Jen: This weekend we welcome Jennie Marsland to Romancing the Book. Jennie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Jennie: I’m a teacher, a painter, a musician and, for over thirty years, a writer. I fell in love with words at a very early age and the affair has been life-long. I enjoy writing songs and poetry as well as fiction. I’ve always loved history, and I grew up enjoying the stories my parents and grandparents told about life in rural Nova Scotia in the early years of the last century, and during the Great Depression. When I’m not writing I read, paint with watercolors, play guitar and garden. I live in Nova Scotia with my husband, our cat Emily and our Duck-Tolling Retriever, Chance.
Jen: Tell us about McShannon’s Chance and where it’s available.
Jennie: McShannon’s Chance, my first novel, is now available as an e-book and in print from Bluewood Publishing, and in print from Amazon and Barnes&Noble. The book is a historical Western, set in the Colorado Territory in 1871.
The hero, Trey McShannon, is a Civil War veteran, a Georgia boy who fought for the Union and decided it would be smart to make tracks for the West afterwards. After spending a few years getting his homestead up and running, Trey realizes he’s overworked and lonely and sends for a mail-order bride. He gets Beth Underhill, a watercolor artist from a once-affluent Eastern family, now in reduced circumstances. Trey needs a wife and Beth needs a home, it’s as simple as that…until the sparks of attraction start flying between them. Trey is still haunted by his wartime experiences, and Beth has been hurt by a man she thought she loved, so they have a lot of work to do before they can find happiness together.
You’ll find Bluewood Publishing’s bookstore at http://www.bluewoodpublishing.com. By the time this interview is posted, you should be able to order the book through bookstores as well.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Jennie: I started writing poetry and short stories when I was 9 or 10, and moved on to songs when I learned to play guitar as a teenager. I kept writing sporadically through the years, but never attempted anything longer until the hero for McShannon’s Chance popped into my head in a moment of inspiration. I was on a camping trip at the time and couldn’t find anything to write on but paper towel. I grabbed three sheets and a pencil and started scribbling. I still have those sheets tucked away. After a lot of revision and several rejections, the book went through two aborted publishing efforts with small publishers that closed. That hurt, but it made me realize that in the end, I write for myself. That makes it worth it. And the third attempt was the charm! The moral of the story is, never give up.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Jennie: My grandfather, Fred Marsland, had short stories published in several newspapers in the 1930s. He’s the only one I know of.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Jennie: Not really. In general I’m a morning person, so I try to get some writing time in before leaving for work. I aim for at least two hours of writing time every day.
Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?
Jennie: I believe in happy endings. They might be rare in real life, but they aren’t non-existent. I also believe in commitment and ‘for better, for worse’. My parents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary last year and my husband and I have been together for fourteen, so I know it can work.
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Jennie: I steal them wherever I find them. Whenever I hear a name I like, I file it away in my mind to be mixed and matched with an appropriate surname. I’ve always liked the name Beth, I once had a student named Trey, and McShannon is a name I found in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s journals. Logan, Trey’s friend, and Sidonie, his mother, are also named after former students.
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Jennie: I like writing for children. I have a middle-grade novel on the back burner, waiting to be completed. As for genres I’ll probably avoid, I don’t think I’d be very good at writing thrillers, though I enjoy reading them.
Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Jennie: The Victorian period appeals to me, especially the clothes. Not that I could ever lace into them! I once stepped into a 150-year-old Victorian gown, and it was tiny. I wouldn’t mind spending a year in an English country home or a snug farm during those times, but I wouldn’t want to be in London. I’ve read enough Dickens for that. I’d be sure to take antibiotics and painkillers with me…could I sneak in my laptop, too? No, no power. I’d have to resort to paper and pen. Maybe my penmanship would improve.
Jen: If McShannon’s Chance was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Jennie: I’d choose Jude Law to play my hero. I loved him in Cold Mountain, and he has the right quiet intensity for the part. Laura Prepon would be good for Beth; she’s gorgeous and has the right look of refinement, though her hair isn’t red now. She’d be lovely in period clothes.
Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished that goal, is there anything else you dream of doing?
Jennie: I studied biology in university and I have a fascination with genetics, so I’d like to go to the Galapagos Islands some day and see living tortoises that Charles Darwin might have seen, too.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Jennie: I just finished reading Anna Campbell’s Captive of Sin, and thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s a review on my website. It’s so different from most Regency romances. I’ve read Pamela Clare’s MacKinnons’ Rangers stories and found them wonderful, too. I hope to post reviews over the holidays. Next up is Judith James’ Highland Rebel. But I could never pick a favorite author any more than I could pick a favorite child.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jennie: I’ve just finished the first draft of a prequel to McShannon’s Chance, McShannon’s Heart. It’s the story of Trey’s twin sister, Rochelle. When her mother dies just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Chelle moves with her father to his old home in Yorkshire. She thinks she’s leaving love behind, but she soon finds herself attracted to a talented local musician, Martin Rainnie. With her brother and lover on opposite sides of the war and her heart torn between two men, Chelle has a lot to learn about love and loyalty, but her honesty and big heart lead her to a happy ending. I’m looking forward to a spring release for this one.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Jennie: You can find me at http://www.jenniemarsland.webs.com
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Jennie: Yes: how many of you are writers? If you are, tell me about your work!
Jen: Readers, we have a download copy of McShannon’s Chance to give to a random commenter. Due to the content of the book, the winner must be over the age of 18. To enter the contest, first you need to leave a question or comment for Jennie. Then to finish your entry, you must either leave your email address in your comment or send an email to email@example.com (with Jennie in the subject). The winner will be chosen on Thursday, February 11.