26 January 2016

Write the book you dream of reading...

My guest today is Jayne Castel :
She writes Early Medieval Historical Romance and Historical Fiction set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. Two of her novels DARK UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT and NIGHTFALL TILL DAYBREAK, reached the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards in 2013 and 2014. 

Over to you Jayne...

Write to please yourself first. Ignore what others say you should be doing, and forget about following trends. Do you think J K Rowling wrote ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ because she thought coming of age stories about young, orphaned sorcerers were ‘hot’? Of course she didn’t! She simply wrote the story that burned inside her, the one she dreamed of sharing with the world… and it just happened to become a bestseller.

Write the book you wish actually existed, the book you’d stay up all night reading. The beauty of being an indie author is that you can write whatever you want – so get out there and do it!

Here’s why writing the book you dream of reading – rather than writing what you think will sell – is crucial:

  • You’ll actually finish writing the book: Finishing a manuscript is hard work – that means if you don’t really love vampire erotica (or whatever’s currently on Amazon’s bestseller list), you’ll find it a struggle to get past page 100
  • You'll connect with your readers. When you write what you love, it shows. Readers get carried away by stories that have been written with passion and truth, stories they can relate to.
  • You’ll be original. The problem with following trends, rather than your heart, is that you risk writing a clone of bestsellers in your genre. Write what you want to read, and you have a real shot at writing something remarkable.

What do you dream of reading?

Here’s an easy exercise that will reveal what you should be writing. Choose a genre that you love, and then think about what it lacks. Write a sentence about it, with a ‘but’.

I love fantasy but…

I did this for my own books – which are actually a blend of three genres: historical, romance and adventure. Here’s what I discovered:
  •  I love history but find many mainstream works of historical fiction a bit ‘heavy’ and ‘macho’.
  • I love romance but find a lot of mainstream romance ‘frilly’ and ‘candy-coated’, with unrealistic heroes and heroines I could never relate to.
  •  I love adventure but I want to read novels where a woman is the lead protagonist.

To get the most out of this exercise, go into detail. Don’t just think about a couple of elements you’d change – make lists!

What did I end up writing? I write historical romance that’s set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England (not a traditional period for historical romance). Although I use a lot of real historical figures and events, my books don’t take themselves as seriously as mainstream historical fiction. At the same time, my novels are grittier and darker than most mainstream romance. There’s also a strong adventure element, and since it’s a romance – the heroine takes the lead role.

I’ve written five novels so far, and am currently working on my sixth. Every time I embark on a new story, it’s as much a discovery for me as for the reader. I believe there’s something magical about the creative process, something unexplainable and exciting – but the magic only happens when you write what you love.

More about Jayne:

Jayne writes historical romance adventures about warrior heroes and strong-willed heroines. She weaves powerful love stories into meticulously researched stories about honor, valor, loyalty and vengeance. 

Her KINGDOM OF THE EAST ANGLES series spans a decade and the reigns of three kings: Raedwald, Sigeberht and Annan. The series is a 'must-read' for anyone who loves reading historical romance set in a warrior-dominated culture.

Website: jaynecastel.com
Twitter: @JayneCastel


  1. Fantastic post! I really like the advice, "Write to please yourself first." This is the connection key to readers I believe. The passion of your work really will shine when you give that passion to yourself first and not write what others say you must. Writing is not only a discovery for the reader but also the author.

    I noticed that Jayne mentioned above there is a strong female influence in her novels. She said, "the heroine takes the lead role." That is a reader connection for me. This creates empowerment, will to use one's voice, and well that seed starts with books often. And somewhere, I image the author had that same seed!

    Thank you for sharing! Going to go purchase The Breaking Dawn!

    1. Thanks Ginger - totally agree!

    2. Thanks Ginger - I'm delighted you liked my post. Writing should, first and foremost, be something you love doing - everything else is secondary! :-) Jayne

  2. Ooooh, these sound interesting. I can't buy any more until I have caught up with all theTBR list on my iPad, but I can add some to my wish list. I'm off to check them out.

    1. I know what you mean about the TBR Mountain! LOL

  3. Ha Loretta, I have a huge pile but am making this a group read with a few Pinterest gals. We are already coordinating our mountain climb of books we will read together. My Library book club also coordinates early for the year. Hey.. This would be a great blog post Helen. Climb that mountain. Please write for us readers.


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