Monday, July 11, 2011

An Interview with Author Jenny Twist, Take Two!

Another Take Two interview to kick off your week! You may remember my first interview with Jenny Twist HERE. She was just about to release her first anthology of short stories, called Take One at Bedtime. It's a great collection, so I reviewed it HERE
Order your copy HERE!


Now, Jenny's back with yet another release! Domingo's Angel is a romance set in Spain and is based on some real life experiences Read on:


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.
Without further ado, welcome back Jenny! Tell us what's been happening in your neck of the woods since the last time you were here in March.



Hi Mysti. It’s good to be here again.


We live out in the sticks, so not a lot happens here. I seem to have spent most of the time since we last spoke writing and trying to learn how to promote my books.


What time period do the events in Domingo's Angel take place and what inspired you to delve into this bit of history?



The main story is set in the 1950s, but the characters reminisce about events right back to the days before the civil war which started in 1936.


Before I came to live in Spain I knew nothing of Spanish history and I was horrified to find out about the dreadful atrocities during the Civil War and under Franco – the dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 till his death in 1975. I actually came to Spain on holiday while he was still in power!

I didn’t actually set out initially to write a novel about it. I wrote a short story and it grew. But as it grew I realized I had a lot to say.



Are any of the characters in the book based on real people from the White Villages? Or are they totally fictitious?



I think they are all, to some extent, based on people I know. Josephina the elder, who used to be our post mistress, has certainly contributed a lot to one of the main characters, Rosalba. And the character of Domingo owes a lot to the amazing Frasco Miguel, goatherd and innkeeper. Although I didn’t set out with these people specifically in mind.


Order your copy HERE!
How long and how challenging was the research process to write this book?



I researched as I went along. I knew a lot already about the culture and it has hardly changed in 50 years. The people in the villages are very old-fashioned. They still call each other ‘Sir’ & ‘Madam,’ even when they’ve known each other all their lives. The way of life here has only changed superficially. These people are still basically peasant farmers. Each one has his land and is to a greater or lesser extent self-sufficient. Many keep goats and chickens. Modern technology is just a thin veneer over the ancient way of life. It is not unusual to see a typical Andalusian farmer riding his mule and speaking into his mobile phone as he goes along.


You can find out nearly everything in the way of background historical events from books like ‘The Spanish Civil War’ by Anthony Beever, which has loads of information about what went on in the major cities. But there is very little written about what went on in the little villages, and the people are very reluctant to talk about it. It was a nightmare for them. Brother fought against brother, and in Spain the family is everything.

I relied on what I knew about my own friends – the story of Salva the Baker, for example, who was imprisoned for years for giving bread to the starving children, is true. I also transposed some of the real events from the history books to my own imaginary village. But after I had finished the book, I discovered a wonderful book by David Baird – ‘Between Two Fires’, which is the history of his own white village of Frigiliana. It consists of the actual testimony of those who survived and I was able to check my own version against this much more accurate one. It seems I got it right. Phew!


Let's go back a bit to Take One at Bedtime. I thoroughly enjoyed it! What have other readers had to say about it?



I’ve actually had a very good response. Everyone who has contacted me has said they really enjoyed it. Of course, if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t contact me!


What I found fascinating is everybody had a different favourite story. I thought I might do a contest later to see if anyone can guess which one is my favourite story.

Apart from your own review, which I really appreciated. I’ve had several others on Amazon

and Goodreads



As I've learned, sometimes the hard way, writing for publication is a tough business. Have you ever had to deal with negative feedback, either before or after publication? And what is your advice to other writers on how to handle that?



I’ve not had any really awful feedback after publication, but I had loads of rejections when I was trying to find a publisher. Most don’t bother to reply at all. Those who do are usually quite obviously using a form letter and clearly haven’t read the work in question. I once, to my amazement, got quite a rude letter from a major magazine publisher which appeared to be criticizing an entirely different piece. The comments didn’t relate to my story at all. What amazed me was that they should be so unkind to people who submit stories to them. Surely many of these are their own readers. Do they really think it’s a good idea to insult them?


Basically, the only way I can handle negative stuff is to completely ignore it and concentrate on the positive.

You have to remember that these people receive thousands of submissions. Just keep trying. Don’t let bad feedback stop you. Nobody can please all the people all the time.



Today's random question is so very, very random. What are some of the items currently residing in your junk drawer? 



I don’t think you want to know. I don’t want to know myself. Last time I looked it seemed to be full of old mobile phones and television remotes. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe I’m rejecting modern technology.



Finally, Ms. Twist, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt of Domingo's Angel?



I’d be delighted. Here you are:


EXCERPT


The next day he took his goats to the top of the ridge near the pass and looked down on the smallest casita of Guillermo the mayor. There was a mule tethered outside and a string of washing had been hung between two almond trees. Otherwise there was no sign of life. Halfway down the slope was a large algarrobo tree. He decided it would be an ideal place for lunch.

But although he sat and watched the little house all the time as he ate his bread and cheese and olives and drank his wine, nobody came out and nothing happened. Only the mule moved along the side of the house to keep in the shade as the sun moved round. So he went to sleep.

When he woke up, someone was calling him. “Hola, goatherd!”

He squinted up into the sun and there, standing before him was an angel. It was very tall and thin and there was a fiery halo round its head. “Hello,” it said, "Soy √Āngela - I am angel. I am delighted to meet you! Who are you?”

In absolute panic, Domingo shot up into a sitting position and shuffled backwards into the algarrobo tree. His head hit the hard trunk with a resounding crack and he subsided and slumped back down, feeling a little stunned.

The angel came forward into the shadow of the algarrobo tree and he realised that the halo was, in fact, hair - very long hair - falling in waves down beyond her shoulders and almost to her waist. It was exactly the colour of oranges that have dried on the tree. Her skin was so white it was almost blue and her eyes were so pale they had no colour at all. “How could they think she was a dead person?” he thought in a confused fashion. “She is obviously an angel.”



Thank you so much for letting me interview you again, Jenny! I hope we can make it a regular occurrence, and I wish you the best of luck with your latest release!



Thank you for having me, Mysti.

I really appreciate it.

4 comments:

  1. Glad to have you back Jenny!

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  2. Great interview Jenny. Domingo's Angel sounds great. Good luck!

    Anna James

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  3. Wonderful interview. :) I'm reading Take One at Bedtime, and the stories have some great surprises in them. Domingo's Angel sounds good too!

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  4. Hi Jenny, Fun interview. I'm putting "Domingo's Angel" on my list of must reads!

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