Terry Jackman is really a Teresa, and married with kids. No, she’s not pretending to be a guy just for the book. Nobody, but nobody, calls her anything but Terry, haven’t for years, so Terry is actually the most honest name to put on the cover.
To go with her two names she has two identities. In one she’s a mild-mannered lady who tutors children and lives in a pretty English village. [It’s called Lymm. You can take a peek at that on www.lymmvillage.com, or its Wiki entry.]
In the other, she’s secretly on the committee of the British Science Fiction Association, coordinates all their online writers’ groups, writes a regular page for Focus magazine and reads submissions for Albedo One magazine in Ireland. Oh, and has been known to do some freelance editing.
When Ashamet goes public the two lives will finally collide. She suspects there’ll be some raised eyebrows so she’s stocking up on fortifying tea and biscuits – and lots of chocolate!
Welcome to Blogger News, Terry. Tell us, do you have another job besides writing?
When I was first published I was – wait for it – the best qualified professional picture framer in the world. Which led to articles, seminars, guest appearances, and eventually fiction. Nowadays I’ve stopped the six day working week but I still tutor children for a few hours a week, in Math and English, back to my earlier training. Teaching four kids at a time, four different lessons, keeps me alert!
I also coordinate all the writers’ groups belonging to the British Science Fiction Association, write a regular page for Focus magazine and read submissions for Albedo One magazine in Ireland, where I also make a point of giving some feedback to the writers. I guess I like to pay forward.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
I grew up in a house with no books. No, really. So discovering libraries was a total blast and I basically read anything they’d let me. There was some fantasy quite early on but science fiction came later. At that time you didn’t see much in the children’s sections – not at all like today.
If the budget cuts effecting so many libraries at present had happened then, who knows how I’d have turned out.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
Ashamet, Desert-Born, loosely labelled a fantasy adventure, is set in a desert world where females are so rare society has had to adapt to survive. Where the warrior hero is trying NOT to become the next false god, and where he’d love to know who’s trying to assassinate him and why.
Oh, and a foreign slave had become a mystery he needs to solve, urgently, in order to preserve his own life.
Ashamet the character came to life out of a flash of temper, which I don’t give in to often. A fantasy I was reading fell apart because its author insisted on making the prince in the story stupid. Because otherwise, the plot wouldn’t have worked. Why, oh why, did a character with power and/or wealth so often get dumbed down? And as if he’d heard ‘Ash’ appeared. He’s a lot of things, not all of them good. But he’s not stupid. And he took me in directions I never planned.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Ah. Anyone who knows me will tell you that for this book almost everything was stuff I didn’t know about – even the horse riding. For starters I’m not male, and the nearest I’ve been to a desert is Las Vegas.
But I have visited some beautiful Moorish architecture, mostly in Spain. [If you’re ever there try not to miss the Alhambra, in Granada.]
I suspect it was me! When the publisher asked me that question I wondered if it would be a largely male, possibly gay audience, then I discovered women beta readers loved it. So I stopped trying to target it and let the book get on with whatever it wanted.
I hope all readers will be intrigued by some of the underlying themes: the many facets of ‘freedom’; and the many layers that make up one person. Including the ones they don’t even admit to themselves?
Describe your working environment.
I have a very small study, with the blind pulled almost down, to stop me staring out too much. It has a long, L-shaped counter which ought to be ample, not to mention clear and organized. And it is, if you count organized in piles. Somehow I never seem to see much counter.
In my defence, it’s partly cos I always have several tasks in hand. As I write this I have another manuscript in draft, a pile of critique notes printed off for a writer’s group get together, notes for my next Focus page and notes for an upcoming workshop. And there are twenty short stories lurking on my computer to read, most of which I will have to end up rejecting. Sorry guys. Is it any wonder I often write in bed?
They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
I was pretty fragile long before I started writing. By my teens I was horribly shy, so much so I had to nerve myself to walk into rooms with people in them. So when I decided to find out if I actually could write I did it via a correspondence course. To my amazement the first assignment I completed led to selling three articles, and ten years of writing more, mainly because I didn’t know how to refuse requests.
When I finally started trying to write fiction I dealt with the problem by joining the BSFA’s Orbit groups, which are online. Get the picture? I didn’t have to meet the rest of my group and I could mull over their feedback in my own time, without witnesses. I did opt out of one group that just didn’t feel right, but I think that can happen anyway. Sometimes a group can be too general for what you write, or too self-congratulatory? Even then I knew I didn’t want to be flattered. I wanted to get better.
Thankfully I’m nowhere near as bad these days. I still swap scripts in an Orbit, and they are still great, but I also have a face to face group comprising all published writers. And I’m told I give great line edit!
As for negative reviews, as I write this I still have to find out. My publishers love Ashamet, and so does my editor, but the readers… I hope they’ll like it. I know I loved writing it.
Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
I suppose I’m meant to say I have a blog, Terrytalk, at www.terryjackman.co.uk where I talk mainly about other people’s books. Apparently I’m a ‘top reviewer’ in Netgalley, so I try to pass on which new books I’ve reviewed there that I’ve rated at four or five stars. I also write a regular page for Focus magazine. I’m fine with people contacting me, or saying ‘Hi’ at a convention. In fact I’d really like that; I’m still shy, but I’m actually pretty friendly if you break the ice for me. And I’d be thrilled if anyone liked Ashamet, Desert–Born enough to make time to say so. If only to set my mind at rest.
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!