The best thing about FantasyCon is the people, and whilst on the panel ‘Stealing From the Past: Fantasy in History’ one of the fellow authors I had the great good fortune to meet was Jacey Bedford. Jacey writes both SF (the Psi-Tech series: Empire of Dust and Crossways) and historical fantasy (The Rowankind series – first novel: the piratical Winterwood). She subsequently invited me to do a blog swap – me writing on hers and her writing on mine – which struck me as a great idea. So, here are Jacey’s answers to five key questions on her writing and her career…
Q: Tell us your biography and background in three sentences or fewer.
A: As an only child living in a small Yorkshire village with no kids my own age I was a voracious reader of (firstly) pony stories then fantasy and science fiction courtesy of all the Gollancz yellow jackets in the local travelling library. I went to college in Leeds and started out my working life as a librarian, though I’ve also been a postmistress, a rag-doll maker and a full-time folksinger with the trio, Artisan, touring internationally. I still live in Yorkshire – in a different small village – with my songwriter husband, a bonkers German Shepherd dog and too many books – no scrub that last bit – there’s no such thing as too many books.
Q: How and when did you begin writing, and what was your first published piece?
A: I’ve always written. When I was five, in primary school I could read fluently, but my writing was a bit slow, so I used to practise writing little stories for my mum during lunch hour. I got into the habit and never stopped. I began my first novel when I was fifteen, a future dystopia featuring characters from my favourite pop groups. (Be very glad that I stopped at chapter six!) At first I wouldn’t let anyone read what I wrote, and only started seriously considering publication in the mid 90s, about the time home computer technology eliminated the need for being an accurate touch-typist. (I’m a fast, but not very accurate, hunt-and-peck typist.) I wrote two novels before trying my hand at short stories. My first short story sale was: The Jewel of Locaria to a mass-market paperback anthology called Warrior Princesses, edited by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and published by DAW in the USA around 1997. It’s pure coincidence (but a very happy one) that my novels are now published by DAW.
What’s so special about writing speculative fiction?
I became hooked on science fiction when I was twelve and bought a copy of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids from the school book club, and followed that up with Wyndham’s The Chrysalids. Until then I’d mostly read pony stories. My gateway to fantasy was discovering C.S.Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy which combined the two.
Speculative fiction is boundless. I read and write to escape, so mundane settings don’t interest me nearly as much as the distant past or the far future. I like stories that ask: What if? I write both historical fantasy and science fiction, in worlds that are our own with a few basic differences, and some that are most definitely not. I’ve never had much interest in reading or writing about the present day unless there’s a fantasy or science-fictional twist. Basically I like making stuff up, inventing new worlds or restructuring old ones, birthing new characters, discovering new situations. It’s all about the What if?
Tell us about your most recent publication or current writing project
My first novel (2014) is Empire of Dust. It’s the first in my Psi-Tech sequence. The sequel is Crossways, (2015). They are science fiction set in the far future and feature characters with psionic implants, colony expansion, a star-spanning manhunt, evil megacorporations, a space-station full of misfits and outcasts, and something strange lurking in the depths of foldspace.
My third book to be published is a historical fantasy called Winterwood, due in February 2016, and I can now reveal the cover! It’s got a cross-dressing female privateer captain (and witch), the jealous ghost of her late husband, a motley crew of barely reformed pirates, a deadly villain who fights magic with darker magic, and a wolf shapechanger who gets very upset if you call him a werewolf. (He’s NOT moon-called, he insists.) There’s a puzzle to be solved and an ancient wrong to be set right. Ross has choices to make between the sea and the land, and between the ghost from her past or the man who may become the love of her future.
I’m published by DAW in the USA, which means you can only buy them as imports in the UK, from specialist bookstores or Amazon. It’s pure coincidence that I ended up being published by the same publisher which bought my first short story, but I’m absolutely delighted to be a DAWthor. I started out with a three book deal and have just signed a second deal for two more books.
My next contract with DAW covers the third Psi-Tech book, Nimbus, and a sequel to Winterwood, called Silverwolf. I’m writing Silverwolf right now, and really enjoying taking the adventures of Ross and Corwen to new places. Winterwood was Ross’s book, but Silverwolf explores Corwen’s origins and, in addition to a very personal story, carries the changes that happen in Winterwood to their logical conclusion, What happens when magic comes back into a world that’s only part way through its industrial revolution?
Web page: http://www.jaceybedford.co.uk
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