I’m delighted to re start my interviews by welcoming Jillian Brookes-Ward, the author of ‘Saving Nathaniel’, a book I think will strike a chord with many people. It is being published very soon by Night Publishing.
Can you tell us more about your novel?
Saving Nathaniel is a gentle romance with a dark edge.
Nathaniel is a lonely businessman, living by himself in a large house and still grieving over the deaths of his wife and baby. His housekeeper has an accident and cannot work and she ropes in her elder sister, Megan, as her substitute. Megan and Nathaniel quickly bond and before long, the true depth of his grief and guilt become evident. Together they weather illness, nightmares, arguments, inappropriate behaviour and physical violence, and Megan gently helps him come to terms with his past and look forward to the future – until it is time for her to leave. Then he realises how much he has come to depend on her stabilising influence, and how fond he has become of her. He wants her back.
What gave you the idea for Saving Nathaniel?
I couldn’t honestly say when the original idea came to me, but basically, sad men touch me deeply. I always want to hug them and make them feel better. The story started with imagining what would make a man so utterly miserable – the answer, of course was loss and its resultant unutterable, insurmountable grief. It grew from that thought. I wanted to tell a story that demonstrated how a compassionate woman with a kind word, a gentle touch and a little bit of sass could make a difference to such a man’s life and to enable him to have another chance of happiness.
Would you describe it as a conventional romance?
I suppose so in that it involves normal people we can all identify with in a situation that can happen to any of us. Many people will know a man who has lost his wife and become consumed by grief and many a woman will recognise some of themselves in Megan. I just brought them together.
What sets it apart from the horde of other romance novels?
In traditional romance, it is often the muscle bound handsome young man who is the hero of the piece, sweeping the damsel in distress off her feet and away into the sunset. I think Saving Nathaniel is different because the main characters are not pretty young things. They are more mature; he is 55 she is 45. It is different also in that he is not the hero, he is the victim of unresolved emotional turmoil. She, Megan, is his saviour. It is her strength and support that helps him comes to terms with his past and look forward to a future.
Did you write it according to a structure, or just let it flow?
I am not a structured writer by any means. I don’t make a plan or even notes. I can’t do ‘once upon a time’ and finish with ‘the end’. I start with a key event and spread out forward and back from it, adding and subtracting as I go along. Each new scene will join to the next or the previous one like adding links to a chain until the story is complete. An odd thing I do is write without chapter breaks. The whole work will be one continuous flow of words. Reading through when I’m finished will show me where the breaks come. Sometimes it is obvious, other times not so. I also like to break up a whole book into separate ‘stories’. That means you can read a chapter and leave the story, coming back at the next chapter without losing the thread.
In these cynical times, do you think that romance novels are more popular or less?
I would like to think more popular. Most everyday lives are dominated by all manner of trials and tribulations and there is always need for a little escapism. If a reader can seek a quiet moment of refuge from their own lives in a fantasy or a historical drama, why not in a romance? There is gentle comfort in following characters as they overcome all manner of obstacles, and as each page turns, fall in love. And if the reader gets that warm fuzzy feeling a happy ending brings, so much the better.
Can you tell us more about your other novels?
I have two other novels up for reading on Authonomy.com.
Linda Loves…? is a romance based around a complicated ménage-a-trois. A woman loves two very different men, her husband Tom and her lover, Adam. Between them, they make up one perfect man. Her happy triangle is broken when Adam falls seriously ill. In a bizarre twist, she persuades Tom to allow her lover to move into their home to recuperate. Tom realises the depth of her feelings for Adam, yet he himself is loved no less. He makes a momentous decision. He will allow them to continue to see each other. By the time Linda discovers she is pregnant, the men are getting along pretty well and unite in their support and love for her and the baby. But which one of them is the father?
My second novel(la), On the Fly, is a bit of a diversion for me. It is a saucy, light-hearted romp through the sexual shenanigans of Brian MacDonald, a game angling instructor. During the course of a single season, Brian encounters a variety of women but one in particular, Lily, remains an enigma to him. Beautiful and sexually adventurous, she often takes him by surprise and gives him some of his best experiences. But it seems there may be more to the mysterious woman than meets the eye.
The book I am currently working on evolved from a real life coincidence. It was originally a flash fiction story that expanded, but has come to a standstill at the moment.
Thank you Jillian. I am very fond of ‘Saving Nathaniel’, and I look forward to seeing it in print.