Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a British writer, living and writing in the flatlands of East Anglia in the UK. My poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a diversity of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia and the States.
I’ve published four books to date: two of poetry and two novels. My poetry collection, “Cats and Other Myths”, and subsequent multi-award nominated poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue”, are published by Lapwing Publications. My dark fiction novel, “A Darker Moon”, is published in the UK and the US by Vagabondage Press and my second novel, “Witchlight” (ISBN 978-0692406908), comes out in paperback and e-book formats from Vagabondage on 19th May.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
That’ll be my latest novel “Witchlight”. It’s a paranormal story which, I guess, was inspired by the sheer volume of fantasy books and films where the young hero or heroine suddenly discovers they have magical and other special powers. I thought, what happens when you are not so young? What happens when you have to deal with the old reality of your life and the new one at the same time?
And so I wrote a novel in which my lead character, Holly, has been mortal all her life. Then at the mature age of thirty-eight, her fairy godfather arrives to tell her she’s a witch, and suddenly she’s having to come to terms with the uncertainties of an alarmingly magic-fuelled world.
It turns out that magic is not like it is in the books and films, and Holly starts to doubt whether her fairy godfather, Partridge Mayflower, is the fey, avuncular charmer he appears. She also has to learn the hard way that when appearances are magically deceptive, she cannot afford to trust those closest to her, including herself. Romance blossoms for Holly, but then accidents start to happen, people die, Old Magic is on the hunt, but in the age-old game of cat and mouse, just who is the feline and who is the rodent?
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think I have, but others have told me that my habit of writing first drafts in longhand and often with a pencil is a bit unusual. Is it? It feels very natural and comfortable to me.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
There have been so many that, if I’m honest, I don’t know where to start and when, in the past, I’ve tried to list just a few of them, I felt guilty I’d left others inspirational writers and wonderful books off the list. If I’ve really got to list some then I would say that writers who left a strong mark on me during childhood and adolescence (the formative years, right?) were Rosemary Sutcliff, Alan Garner, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Anya Seton and Charles Dickens, but there were others, so many others and now I’m feeling guilty again.
What are you working on now?
Because this interview is taking place just before the official launch of “Witchlight”, what I’m primarily working on at present are guest posts for the forthcoming blog tour that has been arranged to celebrate the launch. Once that is over and done I shall be working on a new collection of poems and the next novel.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I like to maintain an online presence and I have my own website www.jswatts.co.uk, an Amazon page, a Goodreads page, a Facebook page and a photographic blog. I am also grateful to online magazines, fellow writers with regular blogs and websites like this one who help spread the word about my writing
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read, write, edit and persevere.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Read, write and persevere (which is why I’ve passed it on to others with just the tiniest adjustment).
What are you reading now?
I have two books on the go at present: Ruth Ozeki’s fascinating novel, “A Tale For The Time Being” and Claire Crowther’s stunning poetry collection, “The Clockwork Gift”.
What’s next for you as a writer?
The next big thing is the book launch for Witchlight. Then, as I said earlier, I’m hoping it won’t be long before I have another poetry collection out, perhaps a third novel. I have a number of short stories and individual poems that are clamouring to be written and I love giving poetry and short story readings, so it would be nice to do a few more of those.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Sorry, I struggled to produce a list of writers and books that have influenced me. No way can I reduce things down to a single, favourite book. The best I can come up with is the contents of the Bodleian Library. In its entirety!