First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I lived in South Africa, and my best friend and I discovered the novels of Kathleen E Woodiwiss when we were thirteen. We used to spend our evenings writing books in the style of ‘The Wolf and the Dove’. I had a big birthday (let’s just say it had a zero at the end) two years ago and my friend gave me an amazing present. She had kept one of the books I wrote when I was fourteen! It’s a medieval romance, written in felt tip pen. I’m very proud of it and it gave me the push I needed to start submitting my work to publishers. My first book, The Rebel’s Promise, was published by Front Porch Romance in February 2013.
My first Harlequin book, Legacy of Darkness, was published in the January 2014 Shivers digital box set and has just been released as a single title. My second (the sequel to Legacy of Darkness) is called Echoes in the Darkness and was published in the second Shivers box set on 1st April 2014.
Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?
No, I don’t write full time. I have a very busy ‘day job’ as a primary school teacher, which I love. But I write in every other available minute and I never really switch off from my writing, so when I’m driving to and from work my mind is on the next scene in a story. As I’m walking around a supermarket, none of the other shoppers would know that I’m really in a gothic castle perched high on a cliff trying to figure out how to rescue my heroine from imminent peril (rather than just checking the price of the cornflakes)!
Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?
As a reader, I’m quite eclectic and that obviously influences my writing. I love romance (of course) and historical romance in particular, but I also like mysteries, crime novels and I do love a good horror story. Not blood and guts, but proper spine-tinglers. Gothic romance is my favourite genre. Think Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Bronte or Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Love stories with a dash of horror! Romances that scare the life out of you! What’s not to love about that?
How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?
My characters take on a life of their own. I know that’s a writer’s cliché, but they really do, especially the villains. I begin by writing a short back story for my main characters. This will probably never appear in the book but it gives me an idea of their motivation and how they got to this point in their lives. But once I start writing, they really do take over. Uther Jago, a character in Legacy of Darkness, my first Harlequin Shivers novel, did that. He directed many of the plot twists and turns and he certainly increased the eroticism in the story!
I don’t tend to base my characters on real life people. At least, I don’t think I do, but I suppose I do bring elements of people I know into my books, either consciously or unconsciously. At the planning stage, my head is like a scrapbook full of ideas, so I store away snippets of conversations or people’s mannerisms in there to use in the next story. And if you do something memorable, foolish or bizarre in front of a writer…well, you are just asking to end up in her next book, aren’t you?
What was the inspiration behind Legacy of Darkness?
As I’ve said, I do love a good gothic romance. You know when you watch a scary film (usually through your fingers) and that character who is alone in the house goes into the attic (or maybe the cellar) to find out what the unexplained noises are? That’s why I write gothics.
When we see those scenes in films, or read them in books, we usually switch all the lights on before we sigh with relief and say, “You wouldn’t do that in real life. You’d run screaming out of the door.” But we still love to watch or read those scenes…because they give us shivers.
But I wanted to update the gothic and that was my inspiration. So Legacy of Darkness, the first of my Harlequin Shivers novels, is a ‘new’ gothic. These have elements of the unexplained, but they are not paranormal romances. Generally, the heroine and heroine are human beings who may have paranormal experiences. Shivers have high levels of sensuality, but their strong gothic story line makes them much more than an erotic romance. Legacy of Darkness is the best of both my favourite genres, a historical gothic.
What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write a bit at a time?
My writing process starts with a lot of day-dreaming! Then I tend to jot down disjointed ideas. I do plan, but my plan generally bears no resemblance to the finished book. I start to write scenes as they occur to me, with no idea where they will fit into the story (or even if they will make it into the finished book). Once I’m ready, I’ll sit down and make a start on writing the first few chapters. That’s generally the point at which the characters come to life and start taking over the story. Minor characters suddenly start demanding more of a role, major characters do things that I hadn’t planned for them. They develop their own voices.
When I’m about half way through the book, I write a detailed synopsis and try to stick to it. Although, in the book I’m working on now, I thought it was finished—I actuallyhad it ready to send off to my editor—when I realised there was a final twist right at the end that I needed to put in! Phew, I’m just so glad it came to me before I sent it!
How much of you is reflected in your novels?
That’s quite difficult to answer when you write gothics! My books are dark and gloomy with a dash of horror and eroticism! Does that sum up my personality?Hmmm. Seriously, there are bits of me in my writing. There is humour and warmth to my characters (well some of them, others are evil murderers) and I like to think those are reflective of my character. My books are set mainly in places I know well, or have visited and own varied reading experiences have influenced my writing style.
What kind of research do you do before/during writing your novels?
Historicals obviously require a great deal of research and I try to get as much information as I can in advance. On-line research is a great timesaver and is useful for some aspects of writing but you can’t find everything you need on-line, and there is so much of it you can be led along paths you don’t want. So there is no substitute for ‘old-fashioned’ research ie. going to the library or museum, reading the book, studying the archive, looking at the painting. Reading in your chosen genre is invaluable as well. If I’m writing a gothic, I have to be immersed in that dark atmosphere. If it’s a historical, I need to get into the cadence of speech of the time.
Do you have any plans to develop any of your novels further, write sequels,turn them into a series?
My current Shivers books are a three book series. These are the back cover blurbs:
LEGACY OF DARKNESS (single title released 1st April 2014)
1837 Cornwall, England
Orphaned, penniless and reduced to the role of lady's companion, Lucy Alleyne is relieved when a distant relation spirits her away to Castle Athal. But gratitude soon gives way to fear—and unlooked-for pleasure.
The ancient Cornish castle is a dark monument to family, fortune and blood. Within its walls, the Jago family keeps its wards close…and its secrets closer. Lucy is drawn to Tynan, Earl of Athal. The young heir is handsome and caring, yet tortured in his mind like his father before him. Tynan is utterly different from his uncle Uther—a commanding, seductive presence whose leonine power radiates from his every word and gesture.
These two Jago men have innocent Lucy enthralled—mind, soul and body. But if she remains within the poisonous castle keep, with its history of ill-starred passion and madness, a mere broken heart will seem a mercy.
ECHOES IN THE DARKNESS (available now in the April 2014 SHIVERS box set)
Not betrothed, but beguiled.
In artistic circles she is the Divine Dita, Paris’ most sought-after nude model. But now she’s not so much posing as playing a role: fiancée to the next Earl of Athal. The charade is a favor to Dita’s friend, Eddie Jago, a dissolute painter…and the aforementioned heir. As deceptions go, it is innocent compared with what will come.
On the grim Cornish coast, from the ashes of a ruined castle rises the Jagos’ sumptuous new manor house. The fresh-hewn stone, however, cannot absorb the blood of centuries or quiet the echoes of past crimes. Dita struggles to decipher the family: the infirm Earl and his inscrutable wife; resentful Eddie; sheltered sister Eleanor. And Cad: the handsome second son whose reputation is spotless in business—scandalous everywhere else.
Drawn by friendship, ensnared by lust, Dita uncovers a sordid tangle of murder, desire and madness. It will lay her bare as no portraitist has done before.
The third and final book in the Jago Legacy series is coming soon!
I also have two ‘stand alone’ Shivers titles due for release over the coming months. Both are set in the 1930s. One is located in a Welsh valley and the other story takes place on an isolated Italian island. I’m really excited about them both because they feature stronger elements of horror alongside the romance in the stories. The contrast really does increase the shivery element.
10. How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take any notice of reviews. Each and every review means that someone has taken the time and trouble to read one of my books. How great is that? And of course I celebrate the good reviews and slink off and mutter in a corner over the bad ones. Most reviewers are fair and honest. Even if they don’t like your book, they take the time to give a balanced viewpoint. Sometimes it can feel veryunfair if a review starts ‘I don’t like this genre…’ and then the reviewer goes on the slate your book. You do think ‘Well, why did you bother reading it, if you set out not to like it?”. What intrigues me are the one star ratings on Goodreads. I haven’t got many of those, I hasten to add! But I’d love for those readers to tell me why it’s only one star. Or would I? Perhaps not!
Are friends and family supportive of your writing?
Oh, incredibly so! My family are chuffed to bits for me and very proud of what I’ve achieved. So are my friends. I have a bit of a double life going on because I write under a pseudonym, so most people don’t know anything about my writing. I quite like that. It makes me feel mysterious and rather like a character from one of my ownnovels.
How do you feel leading up to your publication day?
Nervous, excited and annoyingly over-exuberant! My fellow Shivers author Barbara J Hancock and I compare ourselves to a couple of virtual golden retriever puppies. We bound around Facebook and Twitter, obsessively discussing our books and how we are feeling. We say it’s the author equivalent of digging up the garden or chewing the furniture.
Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?
As well as those historical authors who really inspired me to write, I love reading mysteries and some horror. I like Stephen King’s earlier works, James Herbert’s horror novels, I love Chelsea Cain’s ‘Heartsick’ series and I have a real soft spot for Rebus, Ian Rankin’s maverick Scots detective.
I also really do love the work of my fellow Shivers authors. I’ve mentioned Barbara J Hancock, who writes contemporary gothic novellas, Dawn Brown, who has done an amazing job of bringing the gothic bang up to date and I’m really looking forward to reading Jen Christie’s debut Shivers, House of Glass, in the April box set.
Finally...what are you working on right now?
I’m mega busy right now! My editor and I are just putting the finishing touches to my stand alone Shivers, Valley of Nightmares, for the June box set. I’ve also got a historical novel set in Restoration London in the pipeline and a new idea brewing which is very different to anything I’ve done before. Did I mention how much I like a challenge?
Jane Godman Bio
I am an avid reader, particularly of historical romances, and my favourite authors are Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen and Victoria Holt. I have always enjoyed writing (I still have a copy of the medieval novel I wrote, in felt tip pen, when I was 14!).
Gothic romance (love stories with a dash of horror) is my favourite genre. I love the lush atmospheric settings of the true gothic, the dark, unexplained secrets and feisty heroines. The heightened sensuality the new gothics sends an extra shiver down the reader’s spine.
My first Harlequin Shivers novel, Legacy of Darkness, was published in January 2014. The sequel, Echoes in the Darkness, was released in April 2014 as part of a four book Shivers box set.
I also write historical romances, with heroes and heroines you fall instantly in love with, fascinating supporting characters and luscious settings.
I live in England and love to travel to European cities which are steeped in history and romance. Venice, Dubrovnik and Vienna are amongst my favourites. I am married to a lovely man, mum to two grown up children and slave to a spoilt-brat cat.
I love to hear from readers and can be contacted at:
Legacy of Darkness: http://tinyurl.com/ovr4vta
Shivers box set 2: http://tinyurl.com/nvkj7l3
Mills and Boon:
Jane Godman page: http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/jane-godman