Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jilly Paddock Interview!

Jilly Paddock interview

Hello Jilly, and welcome to Ralph’s Rants does Interviews; how are you tonight?

I’m fine, thanks. Hope you’re well too.

Jilly, how long have you been writing?

I started to write at school, in my early teens. Before that I’d always enjoyed writing essays for English and took great delight in twisting the titles we were given so I could write something fantastical or with a science fiction theme. I had two friends who shared my interest in SF and we all started writing our proto-books. We’d brainstorm plots and critique our work in breaks and lunch hours. All three of us are now published writers.

What are your writing influences as far as authors go?

I read a lot of SF and fantasy, all the usual culprits: Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Tolkien, plus John Varley, Fritz Leiber and John Sladek. I also like a lot of British writers, including some that your readers may be unfamiliar with, such as Iain Banks, James White, Colin Kapp, Dan Morgan, Mary Stewart*, Louise Cooper, Tanith Lee and Gwyneth Jones. I’d say that the biggest influences on my work are Cordwainer Smith and Peter S. Beagle.

*I just looked up Mary Stewart and it said that she wrote books “featuring smart, adventurous heroines who could hold their own in dangerous situations”–oh, so that’s where my inspiration came from then!

What books or characters have influenced your writing?

I loved James White’s Sector General books, which are about a hospital in space. Both staff and patients come from all kinds of alien species, and the wards are set up for everything from simple water-breathers all the way up to creatures that live on hard radiation, where the doctors have to visit in lead-plated tanks. The hero, Dr Conway, can be a bit too clever and smug, but there are some brilliant supporting characters. I liked O’Mara, the head of Psychology, and Dr Prilicla, the insect-like empath, but I identified with Murchison, the nurse who later worked in the pathology labs, as that was my day job.
One of my favourite short stories is ‘The Game of Rat and Dragon’ by Cordwainer Smith, in which humans are telepathically linked to cats to hunt the monstrous things that haunt the unreal space that FTL spacecraft travel through. I pay homage to that idea in my space opera, Warbird, and in the Zenith-Alpha 4013 books.
I’m greatly influenced by lots of poems and lyrics of folk songs, particularly those with a touch of magic and the supernatural, such as ‘Tam Lin’ and ‘The Two Magicians’.

Tell us all a little about your new novel, what’s it called?

My latest book from Pro Se Press is a short novel called Dead Men Rise Up Never. It’s an SF/murder mystery about a man killed by a unicorn. The case is given to Detective-Inspector A. Afton Lamont and her not quite human partner, Jerome, and their attempt to solve it is complicated by an AI who inhabits various avatar bodies and her master, a privileged aristocrat who leads a bohemian community of artists. Also included is a bonus short story, ‘Five of Humours; one of Melancholy; one of Honey’, in which Afton and Jerome get drunk with their colleagues after an unpleasant case.
Another story in the series will appear soon in Legends of New Pulp Fiction, a benefit anthology for Tommy Hancock, from Airship 27.

What is the setting for it?

Afton and Jerome live in Prosperity City on a human colony planet called Siobhos. It’s a quiet place with a relatively small population, a green and pleasant world. It isn’t at the cutting edge of technology, and we’d find their computers, mobile phones and electric or gas-powered cars very familiar. I guess it would be a very nice place to live.

Is this your first full length novel?

No. I have about a dozen finished novels waiting for publication. Some need a bit of revision and polishing, but some are ready to go.

Is this a one off novel or the start of a new series?

This is the longest Afton and Jerome story, but it isn’t the first. The characters met in The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone which is currently available as a self-published e-book. That edition will be replaced by a new print and ebook edition, which will come with an extra short story from Pro Se later this year. There are also a couple of other short stories, plus several unfinished ones.

Are there any characters in the book inspired by yourself or anyone you are close to?

I don’t think it’s a good idea to base characters on real people.
Okay, I’ll admit that I have written someone who really upset me into a book and killed them off–actually I made them into two different characters and killed both of them off–but I did file off the serial numbers and remove all identifying details, so only I know who they are.
I use fragments of people to enrich my characters; a gesture here or an expression there, and I borrow behaviours and reactions. Sometimes I’ll use an actor as a template, just to help me visualise how a character looks.

What else have you written?

Pro Se published To Die A Stranger in 2014, the first in a series of SF/espionage novels about Anna-Marie Delany and her computer partner, Zenith Alpha 4013. The second is With Amber Tears and is due to come out later this year. There are at least eight more novels in the series, most of them finished.
I’ve written a long space opera, Warbird, which will be produced in two volumes by 18thWall Productions, hopefully later this year.
I have a short story, ‘Mountains of Ice’, in a charity anthology, Blood Type: An Anthology of Vampire SF on the Cutting Edge published by Nightscape Press, in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. I’m in some wonderful company in that book!
I also had a story in Pro Se Presents #19, ‘The Third Worst Thing That Can Happen on Mars’.
I’ve self-published an e-book collection of short stories, The Dragon, Fly and other flights of fancy and a first contact novella, No Earthly Shore. The title story of the collection will be reprinted by 18thWall.
Everything seems to be pending–I expect they’ll all turn up at once, like buses!

What is your writing process? Do you plot the entire book out at once or do you wing it with a beginning and an ending in place?

The latter, I think. I usually get the start and a few scenes along the way, and some idea of the ending, then I have to fill up the gaps. Sometimes the whole thing will just drop into my head–with ‘The Dragon, Fly’, I got the whole story out of the aether and wrote it very quickly. ‘Mountains of Ice’ was the same. I got the inspiration a week before the deadline and handed it in with a day to spare.

How long did it take you to write your novel?

I started writing the Afton and Jerome stories in the 1990s, so about twenty-five years! It’s even longer with the Anna and Zenni series, which was begun in 1973. The early manuscript for Warbird was done on an electric typewriter in the 1980s, and I had to scan and OCR it to get it on the computer. The long delay in publication has been beneficial, as they’re all thoroughly edited and polished, and I was able to alter the first books in the series as the plots developed. It’s not that I’m that slow a writer, it’s just that—apart from a brief period in the early 90s, when I actually had an agent—I hadn’t really made much effort to actually get stuff published until the last few years. Real life and work simply got in the way and I hadn’t even thought much about it until I took early retirement from my job and decided it was time to get back to my writing again.

What are your next stories or novels about and how far ahead do you plan?

I’m currently working on the fifth volume in the Zenith-Alpha 4013 series, and there will be a sequel to Warbird and another Afton and Jerome, but those are still in the planning stages. There’s also a half-written fantasy novel, Ladder to the Moon, which I really must finish.

When can we expect to see another release from you?

With Amber Tears should appear in late 2015/early 2016 from Pro Se, and Warbird, volume one should also be out soon.

Thanks for joining us here on Ralph’s Rants, Jilly. Feel free to leave us all some links to your web page or your twitter or facebook accounts as well as your amazon author’s page.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your writing and books?

When my books were only on my hard drive, unpublished and unshared with anyone, I could dip into them and change bits whenever I wanted. Once they get into print, I can’t do that anymore. The hardest thing is to let go and send them out into the world. You just have to hope that people like them, and I have to say that most of the feedback I get from readers is overwhelmingly positive.

Have a great day, Jilly.

Back at you, Ralph, and thanks for hosting this interview.

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