Sunday, 9 July 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Jennie Ensor

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

First of all, I’m very pleased to be here today! My debut novel Blind Side came out a year ago, pretty much. Since then I’ve had many highs and some lows, including some near-sleepless nights worrying about this or that related to the book (title, copy edits, you name it). But mostly I’m just relieved that things have gone so well. This is a dream I’d almost given up on, after years of trying to find an agent. I’m delighted at how the book has been received - and back in February my publisher released a paperback edition, which was wonderful news.

1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

Blind Side is set in 2005 around the July terror attacks. It’s a thriller blended with a love story with a strong psychological element. Themes are ‘the enemy within’, our fears of the outsider, the vulnerability of love, and the power of guilt and obsession. 

2) What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

My English teacher can take some credit for me starting to write. She said some very encouraging things about my homework, which I remembered years later in my 20s. I wrote lots but threw it all away. Ten years on, with my life in turmoil, I knew I had to get writing again to keep my sanity. The novel I started then I couldn’t get right so I put it aside to work on Blind Side. That came about after 7/7 when London was attacked by suicide bombers - it was shocking to learn that the four bombers were all brought up in the UK. The things people hide have always been fascinated me, and this theme became very important in the book. 

3) How long did it take you to write your first book?

Ages! It started it around 2005 and finished the final edits in 2016 (though with time off for work and other writing projects).

4) If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about your debut, or how you went about writing it?

More time before launch to plan the next steps (i.e. more than a couple of months). My publisher didn’t have a budget for marketing, and I’ve had to do most of it myself. I find this side a challenge - knowing where to put my efforts especially - and I am a hopeless planner. But I’m learning a lot and the task of finding readers feels slightly less daunting than it used to! 

5) Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

Blind Side was published by the digital first arm of Unbound, an innovative crowdfunding publisher - it has a hybrid publishing model that has elements of both types. Unbound selects the books it wants to publish as per a trad publisher, but it considers one’s potential to raise money and get readers too. I was surprised and delighted to get an offer from them, though I did consider it carefully. Their quality and reputation is high but I knew I’d have to crowdfund the production costs of the book. (It happened in the end, suffice to say.) The process of turning the MS into a book was similar to how it is for trad-published authors, except that we have more say in cover design, for example, and the book can be made ready for publication a lot faster.

6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Don’t be too impatient to get your book out! There are all sorts of opportunities for publication now, and there’s so much to get your head around, from blog tours to how to categorise your book on Amazon. 

Tell us about your first…

7) Memory 

I was in the back garden with my brother, wondering why mum and dad hadn’t come home.

8) Person you fell in love with

He made me laugh a lot when we weren’t arguing. He had a very serious side though, and had all sorts of ambitions - he told me he was going to be the Prime Minister one day. 

9) Holiday you went on 

The summer before starting uni, aged 17, I went to the south of France and had the time of my life. For years before I’d never been away anywhere without my family, not even a school trip (as my parents couldn’t afford it - I still feel deprived about that).

10) Prize you won

My year 11 high jump trophy. I had been practising Fosbury flops for months. It was a long contest on a hot afternoon with me and another girl neck and neck. I was very proud of it… especially as it turned out to be the only thing I won for years. 

11) Album you purchased 

I’m not sure but it could have been Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits, or Breakfast In America by Supertramp. 

12) Embarrassing moment you can remember 

I seem to have a mental block here… I’m sure there must be plenty. Perhaps they were just too embarrassing :)

13)  …toy that you recall loving 

I had a teddy bear called Mr Gruffy who went everywhere with me. He lost an eye and became dreadfully worn.

14)  time you realised you were good at something

Probably it was the high jump trophy! I can’t remember being good at anything else till I was 14 or 15 (art and English).

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time. 

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her. 

Then London is attacked... 

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

Purchase links: short link: (paperback & e-book)
Waterstones (paperback only)
Apple (e-book only): UK iTunes US iTunes
Unbound (e-book only)

Author bio:

Jennie Ensor is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. She worked overseas for some years as a freelance journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry.

These days, Ms E lives in London with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. When not chasing the dog through local woodland or dreaming of setting off on an unfeasibly long journey with a Kindleful of books, she writes novels, flash fiction and occasionally poetry (published under another name). She is working on her second novel, a dark and disturbing psychological drama.

Social media links:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...