Terry Jackman was christened Teresa, and is married with kids. She’s not pretending to be a guy just for the book. It’s just that nobody, but nobody, calls her anything but Terry, so Terry is actually the most honest name to put on the cover.
To go with her two names she inhabits two worlds. In one she’s a mild-mannered lady who tutors children and lives in a pretty English village, called Lymm. [It’s not far from the Manchester United football ground. You can take a peek at it on www.lymmvillage.co.uk/gallery If you look carefully at the picture of the old stone cross in the village centre you might see the ancient stocks below, where villagers would have thrown rotten eggs etc at local miscreants – but we don’t do that now, honest.]
In the other, she’s written articles and study guides, is secretly on the committee of the British Science Fiction Association, coordinates all their online writers’ groups, writes a regular page for Focus magazine and reads submissions for Albedo One magazine in Ireland. Oh, and has been known to do convention panels and some freelance editing.
When Ashamet goes public the two worlds will finally collide. She suspects there’ll be some raised eyebrows so she’s stocking up on fortifying tea and biscuits – and lots of chocolate!
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Ashamet, Desert-Born. What was your inspiration for it?
A: Honestly, it was bad temper. I got really cross that a writer made the all-powerful prince in her story stupid, basically to make the plot work out the way she wanted, where if he’d had an ounce of sense it would have fallen apart. Why, I fumed, did powerful characters so often have to be bad, stupid or both? And just like that Ashamet walked onstage. He’s lots of things, but he’s definitely not stupid.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.
A: Maybe you know someone who says one thing and does another, or is different things to different people? Or maybe they hide their true character, even from themselves? That’s Ashamet. He’s also about the fact that even those who seem all powerful are still bound by some restrictions, and that in the end it’s how they cope with those that defines who they really are?
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A: Ashamet, Desert-Born took several years to write. The first fifty pages came in a mad rush then I had stops and starts, because while Ashamet and Keril arrived fully formed, the world they lived in didn’t. It took me at least three tries to define the society Ash was born into well enough to make total sense of who he was. I couldn’t finish the story till I got that right.
Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?
A: Ah, an easier answer. I listen to my characters. If it’s not what they’d do, or say, then out it goes. Otherwise the story loses its credibility, just like that stupid prince I mentioned. The story slumps, and frankly I get bored writing it.
Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?
A: Actually, no. I get anxious about showing stuff to others but not about writing it. Some days I can’t wait to write, others I have to remind myself there’s a deadline, but after the first couple of sentences I’m usually in the groove. I’m no longer aware of what I’m doing, as long as I’m not interrupted.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A: I have a VERY flexible schedule, because it depends largely on when my husband is playing golf! Crazy as it sounds, and I know it does, I can write around strangers, on trains, around other writers – but not around people I know well but aren’t also writing (otherwise known as friends and family). When they walk out the door I reach for pen or keyboard.
Q: How do you define success?
A: Success was selling my first three articles in one week, then turning one of them into a series. Less successfully, that ambushed me. Regular requests for more got me writing nonfiction for ten years. Between a more than full time job and articles I had no time to try fiction.
So an even greater success was having Dragonwell ask, out of the blue, if I’d “like to send them something” because they’d heard about me from another writer. Wow.
And the final and greatest success will be if people like reading the result, and take a second to review it or tell me so.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
A: It will make it harder but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go for it, if they’re sufficiently driven. Hey, I grew up in a house without books and look where I ended up. Due to my extreme shyness problem my family didn’t even know I wrote for several years, till I was selling articles regularly.
And in the end I only owned up about fiction because an amazing author/university lecturer, Adam Roberts, said “You are a writer”. After that even I had to ‘come out’.
But it helps a lot if people at least humor you.
Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?
A: Gosh no. Hearing strange voices in your head. Spending hours writing, assessing, rewriting. Crying over those nasty critiques – which are right, damn them – editing, polishing… How could that possibly be exhausting?
Seriously, sometimes it’s exhilarating, others depressing. So yes, I can’t imagine anyone doing it if they aren’t driven to. Me, I have to get those voices out of my head before they drive me mad.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: Well, I guess I should tell people who don’t know me that Terry is actually short for Teresa, but that I regard Terry as my real name. I’m definitely NOT pretending to be a guy for my publisher. Since no one calls me anything but Terry, if I’d put Teresa on the book cover it would have felt more like hiding who I was, not less.
So unlike most of my characters I’m female, and as you’ll have gathered married with kids. I’ve visited some beautiful Moorish architecture, but I’ve never ridden a camel. In fact I’ve only once ‘sat’ on a horse. But hey, if we only wrote what we already knew science fiction and fantasy wouldn’t exist.
But I hope, very much, readers will enjoy reading Ashamet as much as I enjoyed writing it, and maybe tell me so, so I can breathe easier.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Ashamet, Desert-Born
Author: Terry Jackman
Find out more on Amazon
A desert world. A warrior nation that worships its emperor as a god. But for Ashamet, its prince, a future filled with danger…
Ashamet is confident his swordsmanship, and his arranged marriage, will be enough to maintain the empire’s peace. But when a divine symbol magically appears on his arm, closely followed by an attempt on his life, he no longer knows who to trust. Worse, the strange attraction he feels toward a foreign slave could be another trap. As events unravel, too fast,Ashamet must find out if this innocent young male is a tool for his enemies–or the magic key to his survival.
“Ashamet, Desert-Born” is a debut adventure fantasy with an exotic Arabian-style setting and elements of same-sex romance.
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