Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blog Tour/Interview: Jeanette Baker

Welcome to Jeanette Baker's book blog tour for her latest book, Catriona.  The tour is being promoted through the wonderful company, Pump Up Your Book.

For the first part of my participation in this blog tour, I will be posting an interview below with the author. 

A guest post by Jeanette will be posted on August 21st and Charlene's review of Jeanette's book, Catriona, will be posted on September 4th, so come back on those dates to check them out! =)

First, I would like to thank Jeanette for taking the time to answer the interview questions I sent her.  I didn't give her very much time, which I apologize profusely for, but she was a wonderful sport and got the answers back to me right away.  So, away we go...

I'd like to discuss you (Jeanette) a little first.  Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

My writing career began in 1973 as a newspaper reporter in Belfast, Northern Ireland where I wrote news and human interest for 9 years before coming home to California to teach school and write a column for my local newspaper.  In 1991, I began writing historical fiction, then paranormals and eventually contemporary fiction.  My publishers include Simon & Schuster, Kensington, Mira and now Sourcebooks.  I've also published an e-book called Witch Woman.  I still teach in Lake Forest, California and spend my summers in Tralee, Ireland, my fiance's home.  My family, the O'Flaherty's, live on a small island, Inishmore, off the coast of Galway.  I have two grown children.

How did you first become inspired to start writing?  Was there a certain person or particular even that sparked your interest in writing?

I don't remember a particular event that inspired my writing career.  I've always loved to read, almost to an unhealthy extent, but I don't think teaching children to write was an emphasis when I was in school.  I do know it came easily to me and as a child I loved Beverly Cleary, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Madeleine L'Engle, Louisa May Alcott and so many, many more wonderful writers.  My favorite part of the school day was after lunch when my teacher would read out loud.

Now, I'd like to get into your latest book, Catriona.  Is Catriona your first book?  If no, what other books have you written and do you try writing in different genres?

Catriona is my fifth book.  It was first published in 1997 and is now being reissued by Sourcebooks.  I've written 16 books: historicals, paranormals and contemporary fiction.

What was the inspiration behind Catriona?

A story, for me, begins with an event in history.  I love exploring country roads in settings rich in Celtic history, primarily Ireland and Scotland.  I always take the tour, if there is one, and something small triggers my interest.  It can be a place or a character.  All my novels stem from those beginnings.

Catriona began with a visit to Stirling Castle.  I was touched by the story of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland, who waited for her husband, Jamie Stewart, to come home from the Battle of Flodden Moor.  He was fighting against her father.  History tells us the marriage between Margaret and Jamie was not a love match.  I decided, for the purpose of my story, that it would be.  That very day the idea for Catriona was born.

What sort of research did you do to prepare?

Research for a historical is extremely time-consuming.  It involves reading, reading and more reading, travel, exploring the ruins of castles, walking battle sites, learning the political and social positions of the day as well as climate, flora, fauna, foods, clothing, practices, expressions, etc.  I usually begin with travel for an idea, and end with travel for polishing purposes.

Do you have a favorite character in Catriona?  Which one and why?

My favorite character is Patrick MacKendrick.  As the hero in the story, he combines the qualities of strength and sensitivity which I believe is essential for our alpha heroes.

How has the response been from readers so far?

The reviews for this book have been excellent.

From the responses, is there anything you wish you would've changed or improved about Catriona?

Because Catriona was first published in 1997, I've been able to edit where I felt it was needed.  This is where readers' reviews really help.  I changed details regarding Wiccan practices and, in fact, removed the term altogether because I felt the criticism had merit.  The historical details, dress, speech patterns, food, sites, practices are always very accurate.  I make a point of that.

Time to take a look into the future... Are you working on anything else?

I've recently completed an Irish contemporary paranormal called Hannie Rising.

Can you tell us a little bit about it?

An Irishman, Mickey Enright, has died and, after a year, is given another chance to walk the earth, specifically his own patch of earth, Tralee, Ireland, to remedy some of the mistakes he's made in his life with his wife and two grown children.  The only condition is that he must assume another identity.

Meanwhile, his wife, Hannie, has decided to move on.  She's lost weight, rearranged her home, even taken a position of importance at her job.  But then everything falls apart.  Her daughter is reassessing her marriage and moves home with her child.  Liam, Hannie's son, a victim of the real estate crash, decides he needs to resume his education and also needs to move back.  Then her mother, who owns a large, poorly trained dog, is showing signs of Alzheimer's and needs a caretaker.  Hannie finds support at her local coffee shop, with a stranger, named Patrick.

Oh, that sounds interesting.  Is there any advice you'd like to give to new writers or writers who feel like giving up?

Writing is a difficult profession with serious ups and downs.  The very best writers have more rejection slips than they can count.  I would advise struggling writers to always write about whatever is inspiring.  Without excitement, it's difficult to perform.  That goes for any number of things in addition to writing.

What is your favorite book of all time and why?

My favorite book is The Road to Avalon by Joan Wolf.

Is there a character in The Road to Avalon that you relate to the most?

I don't relate to any of the characters in the book.  What I thought, and still think, is so unique is the twist the author created in the familiar plot of King Aurthur and Morgan.  She created a King Aurthur who is young and vital and incredibly appealing.  The writing is direct, yet emotional, very difficult to do.

Which characteristic do you think makes Joan Wolf so great?

The ability to use words well.  Vocabulary.

Any final words you'd like to share with everyone, perhaps something I've not asked about?

A story, characters, settings, conversations work when there are elements of truth in them.

Is there a website or any social networking sites your fans can go to or follow you on?

My website is  I'm also on Facebook: Jeanette Baker, Jeanette Baker - author

Thanks again to Jeanette for participating in this interview.  See below for additional info on Jeanette Baker that I copied from her Amazon's Author Page.

Jeanette Baker is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, most of them set in the lush countryside of historical and contemporary Ireland where she lives and writes during the summer months. Her ancestors, the Flahertys, hail from Inishmore the largest of the Aran Islands located off the coast of Galway. She takes great pride in the prayer posted by the English over the ancient city gates, 'From the wrath of the O'Flahertys, may the good Lord deliver us.'

Jeanette graduated from the University of California at Irvine and holds a Masters Degree in Education. For the remainder of the year, Jeanette teaches in Southern California and enjoys the company of her grown children. She is the Rita award-winning author of NELL.

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