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To be a little different from the usual
'meet the author'
'meet the author'
Q: Hello, I’m Helen, host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Jae Malone’s second book of a series, Queen of Diamonds. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?
A: How very hospitable of you. I don’t usually get this kind of welcome and thank you so much for your invitation; I’m delighted to be here. I’d love a cup of chamomile tea if you have some, please. I tend to stick to herbal teas, but I can’t resist a chocolate or two, especially soft centres.
My name is Armistice Endor Jenks and I am proud to be one of a long line of reincarnated witches spanning five centuries. Some of our powers have diminished over time, to a point where I am unable to cast spells or hexes. I do curse people occasionally but nothing much comes of my efforts. I sometimes think it would be nice if my author had allowed me to keep those skills – especially if someone upsets me. But, she didn’t, so now my main talent is healing; I adore working with herbs and creating potions, I also give Tarot readings and I have a very unique ability to communicate with animals, domestic and wild…you know…a little like that Dr Doolittle…but it’s something I find quite humbling at times; thank Brigid, Goddess of the Hearth, for allowing me this privilege. Those are my talents…oh…and I do hope I don’t sound pompous if I say, in all honesty, I believe my skills mean I’m worth being a lead character.
Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: Jae tells me that these fantasy adventures were originally aimed at older children and young adults, but she now has as many older adult readers. The age range begins at about 7 years for independent readers, or younger if children are being read to. The oldest person we know who has the series, is 93 years of age and my author’s reviews come from people of all ages.
Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both?)
A: Oh, I’m definitely a goodie…but I’m not a pushover. There are one or two people who have cause to remember that. However, those people aside, I think my friends would agree I’m loyal, helpful…um…yes, kind and…easy to get on with but, then when you think about it, some of my friends themselves might be considered a little…strange? No, not strange…I’d prefer to say…unusual.
Q: Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: Hmm. Yes. That was very hurtful, although I’m not sure you could call her my arch enemy. Since my husband, Edward, died I have been alone; I had a sister who lived abroad and she died some years before, leaving me with no family. Then I heard that my sister’s grand-daughter, Tanith who, it was reported died in a natural disaster, had survived and wanted to make contact with me. Well, as you can imagine, I was overjoyed. Wouldn’t you be? When she came to stay with me though, things were not quite as I’d hoped. There were a few things that didn’t add up, something wasn’t right, but I ignored those little warning voices. I just convinced myself we simply needed to get to know each other – but I should have taken heed. She turned out to be false, and my genuine great-niece had indeed died shortly after the catastrophe and this, this Elêna creature had stolen her identity. I’m sure my author wouldn’t like me to tell you how things transpired but needless to say, they didn’t turn out well for either of us.
Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: I’m actually a main character in Queen of Diamonds and Fool’s Gold. I enjoyed my role in Queen but, when you read Fool’s Gold, you’ll understand why I wasn’t quite so happy with the way things turn out in that one. I am also briefly mentioned in the fourth book of the series Avaroc Returns and the forthcoming – Jae hasn’t told me the title yet – fifth volume. Although I’m actually dead in these. I am though keeping an eye on my latest regeneration, Morgan Landers, as she is still very young, bless her, and inexperienced, but she’s a sweet young thing.
Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: Hmm. There are two of them and it’s difficult to choose, so if you will indulge me, please. The first has to be when Elêna drugs me and I think I’m going mad. The second is when I die after being thrown down the stairs. Not pleasant memories at all.
Q: And your favourite scene?
A: Oh, I think that has to be when I am preparing for a Tarot reading but cannot find my cards. I know where I put them last, but they’re not there. My cat, Bandit, knows where they are and keeps trying to tell me, but I don’t listen. Then I find he’s right after all. He’s quite smug and has that look on his face that says, ‘See, I told you. You know I’m always right!’
He's intelligent and has a sense of humour, but he’s not always quite as clever as he thinks he is!
Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?
A: Indeed, she has. Queen of Diamonds is the second in what is now a four-volume series of fantasy adventures set mainly in Somerset, around the Wells, Wookey Hole, Glastonbury area. The series combines the real and fantasy worlds; humans, elves and animals and the reader discovers just what goes on under the Mendip Hills. My author expected that the first in the series, Silver Linings, would be a stand-alone, old-fashioned Christmas story, but she soon discovered that some of my fellow characters insisted she continue their story, and I’m delighted they did as I would never have existed if she had stopped writing at that point.
Silver Linings was followed by Queen of Diamonds, Fool’s Gold and Avaroc Returns.
Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: Yes. She is working on a prequel to the four Winterne Series volumes, where the back stories are given of incidents and items mentioned in the series. She is also working on a fourth sequel – a spin off – with the two young female cousins as the main characters. My author has not given either of these books a title yet.
In addition, she has begun another series of books for younger children – two of which are available now, Lorna and the Loch Ness Monster and The Raven and the Thief, set at the Tower of London. These are being followed up by three further books that are gentle awareness stories for younger children about our native wildlife and the ecological problems they face.
These books are with the illustrator now – ‘Blue Teaches a Lesson’ about a mother badger, and ‘Mrs Pringles Needs a Nurse. Both books are due out in March or April this year. They will be followed by ‘Tib and Tab Find a Friend’ when otter twins help save a kitten when she becomes caught up in a plastic can holder.
And, when Jae’s not busy with her writing, she puts us to one side for a while…sniff…while she runs her writing workshops for adults, school workshops and a countywide children’s creative writing competition in Nottinghamshire where she lives.
Q: How do you think authors can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?
A: I think that has to be by giving reviews and sharing information about the books if, of course you’ve enjoyed them, via social media. My author’s reviews, by both the media and readers, have been very positive. Getting ‘out there’ and meeting people, e.g. group talks, and activities can also be very rewarding for a writer who loves their work and enjoys talking about it.
Q: If your author was to host a dinner party what guests would she invite and why? Maximum nine guests – real, imaginary, alive or dead.
I know she would like you to be there, Helen.
H: Thank you - invitation accepted)
H: Thank you - invitation accepted)
David Bradley, actor.
Stephen Booth, author
Eoin Colfer, author
Gerald Durrell, Zoologist and author
Jack Keating, her father, now deceased.
He had a ‘blotting-paper’ brain that soaked up information
and could discuss almost any subject.
He would also have enjoyed meeting so many
authors as he loved reading.
Her grand-daughter, Erin,
because she would love to meet
such wonderful people - especially Jae's Dad,
|© Jae Malone|
Dame Maggie Smith, actor
Chris Hemsworth, actor…
just so we can sit and look at him.
He doesn’t have speak.
Thank you, Armistice, it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt? Meanwhile, chatting is thirsty work, would you like a refill of that drink…? I’ll have another Gin and Tonic . . .
Salute! Here’s to writing a best seller!
CONNECT WITH Jae Malone:
EXCERPT from Queen of Diamonds
Armistice Endor Jenks was born on Armistice Day 1918 and was well over ninety years old. She was tall, straight backed, unwrinkled and moved with an agility envied by people half her age. No-one would ever have called her beautiful. She was striking, with a strong handsome face and eyes so dark blue they were almost black, under arching grey eyebrows. She had a long straight nose, a firm jawline and a wide mouth often set in a determined line as she concentrated on herbal cures but could switch to a smile in a heartbeat. Those who didn’t know her thought she was arrogant, but they were entirely wrong. Her few close friends knew her heart was as soft as goose-down and were privileged to have her friendship.
When she did make one of her rare appearances in the village, people either stared or hurried off in the opposite direction, never quite sure how to react. But Mrs Jenks cared not a jot what anyone thought of her. Indeed, she thoroughly enjoyed her macabre reputation as it kept away the local children, of whom she was not particularly fond. In her opinion, children were noisy, bad mannered, far too boisterous and only became tolerable when they reached her shoulder height, and she was very tall.
In fact, it was customary to hear a harassed mother use the ultimate deterrent of, ‘Mrs Jenks will get you’ when scolding their disobedient children, just as their mothers had done; no footballs were ever accidentally kicked into Mrs Jenks’ garden.
Had the villagers known just how close to the truth they were, they would have been astounded and probably even more afraid, because Mrs Jenks was indeed a witch, although she had never cast a spell, jinxed or hexed anyone maliciously in any of her many incarnations, all of which she remembered very well. Particularly vivid were those in which she had been starved and beaten, tortured with pins being jabbed into her skin or tied to a ducking stool and drowned; her memories of both times she was hanged were particularly distinct.