emerged as an estate-agent. I like to be slightly unconventional with my characters because another great killer of readability is sameness, and cliche.
It was both daunting, and a pleasure to write the follow-up, Dark Water; to be republished by Accent Press on October 8th.
The story picks up three years after the end of Wild Water and Jack is in for another bumpy ride. Dark Water is, as the title might suggest, a darker story partly because my writing style has changed over twenty years, but also because I introduced an element of crime. It’s too easy to become lazy with a sequel and repeat much of what has gone before. The resurgence of Simon Banks created plenty of tension, and a fresh challenge for me to write some of the story from his perspective. New characters such as Clarissa Harrison-Smith and Peter Claymore, breathed new life into the original cast. When I brought Claymore into the story, he had to have a purpose and a passion, and his persona took root in one of the most fascinating buildings in Conwy – sadly in a state of disrepair – but the real life situation fitted perfectly with what I had in mind for the plot.
This house was built in 1589 by the vicar of Conwy . Since then it’s been a pub, a tearoom and an antique shop. It’s full of spooky atmosphere with cellars, trap doors and secret passages, and apparently there used to be an escape tunnel which led to the quay. Haunted? Most certainly!
It’s exactly the sort of place someone like Claymore would want to renovate and bring to life, and the perfect setting for Anna to develop in her own right as a serious artist. Her portrait of Llewellyn the Great is the centrepiece of her launch but of course, this is fiction and nothing goes to plan! The comedy and tragedy of Jack’s life rumbles on. In his own words: ‘Raping and pillaging is still rife, even in the modern world.’
Wow, Jan. It sounds like a fab read. I used to live in Wales and love the settings for your novels, not to mention the engaging characters and story-lines. Good luck with the launch, my lovely, and thanks for being my guest today!
Wild, Dark and Silent: A testimony to the Welsh Hills.