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Thursday 11 April 2024

Creative Crocks Week: Today - J.G. Harlond


Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find a few good books
to enjoy along the way!

No disrespect to the authors taking part this week - but we're all of 'an advanced age' and several of us have various aches, pains and health issues, but we keep writing and although we might come under the heading 'aging crocks' we've amassed a good bit of writing wisdom and are still very much creative where our author's imagination is concerned.
So, let's meet another Creative Crock...

1) Jane, do you mind me asking how old you are? 
JGH: Into my 70s, over the hill and enjoying the slope. Happy to have silver hair and grandchildren. I wear purple (without the red hat, if you know the poem?) when I feel like it, and ignore the real world when it gets too ridiculous. 

2) Are you a long-established writer or have you only recently started out?
JGH: I was a full-time writer for a long time before I moved on to fiction. I started out writing school textbooks, then, approaching my 60th birthday I became an author. There is a difference (in my mind). A writer can be as creative as any novelist, but ultimately, they are providing content for an outlet, be is journalism or academia. An author, to me, is someone who creates fictional worlds for readers to enter and enjoy or experience.

3) Is the hassle of writing worth the effort these days? 
JGH: There is always hassle in one form or another. A professional writer has to negotiate contracts and fight for royalties or a one-off payment, and many are struggling to stay above the breadline these days. Fiction authors have no guarantee they will receive anything at all. E-book platforms have provided the best and worst of worlds in this respect. We can publish our own work relatively easily, but so can the rest of the world. And it seems like they are. Fiction, whatever the genre, has become a very crowded market. Is the hassle worth the effort? Yes, depending what you consider to be ‘success’. Some people write for a financial reward, and succeed through savvy promotion and/or a marketing-minded publisher; some write fiction for personal satisfaction and – if you are like me – are thrilled when they receive positive feedback. 
Oldies are both at an advantage and disadvantage here. Our mortgages might be paid, taking the edge of the financial aspect, but, having been raised not to show off, many of us struggle with social media and self-promotion. 

4) Tell us something about your fiction.
JGH: Back in the 1990s, I finished a Mary Wesley-style novel and sent it off to an agent, who said I wrote well but the story went nowhere. The MS went in a drawer and is still there.
Years later, between writing text books, I began a very different sort of novel, and because that early criticism had stayed with me this story went places: from old Bombay to London, Moscow and Jerez in Spain, then Gibraltar and back to old Bombay. That was The Empress Emerald. It took years to get right; and then the publisher wanted additional dramatic action. Knowing Thomas Hardy constantly tinkered with his novels, improving and extending them, gave me heart. 
To date, I have written nine historical crime fiction novels. The Chosen Man Trilogy about the wily, wicked Ludo da Portovenere is set in Europe during the 17th century. The Bob Robbins Home Front Mystery series (cozy crime with a sinister twist) is set in the English West Country during the Second World War. There’s also a novella, Dark Night, Black Horse based on a true story about a wonderful Pura Raza Español stallion during the Spanish Civil War, and numerous short stories. 
Some novels are traditionally published, some are self-published. All of them ‘go places’ – mainly places I have lived, such as Liguria in Italy for The Chosen Man and By Force of Circumstance, or visited various times, such as Lisbon and Ibiza in A Turning Wind. They are all based on lesser-known historical events. 
This is another of the advantages of being an older author: we know quite a lot. We’ve experienced joy and tragedy, and probably met a few rotters in our time, so we’ve got real-life experiences to draw on. It’s just finding the words that can get tricky. Those ‘what’s the word?’ senior moments. Or realising the screen’s fuzzy because you’re wearing the wrong specs. Arthritic fingers on cold days at the keyboard . . . I could go on, but I assure you, we do have advantages.

5) Any advice for older writers getting started or needing a confidence boost?
JGH: Yes, be prepared to stuff your first manuscript in a drawer. The mythical debut novel is often the author’s second or third book. If you are self-publishing, invest in a good editor. After the second draft I stop seeing typos and other mistakes. One of my best books went to nine drafts – you have been warned. 
Don’t sit down for too long at a time. Find something to get you away from the keyboard. Walking is good for finding holes in plots. Gardening is a great right brain/left brain activity. Cleaning the sink improves circulation if you’re desperate.
If you are starting out, or have something written but still unpublished, this may help. Decide what you consider to be success: 5-star reviews or 5-digit monthly royalties. Be realistic about the financial side. Although you may be lucky – it does happen – and make a fortune with a block-buster.  
An agent I approached for my second novel gave me sound advice and what for me has been a golden nugget. ‘There are thousands of gifted pianists in the world,’ she said, ‘but very few play the Carnegie Hall.’ I have never lost sleep over not earning enough for a private jet; dodgy reviews, though, they worry me.

Jane G Harlond
Málaga, March, 2024

Find Jane on: 
Web page: 
Blog – Reading & Writing: 
Penmore Press: 

Find J.G. Harlond’s books on: 
Book 1 in the The Chosen Man Trilogy
Book 1 in the Bob Robbins Home Front Mystery series

About J.G. Harlond (Jane) 
Secret agents, skulduggery, crime, and a touch of romance 
Award-winning author of page-turning historical crime novels set in the 17th and early 20th centuries, Jane weaves fictional characters into real events. 
Creator of the wily, charismatic rogue Ludo da Portovenere, and the aging wartime detective Bob Robbins, her stories feature wicked wrongdoing, murder mysteries, and challenging romances. 
Originally from North Devon, Jane has travelled widely and is now settled in her Spanish husband’s home province, Andalucía.

X-Twitter: @JaneGHarlond 
Penmore Press: 

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