As many of you know,Katrina Jack’s debut novel, Land of Midnight Days, has been published and is now available for purchase. Since the book’s release, there’s been a whirlwind of excitement surrounding the book, so I feel quite fortunate to be able to sit down with Katrina for a Midnight Chat.
Tricia: Hi, Katrina. Congratulations on the release of your novel, Land of Midnight Days. I love the title. Can you tell us about it?
Katrina: It was an idea that came out of the blue. The original title was Midnight Days, but when I googled it, guess who had the same title for one of his books – Neil Gaiman no less! Well I couldn’t compete with such a prolific and talented author, but I didn’t want to lose the title altogether, so hence the slight tweak.
K: It’s paramount. I can’t even give my work a title, until I have a setting. For instance, the original idea for Midnight came when I was staring out of a window at work, looking at the Littlewoods building on Edge Lane, Liverpool. It has a wonderful art-deco tower, with flat roofed buildings to either side. To this day I can’t tell you why inspiration chose to strike at that particular moment, but it did and Littlewoods became the abandoned factory in the novel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littlewoods
Once started, places began to sleet into my imagination. The train station at Brunswick Dock, Liverpool, has a set of stone steps cut into one of its tunnel walls; they feature as an escape route when the main protagonist, Jeremiah Tully, is fleeing from a Ganger. St Luke’s bombed out church, also in Liverpool, was another location that inspired me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_St_Luke,_Liverpool
Then there’s Allerton Hall, a five minute walk away from where I live. In the novel, it became the home of Helen Greycheck. In reality it’s had a colourful history and has been lived in by many noteworthy and famous occupants. Anyone interested can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allerton_Hall
T: Your book was very well edited before submissions, but did your publisher request many revisions or offer any suggestions to make your novel shine?
K: Strangely enough, aside from a few tweaks and corrections here and there, no.
T: Tell us about your main character, Jeremiah?
K: Jeremiah is a lost and lonely youth of mixed-race-origin. He is mute, but possesses phenomenal talent as a musician. I’ve tried to make him sympathetic, but not wimpy. He has fire in his belly, which has been damped down for a long time, but flares to life when he decides to take up life’s challenges. His name was inspired by 70’s rock group Jethro Tull, whose lead singer played the flute; another weird source of inspiration.
T: Who is your favorite secondary character in the book and why?
K: Funnily enough it’s a fairly minor character, a girl called Kelly. She’s a potential love interest for Jeremiah.
T: Can you tell us about the various writers’ group you belong to? How have they helped hone your craft and provide support?
K: Oh yes, I’m a great believer in writing groups. In “real” life, I belong to a group called “The Chesty Girls” (I won’t go into the reason why). One member is a journalist, the other is a school librarian. Both have been of immense help, although sometimes they’ve had to bludgeon common sense into me, as I can be a bit of a diva. The second is the online writers’ community, Authonomy. I’ve had a lot of valuable feedback and support from The Alliance of World Builders, who are members of the same site. The support and encouragement they’ve offered over the years has been fantastic! http://www.authonomy.com/forums/threads/99758/the-alliance-of-worldbuilders-part-iii/
T: I’m a huge fan of your blog http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/ because you’re always mixing it up with interviews, poetry, flash fiction, etc. You’re always giving tireless advice on craft. For all the aspiring writers out there, how important is it to master the tools of your craft (grammar, spelling, sentence structure, characterization)?
K: Oh God, don’t get me started, this is a particular bugbear of mine. It really irritates me when so-called-writers can’t be bothered to use their spell check and seek advice on punctuation and grammar, indeed get really high and mighty when errors such as these are pointed out to them. All very well to cry “the story is king” and yes it is, but it has to be readable and that means using the above correctly. If a writer can’t be bothered to hone their work to be as near perfect as possible, then why bother? My motto is, and always will be, don’t shortchange your readers! And don’t rely on a publisher/agent to edit a bad manuscript, no matter how good the story, because they probably won’t read past the first page.
T: As you continue to juggle work, the daily demands of life, writing, blogging, and now marketing, what role does good old-fashioned self-discipline play?
K: I have no willpower whatsoever – none. I have to beat myself over the head to sit down at the computer and get on with it, instead of messing about. However, that said, now this opportunity’s come my way, it’s proving a great motivator.
T: Can you give a sneak peek into the next novel in the series? What is Through the Gloaming about?
K: Through the Gloaming, an old fashioned word for twilight, continues Jeremiah’s story. There are one or two new characters, along with new scenes. The story opens in the Meriach, or dream world, from which Jeremiah is cast out and forced to return to the city featured in Midnight. From there he discovers an underground monastery, situated beneath a ruined church and occupied by an order known as “The Dark Monks” His journey continues into the gloaming, an underground citadel and that’s when things get really hairy.
T: Where can my readers go to find out more about your work or to purchase Land of Midnight Days?
K: Midnight is available as a Kindle book on both Amazon UK and Amazon.com, at:
And of course there’s my blog.
I began writing fantasy fiction at the age of fourteen and have been mildly obsessed with it ever since. I completed my MA in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University. My main influences in the fantasy genre are: Robin Hobb (aka Megan Lindholme), Jim Butcher and David Gemmell. Hobb’s work is more indicative of classic fantasy, as is Gemmell’s and Butcher’s is a mixture of both classic and contemporary urban settings. These authors’ skills at world building and characterisation are, in my opinion, supreme.
I have written three novels, thus far: Horizon, Land of Midnight Days and Through the Gloaming. The latter two are part of a trilogy, the third book, yet to be written, will be called Urban Dawn.