Jan Selbourne has become one of my favorite authors. I first read her work in the anthology Desire Me Again, published by Black Velvet Seductions, in which her story A Convict’s Prayer appeared. She was also featured in Cowboy Desire, where her story The Long Paddock quickly won my award for ‘Best Ending’. She’s also the author of numerous full-length historical romances.
So without any further ado… JAN SELBOURNE!!!
Jan Selbourne was born in Melbourne, Australia and her love of literature and history began as soon as she learned to read. After graduating from business college her career began in the dusty world of ledgers and accounting, working in Victoria, Queensland and the United Kingdom. On the point of retiring, she changed course to work as secretary of a large NSW historical society. Now retired, Jan is writing historical fiction. She has two adult children, a lovable dog and lives near Maitland, New South Wales.
(All opinions and statements contained in this interview are solely those of the author providing them, and may not necessarily reflect my own. – Virginia)
When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?
I’ve always wanted to write but growing up, career, travel, marriage, children then back to career kept the urge on the back burner. When I retired it was time for me to get serious. I sat down ready to go and had no idea what to write about. It was a small article in a magazine that gave me the inspiration for my first book.
What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?
Perilous Love, published in 2015, set in England and Belgium during the early days of World War One. Two people whose marriage is over are caught up in the invasion of Belgium, sparking WW1, however a lot of events in the story are based on fact. It’s a special book for me.
How do you balance writing with your personal life?
I’m retired, my time is my own and I can write when ideas are jabbing at me and stop when I run out.
Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?
Not people I actually know – but a few of my baddies are based on some well-known unpleasant people.
Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?
My daughter’s ideas and opinions help me a lot. My newsletter partner Dee S. Knight’s help was invaluable while finishing the last chapters of The Woman Behind the Mirror.
Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?
Definitely. My fifth book, set in England and colonial New South Wales, Australia, is almost finished and ideas are niggling at me for the next story.
Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?
A Convict’s Prayer, in the Desire Me Again anthology, is the true story of my Irish ancestor who was set up by her brother for stealing and transported to the harsh Van Diemen’s Land Penal colony (now Tasmania) Australia for fourteen years. Her life was very hard but she gained her ticket of leave in less than seven years, which allowed her to marry again and apply for her son in Ireland to join her. (Virginia’s note: HIGHLY recommended tale!!!)
Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?
Laughing. Of course I’m normal, well, I think I am. (Don’t ask my kids)
Do you drink? Why or why not?
Alcohol? Yes, white wine. Why? Because I like it.
If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?
Perilous Love. The idea for this story came from an article on how a person’s real character emerges when faced with extreme danger or life changing events.
In Perilous Love, Adrian and Gabrielle can barely stand the sight of each other until they are trapped in Belgium as war looms over Europe. Plunged into a nightmare of lies and betrayal, they flee for their lives as the German forces cross the border. Narrowly evading capture, witnessing death and atrocities, they discover more about each other and themselves than in the eight years of marriage. But the tentacles of treachery have spread to England where Adrian faces charges of treason and a woman who’ll stop at nothing to see him dead.
How does your life experience influence your writing?
I’m sure life experiences influence all writer’s scenes and characters.
Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?
I write historical fiction and try to provide an accurate as possible background for that period in history. We can create our characters any way we want, good and bad, gorgeous and ugly, but we owe it to our readers not to throw our heroes and heroines into an era or situation and hope for the best.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?
I love music, lean to musical theater and classical but find it distracting when I write.
Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?
The closest to real life events was Perilous Love. My grandfather was in Belgium and France during WW1 and some of the dreadful events he witnessed are in the book.
Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?
Not structured at all. I write when I can and stop writing when I’m running dry.
What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?
Writing has been incredibly rewarding from holding my first book in my hand, the lovely reviews and comments on my books and meeting fantastic, talented authors.
Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?
I write when I’m on vacation.
Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?
I like variety, historical and contemporary.
What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?
I’m don’t think I have quirky habits—but don’t ask my kids.
Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?
Yes, writing historical stories requires research and I’ve found people and organizations very generous with their help. For instance, after visiting the Commonwealth War Graves in France, I asked London’s Imperial War Museum and the Australian War Memorial if it was possible for WW1 soldiers to swap identity tags with fallen comrades. Both replied yes it was possible but extremely unlikely because the chances of being caught very high and the penalties harsh (a hanging offense). Good enough for me to write The Proposition. (My character wasn’t caught). I was a bit nervous contacting the prestigious Bank of England for information on banking in the 18th/19th centuries. The archivist was incredibly friendly and helpful, giving me confidence to include the bank in The Woman Behind the Mirror. Research takes a lot of time but it’s worth it.
Perilous Love is available on Amazon.com (Sorry, no link. Amazon fights like hell to hijack my entire page, and then causes a computer freeze as it furiously battles my computer’s security settings.)
Jan Selbourne Author links: