To learn more about Jenny, please visit her website: http://www.jennymortonpotts.com/
My inspiration comes from the conversations I hear around me, the places I travel to and the other arts which interest me (music, theatre, film, art, tv). I am particularly fond of the odd, fractured things that ordinary people say. This is almost a constant living in the UK. I love malapropisms and children’s non sequiturs. Musical lyrics, at their best, excite me a lot. And indeed, ‘Piano from a 4th Storey Window’ is a line from an Ani DiFranco song!
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
I have two main characters: Marin and Lawrence. She is shy and introverted in social situations (though perfectly at ease in a classroom as a teacher), an ex Jehovah’s Witness who has travelled the country on temporary ‘supply’ contracts, committing to no-one and nowhere. He is flamboyant, self assured and popular, but beneath that shows a strong disregard for his own basic care because of a guilt associated with his mother and sister. Marin is a philosopher, an analyst. Lawrence is kind and shambolic and non judgmental. On paper, Marin and Lawrence are exact opposites but are they really?
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are very important to me. I have to like the way they sound for the character. If I thought I could get away with it, I would go more Dickensian in naming, but I know I can’t really. Choosing resources: credit lists for anything, films, tv, book acknowledgements, online, directories. I am always noting down names I find for future use. I’m toying with ‘Keller Bearhop’ currently. I once knew a kid called Stuart Bearhop (he was given a superhero costume and jumped off the roof of his house, breaking both his legs) and I have planned on using that name for the rest of my life.
What made you decide that you wanted to write in this genre?
I write non genre contemporary literary fiction. I never made this decision, it’s just a natural happening. That is what I read. That is what I love. It makes it more difficult for marketing departments in publishing houses, granted, but for me, non genre is the holy grail.
Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?
No, I’m equally happy with prose anything, dialogue anything, searingly sad, sizzlingly hot, whatever. That dilemma hasn’t come up for me, so far…
What is your best marketing tip?
No mystery. Connecting with reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads, Blogs etc. Building on Twitter (be yourself, just use it like a diary, don’t bombard people with your books) and retweeting interesting/funny tweets. Keeping your website fresh with new information, lots of visuals and guest spot other authors. Work very hard at launch time and keep it up for an hour a day while sales get going.
If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?
I would be making something else. Probably houses. (If I could, I would compose music. But I can’t.)
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Pulling my partner from a lethally fast flowing river.
What do you think makes a good story?
Honesty. You have to be brave. If you’re not, it shows.
What literary character is most like you?
Well, one of my own, naturally. Of course an author’s characters are all part of the author. But I have a character called Romy (from Romy & Raphael which is featured on my website). She more closely resembles me than any other.
What books have most influenced your life most?
John Buchan’s ‘The 39 Steps’ had me reeling as a child with its plot brilliance. Followed by William Goldging’s breathtaking ‘Lord of the Flies’. Then Shakespeare and his mind blowing soliloquies. When I was in my thirties, I read a book of short stories called, ‘A Noise from the Woodshed’. The title story completely changed my life. I had been unhappy and it persuaded me that I need not be.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More books requiring a box of tissues nearby, for laughing I hope, as well as crying. And more films. More animation.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
First, I’ll get the negative advice out of the way: if you are ever writing and know in the back of your mind there’s something else you’d rather be doing, you are unlikely to make it.
But if you never feel that, I’d say: work with a great book editor to make the manuscript structurally sound and then have it line/copy edited and proofed. (If you just cannot afford that, give the ms to someone trusted who is incredibly fussy and pedantic and bright.)
Things are changing so, so fast. I wouldn’t wait for a contract or an agent, I would just get your book online and focus on marketing for a while, then get your next book up there. But do keep sending to agents who actually like self publishers (there are many who see indies as driven/ambitious/ organised). Send to lots of agents simultaneously and concentrate on the ones who look like they embrace the pace of internet change. Enter competitions. Get up from your chair and do a little jig for any victory, however small.