I just finished reading “The Sister“, so I was delighted that Louise Jensen has agreed to answer some of my questions.
Thanks Louise, both for your time and consenting to this interview.
F: How long did it take to get “The Sister” published?
LJ: I thought I’d finished The Sister last November and sent it out to a handful of agents who all requested the full draft but the general opinion was, although they liked my writing, they didn’t love the story and so I rewrote over Christmas and sent it out again in January and got some offers. It has all happened relatively quickly but I have, like most writers, a stack of rejections.
F: What inspired “The Sister”?
LJ: I visited a writing group as I was interested in finding out about self-publishing a non-fiction book I was toying with the idea of writing. I was given three words and ten minutes to write something. The bare bones of chapter one was born and I couldn’t stop thinking about Grace and Charlie so I decided to try and write their story and I fell in love with writing fiction.
F: How long did the writing process take?
LJ: The beauty of writing a debut was the time I could allow myself. I spent around a year and a half writing and loved every second.
F: Do you create an outline first?
LJ: No I knew the opening and the ending but had no ideas for the middle until I sat down and the characters starting coming to life.
F: Are re-writes part of your writing process?
LJ: ‘Writing is rewriting’ is one of my favourite quotes. The Sister was originally a romantic love story and has been chopped and changed so much it is virtually unrecognizable from the early versions.
F: Did you have family and/or friends proof-read your novel, or did you depend on your publisher’s editorial staff?
LJ: A handful of people read my story before I sent it out which gave me a little confidence it wasn’t terrible. With book two there won’t be time for that so when it’s released no-one will have read it except from my editor which is a terrifying thought!
F: Your protagonist in “The Sister” works in a preschool. Have you ever done so?
LJ: No but I do have three children so it’s not an alien environment.
F: The character of Anna comes across as scheming and manipulative. Have you ever met someone in real life that had these traits?
LJ: I think we all have!
F: In my opinion, “The Sister” was an astounding debut novel but there were likely a few reviewers that did not care for it… How do you cope with negative reviews?
LJ: Thank you. I’m thankful most of my reviews have been lovely but of course there are people who didn’t like my story. Anything constructive I can take away to improve my writing in the future is helpful but there have been reviews that are more like a personal attack and I have found that hurtful. I hope that by the time book two is released I will have found a way to toughen up a bit.
F: I feel all writers must also be avid readers. What type of books do you read for pleasure?
LJ: I love the classics and commercial fiction although I dip into literary fiction every now and then. There’s nothing I wouldn’t try to read.
F: If you could sit and enjoy a chat and a glass of wine with another crime novelist – who would it be?
LJ: Angela Marsons. As well as being a phenomenal writer we also share a publisher and she has been so supportive, from the time I emailed her when I first got my offer, to seeing my book in print. It would be lovely to meet her in person.
F: What thriller novelist writing today do you most admire? Why?
LJ: I don’t read thrillers generally as they scare me and I don’t like crime! I have recently read ‘While my eyes were closed,’ though by Linda Green and I enjoyed that immensely.
F: Since your debut novel has been SO successful, are you working on another book?
LJ: Yes. My contract is for another two thrillers, the first of which I am working on right now and should be released sometime before Christmas I hope.
LJ: I didn’t have a say in the cover, the title or the way the book was marketed but I trust my publishers implicitly to do the right thing for me and my story. Henry Steadman designed the cover and it far surpasses anything I could have envisaged. I felt really emotional when I saw if for the first time.
F: I loved that “Jane Eyre” was mentioned in your novel because it has always been one of my favorite books. Can you tell us some of your favourite titles?
LJ: Jane Eyre! I think writing a first book you can’t help but get some of yourself in there. My favourite book of all time is Little Women.
F: What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known? (I like to ask this question because it gives me and my readers fodder for our TBRs!)
LJ: Renita D’Silva. She writes emotional stories based around Indian families and her descriptions are so exquisite they could make you weep.
F: Do you watch crime drama on television? If so, what are a few of your favourite shows?
LJ: I don’t watch much tv but I do like movies. I’ll watch pretty much anything.
F: What part of your new career as a novelist do you dislike the most?
LJ: I feel very fortunate to be in this position but I’m finding the deadlines quite stressful. I have a disability and am in constant pain and sometimes it’s hard to sit and write for a period of time. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes bringing a book to publication and a lot of people counting on me to deliver the book within the scheduled date.
F: What interview question have you not been asked yet that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
LJ: Do I ever want to write in a different genre? The answer is yes – I’d love to write a really emotional, heart-wrenching novel.
F: How do you wish to be contacted by ‘fans’? Facebook? Twitter? Your own blog?
Via my website: www.louisejensen.co.uk
Or, on Twitter @fab_fiction
Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog, Lynne.
F: On behalf of myself AND my readers I can say it has been our pleasure hearing from you Louise! Congratulations on your three book deal! What a coup for a debut novelist!
On a personal note… I am astounded by the fact that you are not a personal fan of thrillers!