Christmas Awards 2011

Friday 4 May 2007

Interview For Jen Black

From Jen Black

Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Jennifer Black, but I get Jen as a nickname. I worked from school, and then went to university as a mature student, gained a degree in English language and Literature, then a diploma in Library Science. I managed libraries in academic sector and I’ve worked most of my adult life, which is why retirement seems so wonderful now. I’ve divorced and re-married and it is so much better the second time around.
What do you write?
If we’re talking about published books, I have written two historical novels set in Viking times and one contemporary set in rural France, with a pair of ghosts wandering about as an added attraction to the old watermill.
If we’re talking about books yet to be published, then things widen out a little. I set one skiing adventure in Banff, in the famous Sunshine Village, a Viking-Celtic romance set on the west coast of Scotland, and then I came home to my own glorious Northumberland for a fin de siecle romance set in 1891.
I suppose the link through them all is romance. Some have adventure thrown in for good measure.
Why do you write?
Because I love it! I know everyone says they wanted to do it from being knee-high, but it is true! I did want to write a book, but I didn’t have the confidence to tell anyone, not even my close family, so it came as something of a surprise when I actually did it.
What are you writing now?
I’ve just begun to write about Northumberland in the sixteenth century, and again it will have adventure and romance thrown into the mix.
What kind of clothes do you like to wear?
Oh, casual in the extreme. Jeans and tee shirt about covers it, (they certainly cover me!) though sometimes its jeans and a blouse, or fleece trousers and sweatshirt. My husband is always nagging me about it. "You’re not going out dressed like that?" he’ll say in tones of wounded astonishment, and I’ll go back and put on something more ladylike. He likes me to look smart. So do I, sometimes! I do have one or two posh outfits, but we hardly ever go anywhere posh enough to wear them!
Are you in love? Have you ever been?
Yep. It took me a long time to find my husband, and I wish I’d found him two decades earlier, but that’s life.
Do you have a dream lover – and what does he look like?
I have a few, in my books, and they vary according to my whim, and what I think will suit the book and the character. The one I’m just inventing hasn’t really come clear yet for me or the heroine, but he’s got dark hair and brown eyes. My last hero, the one I meanly abandoned in 1891, had dark hair and grey eyes. They usually have mellow voices, because an attractive voice is one of the things I first notice, and remember longest, about any man. It’s definitely sex related, because I never think twice about women’s voices. Finlay, the hero of my two published historical novels, is tall, dark haired and has eyes that are "not black or brown, but green. There are flecks of brown and yellow, but the base is green, dark as water with weed under it."
What kind of comfort food do you like best?
Chocolate most of the time, anytime. Warm toast with honey dripping from it late at night when I can’t sleep. Marmite on top of butter on warm toast if I’m bored with honey. A bacon sandwich, porridge with sultanas sprinkled through it for breakfast on cold winter mornings, with honey drizzled over the top. Oh, and did I mention chocolate? Toblerone, dark Toblerone for preference.

What makes you laugh? Cry?
Inadvertent humour, I think. Witty humour. I can sit through slapstick and never raise a smile. I remember sitting in a cinema watching that Streisand-O’Neil film with the improbably plot. A steer gets loose from a train in an American town and runs through the streets. Guess where it ends up? Charging through a shop full of glass and china, and everything rattles and clashes but not a single thing gets broken. I nearly fell off my seat laughing "a bull in a china shop!" – but I alone was laughing in the entire cinema. No one else thought it funny.
Cruelty to animals makes me cry. I still miss my Dalmatian who died back in 1988. If I’m out for a walk I sometimes get the feeling I can hear her behind me, but of course…she’s not there. The orphaned child in Africa who took out a white envelope and removed a small photograph. "This is my father." The camera pans in and I realise the photograph is actually a negative…and it is all he has of his father.

What do you do to amuse yourself when not working?
Since I don’t have to work for a living any more, I don’t consider anything I do now is work. I do only what I want to do! I spend a lot of time at this time of year in my garden, which is looking wonderful. My neighbour has one of those precise gardens with everything in straight lines, primulas lined up in rows and not a weed to be seen. He must think mine is a jungle, for there’s not a straight line in it apart from the fence and even that has only one right-angled corner!
We go on holidays quite often. We ski, we go to France and vegetate in the sun and I’ve visited every continent except South America. I walk a lot, exploring our wonderful countryside

What is it in a man or woman that turns you on? The clean version please!
Oh…..well, different things in different men, I suppose. I’ve never seen all of these things in one man, not even my husband! And I’ve already mentioned my penchant for voices, so let’s see…clear brown skin, the kind that tans easily. Good bone structure, with a slight hollow between cheekbone and jaw. Thick, strong hair on the head, perhaps the limbs, but not, thank you, on the chest or back. Some muscle definition is nice, but I prefer the lean body rather than the hulking type. And there’s a particular chest shape I like…but how to describe it? Wide and deep like Richard Harris, if anyone can remember him in his prime. I must be old fashioned, but the current vogue for men that have larger breasts – I don’t care if it is muscle! – turns me off rather than on.
What do you hate about life?
I hate it when people promise something and then don’t produce the goods. I hate the rudeness I see around me on the streets, the way the media hype things out of all proportion because they’re all hanging on to their jobs and need something to say; the way people’s private lives are laid bare by news hacks. I hate it that Concorde and Britannia, both superb British icons, were decommissioned. (Yes, I know Concorde was half French!) and I really hate it when shop assistants leave you standing there so they can answer a phone!
What do you hope to achieve in life and when will you know that you have been a success?
If I’m happy, then my life is a success already. I don’t have anything to prove to myself, or anyone else, but it will be rather nice when I finally hold my first print copy from a reputable UK publisher in my hot little hands. That will really be a day to break out the champagne!
What are you going to write next?
I have no idea! I’ll think about that when I’ve got more than one chapter of my work in progress done!


AnneMarie Brear said...

Great interview, Jen

junefro said...

enjoyed reading your interview very much, Jen. Discovered a lot about you.
Liked the description of your hero's eyes - weeds beneath water. Reminds me of my pebbles beneath water for grey eyes. Oh, these gorgeous heroes.
June Francis author

Anne Herries Author said...

I thought Jen's answers were great too - but what else would you expect from someone who can write the ways she does! Linda Sole

Anita Davison said...

Lovely interview, Jen. Especially the part where you said if you were happy, your life was already a success. That bit about holding a book in your hands is something I empathise with - and I am sure you will achieve it very soon

Anita Davison