Kenssie is a demon who feeds from secrets. Lately pickings have been slim, and she has grown so weak that her shield of invisibility is slipping. As the servant of a demon who eats embarrassment she already feels like she’s the laughing stock of the demonic world. But the scorn of someone who thinks that Hawaiian shirts are the height of cool is the least of her worries.
A powerful fear demon is dead set on making her his slave, a position that carries seriously short life expectancy.
She has no friends.
Her only hope of escaping a life of terror lies in stealing a grimoire she’s never seen from the clutches of a vindictive group of master demons.
Today, I’m thrilled to have Ros Jackson on my blog for an interview! She is going to talk a little about herself as well as her newly released novella, The Secret Eater.
1. When did you first start writing? What made you want to be a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed making things up. I can’t imagine being stuck with the present day, and world we have, and that’s it. Rosemary Sutcliff, Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, and many other authors provided the gateway drug, of course. I’m also almost indecently nosy about other people, and what makes them tick. So spending time trying to see the world through someone else’s eyes, and working out those motivations and insecurities, is my idea of heaven.
2. What inspired you to write The Secret Eater?
Initially, Kenssie was just an image I created when I was playing about with Poser some years ago. For several years that’s all she was. I find it much easier to write about a character when I have a clear image of them to work with, so one day I took a closer look at her and asked myself, “what’s her story?” It grew from there.
3. Is The Secret Eater going to be part of a series?
It’s a stand-alone prequel to either one or two novels. There’s more of Kenssie’s story to tell, but I have no plans to continue beyond that point, however. I’m not a huge fan of series that string readers along for book after book without coming to a satisfying conclusion.
4. If you must summarize The Secret Eater in one sentence, what would you share with the audience?
Even a lowly demoness of secrets can only take so much humiliation.
5. Which of the characters of The Secret Eater is your favourite? Why?
Kenssie, because she’s full of bluster, to the extent that she almost comes across as cocky. But she’ll go and do something when deep down she knows she hasn’t got an ice cream in a barbecue’s hope of succeeding, because she’s too proud to back down, and at least a little bit delusional about her own capabilities. So she behaves in ways most of us just wish we could.
6. Did you listen to music while you wrote The Secret Eater? And if so, what music was on your playlist?
I need complete silence to write. I’m in a pop choir, and I find it difficult to listen to anything with lyrics without belting it out at full volume. It’s very hard to do that and write at the same time, as you might imagine. Especially when you add in the jazz hands and gyrations.
7. Tell us one thing about The Secret Eater that kind of surprised you as you were writing it.
This was my first attempt to write YA, and I didn’t expect it to be as much fun as it was. Writing for a younger audience forced me to concentrate on the characters, and to make the tone a lot lighter than I would have otherwise. It’s no longer an option to use sex and violence as hooks to keep people reading, at least not in the graphic, in-your-face way that you find in a lot of adult fiction. But what seems like a constraint is actually very liberating, because it left me free to focus on the relationships between these characters, and what makes them and their situation unique.
8. Do you have a particular genre preference that you feel passionate to write about?
I’m drawn towards the fantastic and the speculative. Part of this is because they put our experiences on a much bigger canvas, so you have a sense of awe mixed in with the potential for world-saving heroics. But it’s not just about sparkly magic and scary dragons. In fantasy in particular, everything can be a metaphor. So the genre has such a wide scope for layers of meaning that are there for readers to interpret. On one level you might have a story about otherworldly beings, but those creatures can stand for anything, and it’s up to the reader to figure out what the story behind the story is.
9. I read somewhere that you’ve been a book blogger for 10+ years before becoming a writer. Do you have any word of advice for aspiring writers?
Book blogging is probably the second best thing you can do to improve your craft, the first being getting on and writing. It forces you to analyse what you like and don’t like about fiction, and why. After a while you compile a vast list of “don’t’s”, and it’s far easier to remember these if you’ve actually read multiple examples, compared with simply reading a list of rules in a book.
If you’re approaching book blogging as a writer, it’s also a great idea to read self-published and small press works as well as novels from the larger houses. It gives you an idea of the difference between commercial and niche interest fiction; it’s not all about quality, or good marketing!
10. Did you research mythology before naming the demons or witches in The Secret Eater?
I wanted the demons to sound ancient, so most of their names are corrupted versions of names from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is our oldest known text. I took the names and ran them through a name generation tool I built, which shuffles the letters about a bit, so the overall effect is that they sound like ancient Sumerian, but aren’t.
For the witches I didn’t have to look so far back in time. The name Permilia was relatively popular in the 1820s, for instance.
11. What’s next for you?
I want to complete the first novel in the Kenssie series, that’s my first priority. I also have a couple of epic fantasy stories up my sleeve, one YA and one for adults. Whether or not they’ll see the light of day depends somewhat on how my first novella is received, and somewhat on whether or not I have a great idea for another story in the meantime. I find being a writer is like chasing my own tail, in that it’s impossible to write down all the stories in my head. The more I write, the easier these ideas seem to flow, and the well never really dries up. So there really could be anything lurking beyond the next book.
Ros, thank you so much for stopping by. It’s great to have you here today!
About the Author
Rock singer, xenobiologist and ninja are just some of the jobs Ros wishes she could put on her CV. She has been a book blogger for over a decade. She lives in Lincolnshire under the iron rule of a grumpy black cat. The Secret Eater is her first novella.