Emily-Jane Hill Orford is an award-winning Jubilee Writer gracing my blog. I’m so excited to have her share her life experience with us. Her journey is similar to mine. Welcome Emily-Jane. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.
I have always loved writing. I grew up in a family of storytellers. We would sit around the dinner table sharing our stories. Being the youngest, I found myself listening more than sharing my stories. So, as soon as I could write, I wrote my stories. I particularly enjoy writing stories about real people, real life and started my writing career in the late 1970s writing for small publications, telling people’s stories and writing about interesting places. I still enjoy writing these types of stories, but my passion for fiction insists that I write novels as well.
I wrote a lot of food/recipe stories in the 1970s and 1980s and I had a wonderful editor who took the time to help me hone my writing skills. I also started writing book reviews about this time, delving into what was current in the publishing world and learning my craft by studying the writing art of others. I still write food stories and book reviews.
My creative inspiration? My grandmother was a wonderful storyteller and she had a passion for reading, too, which she shared with me. My mother was very creative in writing, photography, needleart, art and she encouraged me in all my creative ventures, often teaching me along the way. My father, an engineer, was the practical influence, but later on he took up writing as well and encouraged me with mine. We helped each other: Dad would edit my work and I edited his, until he passed away.
What a wonderful legacy. Emily, what is your current publishing project.
My most recent novel, “Queen Mary’s Daughter” (Clean Reads 2018), is historical fiction/fantasy, a completely new genre for me. There were a lot of things that led me to write “Queen Mary’s Daughter”. My grandmother and I had a special relationship and, when I was old enough, we travelled together a lot. One special trip took us to Scotland where we traced her childhood memories (she was born in Scotland) as well as followed the trail of Mary Queen of Scots. We had been enjoying a number of novels and biographies about the ill-fated queen and my grandmother ignited my interest by telling me about ancestors who helped in her escape from Loch Leven Castle. I always wanted to write about Queen Mary, but it wasn’t until the Brexit debacle and the ongoing desire of the Scottish people to separate from England, that I started looking more closely at the stories around Queen Mary. I knew she had given birth, prematurely, to twins while imprisoned at Loch Leven. History records that the babies died at birth and were buried on the island where the castle sat. An interesting footnote states that the location of the burial and the babies’ remains have never been found. So, I started thinking, ‘what if?’. What if there had been another heir to the Scottish throne and Scotland never did amalgamate with England and Ireland? And my story unfolded.
How interesting. I understand you also write middle grade novels.
I’ve just signed a contract with Tell-Tale Publishing for a Middle Grade fantasy series, “The Piccadilly Street Stories”. “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, the first book in the series, due (hopefully) to be released just before Christmas, delves into dreams and ghosts and little people, touched with a bit of magic. My grandmother always told me I had a vivid imagination. In some ways, this series is completely different from anything else I’ve written so far, but in other ways it’s very similar as I’m creating a plot based on some things that happened to me as a child. And, interspersed in all this are key topics affecting our youth today, especially the issue of bullying.
Love the idea. How do you research your books.
I read a lot of books (real books): history, biography, fiction. I also use the internet. Who wouldn’t in this day and age. It’s quick, easily accessible and more current. But one has to be careful what sites to believe. There’s a lot of garbage and falsehoods on the internet, along with all the good stuff.
I’d say amen to being careful of the internets’ information.
When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
I was the youngest of a family of four. We had a large extended family: lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. Everyone was a storyteller and everyone wanted to be heard. As the youngest, I always had a difficult time getting a word in edgewise. So, I listened. And, as soon as I could write, I started writing my own stories. My mom kept a lot of my stories. I found them tucked away in a box after she passed away. What fun reading through things I had written when I was a child.
Do you have a favorite quote that resonates with you?
“I live to write, so I shall never die.” A quote from a master of verse, author and poet, Diana M. Raab composes eloquent synopses, postcard captions of isolated events, people, and emotions. From the ordinary to the extra-ordinary, to the reflective, the simple and sometimes the mundane act of just being alive, Raab invites us into her world, into her life. She is honest, compassionate and, at times, surreal; but, all in all, her life is very real. All life is very real.
The quote provides a touch or immortality into the written words of an author and, in a way, the author as well.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?
The same advice I give my writing students: Believe in yourself and just write. Ignore the critics and the publishers who don’t appreciate your writing and remember that just because one person rejects or trashes your work, it doesn’t mean it’s not good enough. As readers, we don’t like everything we read, so why should everyone like what we write?
Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?
Sticking to a routine. I make sure I write every morning for at least an hour: updating my journal, working on my current novel, writing articles (I currently contribute regularly to a gardening blog: https://insteading.com as well as contributing short family memoirs to http://www.curiousguide.ca), and keeping up with my book reviewing (I’m a regular reviewer on https://readersfavorite.com). I make time each day to update my marketing initiatives: blog interviews, blog posts, etc. I have other passions, like painting, composing, playing the piano and working in the garden. So, I fit all these other creative pursuits into my day before returning to my writing again later. Routine is the key. If I break the routine, I lose the momentum. And, if I have to endure a long wait in a doctor’s or dentist’s office, I always have a notebook (a real paper one) on hand to jot down some ideas and, yes sometimes, even write while I wait.
Your passion for writing is very clear in your discipline. In all your reading what is your favorite genre to read for fun?
I love reading a lot of genres. I guess I could narrow my favorites down to two: mysteries and historical fiction.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have an antique spinet desk positioned by a large picture window that looks out into my wooded front yard. I feel a little like Jane Austen when I sit at this desk, even though I’m writing on a laptop instead of on paper.
Must be a beautiful spot. Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m sure your journey will inspire many of my readers.
More about Emily-Jane:
Emily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books, including Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. She writes about the extra-ordinary in life and her books, short stories, and articles are receiving considerable attention. For more information on the author, check out her website at: http://emilyjanebooks.ca
Synopsis of Queen Mary’s Daughter
There are so many possibilities that affect the course of history. One change, one small item overlooked, can make a world of difference, not only in a person’s life, but in the history and well-being of an entire nation. And then there are those multiple scenarios of what if? What if King James VI of Scotland didn’t succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? What if there had been another heir to the throne of Scotland? One who would secure its independence? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away?
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