Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Author Interview: Adele Jones

Today I'd like to welcome Australian author Adele Jones. She's just released her debut novel, Integrate (which was reviewed in August by Anne Hamilton), and will also be releasing another novel later this month. Read on to find out why!

It is said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

I like well-paced books with substance, such as strong social justice themes or overcoming great personal challenges – and also historical mystery with elements of romance. Compatible themes are often found in faction or non-fiction works, such as ‘A Friend like Henry’ by Nuala Gardner, and Ian Rayner’s story in ‘The Biggest Issue?’, but can be done well in fictional works, for example Francine Rivers ‘Redeeming Love’. I probably don’t have a favourite author as an adult reader, given part of the delight of reading is exploring each author’s unique style – and there are some great writers out there. That said, I’d really like to read more of Matthew Pearl’s work. From what I’ve seen he has a great storytelling skill.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

The most recent book I read was ‘Imogen’s Chance’ by Paula Vince. I really enjoyed this well crafted story, but I must say it took me by surprise. I swiftly summed up the story arc, assuming I knew where it was headed – lines being drawn between traditional Christian views of family versus younger sibling whose rejection of faith was about to be confronted by the reappearance of a old friend with some deep secrets. But in no time my expectations were flipped out of the pan as numerous layers began to emerge within the story, enabling exploration of deeper themes through the personal faith journeys of the main protagonists. It was different, in a good way.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I think it would be unnatural for my writing to not project a Christian worldview, in that my faith informs every part of my life. That said, Integrate is a book accessible across the market, but perhaps contrasts many popular YA titles by projecting an ultimately hopeful perspective.

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

I’d like to believe books from the Christian market are positive reads that connect with readers on a deeper level than most, offering hope even in the face of insurmountable circumstances. That said, a friend and I recently discussed the increasing number of general market novels incorporating faith elements, which is great to see. I think to dissect people from their beliefs (whatever those may be) is like cutting off a part of them – it isn’t normal or healthy.

Do your novels have an overt faith element?

Yes and no. It depends on the novel. ‘Integrate’ not so much. The faith element is really Blaine’s search for his own identity after a lifetime of having others choose for him. The plot of ‘A Devil’s Ransom’ is intricately hinged to the faith journey of Captain MacKinnon, so yes.

Is writing for the Christian market harder or easier than writing for the general market? Why?

That’s an interesting question. I suppose it depends on what elements are required for a book to fit into a given genre. I’ve written non-faith based works and at times found it restrictive in that if any spiritual element is alluded to, it has to be attributed to ... well ... what? It is easy to slip into the category of fantasy, which is fine and can be fun to write, but when writing from a faith-based perspective, you can write out of experience and personal conviction.

What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited and published?

That depends if we’re talking about the fifteen years between drafting ‘A Devil’s Ransom’ and seeing it in print or the eighteen months from the in-a-month draft to print for Integrate! LOL! (They are such opposites!) Okay, I’m going to go with self-doubt. For myself, I know I always have more to learn as a writer. I stress over getting things right and berate myself when I miss stuff. There are also many gifted authors out there, which sometimes makes me look at my work and wonder if I’ll ever write so exquisitely. But I think there’s a point along the line where you’ve got to determine if the story that keeps running through your head is something you need to write and persist in seeing through to publication. Then don’t give up.

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Well, there’s the ‘don’t give up’ bit, but I REALLY believe in writers developing their craft. Constantly. Invest in it. Make connections with other writers. Get critiques and professional editing. I learned a huge lesson on that front some years ago. Hang, I’d written for a national magazine. I’d even written a few novel manuscripts. I could write. (So I thought.) Then I started a Master of Letters... That degree demonstrated I’d only just begun to learn what I needed for my writing journey. I still overlook things and make mistakes, even when I know better. (Sometimes attributed to ‘writer’s blindness’ – an inability to see errors in your work until it’s in print ... blah!) The writing road is long. Don’t rush along so fast you miss the lessons that mark the way.

Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, Iola. It’s been fun exploring my writing projects with you. If any reader would like to find out more about me and my work, they can visit my website at www.adelejonesauthor.com.

For purchasing details and general information about my novels, more information can be found on the publishers’ websites: http://rhizapress.com.au (Integrate) and www.roseandcrownbooks.com (A Devil’s Ransom).

26 comments:

  1. Great interview Adele and Iola. I like your thoughts about writing for the Christian market vs the general market. I enjoy reading in both. In the last year, I've come across a number of mainstream novels that have incorporated faith issues, so I'm not sure if that's a sign it's becoming more acceptable to discuss outside of Christian circles. One of my favourites was The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Steadman that raised lots of thought-provoking questions when a childless couple on a remote lighthouse outpost found a live baby and a dead man washed up on shore in a rowboat. They decided to take the baby and pretend it was their own. The wife thought the baby was God's answer to their prayers, while the husband's conscience was pricked as he wondered if the baby's mother was still alive. It really made you grapple with a lot of moral dilemmas and faith issues. It would be great if more mainstream novels could do that. Jodi Picoult's another author that comes to mind.

    Congratulations on Integrate Adele. I'll look forward to seeing A Devil's Ransom.

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    1. Thanks, Nola. Likewise, I aim to read across markets and have stumbled across some absolute literary gems in the process. I've heard reference to 'The Light Between Oceans' as a fascinating, morally complex plot and would like to read it myself. Another to add to my 'to read' list. :)

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    2. I'm with Nola on this. It is a great book Adele.

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  2. Thanks, Adele and Iola, for an interesting interview. Your point re faith themes in secular novels, Adele, gives plenty of food for thought. And wow - what an amazing (and busy) year for you, with not one but two novels seeing the light of day. Well done to you!

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    1. It has been a busy year, Jo, but at least the slower tracking of 'A Devil's Ransom' has allowed some breathing space. I've also had to develop a good dose of patience along the way and truly believe the timing of such things is not by chance. (Sometimes what we THINK we want and what is best aren't quite the same. :) ) Agreed, the faith elements emerging in some popular works are interesting - and perhaps a prompt to Christian writers to pen faith-themed works that are accessible to a broader readership. Definitely food for thought.

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  3. I really enjoyed this in-depth interview. I've yet to get my hands on Integrate which by all accounts is a fascinating read. And also the next with an English publisher. Congrats Adele!

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    1. Thank you, Rita. Trust you enjoy reading both works - once you've managed to capture a copy. :)

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  4. Thanks for a great interview Adele and Iola and congratulations on publishing two book Adele. I'm looking forward to reading Integrate.

    I too found your comments, Adele, on Christian versus general market interesting. Like Nola I've found a few mainstream authors that reference faith not necessarily as believers but not in a negative light either and I've wondering if this is confined to books published in north America or whether there are examples of Australian general publishers who don't automatically find positive mentions of faith taboo.

    Adele, I also like how you said 'when writing from a faith-based perspective, you can write out of experience and personal conviction'. This is it for me - in our blatantly and aggressively secular society - it gets tiring not being able to talk about what is a normal and natural part of life (faith) without risking a rabid backlash. But then, sometimes I wonder if we self-censor too much due to the reactions of a vocal segment of our society.

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    1. Totally agree, Jeanette, that we can at times exclude/limit faith experiences to avoid reaction, even offense, and in so doing become overtly self-censoring. I heard an insightful remark on this recently, something that made me think - it was a challenge to not judge a person's spiritual journey by our own assumptions (including a presumption of their likely responses). I guess we can all fall into the trap of assuming and forget we each walk a varied road to our 'now' - including faith. Some valuable and challenging reflections, thank you.

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  5. Jeanette, The Light Between Oceans is an Australian novel. So I guess it shows that if someone has a compelling story that's well-written, faith issues can be discussed in a mainstream novel. As the novel was set in the 1920s, it probably also fit in with the times.

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  6. Thanks, Iola and Adele.
    Adele, I so agree with your thoughts that authors whose faith informs their lives cannot help having it spill over into their books. And I'm struck, once again, with the enormous difference between your publishing experiences with your two books. I'm looking forward to 'A Devil's Ransom.'
    Thanks also, for your words about 'Imogen's Chance.' Unpredictability - I like to offer that :)

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    1. Thank you, Paula. It's actually quite peculiar to write a spiritually neutral work. And in reality, everyone believes something - whether they claim to or not. Interestingly, those convictions always come through if one writes/reads long enough.
      True, I have had two rather different publication journeys. For two very different books. I sometimes wonder what people's expectations will be for 'A Devil's Ransom' once they've read 'Integrate'. Time will tell.
      BTW I appreciate your willingness to take risks in your writing and not shy away from tackling a plot from a unique perspective. I like being pleasantly surprised with good unpredictability. :)

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  7. Great interview, ladies.

    Agree and identify with so many of your answers, Adele. Thanks for sharing :)

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  8. Excellent interview, ladies. Some great in-depth questions and answers. Well done.

    Congratulations Adele on your 2 novels getting published. How amazing. Such a great achievement. I particularly appreciated your final comment: "The writing road is long" and like all things the Lord wants us to keep leaning into Him as we walk the road.

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    1. Thank you, Ian. Nothing like a long writing road to etch away our tendency towards self-sufficiency! I really do believe life's as much the journey as the destination. There's great learning along those shadowed, winding paths.

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  9. Thank you all for your comments, and thanks to Adele for providing such comprehensive answers to all my questions!

    I enjoyed Integrate, and I'm looking forward to reading A Devil's Ransom as well.

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    1. It was fun, Iola. I really appreciate the opportunity to explore these aspects of the writing journey with you (and your many questions :) ). Thank you!

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  10. Great interview. I really enjoyed Integrate, too. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Lynne. Pleased you enjoyed the read. I love the diversity encountered through reading across genres - including your 'Verindon' trilogy. Great imagination! :)

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  11. Great interview, Iola. So great to learn more about you, Adele. Wishing you every success with your writing career. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Dorothy. (And yes, Iola did a great job, didn't she? :) )

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  12. An enjoyable interview. I have Integrate in my TBR pile and I'm looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Thanks, Elaine. I hope it's an enjoyable reading experience, once you get to it. (That TBR pile seems to grow twice as fast as the hours we have available to read in!)

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  13. Interesting interview, which I have only just got around to reading. Thanks

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