Friday, March 23, 2012
Jenny Twist is today's Friday Friend
Jenny was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat
Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angel, was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon was published in Spellbound in November 2011, Jamey and the Alien was published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011 and Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011.
What is Romance, Exactly?
I always knew I would be a writer one day. It was just a matter of finding the time. I have had my head full of stories for as long as I can remember.
But I always assumed that I would write ghost stories or science fiction of the John Wyndham type. Perhaps a little bit of mild horror. So I was rather surprised when I eventually did start writing my stories down to discover that they refused to fit neatly into those genres. Or indeed, any genre.
I was recently asked to categorise my first book of short stories and when I confessed I was stumped, the review site asked, “How does your publisher categorise it?”
Good question. I had never checked. Feeling rather foolish, I looked it up on my publisher's site and discovered that it is categorised as 'speculative fiction'. How clever of them! I shall always use that in future.
You see, the trouble with writing is, you start off knowing exactly what you're going to write and how it is going to end and then the story seems to take on a life of its own and off it goes in another direction, with the poor author running along behind, hoping to catch it before it gets itself into some kind of trouble and trying desperately to appear to be in control.
One of the things that most of my rather peculiar stories have in common is an element of romance. I have come to realise that I rarely enjoy reading a book unless it has some love in it. It doesn't have to be romantic love. It can be the love of a parent for a child, the love of a pet, a loving friendship. But it is so much more interesting for me if the characters love each other. So it creeps in when I'm writing.
I'm trying to write a time travel story and I find it's all about a couple who love each other and are going through a bad patch, or a woman who is suicidal after discovering her husband's infidelity and who finds a new love in very unexpected way.
So I decided I might as well try writing proper romance. I did actually succeed in writing two stories that set out to be romance and stuck to it – A Castle in Spain and Jess's Girl, both in the anthology, 'Take One At Bedtime'. But the others went wandering off down other paths.
Take 'Domingo's Angel', a perfectly straight-forward story of a Spanish goatherd falling in love with an English girl. What could be simpler than that?
Well, it would have been all right if this bossy old woman hadn't shouldered her way into the plot and taken over. Before I knew it I was fascinated by her and I wanted to know her life story. It turned out she had this on-going power struggle with the mayor who was a pompous, over-bearing and completely unlovable person. But I fell in love with him and wondered why he was like that. It turned out he'd had a terrible childhood and it was a miracle he'd survived at all. And then there is this very unusual marmalade cat. I swear I have no idea where he came from.
You see what I mean? 'Domingo's Angel' IS a romance – sort of – but it's also a chronicle of the lives of the villagers. It ranges back and forth across time, telling how the village lived through the atrocities of the civil war and the unspeakable dictatorship of Generalissimo Franco. It tells of heroism and cowardice and it keeps breaking out into humour. I think it's trying to be a Spanish version of 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'.
It also made me do endless research. I knew nothing of the Spanish Civil War before I came to live here in Spain. 'Domingo's Angel' forced me to learn. I have become something of an expert. Well, at least in what went on in the mountain villages. And I have come to greatly respect my neighbours. They lived through Hell and came out the other side cheerful and full of love for life and other people.
I think that's very romantic.
How would you categorise it?
When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones.
But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realise that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel.
This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.
TAKE ONE AT BEDTIME
Nobody ever goes upstairs in Margaret’s house. So what is making the strange thumping noises up there? And why is there a toy rabbit under the kitchen table?
Margaret’s Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.
There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess’s Girl.
But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.
It’s bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look. Just one look.
WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.
Jenny also has horror/science fiction stories in the following anthologies:
CURIOUS HEARTS: DOPPELGANGER
When Christine wakes up in a sumptuous white room with silken hangings, she assumes she is in heaven. But she soon finds out she is not in heaven. And before too long she begins to wonder if she is even still Christine.
SPELLBOUND 2011: UNCLE VERNON
There’s something very peculiar about Uncle Vernon. Nobody knows what he does in the cellar. But he’s quite harmless, really. Isn’t he?
WARM CHRISTMAS WISHES: JAMEY AND THE ALIEN
Jamey only wants one thing for Christmas. He wants his Daddy to come home. But first he has to kill the alien.
WINTER WONDERS: MANTEQUERO
Nobody had ever wanted to kiss June until she met her holiday romance.
Ignacio couldn’t get enough of her, though. But was it just kisses he wanted?
Or did he have a more sinister purpose?
Follow Jenny on:
my Website: https://sites.google.com/site/jennytwistauthor/
Goodreads Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4848320.Jenny_Twist/blog
Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for being our Friday Friend today, Jenny - and we wish you continued success with your writing!