Saturday, February 13, 2016

Interview with author Celine Jeanjean - Giveaway

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Hong Kong with my husband, two cats, and a dog. I’m French but I grew up in London and I’m completely bilingual. All that means I have no idea where I’m from these days. I write steampunk and fantasy with a dab of humour and mystery, and I’m a voracious and eclectic reader.

Q ~ If you could have coffee (or tea) with any author who would it be and what would you ask them? And what would you have?
That’s a tough question – can I get more than one? If I had to choose just the one, I’d go for Neil Gaiman. A close second is Ray Bradbury but he’s dead so that’s not very practical. On second thought, tea with Ray Bradbury’s ghost would be immeasurably cool.

As to what I’d ask Neil (we’re on first name basis in this theoretical scenario), I’d want to just chat about the books he reads, the art he likes, and his views on life and art and whatever he finds interesting. I think he’s a fascinating author and it would be awesome to get a peek into how his mind works.

While all this is going on, I’d either be drinking Lapsang Souchong or a hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream. I’d probably end up having both since the chat would be a long one.

Q ~ If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?
A cat. No animal knows how to be as comfortable as a cat. Also, bossing humans around like cats do must be fun.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors?
I think people perceive authors as smart people who know what they are doing, while a lot of authors feel like frauds who are just making it up as they go along.

Q ~ Are there any new (or new to you) Authors that have grasped your interest recently and why?
I’ve been delving into some classic stories of late, and Mario Puzo (author of the Godfather) and Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone with the Wind) have really blown me away. I’ve learnt a lot from them both about storytelling. I’ve also discovered a new Swedish writer called Karin Tidbeck and I love her collection of short stories called Jagannath. They’re wonderfully, quietly weird and like nothing I’ve read before.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
There was no single catalyst for me, or if there was, I don’t remember it. I spent my entire childhood making up stories in my head, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that it occurred to me to write them down. And even then I never really wrote the middle of stories. Instead I’d write beginnings and then very dramatic, angsty endings where half the characters died. I was an angsty teen.

It wasn’t until my twenties that I wrote a full story, complete with beginning, middle, and end. And then I had to make the switch from writing fiction in French to writing in English, so it was a long and slow process before I wrote my first full story in English.

Q ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?
The best thing is the pure joy that comes from writing a story that I love. The worst is having to face my inner demons and insecurities every time I sit down to write.

Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?
Before I start writing I have what I like to think of as the tent poles of the story: main characters, antagonist, mid point and ending. Sometimes I’ll also roughly know the structure of each act. I’m then free to do what I want to get from one tent pole to the other.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release The Viper and the Urchin and what inspired you to write it?
I was struggling with another story and was growing increasingly frustrated with it. To give myself a break and recharge the creative batteries, I got the idea of writing a fun short story about an assassin who’s afraid of blood. I thought it would be fun to make him a bit of a dandy who’s obsessed with his appearance and who writes bad poetry. Then I thought it would be fun to have him blackmailed by a grubby, smart-mouthed urchin girl. By the time Longinus and Rory partnered up to solve a mystery, I realised I was writing a novel.

Q ~ What music did you listen to while writing The Viper and the Urchin?
I listened to Creep by Radiohead on repeat for almost the entire time I wrote that story. I like to listen to one song on loop when I work. These days I’m listening to Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
My favourite scene is when Longinus is in the Hand and Tankard and listening out for gossip about his work – simply because it was so much fun to write. I also love the scene in the coffeehouse.

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about the process that went behind the cover artwork for this novel?
I actually had quite a clear vision of what I wanted for this one. What was tricky was finding someone who could stand in for Rory. I really didn’t want someone pretty, since Rory isn’t a pretty girl, and that made it hard to find a suitable model. Hence why in the end we went for a shot of Rory from the back.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite character in the novel? Is this person based on someone, or multiple someones, in your life?
I think every character has at some point been my favourite – it’s hard to chose, especially between Rory and Longinus! I think that Longinus just about wins though, because he’s so funny and weird, but also so vulnerable. All of my characters have aspects of me in them, which is inevitable since I created them. I don’t base characters on people in my life though, at least not so far.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
The sequel to The Viper and the Urchin is coming out soon, and I’m really excited about that. Otherwise I’m working on a completely different story that takes places in Victorian England and is very gothic. Completely different in feel from The Viper and the Urchin, but another project I’m hugely excited about.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Write every day, and read as widely as you can, especially outside of your chosen genre. The more variety of things you put into your creative well, the more interesting stuff you’ll be able to draw from it. And get smart about your options. Writing should be done for the love of it and free of any commercial consideration, but all that comes after the writing is business. Whatever path a writer choses, it’s important to be empowered and educated.

About the author:  

Celine Jeanjean is French, grew up in the UK and now lives in Hong Kong. That makes her a tad confused about where she is from. During her time in Asia she's watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, lost her shoes in Vietnam, and fallen off a bamboo raft in China.

Celine writes stories that feature quirky characters and misfits, and her books are a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and humour.

To find out more about Celine or just to chat, visit her on her websiteFacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

About The Viper and the Urchin:

Being Damsport’s most elegant assassin is hard work. There’s tailoring to consider, devilish poisons to concoct, secret identities to maintain… But most importantly, Longinus must keep his fear of blood hidden or his reputation will be ruined. So when Rory, a scrawny urchin girl, threatens to expose his phobia unless he teaches her swordsmanship, he has no choice but to comply.

As if being saddled with a dirty, grammatically incorrect girl isn’t bad enough, a copycat assassin begins to imitate Longinus’ kills and threatens both his and Rory’s lives. Arguments have to be set aside, and Longinus and Rory are forced to work together to unmask and stop the copycat. But darker forces than they realise are at play, and with time running out, the unlikely duo find themselves the last line of defence against a powerful enemy who seeks to bring the city of Damsport to its knees.

Book Links
my review

And now....
Enter to win in this giveaway for 3 ecopies (mobi, epub, or pdf) of The Viper and the Urchin by Celine Jeanjean.
Contest is open internationally, where applicable by law. 
Entries close at 11:59pm February 19/16. 
Winners will be drawn February 2016. 
Winners will be notified via email to the email provided to the giveaway and will have 72h to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

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