JA Clement lives near London with her wonderful partner and as yet, no dogs (this is two dogs less than the ideal). She likes gardening but consistently ends up with bountiful, verdant sweet-pea bushes with no flowers at all on them.
Can you give a brief description of your book?
It’s called On Dark Shores 1 ; The Lady and is the first of a dark fantasy series which starts with two sisters in the little fishing town of Scarlock. One day Nereia, the elder, is out when someone comes to call, and the consequences of that single circumstance are….well, they will be quite considerable but even in the confines of this book, there are repercussions.
It’s actually a pretty dark book, which is odd as that’s not what I set out to write at all; the second one should be lighter – but then that’s what I thought about the first so who can tell?
Book 1 is currently available as a shortish ebook in various forms via Kindle and Smashwords, among others. Paperback will follow later in the year, deadlines permitting, and the sequel should go live over the summer. Watch this space….
What do you like most in your writing?
I like to find out about the characters, the gradual unfolding of who they are and why, what motivates them. I try to be really careful to make them act as genuinely as possible – but in all honesty they tend to take over at an early stage so I don’t have that much say in the matter!
What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?
My quest for reality! I love fantasy, in most of its forms but for me the real art is the sort of fantasy that does involve fantastic elements but somehow feels real, or potentially real, as if it couldn’t happen in this world, but in a similar dimension, you’d be in with a chance. Robin Hobb does this very well in the Assassin books and sequels, and Mary Stewart in her Merlin books; also Ursula leGuin or Andre Norton or Julian May, though not all of theirs tend that way.
You know the scenario – you’re stuck on an island. What book would you bring with you and why?
Am I allowed to go for the complete works of Tolkien?! It’d be a terrible brick of a tome in hardcopy but not so heavy in ebook form! I haven’t read through it all (apart from Hobbit and LOTR I do love some of the more obscure stuff, like Roverandom, or the Father Christmas letters) but the interesting bit for me is the mythology Tolkien constructed and the languages that he invented purely as a background to his stories.
He was a Professor in linguistics and apparently based Elvish on a mixture of three languages – something like Sanskrit, Welsh and Finnish (!) – so if there was only one thing to read and consider indefinitely, I suspect that would have enough detail and infinite complexities to keep me going for a long while before it became familiar ground!
If you could go back and change one day, what would it be?
Do you know, I can’t think of one off-hand. That’s not to say that I haven’t made mistakes because that’s far from true; but things that are hideously embarrassing at the time make the funniest stories later; the things that haven’t turned out quite the way I intended have usually had other good consequences which became clear after the fact; and I’m lucky enough to have an excellent group of friends and family with whom I discuss important decisions. They help me work out what my opinions are and what I want to do rather than telling me what I ought to do, so every mistake I make is at least my own!!
Are you a different person now than you were 5 years ago? In what way/s?
Yes, very much so. I was stuck in a real rut at that time, in a temp job dealing with details of violent crime, which left me very hard-up and really got to me; it was increasingly hard work to remain cheerful on my own, away from my family, under such pressure. I felt tired and not specially well most of the time. Then I got a permanent job with more pay; the work was so much more positive that it felt great, and around the same time I met this great guy (we’ve just hit our third year together now). Add to that the opportunity to publish my books, and I feel I’m in a pretty good place at the moment!
What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?
To live in the moment, take the opportunities as they pass, and try not to do anything which I know I’ll regret later. I don’t regret mistakes and that sort of thing but if I’ve been horrid or mean or lazy when I could’ve made a difference to someone by doing something simple, I feel bad about it for ages after.
Is there anything you regret doing/not doing?
I regret not having met my partner ten years ago, certainly, but we were in different parts of the country at that point.
What is your favorite past-time?
I have a variety which take turns but in no particular order, cooking, reading, writing, am-dram or singing, gardening, computery stuff, chatting with friends or family, theatre, cinema, taking the dogs for a walk…
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Only a general sense of excitement at how fast things are moving in the world of publishing at the moment, how much things are changing, and that I’m a part of it, even if only a very peripheral one. Like the man said, the times they are a-changin’ – and just at the moment it feels like we’re riding the wave.
About On Dark Shores
It is ten years after the Shantar-Mardonese war. In the harbour town of Scarlock, dominated by the moneylender Copeland, the outside world seems far away; but events are in motion that will bring the world to Scarlock.
To protect her sister, the thief Nereia must take desperate measures which will catapult her into a place of nightmare and legend.
Before long, she will find herself On Dark Shores; and the choices she makes will shape the future of the world she knows as well as the world she has yet to discover.