Jena Baxter Quirky Interview
What made you decide you wanted to write?
I had no desire to write until four years ago. After 7 knee and two shoulder operations, I was climbing walls. I asked my wife. ‘Where can I go to release myself from this incarceration?’ ‘Try the kitchen,’ didn’t go down too well. I tried again. ‘Come on, what can I do?’ ‘Try the washing up,’ didn’t go down too well either. And then came that light-bulb moment when my better half said. ‘Why don’t you write your feelings down?’ I was up the stairs just faster than a snail and wrote a diary of getting old. It was crap, I was crap, as my new writing group friends told me ever so nicely. So I went back to school, and started from the beginning.
Who inspires you?
The work of David Gemmell, the acknowledged master of epic fantasy, had a way with words that allowed my imagination to run freely as I read his books. And J.R.R.Tolkien is to blame for my red rimmed eyes and my tardiness at work after reading the Lord of the Rings over many late nights.
Tell us about your stories.
I started with Drabbles, and Spectral Morning won the competition on Fantasy Con a couple of years back. That made me very proud. I’ve also written short stories in differing genres - sometimes I even get paid. Yippee! The Portsmouth News in England, and The Chania Post in Crete, have also published my tales, as well as the respected Scribble magazine in England.
I wrote a novella for all the family, entitled Bolt Out Of The Blue. Lacking in violence, sex, bad language, and cynicism, one reviewer posted that he could image sitting around a log fire with his children to read them the magical tale of Bolt, the white rabbit.
My passion is fantasy, yet these days the lines seem to be blurred with the exact genre definition. Epic, heroic, even medieval fantasy would fit the bill, but I call it fantasy writing to avoid any confusion.
I have always believed that all men and women are flawed, for none of us are perfect, and war brings out the best and the worst in even the gentlest folk. Thus I write in this way, showing vile acts, but also the love between men and women, brothers in arms, and clan with clan.
Evil Never Dies was the first book in the Maxilla series. Writing it scared me to death; maybe the title had something to do it? What a relief when it was finished. The follow up, Heroes Never Fade, carried on some months after the first, but both are stand-alone novels. In both novels I’ve created a world of humans with good and vile leaders, and use my own version of the Greek gods who interfere in the lives of men. Bored with their lives, the gods play games, using humans as their playthings. Titian, the God of War, wants violence, whilst Jade, the goddess of love, seeks peace and harmony. The two constantly try to outdo one another.
I’ve received excellent reviews on both books. Both were professionally edited, as will be the third in the trilogy, Magic Never Ends, which should be released in the autumn of 2018.
Any quirky characters?
There can be only one.
Grona - an anagram of groan, is a broad chested bull of a man in his late forties who hates everyone, including his son Tarn. Yet, underneath his spite and malice he’s not quite so grumpy, for in certain situations he shows both sides of his character. Haranguing young boys for allowing a scout to escape soon turns to gentleness as he carries one in his arms to bury after a vicious attack. Grona is happiest whilst enjoying the company of whores and drinking sessions with his small band of men, yet his character softens with the coming of a small and very gifted girl child. The many faceted Grona will never disappoint his readers but he will surprise them.
If you were a character or creature in one of your stories, what would you be, and why?
I’d have to be Grona, for the reasons above, yet he is the complete opposite of me. I love his attitude to authority, and the way he nearly always gets his own way. Think spoilt brat with big sword and pussy cat with big drink and you get the idea.
If you could disappear in any story, (aside from your own) which would you choose?
The Lord of the Rings engulfed me many moons ago, and I’d drop into that world in a flash if I could. It’s such a vast land, so alive with so many wonderful characters that anyone would fit in, even me
You’re lost in that story right now. Which character are you?
Legolas, the elf bowman.
I don’t fancy his spikey ears, but, as I do like a bit of magic, I’d want to enjoy myself in the Elven realm of Rivendell. Pulling back the drawstring on his mighty bow and seeing an arrow sing in flight before sinking into the chest of an Orc leader would be very satisfying. I can almost hear the trumpets.
If you were a fantasy creature, what would you be, and why?
I’d be an elf, but not with big ears. The Elven girls look stunning in their dresses of silks and satin that only just cover their, well, you get the gist. Rivendell was the home of many elves who wanted nothing better than to be left alone, and that would seem like heaven to me, even though outsiders had other ideas. Most of all I could use the power of their magic and turn hate to love, evil to good, but now I am dreaming.
I love bouncing around with alternative choices, so …
Angel or demon?
Fairy or Witch?
Land or air?
City or Country?
Candy or Cake?
Red or blue?
Black or White?
Coffee or Tea?
Music or Television?
Paperback or Kindle?
Boat or Plane?
Is there anything you’ve really wanted to do that you’ve never done?
I’ve always wanted to swim with wild dolphins, not the poor things condemned to a life in a pool. For no matter how well they are looked after, I see only sadness every time I see one smile. Maybe we can clean up the oceans and give back their freedom?
Are there any books planned for the future that we can look forward too?
I’m working on a new novel – no title yet – which is something different for me. Think Bernard Cornwell and Britain circa 10th/11th centuries, rather than Games of Thrones, for there is no magic here, simply folk fighting to survive, yet it’s a pure fantasy tale and not historical fiction. I’ve written 50k so far and there’s not much more to go now, perhaps another 20k. I’m a slow typist, often taking time to see the next few sentences in my head before I commence, but with this novel I’m thinking faster than an express train, and thus typing incoherent rubbish. However, I know what I mean, and spell and grammar checkers are pretty good.
Do you have a website?
Is there anything you want to add before calling it a day?
Our world is full of surprises as none of us know what’s around the corner. Thus I live life to the full as the life queue is getting shorter, and I’m not going to have any regrets.
My passion is writing, and if someone says I like your Drabble, Short Story, or novel, it makes my day. I’d ask all readers to post a review after reading their latest book, for that helps the author tremendously, and all of us writers really do appreciate your words.
I’ll leave you with this thought.
Wherever you go, there you are, so have fun.
It’s was great having you Rick. Thanks for joining me today.
My pleasure Jena.
May the sun always shine in your heart.
Author's note. Leaving a comment in the box really helps and I would be very grateful for even a few words. Thank you kindly.