Jane Jordan was born in England, and grew up exploring the history and culture of London and surrounding counties. After some time spent in Germany in the 1990’s she immigrated to Detroit, USA, eventually settling in South West Florida. She returned to England after a fifteen-year absence, to spend six years in the South West of England living on Exmoor. Here, inspired by the atmosphere, beautiful scenery and the ancient history of the place, she began writing.
Jane is a trained horticulturist, and also spent time working and volunteering for Britain’s National Trust at Exmoor’s 1000-year-old Dunster Castle. Gaining more insight into the history and mysteries surrounding these ancient places, and having always been intrigued by the supernatural, inspiration came for her fourth novel, The Beekeeper’s Daughter, a supernatural thriller.
Jane Returned to Florida in 2013, and lives in Sarasota.
Book description: The Beekeeper’s Daughter is a romantic supernatural thriller. It is a story of the passion and unwavering love between Annabel, The Beekeeper’s Daughter and Jevan, the blacksmith’s son. After she meets Alex, the self-assured and arrogant heir to the foreboding Gothelstone manor house, Annabel begins unravelling the dark and sinister secret of the Saltonstall legacy.
As Annabel and Jevan struggle with events beyond their control, she must risk everything to stop a wicked plan from being fulfilled, destroy a powerful adversary and save the man she loves.
This dark and intriguing tale is primarily set in the Victorian era, on Exmoor in South West England.
Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about your writing background?
I began writing seriously in 2004, after I first visited Exmoor in England.
I was captivated by the beauty, the mystery and the local myths and legends. I had rented an ancient house that was hidden by hedgerows. The only access was via a single narrow overgrown lane on a remote part of Exmoor. The house was haunted, and I had already felt that element even before I listened to the caretaker’s strange stories. There was a hidden church in the woods with no road to it only a woodland path, all these things captivated my imagination and my first novel, Ravens Deep, was born.
The Beekeeper’s Daughter was going to be my second novel, but there was so much more to tell after Ravens Deep that I wrote two more novels. I had to put, The Beekeeper’s Daughter, on hold for several years, while I finished the trilogy.
I have also written for a gardening magazine and have a short horror story published.
I liked books that would transport me to another world from the one I grew up in, and unusual stories based on reality. I did read a lot as a child. One of my favorite books was, ‘Little Katia,’ by E.M. Almedingen. It is the story of nineteenth century Russia as seen through the eyes of a little girl.
I was a great fan of the British Naturalist Gerald Durrell, his stories based on his life, his family and the various animals he collected. A particular favorite was ‘My family and Other Animals’ which was an account of his life on the Greek Island of Corfu.
Another favorite author was James Herriot, and his series of books pertaining to his life as a county vet in Yorkshire, notably, ‘All creatures Great and Small’.
I also enjoyed scary stories or ghost stories, even fairy tales that were dark. My favorites were written by Hans Christian Anderson, and, ‘The Red Shoes’, a moral tale of temptation. Or, ’The Snow Queen’, which portrays the struggle between good and evil.
‘The picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde’, was not a children’s book, but I read it anyway. I was captivated by the morality of the idea. Dorian Gray sells his soul in order to stay forever young and unblemished, instead, the portrait becomes more aged and grotesque as it reflects Dorian’s sins.
What was your goal when writing this book?
My goal was to create a memorable historical romance, filled with intrigue and secrets that would enthrall my readers, make them turn the page, and not want to put the book down until the end.
I wanted to construct an accurate portrayal of what life was like for the cottagers, blacksmiths and wealthy landowners at that period in time. I wanted to show a passionate and sometimes dangerous love story, and demonstrate how people can be pushed to the edge of reason where love is concerned.
The witchcraft element needed not only to be correct, but fascinating as well.
Who is your target audience?
My target audience is readers that enjoy romantic suspense and paranormal stories and that can include witches, ghosts etc. I write stories that I want to read, and my novels draw primarily women readers, but my wider audience isn’t always who the book was written for, but rather, who it ends up appealing to.
Dark romance tends to attract female readers, while thrillers attract men. The Beekeeper’s Daughter contains both.
Most of all, I want to target an audience who are excited about reading my work, and the ultimate goal is to make people happy that they brought my book.
What will the reader learn after reading your book?
In The Beekeeper’s Daughter my reader will observe a different time in history, be drawn to and intrigued by circumstances that they never could have personally witnessed.
What they take from the story will be a deeper understanding into my character’s lives and events, and the overall appeal of the story, which would have motivated them to pick up the book in the first place.
I want my readers to feel content that the story did not disappoint, and that it did not leave unanswered questions. Hopefully they will read the last page, and close the book with a feeling of satisfaction.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
My best ideas are often sparked by events that happen around me, or even objects, one of my recent published stories was based on an old railway station, while I was waiting for someone to get off a train. One of the most significant features was the station clock, and I incorporated this object throughout the story.
Talking to people, or reading about local folklore always gives me inspiration, and sometimes a chance meeting with a complete stranger inspires me to write a whole story.
I think my best ideas come from just being observant of the world around me, and paying attention to the smallest details.
Describe your working environment.
I have a home office, with a Victorian writing desk in the middle, but I sit in the corner at my computer desk and do the majority of my writing. My office is filled with books and I have an antique typewriter. The artwork on my walls mainly displays my love of cats, and the cat artist, Louis Wain. I have several prints of his work, my favorite being ‘The Cats Chorus’.
In this room I also have a vintage chaise lounge that I can lay on and read or write in longhand, especially useful when I have sat too long in front of a computer. Doing this helps me slow my thought pattern down, and sometimes the most creative thoughts come to me that way.
As a writer, what scares you the most?
When I write a novel I invest so much time and effort so I don’t think I could ever say that anything scared me while writing. The same goes for standing or speaking in front of an audience, I am well aware that my book or writing cannot appeal to everyone, that’s not possible for any author. I feel if anyone has come to see me or hear me talk, then, they must like my work, and the genre I write in, or else it would be a complete waste of their time.
Writing fiction comes easy for me. I struggle more with factual work, having recently written an article for a gardening magazine. I was worried that they would not like my article Even though, I am a trained horticulturist, I worried that I had got some significant fact wrong, and the magazine would find it and they would think me a fraud. That of course did not happen, and I know deep down that everything I wrote was correct, but it still gave me anxiety. Thinking through the worst scenarios for something factual is far more nerve-wracking that anyone telling me they did not like a work of fiction.
What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?
People expect different things when they join a writing group. I have attended a few, and mostly came away with mixed feelings.
The benefit of a writing group can include constructive criticism, support, encouragement, help with editing, inspiration and even advice on getting published.
But some of the advice is not necessarily accurate, and members should consider if its good advice for them in particular. I also found that most people in these groups just dabble, they are not serious writers or published, and they don’t know anything about the publishing industry.
The idea of these groups is often to critique other people’s work, but that can also be a problem. The moderators tend not to be authoritative, so they will let one person dominate the group, or allow someone to read a piece that is too long and painful to listen to, they are afraid to stop the reading. In the harsh real world, a publisher would reject these pieces after the first few sentences.
There are groups that love their own writing and the writing of everyone else, good or bad, they give no practical advice because no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings, which is not helpful at all. Then, there are groups where one person thinks they know everything and actually they know nothing. So they give wrong or bad advice.
I would say there is a place for writing groups, but you have to pick the right group carefully with an idea of what you want to get out of it. Choose one that specializes in your genre, and one that offers sound advice, so that members feel as if they are learning and improving. If you don’t at least get that out of it, then, you are wasting your time.
My best advice to is talk to published authors, as they are often willing to share their experiences. Be wary of people who try and impose rules or tell you how to write, as what works for one will not necessarily work for someone else.
What is(are) your favorite book/author(s)? Why?
My favorite authors are Daphne Du Maurier and Anne Rice.
Daphne Du Maurier’s dark and intriguing gothic tale of, ‘Jamaica Inn’, is still one of my favorites. Her style of writing is enchanting to me, possibly because of the strong gothic theme and the wild moors, but she writes about areas I know or feel an affiliation to. I enjoy the dark aspect she brings to all her novels, and can relate to her work as I often create a similar mood in my stories.
Anne Rice also writes richly textured gothic novels. My favorite is, ‘The Witching Hour’, I loved her descriptive writing of New Orleans, and the darkness she brings to the Mayfair family, in the form of the dangerous spirit, Lasher. I actually think it was one of the scariest books I have read, but I could not put it down, for her storytelling is hypnotic and powerful.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Read as much as you can and just write. Use a dictionary and a Thesaurus whenever you are writing. Be observant. The people and things that happen around you, provide great inspiration for characters’, plots and themes.
Proofread everything, at least three times, before submitting your work to a publisher. Better still get someone else to proof read your work for you, they will pick up on things far better than you, as once you know a story well, your brain will automatically fill in missing words that are not actually there.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
My website is: janejordannovelist.com
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I do have another book that I am finishing. ‘Whisht Hall’, is a darkly romantic thriller set on Dartmoor, in the south west of England, and New Orleans. I wanted to make the transition from writing about England to America, and this was the perfect story to do it with.
After her father’s death, Amy Derneville, becomes the ward of an unknown uncle, Henri Louyer. He is the owner of the remote Whisht Hall. Located on Dartmoor, famous for its great granite outcrops, and dense mists. While legend tells of hell hounds that come out from the haunted Wistman Wood in the hours of darkness, to roam over the moor.
Having lived all her life in the city of London, she knows nothing about the family she is soon to meet, but without them, she is all alone in the world. Upon her arrival, Amy is relived to find that her uncle Henri is delightful.
Her cousins are a different matter entirely.
Lisette’s disturbing attitude and sinister doll collection quickly puts Amy on her guard. Calin is one half of identical twins, and he is concealing the whereabouts of his brother. Amy is certain that he despises her from the start. Calin dismisses her questioning about the eerie sounds that come from the moors at night, instead, he seems intent on frightening her with disturbing tales of the moor. When Damien, his twin turns up, her suspicion deepens, as life at Whisht Hall takes a sinister turn.
After a murder on the moor, Amy’s life is in danger. She cannot trust anyone at Whisht hall and flees Dartmoor for New Orleans. Once there, she must hide out in an old house in the middle of Louisiana’s black water swamp.
But something lurks in this place, a remnant of Amy’s own past.
Here in the deep south, she is drawn into the dark world of voodoo, which will lead her to uncover the truth of her mother’s disappearance years before. She will find out just how dangerous one of her cousins actually is, and uncover the dark secret that has plagued their lives from the moment they were born.
Whisht Hall is a multilayered story spanning twenty years. A tale wrapped in myth, filled with intrigue and mixed with a potent concoction of New Orleans voodoo.
Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
One of the good things about being a writer is that you set your own pace. You can work when you feel mentally prepared for it, which does not always happen during the day. Some of my most creative thoughts have been at 3am in the morning.
My books tend to cross genres, they fall into sub categories of horror, paranormal, historical romance even fantasy. It’s a shame that so much emphasis is put on assigning a book a genre, because often the best books don’t exactly fit any one category.
But since that is how the publishing industry operates, I say that my books are primarily in the dark romance genre.