It’s lovely to introduce Jenny Harper today. Jenny is a member of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association, and I met her last year at the RNA’s conference, along with a brilliant group of Scottish authors.
Good to talk to you again, Jenny. Welcome to a spring-like England!
Whereabouts in Scotland do you live, Jenny? I live in a double upper flat (a duplex?) in a row of Victorian terraced houses in Edinburgh, Scotland. From the front I have views up to the Pentland hills to the couth and Edinburgh Castle to the north. OK, I have to crane my neck a bit to see the Castle, but still…From the back I look out to Blackford Hill, Braid Hill and I can just see Arthur’s Seat (the famous volcanic outcrop in the centre of the city) behind a row of chimneypots. Edinburgh is a hilly place – and very historic – both good reasons to love it.
I love Edinburgh. Wonderful place to live!
Where is your favourite place in the world? Ooh, that’s a hard one! The world is full of so many beautiful places. I guess there are two places close to my heart. One is the small village of St Fillans, by Loch Earn in Perthshire, Scotland. My parents lived there for about twenty years, and it was also a place I visited as a small child. It’s extraordinarily beautiful, and I always find a sense of peace there. The other is the backwaters in Kerala. I was born in India (although in the north, in Kolkata), so again I think there is a kind of deep resonance with the place and the people. We’ve been to the backwaters twice now and I would happily spend half the year there! The light is astonishing, the birds are stunning, the lake and canals are lush and beautiful and it’s warm!
Two very different places. They both sound amazing!
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I was a waitress at a restaurant on the Isle of Mull one summer when I was a student. It was by a huge loch and the scenery was stunning, but we were treated like dirt. The pay was terrible, the navvies resurfacing the roads used to gossip about us in Gaelic in the public bar and we weren’t allowed to drink in the lounge bar, we got hardly any time off and at least five coach loads of tourists arrived every day and needed to be fed, now! We also had to clean the toilets. One night we were flooded, but service had to go on. The electricity was down but the kitchen was powered by gas so cooking was possible, but there was a foot of water there. Sandbags kept most of the water out of the restaurant, which was lit by candles, so the guests knew little about what we were coping with. It was an experience – but I was glad to get back to uni.
You’ve painted a vivid and dreadful picture. (And the writer in me is saying there has to be a brilliant story in there!)
What book do you wish you’d written? Oh, so many! Every time I read a good book, I wish I could have written it! The author I most admire is Dorothy Dunnett, who I knew. She wrote two series of historical novels that are, in my opinion, unrivalled. Her research is astonishing, her characters are extremely vivid, her plotting is hugely complex yet at the same time her stories are incredibly compelling. Brilliant.
What’s your favourite song? At the moment, The First Time Ever I saw Your Face, by Euan McColl. It’s so deeply romantic!
Lovely song! And you’re right, so romantic. My sister had that song at her wedding :)
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? That’s your third challenging question in a row! There are so many possible answers. There are the obvious ones (Jesus, Mandela etc), and there are the really interesting people you know you’d have a good chat with. On the whole, I think I’d be daunted by meeting the great and the good and I’d rather have the chance to meet my dad again and say a proper goodbye and tell him how much I loved him.
What’s your happiest childhood memory? Being allowed a fire in my bedroom so long as I did all the work – and lying in bed, toasty warm, watching the flames flickering in the dark. Getting contact lenses when I was sixteen, which was life changing. Learning to drive, aged seventeen. I’ve always loved driving.
I so empathise with the fire in the bedroom. Do you remember the days of frost inside the windows? Putting your clothes on under the bedclothes because it was too cold to get out of bed? Good times!
If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? You’re at it again! I need someone who is loyal, funny, reliable, treats me like a queen, and never lets me get bored. Must have flaws – I’d hate anyone perfect. Any suggestions?
Hmm….Actually, my husband fits most of those!
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? Patience is a virtue.
And finally, please tell us about your latest book, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website!
At last! A question I don’t have to think about! It’s called People We Love and it’s available now as an ebook. It comes out in August in paperback. It’s the fourth in the Heartlands series, set in and around the fictional town of Hailesbank, in East Lothian.
The pain of bereavement holds the Gordon family in its thrall after the death of artist Lexie’s brother, Jamie. The family furniture business slumps into decline, Lexie has stopped painting, and her mother shows all the signs of acute depression. In the small town of Hailesbank, friends rally round. The unexpected reappearance of Cameron Forrester, a former lover, throws Lexie’s fragile emotions into further disarray, while all the time, she is acutely conscious of the brooding nearness of gallery owner Patrick Mulgrew. She longs for love and laughter, but it takes the appearance of a stranger – and a moving discovery – to start her on the journey of inspiration that will ultimately break the cycle of grief for all the family.
People We Love is published by Accent Press and is available on Amazon
You’ll find my blog and website at http://jennyharperauthor.co.uk/
Thanks for hosting me!
Thanks so much for coming down south to England, Jenny. It’s been lovely getting to know you. Have a good trip back to Edinburgh!
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