Interview With Author Jacey Bedford

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I’m Jacey Bedford, an English writer with a publishing deal with DAW Books in the USA (part of the Penguin RandomHouse group). I have six novels out so far and another in the pipeline. I write science fiction and fantasy. My Psi-Tech trilogy consists of Empire of Dust, Crossways and Nimbus, and my Rowankind trilogy consists of Winterwood, Silverwolf and Rowankind. I also write occasional short stories for magazines and anthologies and they’ve been published on both sides of the Atlantic, and been translated into an assortment of languages including Estonian, Catelan, Polish and Galician. I live in a rural village in Yorkshire with my husband and a long haired black German Shepherd. That’s a dog, not an actual shepherd from Germany.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I’ve always been an avid reader, and even as a child made up stories inspired by the books I’d read – mostly about ponies or astronauts. I started my first novel at age 15, but readers will be glad to know that I never got beyond Chapter Six. It was a YA dystopia (eat your heart out, Hunger Games) with characters that were borrowed from my favourite pop groups. Be very glad that it never saw light of day. But it illustrates that, even then, I was inspired to write. Some people write because they can. Others write because they can’t not. I think I’m one of the latter.

# How do you deal with creative block?

I try not to admit that it exists. Usually if I get stuck on a story it’s because there’s something wrong with it. Maybe I’ve not quite got the plot sorted out in my mind, or maybe I’ve started in the wrong place. I can usually backtrack and try to fix what I think I’ve done wrong and then I can forge ahead. Sometimes, if something is really not working, I write something else. I might come back to it, or might not. Not everything I start is worthy of being finished. Of course if I’ve already signed a contract and have a deadline approaching, I sometimes have to step back, take a good look, make alterations if I need to, and power on through. I think I started Nimbus something like three times before I really got into it, and then when I had the right opening it just rolled along as if there had never been a problem.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Let me count the ways. Basically if you’re bored when you’re writing it, your readers will be bored reading it. Never be boring.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

I’m rubbish at titles. Sometimes your agent or publisher will make suggestions, but usually it’s up to you. My upcoming book, The Amber Crown, had a multitude of titles while I was working on it. Working titles have included: Hari, Spider on the Web, The Long Game. The real problem with Spider on the Web and The Long Game as titles is that they sounded like modern thrillers and this is a historical fantasy. The Amber Crown is a much better title for what it is. As for covers, if you’re working with a big publisher, you often don’t get much say in what your cover will look like, but I’m lucky that my editor at DAW has always asked for my input. They let me suggest a cover artist for the Rowankind books, and I was delighted that they went with my suggestion of Larry Rostant.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I belong to a critique group of published SFF writers and if I get negative feedback from them when it’s my turn to be critiqued, I take it very seriously because I know they are all trying to help me make the book better. Before publication this is helpful. As for reviews… I guess I’m lucky, I haven’t really had any stinkers for my books, but I’ve got experiences of having… let’s say ‘strange’ reviews when I was in the music business, when it was pretty obvious that the review said more about the reviewer than the reviewed. The only thing you can do is completely ignore reviews, good and bad. Don’t let them influence you in any way. Of course, I’m not immune to grabbing quotable quotes from reviews for a bit of good publicity.

Who doesn’t love a far-future novel of evil megacorps?” -io9

“Bedford adeptly weaves together romance, action, and fantastical elements… Conflict both nautical and emotional keeps things exciting.” Publishers Weekly (Winterwood)

“Intrigue-heavy, multi-viewpoint plotting with human stories featuring characters you care about – a rare feat in this genre.” – Jaine Fenn (Tales from the Garrett)

“Gripping final Rowankind installment… a strong and satisfying wrap-up of the series” – Publisher’s Weekly

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I’ve become more focused. My first few books – written before I got my first publishing deal – had the benefit of having no time limit when I was writing them. I could keep making alterations until I was happy with what I’d written. It’s like a painter who asks the question, ‘When do I put the brush down?’ How do you know something is really finished? The short answer is that it’s never finished, but at some point you just have to stop. Once you get a publishing deal and an editor, you usually end up addressing editorial comments, making alterations and then… all of a sudden it’s finished, and going to press. Of the six books I’ve had published so far, two were written before I got my deal and four were written to order – to a deadline. That makes you focus.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

Best – when I got an email from my dream editor at DAW saying ‘I want to buy your book, when can I call you?’ It was 6 p.m. UK time and I’d just come in from a trip to the cinema with a friend. I set about writing an email saying I’d be in all the following day, and then I thought, ‘Just a minute, she’s in New York, so it’s still early afternoon there.’ I sent off an email saying, ‘I’m here, now,’ and the phone rang almost immediately. I was walking around with a big silly grin on my face for months. Most surprising/worst – when I got my first set of page proofs on a Wednesday morning just as I was setting off for the World Science Fiction Convention in London, with a request to ask if I could complete them by the following Tuesday – the day after I got home from the convention. The daft thing was that I was actually meeting up with my editor there, but no one had put two and two together. I got an extension, but I still had to proofread 171,000 words in just three days. That was hard work.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I hope I can balance the two. I write to the best of my ability, skip the boring bits, enjoy the spectacular bits and hope that it all comes together in the end. If it does/When it does then I’ve enjoyed myself and the readers should be happy, too.

# What are your plans for future books?

My next book is The Amber Crown, which is due out in January 2022. I’m still working with the publisher on edits, but I’ve seen my cover and it’s already up for advance ordering on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So no pressure! It’s a historical fantasy set in an analogue of the Baltic States in the mid seventeenth century. It has three viewpoint characters: a disgraced royal bodyguard, a Landloper witch, and an assassin with more hangups than a closet full of coathangers. I’ve really enjoyed writing it. After that I have a couple of young adult books at the editing stage, and a couple of books that tie in with my Psi-Tech trilogy. You can catch up with me at www.jaceybedford.co.uk.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

For twenty years I sang harmonies with internationally touring a cappella trio, Artisan (www.artisan-harmony.com). My claim to fame is singing live on BBC Radio4 accompanied by Dr Who playing spoons. That was Ned Sherrin’s Loose Ends when it used to be broadcast on Saturday mornings, and Sylvester McCoy, who played the 7th Doctor, was one of the other guests. It was one of those shows that went out live and you never got advance warning about topics. So we were halfway through singing a song (live) and Ned took a pair of spoons out of his back pocket and handed them to Sylvester. Luckily Sylvester knew how to play them. What fun!