Monday, June 27, 2011

Author Interview, Jess Mountifield, With Proud Humility

Today we’re privileged to have a visit from Jess Mountifield!
Rebecca: Since your novel is a romance, what is your definition of love?
Jess: My definition of love is the choices we make when we decide to put someone else above ourselves. It's often more in the little things we do, like taking out the trash because we know our partners hate doing that themselves or sending that card to a friend we've not seen in ages to let them know we still think about them occasionally. But also it's in how well we stay patient with people around us, how much we are willing to try and teach them a better way when they mess up and how we ignore our feelings and do what's right.
Rebecca: What inspired you to pick the setting for the novel?
Jess: My setting was mostly chosen for me by the plot. I knew the book was going to be set on a ship a lot and would need a looser social structure than England allowed in the early 1800's. The Caribbean was still in turmoil from rebellions, wars and conquests over natives so a lot of the rigorous social etiquette was thrown out the window. My heroine would not have been able to do all the things she did had she grown up in England.
Rebecca: Is the story in any way a reflection of something that took place in yours or someone who is close to yours personal life?
Jess: Not really. I try to steer clear of my plots being too based on the people around me. Occasionally characters might have elements of the people around me but I try to keep my ideas as original as possible. With that being said I think we all draw on the things around us to some degree subconsciously.
Rebecca: I agree, yet at the same time there are instances where those in an author’s personal life might read too much of their selves into characters. Has that ever happened to you?
Jess: Not yet, but I imagine it will at some point. I think some people find it fairly natural to wish they were the hero or heroine in a novel so they project themselves onto what they are reading. The more characters and stories I write about the greater chance someone in my life will feel like it goes one step further and they might have inspired the character. I think I'd discourage that if I knew about it, however.
Rebecca: In your description we find the sentence "No price is too dear to Marie, who gambles everything on a marriage of convenience to a ship's captain she knows she can’t trust, but who may be one ally she needs." A lot can be implied from that sentence. We could either see the heroine fall in love with the man she used to get her goal accomplished, or perhaps see her fall in love with someone else and have to get away from the untrustworthy man to be with the other person. Are either of those correct?
Jess: Yes one of those is correct but to say which would spoil the plot a little. Needless to say the book does have a happy ending.
Rebecca: What is your feeling on the romance requirement of “happily ever after”? What if the heroine’s happily ever after is meant to come later in life with someone else and there are still strong romantic elements to the plot?
Jess: I have always felt that a book should try to end happily, if it can help it. Readers tend to read for escapism from their own lives and I have no desire to make them feel depressed when their own lives may be bad enough. I also feel that 'happily ever after' is often what we make it to be. I try where possible to show that in my books. Sometimes it's the commitment we have to making a relationship work. I think it ties in a little with my view of what love is. So to a degree I view it as a good ending for a book but my 'happy ever afters' aren't always likely to be conventional.
Rebecca: Who created your cover art?
Jess: The cover art was actually created for me by my own uncle-in-law with a little bit of prompting by me in terms of direction to go in. I've been somewhat blessed by the abilities in my husband's family. His uncle is an amazing web master and designer and his aunt also helped me with a lot of my historical research as well as editing as she used to be an editor for a magazine.
Rebecca: You’ve answered one of my “standard” questions within that answer. I usually ask the author what steps they’ve taken to ensure their work is on the same standard as writing coming from a traditional publishing house. You are very fortunate to have a former magazine editor in the family. How smooth was the feedback process considering a relative provided the feedback?
Jess: It actually went really well. I've never had too much trouble being told something needs changing in my work. I recognize Indie authors need to do everything they can to bring their work up to a similar standard to more traditionally published work. My Aunt-in-law was very good at presenting the changes needed in a non-threatening way as well.
Rebecca: How do you feel the cover art represents the heart of your novel?
Jess: I wanted it to convey that the book combines many different elements, from romance to action and adventure and of course plenty of swashbuckle so the still life kind of design was pretty much a must in my mind and hopefully it shows the combination of those elements, which I'd like to think I've combined well in the book itself.
Rebecca: What is one question that you've never been asked as an author or about your book that you would love to answer for us?
Jess: I've never been asked how my books villain knew about Marie's treasure in the first place. I have to admit I expected to be asked that one. The answer is definitely kept for the sequel though.
Rebecca: A teaser for the sequel! For those that become fans of this novel, when can we expect the sequel?
Jess: Not this year, unfortunately. I deliberately decided that I wouldn't write a sequel until I had a good idea for one, no matter how much fans asked for one. I have recently begun forming an idea but it's still just an idea and not one I'm going to have time to get written, edited and published before the end of the year. I'd be very disappointed with myself if I didn't have it out next year, however.
Rebecca: Thank you for stopping by Jess!
Jess: Thanks Rebecca.
Rebecca: You're very welcome!!
Jess’ novel “With Proud Humility”on by following this link:
You can visit Jess' site by following this link:

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