Today we welcome Jody Klaire as a guest blogger. Hailing from Wales, Jody’s career to date has seen her enjoying stints as a singer/songwriter and a police officer, and she apparently lives with some kind of small petting zoo which includes her golden retriever, several gerbils, some sneaky house mice, and a neighbour’s cat. Her début novel The Empath (book one of the Above and Beyond series) is due out from Bedazzled Ink this summer.
But enough from me, I’ll let Jody tell you the rest…
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The Essence of Home
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Well hello there!
For those of you who haven’t met me yet, I’m Jody Klaire, a chatty Welsh-woman from the south. I converted from writing songs and music to novels in 2011, and my debut book The Empath is out with Bedazzled Ink in the summer.
With the introductions out of the way, when the ladies allowed me to write a guest blog I wondered just what I could talk about. Then it came to me in an Oscar Wilde flash: ‘Two nations divided by a common language’.
You see, I’m part of the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) and the British Writer’s Workshop Wordcloud, and through getting the wonderful benefits both offer, I have found a home in Bedazzled. Both groups have taught me to see the differences in our cultures and language, as well as our common traits. So I thought that I would look at the way both sides have influenced our genre and cultures, and vice versa.
Since you follow this blog, I am guessing that you like to read, write or both. Perhaps, like me, before you dared to consider the possibilities of who you were, you took solace in the stories of others: authors who, like you, may have stuck out like a football fan at a rugby match. They gave you characters who resonated with you, and you experienced that exciting and slightly addictive sense that when you picked up those books, you met people who felt the same way that you did. Authors who showed you that you weren’t alone but part of a wonderful vibrant world.
When I think of authors with that power, I think of Gerri Hill, Karin Kallmaker, Georgia Beers, Katherine V. Forrest, Radclyffe… you could probably insert an awful lot more. They are only the tip of a huge Arctic iceberg that includes my own fellow Bedazzled authors – Ann McMan, Sandra Moran and Barrett – and Sapphire’s Isabella, Lynette Mae and Linda K Silva, to name a few, and that’s without listing the countless indie authors. In America the genre is bubbling, growing and creating new ways for readers to connect to their culture.
Through the words of those authors, I discovered a continent. Through their characters, I learned about their complex network of subcultures and experienced their issues. Through their works, we live so many different lives. The sheer power of the book (or eReader) in your hands to transport you to a place that understands you and frees you is essential to me as both a reader and an author.
Sometimes we need characters who live a little closer, ones who echo our own lives. Here in the UK we have some big hitters of our own, authors like Sarah Waters, who launched a whole new world to another generation through TV adaptations. I wonder how many readers were drawn by the BBC depictions. This, of course, is missing out Jeanette Winterson and Val McDermid, to name only a few. They are power players in their own right, who show our culture and speak in a way that resonates with us.
So what does all of this have to do with my writing? Well, The Empath is a fusing of these two cultures. It is based in the fictional town of Oppidum, Missouri, which echoes British and American cultures. Aeron, my main lady, has subtle touches that I hope British readers will spot and enjoy. Her series takes in a continent that I have learned so much about, yet through the eyes of someone who, I hope, will feel like a treasured companion.
The second series will be launched in the winter with Fractured and takes in the city of Edinburgh. I love the old town, and I explore it through the eyes of Nita, who is not the kind of person you may be used to spending time with. In my writing, I strive to create characters who compel you, if not lure you, into wanting to know them.
My two series seem to mimic what I am talking about here. Aeron and Nita are polar opposites in some ways, yet they share a common author… me!
I feel that we, as British authors, have a culture and a society at our mercy to play with and depict in rich new ways. We have so much history, so many facets to our wonderful nation. It would be amazing if we could share that with our American sisters and, of course, globally. Speaking only of Wales, it is incredible how different life is for people who are only separated by miles. We have some incredible scenery at our fingertips here in the UK too.
Just as America has the GCLS as a source and an epicentre, wouldn’t it be lovely to see that kind of community grow over here? A place where indie authors and those from publishing houses can meet, conspire and educate, all while meeting the readers and hopefully attracting swathes of new ones. Sites like this one play a great part in that vision, so I am thankful to Cari and Tig for undertaking such a big task. You rock, ladies!
The GCLS philosophy of paying it forward is one that has made their side of the pond an indomitable force in our genres. I hope that we Brits can feed off that and forge the same sense of camaraderie. I hope that we can drive each other to new heights in order to reach that young girl (or young-at-heart girl) and show her that there is a world ripe for her to explore. A world brimming with possibility and excitement, a world that is even closer to home than she realises… in fact, it’s right there in her hands.
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