I have known Jeanette via Facebook for several years now but reading all the background material she has sent through for my blurb, you begin to realise that the tiny comments or likes that fly about Facebook can't even begin to build an insight into their character - in other words, what makes them tick. I know, like me, you will find the brief sentences I have included in this article quite fascinating. It is a story all of its own, what brings a person to take on and eventually inhabit the writing world!
Both Jeanette and her sister suffer from coeliac disease, a debiliting autoimmune disease in which an avoidance of gluten is essential. Not diagnosed until adulthood, Jeannette says she missed out on chunks of schools and grew up quiet and shy, although even then she was good at writing. At first poetry before graduating to short stories and, in 2010, she put pen to paper and wrote The Sixpenny Tiger.
It is the weirdest of phenomenon and one I encounter everywhere, that the intention to write one novel, get it off you chest, so to speak, and then get on with real life, fails to take place. Is that the magic of writing, that you fall in love with the look or feeling of the written word, so much so that you have to continue?
In Jeanette's case ... most definitely. In a little under ten years she has written nine books for adults, number ten will be out next week, and three books for children, including a book of poetry.
So here are the answer to some of the questions I asked:
What made you choose the particular genre you write in?
I don’t write in any particular genre; I write what comes to me – that’s one of the good things about self-publishing – it can also be one of the drawbacks to becoming ‘known’. But I am not able to keep churning out books under the same genre all the time – I admire those who are able to but that’s not me.
What name do you write under? And is it a nom de plume?
I write under the name of Jeanette Taylor Ford. I’m plain Jeanette Ford, (I don’t have a middle name – my mum was so upset that I wasn’t a boy, she said I’d be called ‘Jeanette’ and that was it!) but Taylor is my maiden name. I was trying to think of a name to write under but my husband said what was wrong with my own name? There is a Jeanette Ford and a Jeanette Taylor, so Jeanette Taylor Ford it is.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Cromer, on the Norfolk coast and for the past 34 years I’ve lived on the boarder of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Postal address Nottingham, local authority, Derbyshire. I never know whether to say I live in Nottingham or Derby!
What encouragement did you have, and do you also write for magazines or short stories?
The only encouragement I had in those days was from David, a Facebook friend. He read everything I wrote and I read and edited everything he wrote. He was a university lecturer but had dyslexia, which is why I proofed everything he wrote. I wish I could say I had written for a magazine but they rejected everything I sent. I eventually realised that I wasn’t cut out to write the kind of stories they wanted so I gave up. Since David died, my encouragement comes from all the wonderful authors like yourself and other readers of my books.
What genres are your novels?
They vary. The first book I wrote, The Sixpenny Tiger, was what is called a ‘human interest’ story – which isn’t a genre on Amazon. I followed that by a paranormal novella (as in the guardian angel variety of ghost rather than scary), a chilling psychological story, a fantasy trilogy and now a series of Cosy Crime. I have also written a fantasy trilogy for children, two of which are published and on Amazon.
What was the inspiration for your first book?
‘They’ say that you should start with what you know, and many years ago in my late teens, I worked in a children’s home in Hereford. I’d recently reconnected with old workmates and some of the ‘children’ I used to care for. I was inspired by them, and I used my own background of those days and the memory of my work in the home. I was privileged to meet again the matron who hired me, by then very elderly. She read The Sixpenny Tiger, at that time unpublished, and loved it. That was good enough for me. I was so happy to have reconnected with her before she died, so that she knew how much I appreciated being given a chance when everyone, including the doctor who gave me the medical for the position, doubted I’d be strong enough to undertake it. I loved the job and the children, who I’ve never forgotten.
Do you self-publish or use a publishing house?
I self-publish. I didn’t try for conventional publishing because I never intended to have another career, being retired. But things do tend to snowball…
How many words in your adult novels?
Roughly 80,000 - 90,000, I start off with over about 86,000 and my editor manages to knock off a few!
How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies from about three months to much longer. However, a story may take a long time to formulate in my head and by the time I actually put pen to paper (or fingers on keyboard), it’s just a matter of getting it down. It also depends on what else is going on in my life, whether I have the chance to sit down and write undisturbed. I’m afraid that family and church will always come first; although writing is my passion, people are more important.
How do you get over writer’s block?
In my opinion, stressing over it is the worst thing you can do. I have many other hobbies, so I stop sitting at my computer and do other things instead. But while my hands are busy, I’m thinking around a story until it comes together and I feel I can start writing again.
Who designs your covers?
My covers have been done by several different people but the last six (counting the book I’m about to bring out) have been done by Dave Slaney. He is amazing and I hope he will create the covers for any subsequent books. Oh, and I mustn’t forget, Kathryn Green, who illustrates my ‘Robin’ books. Dave designs around her front cover picture.
What is the single most important event in your life – so far?
Being quite old, I’ve had many important events in my life, meeting my husband, having my children etc but I think the most pivotal event was when I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1977. It’s formed the pattern of my life, given me values and standards that I won’t compromise, not even in my books, and has been my strength in some very difficult times.
What is your next project?
My next project? Preparing the third Robin book to send to my illustrator, with a view to publishing some time next year. Kathryn has ME so I just wait for her to do the pictures as she can, with no pressure. The story is written but needs some rewriting before it goes to her. I’ve revised and re-edited my Castel Glas Trilogy in order to put them together in one kindle book under special offer.
Are there any secrets in your novels that we can share?
Hm, not really. I keep writing the River View Series because my readers love them. The first one, Aunt Bea’s Legacy, was inspired by a house I had actually lived in. Not wanting anyone to disturb its present owners, who are quite elderly now, I invented the village.
Some of my books, including ‘Jealousy is Murder’ grew out of a single ‘scene’ in my head. ‘Jealousy’ grew from a picture of a young boy in bed in a caravan in the dark, listening to an owl hoot, feeling alone, waiting for his mother to come home.
From Jealousy Is Murder: Prologue
The figure, clad in black from head to toe, crept stealthily into the compact lounge of the small terraced house in Portsmouth. It was hot in the room, as the gas fire was on full blast. A half empty mug sat on the small table beside the sofa, on which sprawled a man in his late twenties, handsome under his pallor and five o'clock shadow. He was fast asleep, his head lolling to one side on a cushion and legs outstretched before him, heels resting on a colourful rug.
The glow from the fire caught on the blade of the knife, honed to lethal sharpness, giving the momentary illusion that it was a beautiful thing. The eyes of the perpetrator held no emotion as they gazed upon their target to make sure the hit would go in exactly the right place. Then, with a slight 'shwooshing' sound, made by the assailant's all-enveloping garment, the knife found its mark with unerring accuracy. The victim's eyes flew open, the mouth moved in a gasp of surprise, then he slumped as death bore him away.
Not stopping to gaze further, the murderer went over the house, treading in plastic-covered shoes, picking up items of value in hands protected by rubber gloves, then left the house by the back door, leaving it open and creaking in the breeze blowing off the English Channel.
How can we buy your books?
Of course on Amazon
Of course on Amazon
http://amzn.to/2so4h7y for Aunt Bea’s Legacy, River View Book One
http://amzn.to/2kcJ9YZ for The Sixpenny Tiger, my first book.
List of Books by Jeanette Taylor Ford
Rosa, a ghostly psychological thriller. Elizabeth (Izzy) has to run from an all-consuming affair and comes to manage her grandfather’s estate in Norfolk. But all is not well at Longdene Hall, and Izzy soon finds herself in a terrifying situation. Who can she trust?
Bell of Warning, a haunting historical novella. Jeanie loves her hometown of Cromer. She also has the ‘Gift’ and begins to ‘see’ the mysterious Kendra, who once lived in the village of Shipden, now sunk into the sea off Cromer’s coast and to hear the legendary warning bell of Shipden’s church, which rings out when there is danger. Can Jeanie find out what it all means and can she save her neighbours from impending doom?
The Sixpenny Tiger, a touching story of a boy brought up in a children’s home and the young woman who loves him. Together they discover the true meaning and power of forgiveness.
The Castle Glas Trilogy:
The Hiraeth – how Shelly, abandoned as a baby, finds her family, aided by two modern-day witches, a ghost and a wonderful Welsh castle.
Bronwen’s Revenge – continuing the story of Shelly and her family’s fight against her Aunt Bronwen, now a vengeful ghost
Yr Aberth, (The Sacrifice) More adventures with Shelly, including the final banishment of Bronwen.
The River View Series: (Cosy Crime)
Aunt Bea’s Legacy – Introducing Lucy, her beautiful house, River View, and the village of Sutton-on-Wye. Under the strange conditions of Aunt Bea’s will, Lucy comes to live at River View. But ghostly footsteps and other weird happenings disturb the peaceful atmosphere. Is the house haunted, or is something else behind them?
By the Gate – D.I. Cooke and D.S. Grant investigate a seventy-year-old murder when human remains are found in one of Lucy’s fields.
Fear Has Long Fingers – a new family comes to Sutton-on-Wye which brings great danger for another resident of the village. Can our two detectives find the kidnapped teenagers and save the woman snatched by a ruthless underworld criminal and his gang?
Robin’s Ring – Robin finds a magic ring, but can he and his cousin Oliver find the other Items of Power?
Robin’s Dragon – further adventures with Robin and Oliver. The wicked Bowen the Black has kidnapped Edric’s daughter. Can the boys, with an exciting helper, find the Princess Adriana and bring her home safely?
Mostly About Bears – a small book of poems and short stories about children and childhood – and teddy bears.