Paula: Hello from Wales, thanks for having me, Deanna. Let’s set this interview in Kenward Hall in Shropshire, a 16th-century hall with dark wood paneling and mullioned windows, a dark family secret and a ghostly presence that walks its halls, waiting for the one that can release them all from an unspeakable secret....‘Echoes’ I'm also holding a contest for one lucky winner to receive an e-book of Echoes when it releases. Enter the contest at the bottom of the interview and thank you all for stopping by!
Deanna: I love anything set in England! Thank you for being my guest. Please tell us a bit about yourself that our readers might not know.
Paula: My name is Paula Jacqueline Roscoe and I write under P.J. Roscoe. Initially, it was to be a bit of a mystery, I didn’t want readers to know if I was male or female, but the reality is, people wanted to interview me, so not much of a mystery in the end!! But what did I know twenty years ago? Yes, that’s right. I began my tentative journey into writing two decades ago with ‘Echoes’ my first novel, which is just being re-released this month by Doce Blant Publishing. It’s been on one hell of a journey over the years.
It began as a short story which I wrote to keep my mind occupied following the sudden death of my son. It turned into a 165,000-word novel which I put away in a drawer for many years as I concentrated on bringing up my daughter with special needs and writing historical articles for a Welsh magazine. I pulled it out, played around with it and sent it to various publishers – many rejections later, I self-published in 2012. I received an Honourable mention in a New England book festival, so I persevered and in 2013 ‘Echoes’ won the best e-book in Paris book awards. A publisher took it on, but sadly, it turned out she was a fraud so I reclaimed it and it gained another Honourable mention in London’s 2014 book festival and five stars from Reader’s Favourite putting it through to the finals. Now, my first book is on its way back out into the world – it’s been quite a journey!
Deanna: What do you do to relax?
Paula: I’m not even sure I know what that is!!! My husband, Martin, will tell you I do too much and never switch off completely unless he makes me do it. I have so many stories and characters roaming around in my head, they are impatient to be heard!
I’m also a therapist and Chakradance healer so this is relaxing when I find times to do it myself which isn't often enough. I hold classes regularly, but I’m in work, therapist mode with clients, so not much relaxing going on, but healing.
I walk every day with my dog, Sidney among nature. This hour is my switch off time if I can manage it. I love to dance and sing and I hold monthly drumming sessions to help people unwind and allow emotions to be released. I suppose my favourite relaxing time is doing jigsaws but they have to be specific ones and they are now few and far between – as I’ve done most of them!! Headphones on, a mug of coffee – switch off – bliss.
Deanna: I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles. It helps talk with my characters. As authors, we’ve sometimes been accused of being several people. How many personalities live in your mind?
Paula: Goodness, so many I cannot count them! And each one is ‘real’ to me. So much so, when I was writing ‘Echoes’ I was passing a clothing shop in town and without thinking, I said, ‘Bronwen would look good in that...’ To which my husband said, ‘Yeah, but she’s not real is she?!’ I ‘see’ each and every character perfectly and all have a place in my heart, even the baddies.
I was once asked where the characters come from, how they are formed and it came as quite a shock to me that they come from me. Each one must be a small part of me, from my past, my present, people I’ve met and known well or met briefly I must have subconsciously taken something of their character without thought and moulded it into a character within my books. Something I must do regularly. Scary for those people I’ve yet to meet...!
Deanna: What type of hero do you like best?
Paula: A non-pretentious one I guess. A man or woman who is heroic without being up their own arse! All of my women characters are strong and resilient to try to show women readers we are such and not to give our power away. So many women read my books and can relate to the women characters. My objective in each book is to make women (and men) truly feel and not be ashamed in their emotion. I spoke with a lady yesterday who had just finished ‘Diary of Margery Blake’. She said it was hard to read and it made her feel quite disturbed in the beginning, but she persevered and couldn’t put it down in the end and cried. She realized, without giving anything about the story away, that I’d achieved my goal as an author. I’d written disturbing scenes to help her grasp what women have endured and continue to endure, but oh what strength we have to fight back and it made her quite emotional.
Deanna: How many plots do you include in one of your books?
Paula: I usually have one main plot, with subplots all coming to a climax at the end. They all mould into each other. My books tend to move between two time frames, i.e., Echoes moves between Tudor period and present day, with two stories running alongside, but both connected.
Deanna: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.
Paula: I see my daughter off to school, walk Sidney, and make a large mug of coffee and switch on the computer. I try to keep the answering e-mails, networking and organizing events to a couple of hours, but sometimes I lose myself in the chaos and I can lose a whole morning if I’m not careful! Then I’ll have a quick lunch and continue work on my next novel, ‘Realms’ which I’m writing slowly as there are more in the queue to be published first! Or write a short story or organize a chakra dance healing session. My work ends at 3.45pm when my daughter returns and I become ‘Mum’ again and wife, cook, cleaner, taxi!
Deanna: Wow, that's busy. I find most writers don't have a lot of free time. Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?
Paula: All my books are supernatural/historical books for adults, except Diary of Margery Blake, that is historical, though I’d swear I was helped by a spirit. One day I’ll dig around to see if there was a Margery Blake and if so, I’ll not be surprised. The book wrote itself within five weeks.
I also write faerie stories for children, teaching them morals and how to live in nature – or there will be consequences! My second book is due out around August 2017. I also have short stories in various anthologies and am considering putting together my own anthology of my short stories as I have quite a few.
Deanna: What do you enjoy best about writing?
Paula: The actual writing part. Getting to know my characters and their stories and seeing how it comes together, like a film. I also love the research bit. Finding a snippet of information and seeing how it can be incorporated into the story somehow. In the old days, I’d be entrenched in the reference library, now it’s all online, which isn’t as good – it doesn’t have that ‘smell’!
Deanna: I know what you mean. What’s the most difficult thing about writing?
Paula: The writing is fine, I’ve never had writers' block. I find it difficult to let go of the book and move onto the next. I grieve the characters a little, but when it’s time to re-edit, it’s like revisiting an old friend, but by the fifth edit, it can be a bit boring!
It’s the marketing process I really struggle with. Some author’s books just ‘sell’ and they barely do anything. I like to go out and meet readers, engage with them, but, I’m still not a best-seller! Yet!
Deanna: Are you working on anything new?
Paula: I am in the process of putting together my second book for children, ‘Adventures of Faerie folk, volume two’. The illustrations have been done and now it’s the book cover and hoping to launch it at a faerie festival in August 2017. I’m working on another novel titled, ‘Realms’ which is following the lives of a family and what happens when the mother is in a terrible accident that leaves her in a coma – but where is she really? I was researching the prequel to ‘Echoes’ but the timeline is wrong and characters are not fitting into it, so will have to postpone and re-think. Diary of Margery Blake has recently won the Marie M Irvine Literary Excellence Award and is being taken on by Doce Blant publishing, so I’m expecting to be doing some work on that and I’m waiting to hear if my fifth novel, ‘Where Rivers Meet’ will be accepted.
Deanna: Tell me about other books you’ve written.
Paula: My second novel, ‘Freya’s Child’ and third novel, ‘Between Worlds’ are with Crimson Cloak publishing and are available through their website, Ingram’s and Amazon. Freya’s Child is set on the Wirral, England and moves between present day and the 10th century, when Vikings walked the lands. I wanted to explore what a parent would do to save the life of their child. Fight the dead? Defy the gods?
Between Worlds is a psychological thriller set in a present day psychiatric ward and the 6th century. How can you trust someone if they think you’re crazy? A woman who has been missing for months is found bloodied and battered next to a headless corpse. The only clue, the murder weapon, an ancient sword. Refusing to speak, the young woman is sent to a hospital where a doctor attempts hypnotherapy, but what is revealed, is impossible – isn’t it? What would you give up, for love? It’s just received five stars from Readers Favourite putting it through to the finals.
Deanna: Who is your favourite author, and why?
Paula: Barbara Erskine has always been a firm favourite because of her style of writing and her ability to create an atmosphere with her words. She doesn’t over-use description, which I like. My books have been compared to hers. One of my favourite reviews for ‘Echoes’ by a book shop was, ‘Perfect for Barbara Erskine fans!’ I was delighted. And in May this year, I had the privilege of meeting Barbara at an author’s talk and book signing and she asked me to sign Between Worlds for her! I was astounded and await her review with bated breath!
Deanna: How exciting! I love meeting other authors! Why did you choose this genre to write?
Paula: The supernatural world has always been a huge part of my life. From the age of around five, my best friend was a poltergeist, though I didn’t understand it at the time! I thought everyone’s invisible friend could do what mine did! Slam doors, hide objects, make the beds shake, among other things. Most houses I’ve lived in have had one ghost or another and although some frightened me, I got used to them.
I used to be with a group who was asked to various locations and we’d help the spirit if we could. I’d counsel them, find out the problem and work with their spirit guides and loved ones to encourage them to move on in their journey. Many an emotional moment was had by all of us, but when people began watching the egotistical programme, ‘Most Haunted’ which we know was fake, people realized they could earn money off their properties and I refused to be a part of that. No person, dead or alive, should be flaunted around and disrespected just so others can get a cheap thrill from – it’s disgusting. Dead hundreds of years or last week, every spirit has the right to be respected – and people wonder why nasty things happen when they mess around?!
I’ve worked with so-called ‘evil’ or ‘negative’ spirit and helped them move on, I don’t judge them or disrespect them and work with angels and guides to provide support. I’ve met so many fantastic characters that have made me laugh, cry and honoured to have been allowed to share in their journey. I could chat all day about my adventures into the spirit world – perhaps one day I’ll write my biography!
P.J Roscoe is Mother, wife, daughter, sister, author, counselor, holistic therapist, Chakradance facilitator, drumming therapist and Goddess! And works damned hard at all of them! Author of award-winning novel ‘Echoes’ and ‘Adventures of Faerie folk’, along with ‘Freya’s Child, Between Worlds and Diary of Margery Blake’. Her genre is supernatural historical fiction and has also had three stories published in Anthologies, ‘Love Alters’, ‘Steps in Time’ and ‘Crimson Timelines. Paula lives in North Wales with the love of her life, Martin, her soul-mate, married twenty-four years (In this life!) and their daughter, Megan who has Autism and Dyspraxia. They have three cats and a dog, Sidney. “To not write, is like asking me not to breathe – so I’ll keep going until it becomes boring!!”