– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Jane Austen’s Best Friend’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
A native of Jane Austen’s beloved county of Hampshire, Zoe Wheddon, lives in a village on the outskirts of the touwn that she and her husband Matt grew up in, with three grown up children and a cat called Leia.
She co-presents the popular podcast What Would Jane Do and writes articles and book reviews on matters relating to friendship, self-compassion and personal development on her blog. When not researching or writing her next book, Zoe can be found in the classroom teaching Spanish and French or singing ABBA songs loudly in her kitchen.
All fans of Jane Austen everywhere believe themselves to be best friends with the beloved author and this book shines a light on what it meant to be exactly that. Jane Austen’s Best Friend; The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd offers a unique insight into Jane’s private inner circle. Through this heart-warming examination of an important and often overlooked person in Jane’s world, we uncover the life changing force of their friendship. Each chapter details the fascinating facts and friendship forming qualities that tied Jane and Martha together. Within these pages we will relive their shared interests, the hits and misses of their romantic love lives, their passion for shopping and fashion, their family histories, their lucky breaks and their girly chats. This book offers a behind the scenes tour of the shared lives of a fascinating pair and the chance to deepen our own bonds in ‘love and friendship’ with them both.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Well, I am a native of Jane Austen’s Hampshire, I am married to Matt, it’s our 30th Wedding anniversary this year and I have twins who are 24 and another son aged 21. I have been a teacher for 25 years, teaching Spanish and French to pupils aged 10-18. I love Abba and Jane Austen.
I have always loved researching and I remember, aged 7, I badgered my parents to help me display my ‘pirates’ project that I had written not at school, but at home– they even had to hang it up, bless them. I just get gripped by an idea and I have to find out more – it becomes like an obsession – I have to be able to find answers to the questions rolling around my head and know all there is to know – usually, for example about a House or a person or a certain landmark where I live.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I loved anything Enid Blyton wrote, especially The Faraway Tree series, and I also loved Nancy Drew Mysteries. I am quite amazed that I read 101 books last year and I have to say audiobooks are amazing in my opinion – I can listen whilst doing something else, so I get at least 30 minutes of reading in everyday. My favourite books of 2020 were Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, Deacon King Kong by James McBride and Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I would love to have a cup of coffee and a chat with JoJo Moyes as I loved ‘The Giver of Stars.’ She managed to weave real historical events into an amazingly emotionally charged tale – she was able to ‘show’ not ‘tell’ the story and I would love to know more about her process and how she achieved that balance.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Oh, I would love to invite Emma Woodhouse or Lizzy Bennet to tea, it would be so much fun to talk to them and to share their thoughts and get to know their personalities even more. I think I would be a real fan girl though and probably sit there slack jawed and frozen with excitement, unable to speak or say anything sensible.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I love to keep warm and cosy and will wrap up next to my desk in one or two of the blankets that my Mum has knitted for me. I also love to light a candle – a scented one, such as Crackling Wood Fire by Yankee Candle. I love to create an atmosphere and signal to myself that I am focusing now. I use my Bose noise-cancelling headphones as I need absolute silence to think. I cannot listen to music as I would start singing along, but I do listen to rain sounds! my brain can filter them out and it relaxes me.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I love that question. My family and friends can trigger an idea or they sometimes have a turn of phrase or say a word that catches my attention. But this normally leads me to then go and research about that aspect in the time and era or in the life of the person I am writing about. I tend to write from my research – so they are safe! for now!
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I have often asked myself the same question. I do make lots and lots and lots of notes and then I use those to look for patterns and I categorise the research into topics. These then become my ‘chapters’ and I plot an outline and an arc for what I am writing, in that way. Then when I am writing the writing will take it’s own direction and characters will suggest ideas to me and chemical reactions occur between events I am thinking about. The two strands of ‘planning’ and ‘flowing’ then work their way to finding one another -hopefully.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Yes – write without your editing filter on – write even if it is lots of rubbish mixed in with the gold….don’t overthink it – editing is a different stage and you can make the words better later.
Also – use up all your best ideas and best words – don’t save them for later …keep swimming out to sea and following all your best hunches and ideas, because then other ideas will flow in behind them.
What are your futureplans as an author?
I am working on another book idea about Jane Austen’s Father and I would like to do a journal too.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Yes of course, I would say keep reading right until the end – when Jane dies it is sadness and tears for Martha of course…but the best is yet to come – almost as if Jane wrote the ending for Martha’s life herself. It brings joy and hope to us all.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Zoe Wheddon.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!