Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Writing With Betty: Interview With Jenny O'Brien

Jenny O'Brien is the pen name of our Betty Author Jennifer Bryson. Her Amazon author page can be found HERE. It was a delight to talk to her. Our chat spanned several days since we're on opposite sides of the world, but what a lovely thing to get to know her!
Betty Jennifer looks exactly like someone who knows who the murderer is.
She doesn't have to name him now. Maybe after the cheese course.
As ever, my questions are in Olivia font (bold) and her answers are in Araminta font (plain text). I'd like to thank Betty Jennifer for being so generous with her time. Here we go...

First question: Tell me a little bit about what you've written (genre, Brighton rating,
number of books, whether you have an Amazon page, etc.)
I started out writing a children’s book (age 7-13) to raise the esteem of bullied kids but once
I’d started I found I loved the actual process of writing. With a nursing background and a love
of all things Betty I wrote three Doctor/nurse romances back on back, all clean reads but still a
little more racy than the Canon - instead of RDD’s they are all RID’s ( rich Irish doctors).

I’ve also written a 5 book series inspired by Downton Abbey but a modern aristocratic world with
modern day issues, again anything racy is behind closed doors. My one dip into the Brighton
set is a short story, a fundraiser for the British Red Cross (my son volunteers there) it’s called
Dunkirk, Rescuing Robert.Funnily enough today it’s another book launch day for me (13, I think
but there’s some short stories in that lot). It’s another children’s book but this time I’ve set it in
Guernsey and it’s another fund raiser for a local children’s cancer charity.

In her nursing days, Betty Neels was nearly at Dunkirk.
She missed seeing Harry Styles by 'this much'.
And now...I’m moving away a little from romances with my current book because it’s a thriller
but, as a nod to the good lady, I’ve decided to set it in Holland.You can find me on Amazon
- I write under the name Jenny O’Brien and there is a couple of perma-free stories on there
if you’re interested in my scribbles.

What with children's books, short stories, romance and, now, thrillers it sounds like you've
really run the gamut. Do you feel like you're looking for the One, True Genre that really
excites you? Or do you feel like you'll always be a bit of a Genre Magpie?

Ha, what a question. I’m not really a children’s writer at all. The first book sort of wrote itself and
the second one, published today, is only because I wanted to support a new charity as two of my
children were in the boy’s class (he passed away last year of leukaemia)I think writers never stop
developing and learning.

This is the first thriller I’ve written so I’m new to the game. All I can really say is that I’m enjoying
the process but I still have 30% of the book to write before I even reach that all important first
draft so there’s lots to do.

I do like the term genre magpie though - I think I’d like to be one of those but no sci-fi - I just
don’t get it.

Betty Jennifer sees the Noir-Fable-Epic romance subgenre for the first time.
Some of the Betties are Lone Wolves when they write, wanting to be alone to do the
work, but others belong to trade groups or critique groups. Where do you fall in that
spectrum? (And, if you're a lone wolf, at what point do you bring in other readers?)

I’m a lone wolf. Living on a small island there’s little scope for a huge community of writers to
draw from. I do have a group of about twelve readers, I suppose you’d call them fans although
it’s not a term I’m comfortable with. I’ve never met them and they are scattered across the globe
from Ireland, the U.K., USA and Australia. but they get first dibs on any drafts and I find their
support and help invaluable.

Do you find there are themes that you return to or common threads that run through
your work?

Not really although they all have a medical slant but that’s to be expected as it’s what I know.
I do try and use different locations for each book just to make them unique; the uninhabited
Slate island of Belnahua off Oban being a favourite

Speaking of favorites, do you have a favorite character? Or, failing that, a favorite character

Mmm, my first Male RID, Mitch Merrien, from Ideal Girl has to be my favourite character.
He’s a brain surgeon. But my favourite character name is Lord Hector Brayely (Tor for short),
he’s a mycologist (into mould and fungi 😆)

As he would be... 🙂 What does your writing routine (plentiful? Crammed in between things?)
and space (moving? fixed?) look like?

Like all working women with families their hobbies are usually crammed in between stuff. I
manage about 15 minutes each morning before work and then an hour or two in the evening
if I can. I always carry about a notebook and pen as I’m often hanging around in the car, waiting
for school pick-ups. There’s never enough time to write and always a feeling of guilt that I
should be doing something else like housework but writing is so much more enjoyable...

Betty Jennifer is prepared for inspiration to strike at any time.

I've asked some of the other Betty Authors this and the answers I get are so different.
What are your strengths, as you see them, as a writer?

These aren’t easy, lol. The first would have to be perseverance. I’ve been in this journey now for
10 years and the intention was always to be traditionally published, I haven’t given up yet. I
suppose another strength would have to be a good sense of humour, which does peek through
in all of my books somewhere or other. Finally there’s always the fact that I don’t tend to take
myself too seriously. Writing is a hobby, only that. It’s lovely that some people like my words but
it’s not the end of the world if they don’t.

Any influences on your writing? (Doesn't have to be other authors. Answers could be
music or art or even friends and family.)

Well, all my heroes tend to be very large, not sure where I get that from! I read widely, both
romances and thrillers so my exposure to other writers is large although I do try not to read in
the genre I’m writing in when I have a book on the go. I was brought up on the likes of Jane
Austen, Wilkie Collins and Agatha Christie so the reading gene is strong from both my maternal
grandfather and mother. I always have the radio bumbling in the background but I don’t really
watch TV apart from the odd tearjerker movie from the forties, my secret indulgence.

If someBetty wanted to begin reading your books, where would you start them out and

I would recommend Englishman in Blackpool, which is a free short story - the introduction to
the Englishwoman series. There are so many writers now that I think it’s good to get a feel as
to whether the stories are for you. Funnily enough I wouldn’t recommend my medical ‘girl’ trilogy
simply because they are so different to the Canon being set in the modern world with modern
ways. They’re not Brighton but cheeky in places 😳
Do you like free? I LOVE free.
I'm curious to know what non-professional meaning writing brings to your life.
It expands my horizons just in the same way reading does. But, with writing, I’m in the
hot seat. I write the story I want to read but that hasn’t been written yet and that’s fun.
I suppose as a knitter an analogy would be the feeling I get from wearing something I’ve
made over something I’ve bought. Boy, Keira, these are getting hard...
Last two questions: The first is about where you live. Does does it affect your writing to be
on an island/in a smaller community? Being able to chat like this with someone across the
world is a miracle to me, so the internet smooths lots of this out, I expect.
Question 2: Which is your favorite Betty book and why?
Thanks, Keira for taking the time with me on this. As you say it’s amazing that we are hundreds of miles away and yet chatting as if we’re in the same room. I look forward to my daily Betty fix on the TUJD

Question 2 first, the more difficult as I can’t really answer. I have 2 favourites, Cassandra by Chance, just a great setting and I love that he can’t see her and yet still falls for her in his own grumpy-man fashion. The loyalty of staff plays a large part in her books and there is an excellent example here. Henrietta’s own Castle is so romantic. The setting. The fact she’s been left the cottage with its own romantic story attached (two romances for the price of one)

Question 1:
Living on a small island has its advantages. It’s really beautiful over here with lots to inspire. But it’s also a very expensive rock to leave which prohibits attending anything writerly in the U.K. but, as I’ve never written anywhere else, I suppose it’s a hard question to answer because it is what it is. The internet can be great for connecting with other writers and for book research but it can also distract - Facebook is a huge distraction when the words aren’t flowing but also necessary as writing, by necessity, is a very lonely hobby.

Thank you to Betty Jennifer for sharing so freely with me and all the Betties!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing. How a working mom finds the time to write at all will never cease to amaze me. In between knitting and reading, too. It boggles the mind.

    ❤️Olivia font & Araminta font❤️ — Love it!