My guest today is author Jean Fullerton, writer of the excellent Nurse Connie series and the Ration Book series, the latest of which “A Ration Book Christmas” is out now and continues the story of the Brogan family in war time East End.
A very warm welcome Jean. From first idea to finished manuscript – talk us through your writing process.
I spend about a week thinking of the book then sketch out an initial scene by scene plan and then start writing. Although, at the start of a new series I do lots of background reading I don’t do too much detailed research because I don’t know what I need to know until I get that point in the story.
I start off fine and it usually stays that way until I reached the 30/40k mark then to be honest, I’ve forgotten what I’ve written and where the story was going. This used to give me the jitters at first but I now know this is perfectly normal. I plough on until the 60k mark. When I get to this stage my inner storyteller starts identifying elements of the story so far which aren’t working. This can either be because I’ve set some plot development up wrong at the start of the book or a character is developing very differently to the way I envisioned him or her or that plot line no longer seems plausible. It’s at this stage I believe the book is a pile of rubbish and ask myself why I ever thought this story was a good idea. I have a day or two of thinking about all the elements, plot character and sequencing of action then, more often than not, go back to chapter one. I reorder the pivotal events, add scenes, adjust plotlines and character often by changing dialogue and when I get to the point where I left off I know exactly how and where the story is going. I edit again, filling in any bits of research and then send it off to my agent and pour a large glass of rum and coke.
Why do you write and what got you started?
I started writing in 2002 when I was a District Nurse sister after attending an NHS management course. One of the strategies they advised us as a way of counteracting occupational stress was to take up a hobby. I’d been a life-long reader of historical fiction but have from time to read a book which made me think ‘I’m sure I could do better than that’ so I thought I’d write a historical romance which I would have enjoyed reading. The first story I ever wrote was a romance between a Norman knight and a Welsh princess. Needless to say it is still on my computer.
If you could go back and give yourself advice when you started out what would it be.
Don’t grab the first contract. I did and the rights of three of my medieval titles ended up in an Arizona bankruptcy court. I have them back now but a sobering lesson. Plus, don’t believe everything you’re told.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything which has a good story. Like many writers I tend not to read my own genre when I’m in the middle of writing the next book. However, I’m a bit of a medievalist at heart so I tend to veer towards novels set before 1500 but also modern and crime too. As I say as long as the character and plot hold my interest I’m happy.
You’ve set your books in several different periods, which one do you like best and why?
I’m happy in 18th 19th and 20th century but the further back in time you go the easier it is to have your characters doing all sort of daring things as the enforcement of the law back then were much laxer. For example, in my Victorian book Perhaps Tomorrow I have the villain Amos Stebbins buying up property anonymously. He is only able to keep it secret because the story is set before the National Land Registry was set up.
Where is your future writing heading?
I’m not too sure yet but I would like to return to the Victorian period as I have a few ideas I haven’t yet explored fully plus I’d like to write some more 20th century ones but set in the 60s and 70s.
- Tea or coffee.
Tea. I never drink coffee.
- Favourite film.
Sleepless in Seattle because it’s so romantic.
- Ticket to go anywhere in the world where and why?
Bora bora. I’ve been there once but I’d love to go back. It’s everything you expect from a south sea island and then 20% more.
- What does you favourite day out include?
London, the river Thames and an historical building. The Tower or the War Rooms or anything in between and I’m happy.
Thank you Jean. I’m very much looking forward to reading ‘A Ration book Christmas’ and finding out what happens next with the Brogan family.
A Ration Book Christmas – In the darkest days of the Blitz, Christmas is more important than ever.
With Christmas 1940 approaching, the Brogan family of London’s East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Luftwaffe’s nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.
For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom. Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm. But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?
Bio: Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She worked as a district nurse in East London for over twenty-five years and is now a full-time author.
She is a qualified District and Queen’s nurse who has spent most of her working life in the East End of London, first as a Sister in charge of a team, and then as a District Nurse tutor.
She has won multiple awards and all her books are set in her native East London. Her latest book, A RATION BOOK CHRISTMAS, is the second in her East London WW2 Ration Book series featuring sisters Mattie, Jo and Cathy Brogan and their family.
You can find out more about Jean and her books on her website http://jeanfullerton.com/
Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Fullerton-202631736433230/?ref=bookmarks