Good Morning friends. A big welcome to you all. Today I am featuring author Jen Silver, author of “Starting Over” and “Arc Over Time.” Jen has a passion for life that will sweep you in. She is an incredible storyteller so pull up chair and join us in conversation.
“My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.”
First stanza of ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti
What is “Starting Over” about?
Back of the Book blurb:
Ellie Winters, a successful potter, is living on a remote hilltop farm inherited from her parents. Her well-ordered life is shaken apart when her past meets her present.
Robin Fanshawe, Ellie’s philandering long-term lover, has a fragile truce with Ellie. The arrival of women from Robin’s present threatens to break that tentative pact.
Charming Dr. Kathryn Moss, an archaeologist and an old lover of Ellie’s, arrives on the farm searching for a new site to dig. When she discovers a previously unknown Roman settlement and ancient burial site on Ellie’s farm, Ellie allows her to start an archaeological dig of the area.
Will Ellie also allow the rekindling of an old romance or will she stay with Robin? Can that long term relationship, albeit tentative, recover from this collision or will an old romance trump everything she knows?
Will Robin, seeing the interaction between Ellie and Kathryn, leave her womanizing ways behind? Will she take a chance on giving herself wholly to the woman she loves?
These questions and the mystery of whose royal resting place is disturbed at Starling Hill are answered in this classic romance of simmering passions, anguished loss, and the wonder of love.
The novel is a romance and the primary focus is on the relationships between the main protagonists, but the findings of the archaeological dig gain in relevance as the story progresses.
There are a number of ongoing digs in Britain, and last year I volunteered to spend two weeks at the Vindolanda site. This is a large fort about a mile south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. In fact, it’s not just one fort – they’ve discovered nine so far, some built on top of each other. This may seem like taking research to the extreme, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so, that I’ve been back again this year.
When I reached the end of the first chapter in Starting Over, I didn’t have any idea where the story was going. (I’m not a ‘plotter’.) I had introduced a number of characters that all arrived at the farm on the same day, two of Robin’s lovers, plus Ellie’s son and girlfriend. Robin’s current lover, Jasmine, has travelled up from London and thinks she’s going to spend a week at the farm getting to know Robin better. The other woman, Jo, is someone Robin met at a market when she was selling some of Ellie’s pottery. Jo knows a relationship with Robin isn’t on and has come to the farm because she wants to learn how to make pots.
The story didn’t really start to take shape until the arrival of yet another visitor to the farm, Dr Kathryn Moss. She becomes the catalyst for what happens next.
What traits were you looking for when you were creating the main character in your story?
There are two main characters to start with – Ellie and Robin. As stated in the blurb, they have been lovers for a long time. What I wanted to portray was a relationship between two older women – Ellie is 53, Robin 43. At the beginning of the story this relationship has broken down. In terms of personality, the two women are total opposites. But this isn’t the problem. The problem is Robin’s inability to resist the charms of other women. And a lot of readers will think, why hasn’t Ellie dumped her the first time this happens? The problem for Ellie is that she is, unfortunately, used to being hurt. She’s a lovely person, but suffers from low self-esteem. So, this is where Kathryn comes into the picture. She would appear to be the perfect antidote to Robin. And this provides a dilemma for Ellie. Does she stick with what she knows, even if it’s not ideal, or does she take a leap into the unknown?
What was the deciding factor for your title “Starting Over”? Did it just come to you or did you try different ones?
It was always the working title. I thought the publisher might change it, but they thought it fit the story well. In a sense, when I started writing it, I was ‘starting over’. Affinity rejected the first novel I sent them, which wasn’t really a surprise. It was a story I had sitting in a drawer for twenty years, dragged it out, gave it some finishing touches and sent it off. However, the Affinity team encouraged me not to give up. They said they liked my writing style and would be happy to look at anything else I wrote. I said I’d started another and hoped it wouldn’t take twenty years to finish it.
I wrote a blog about the choice of title not long ago. It came from a song by a singer-songwriter duo, Chris While and Julie Matthews. The song is ‘Starting All Over’ and the lyrics resonated with me.
Recently your sequel “Arc Over Time” was released. Can you share more about it?
Yes. The book is out now in ebook form and will be available as a paperback in a few weeks. It continues where Starting Over left off – but the focus is on what happens with Kathryn’s love life. Obviously the back of the book blurb contains spoilers – for those who haven’t read the first one.
“Arc Over Time” has been described as “a journey of discovery for all involved.” Can you elaborate on this?
I don’t want to say too much about it. However, one of my concerns from the first book was that Jasmine didn’t come across as a very likeable person. Although that was intentional at the start, as the story developed I thought it probably wasn’t fair on her. In Arc, she has a bigger role and makes some quite startling discoveries about herself, which results in making major changes in her life.
Did you do any types of writing in school?
I was always good at English and enjoyed the writing assignments. When I finished high school I thought about going into journalism, but ended up doing a college course in Radio and TV Arts, as it was called then. Now it would be Media and Communications. After I graduated I worked as a copywriter, mainly in radio, with a short stint in television. I preferred writing ads for radio, as there’s no limit to imagination. Bear in mind, this was in the dark ages before computers.
At home I was always writing stories, which never saw the light of day. If there had been an outlet for fan fiction in those days, I no doubt would have contributed. Then life took over, and although I continued writing for myself, I didn’t even consider trying to publish anything until two years ago.
Was there anyone in your life who was an inspiration for you to write? If so, what did they do?
I was fortunate to grow up in a family who enjoyed reading. We had a house full of books. Also my mother is a writer and has had a long career of writing novels, short stories, stage plays and radio plays.
My wife is also supportive of my writing endeavor. Lesfic isn’t something she normally reads, preferring non-fiction mainly. She didn’t read Starting Over until it was published, so when she said she enjoyed it – that really meant everything to me.
Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers? Can you elaborate on what has worked for you?
In terms of writing, I like to get straight into the story. That’s something I might be criticised for. I don’t go in for lengthy descriptions, which is why my books aren’t likely to go over the 200-page mark. Telling a good story is important to me, and I hope that’s what I’ve managed to achieve so far with these two books.
Where is the best course to play golf and why?
We have the choice of many wonderful courses in the UK. One of our favourite places for a holiday is the East Lothian coast in Scotland. We’ve rented a cottage in Gullane a number of times and played the courses nearby. There’s a lovely little course by the water called Kilspindie that is a favourite.
At least once a year, we go to southern Portugal or Spain to play – usually in the winter months when the courses here are wet and muddy – sometimes venturing further south to the Canary Islands.
And we enjoy our home course near Huddersfield – which is rolling parkland and very pretty in spring and summer.
I’m also an archer. It’s a sport I took up five years ago and I enjoy target shooting with a traditional English longbow at a local club.
This year the 2015 GCLS is being held in New Orleans. What does it mean to you and why?
I’m attending the GCLS conference for the first time this year. When I saw that Dorothy Allison was the keynote speaker, I booked up right away. She’s a writer whose work I’ve admired for a long time. I’m also looking forward to meeting the Affinity publishing team face-to-face. We’ve only talked through Skype as one of the directors lives in New Zealand and the other two in Texas. A number of other Affinity authors will be there too. And it will be great to meet so many readers and writers who I only know as ‘friends’ on Facebook.
If you got the chance to meet k.d. Lang, what would you say to her?
I would probably be too tongue-tied to say anything. I love her voice and have many of her albums.
Me: k.d. lang’s music just sweeps me away and is heartfelt. I’m going to encourage you all to check out her website.
What would you say is your fave pleasure?
Having a meal out with my wife. We’re both happy when we’re sitting in a restaurant with a glass of wine, studying a menu.
If someone were to ask you for a lesfic movie recommendation, which one would it be and why?
I can’t name just one. There are three I would recommend.
The Killing of Sister George: it is best remembered by women of a certain age for the scenes filmed in The Gateways, a real life lesbian club of the sixties in London. Although the scene with Beryl Reid and the nuns in the taxi is a favourite as well.
Desert Hearts: shame the film deviated from the book in many ways, but it was lovely to look at and the Patsy Cline songs are great.
Cloudburst: wonderful portrayal of older women dealing with the problems of old age. Both the lead actresses were excellent in it, but Olympia Dukakis was just amazing.
There are others, but those are the ones that come to mind right now.
What other authors do you follow and what is the last book you read by them?
This is hard to answer. I read a lot. When I first started reading lesfic, I enjoyed Katherine V Forrest, Claire McNab, Sandra Scoppetone, Karin Kallmaker, Jean Stewart, Chris Anne Wolfe, Jaye Maiman, J M Redmann…to name a few.
Recently it’s been great to find new authors (new to me, anyway): Sandra Moran, Lynn Ames, Cindy Rizzo, Clare Lydon, Rhavensfyre, Fletcher Delancey, Ann McMan…and many others.
I’ve just finished reading The Caphenon by Fletcher Delancey. She has created a fantastically credible, multi-faceted world in Alsea. It’s a long time since I’ve read a sci-fi/fantasy book although my shelves are filled with books by Ursula K LeGuin, William Gibson, Neil Gaiman, Philip K Dick, Doris Lessing, Manda Scott…and more.
What has been your favourite part of being an author? The least fave?
Seeing my first published book in print, plus the lovely reviews and comments from readers.
The least favourite is having to put myself about – in terms of publicity. But as a new author, it’s necessary. So, I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me, Lynn, to talk about my books and myself…even if I’m not very good at it.
What is next in the works for you?
I’ve submitted another novel to Affinity, waiting to hear if they are interested in publishing it. This one is different to the first two, a separate story, but set in the same area where I live.
I’ve also just finished writing a third in what I would call the ‘Starling Hill’ trilogy. Again, I don’t know if it will be accepted. The danger of writing a series…it’s dependent on the sales of the first two books.
I would love to hear more about your archeological digs. This photo shows you in your element. Also keep us posted about your new book. People love series stories and I have a good feeling that this one too is going to wow your fans, too.
Take a look at the excerpts from both “Starting Over” and “Arc Over Time.”
Ellie was in the kitchen, sitting at the table, Soames sat contentedly on her lap enjoying the sensation of her fingers stroking him; long, leisurely strokes, starting at the top of his large ginger head continuing down his spine and caressing the length of his tail. Both Ellie and the cat had their eyes closed, but only Soames was purring.
Robin watched from the doorway. Lucky Soames. It had been a long time since Ellie had stroked her with such tenderness.
Arc Over Time
The raindrops chased each other down the window as Den watched puddles form on the patio. Kathryn’s taxi had gone and she wasn’t sure how she was going to cope. Saying goodbye had been harder this time. Holding her tightly as they waited by the door for the taxi to arrive, Den had whispered into her ear, “I’ll miss you.” Kathryn had murmured an inaudible response. And then she was gone. Now it was just the rain and her tears falling in unison.
Also here is the back book blurb from “Arc Over Time.”
Dr. Kathryn Moss has job offers flowing in after her exciting archaeological discoveries at Starling Hill the previous year. Now she has choices to make that could jeopardise her relationship with Denise Sullivan, the fiery journalist, who has become her lover.
For Denise the choice seems obvious. She thinks they have moved beyond the casual sex stage to something more like a true relationship. However, she’s not sure how to handle Kathryn’s continuing infatuation with Ellie Winters.
Ellie’s new career as a promising artist proves to be a catalyst for the simmering tensions in relations between her wife Robin, Kathryn, and Denise.
Will Denise persevere in her pursuit of the reluctant professor? Does Ellie have anything to fear from Kathryn’s fascination with her art, or is there another motive behind the professor’s obsessive interest?
This wonderful romantic continuation with the characters from Starting Over ties up loose ends. But the question is – does everyone have a happy ending? A must read.
Like myself, Jen has her own blog over at WordPress. Here she speaks more about herself as well as information about her books. I found her latest entry to be very interesting as she talks about her dig! So check this out. She really values her subscribers so don’t forget to sign up.
Also, Jen has been a guest blogger for others. These are a must check out! Here she has a stunning story to tell!
Jen’s publisher, Affinity, put together this impressive interview of Jen before the release of “Starting Over.” In this one she shares about something fascinating that caught my attention about her. To find out, go read the interview. Thank you Affinity for sharing this.
Jen’s books have been gaining a lot of popularity and their reviews reflect it. Here is some advice from a writer to a reader. After you read a book, give it a review. Authors really appreciate it and it shows that you care. To see what everyone is saying about her books, check out the sites below. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Lastly, I am listing buying options for the books. These are safe sites:
Arc Over Time
If you are looking for a great freebie read, these two stories are available from Affinity website. These are a must read if you are a Jen Silver fan.
There Was a Time – See review up above.
2014 Christmas Collection – Jen is one of five authors in this collection.
I want to thank Jen for stopping by to chat. I hope you have enjoyed her visit. Her journey is one that is inspirational and enlightening. I am going to encourage you to reach out to Jen and say hello. She loves her fans and will appreciate hearing from you.
Jen’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jenjsilver
Jen’s Twitter: @jenjsilver
Until Next Time,
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Printed With Permission.