Another prolific writer, Jo Zebedee from Northern Ireland write Science Fiction which she describes as ‘dark as hell’.
Could you tell us about yourself?
I’m Jo Zebedee, from Northern Ireland, not far from Belfast. I write a range of science fiction and fantasy books, often with a very human focus. I also run my own consultancy and do a lot of workshops and networking around writing.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for about 6 years at this point – but I did write a little when I was a teenager and young adult. Then life crept up and I was establishing my career and having kids and what not and my focus came off writing onto other things.
Tell us about one of, or your most recent book?
My most recent book is called Waters and the Wild. It’s a psychological thriller with fantasy elements. In it, we have a character who either hears voices or is mentally ill, and we’re never quite sure which it is – and each represents a different danger to Amy.
If it is really voices she is hearing, they are from the fae world. She believes she was taken into their world when she was a child – and now they want her back. But these are not sweet little fairies, these are dark Irish sidhe. If Amy goes into their world, she may not come back. But if the voices she hears are not real, then she is ill and growing worse by the moment. Alone in the bleak landscape of the Glens of Antrim, Amy has to find a way to work out the truth in order to survive.
What do you love about writing?
I like the process, that I sit down and type and it’s as if my mind just empties onto a page. But I also love having my own world and characters – I never get bored as a writer, there’s always something else to go and think about, or another scene to work at.
Strangely, I also enjoy editing – I like the honing of the words. As I don’t really plan in advance I also like knowing where I want to go with a story and shaping it.
How do you get inspired/ where do you get your ideas?
I never seem to have too much trouble coming up with something that interests me, but if I ever do get stuck I enter flash fiction competitions. I find that from a little 75 word piece, or 300, a germ of an idea can take root and grow. My most popular book to date, Inish Carraig, about an alien invasion of Belfast came from a 75 word piece, and it was fun to see that expand.
Do you have a specific writing process?
Not really as I have to seize my moment as and when the house is quiet and the computer available (I have a family who all appear addicted to the internet). But I don’t plan a lot and instead start off with what I feel is a viable idea and start writing.
I find I often start to struggle around the 15-20000 word mark and that’s when I either make or break a book. If I get past that hump, then the project is normally viable. If I don’t, then it’s trunked until inspiration hits, if it ever does!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Find some honest critique partners, and also some support. It’s a long, hard road and the market is especially tough at the moment, so overnight success is not something to really aspire to. Slow and steady and enjoy the ride.
What are you currently working on? How long before release?
I’m working on the sequel to Inish Carraig. I’m nervous about this one. Inish was something of a cult hit for me, and continues to get such great reviews, and I’ve been asked to do a sequel many times. This is the first time I’m writing something that there is any real expectation around and I do find it nerve wrecking. But I’ve recruited a great team of first readers, so that should help a lot.
I don’t have a release date in mind yet but would suspect towards the end of 2018 is realistic. In the meantime, I also have another book currently out with agents, so that might turn up first. Or not. I’ve stopped getting just as excited about maintaining a publishing scheldule. I’d rather the books were of the quality I want than that they come out at an arbitrary time.
What are you currently reading?
I’m just about to start Luna: Wolf Moon, by Ian McDonald. I’ve been looking forward to it.
Who are your favourite authors?
Lots! I really like Lois McMaster Bujold for Space Opera. I like Neil Gaiman, and love Carlos Ruiz Safon and Isabel Allende. Jodi Taylor’s St Mary’s Chronicles were a surprise joy this summer and I look to seek out more of her work soon.
Do you have any favourite fictional characters?
A few. Miles in the Vorkosigan books is great fun, I find. I also really like his mother, Cordelia, too. A really intelligent portrayal of a believable, strong woman Avon in Blake’s Seven – I loved the black/white aspects of him.
Any fun facts about you that you would like to share?
I can juggle. And nearly unicycle. Well, I know how to fall off one safely…. 😀