Thursday, March 21, 2013

Charming Canucks: Interview and Giveaway with Jane Nickerson

Charming Canucks is a feature I’ve created that will be posted every other month or so in an effort to spotlight more Canadian YA authors and their books. 
Today, I'd like to welcome Jane Nickerson.
A bit about Jane (as found on Goodreads): For many years Jane Nickerson and her family lived in a big old house in Aberdeen, Mississippi, where she was also the children’s librarian. She has always loved the South, “the olden days,” gothic tales, houses, kids, writing, and interesting villains. She and her husband now make their home in Ontario, Canada. 

Strands of Bronze and Gold, your debut novel, was released on March 12 by Random House Children’s Books. Give three reasons why everyone should read it. 
First off, Strands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of a traditional fairytale that is not at all fairy-tale-esque. Really it’s more gothic than magical, so if you’re a fan of Rebecca or Jane Eyre (but without the annoying/boring parts) this is the book for you. Second, Strands has a villain-to-die-for (literally for some), who (like the heroine, Sophie) you alternately fall for, pity, hate, and are creeped-out by. Third, Strands has a valuable modern message – that someone, against all odds, however outwardly helpless, can exercise her agency with integrity, courage, and a pure heart, in order to stand against and defeat evil. 

Strands of Bronze and Gold is a historical fiction with gothic elements based on the folktale of Bluebeard. Is there another genre you’d love to try your hand at someday? Is there a genre you could never see yourself writing? 
I really love high fantasy, and thought that the first book I had published would be full of wizards and mysticism and magic. Eventually I hope to do that. I can’t see myself ever writing contemporary realistic fiction, particularly the kind that involves a lot of brand-name dropping. There’s certainly a place for that, but I can’t get interested in it. 

What is your writing process like? Are you a pantser or a planner? 
For short stories I’m a pantser – I leap into it and just write it into a story. For long books I start out with everything neatly planned and outlined in a notebook with carefully-marked sections. It’s sort of like a skeleton to hang the flesh on. Then, as I go along, the notebook becomes crammed with bits and pieces of paper I’ve scribbled notes on, and I’m allowed to change anything I want to change as the ideas strike me and as the characters demand. 

Describe your writing space. 
My writing space is a messy desk in a study lined with bookshelves. There’s a big window next to it, so I can gaze outside now and then, and there’s space in the middle to jump up and pace when I get fidgety. I need lots of water bottles, cashews, and quiet, haunting music like “Secret Garden” to keep me going.  I also have a few “fiddling” toys (for example, a small slinky), that I fiddle with when I’m thinking hard and not typing at all. 

I know Strands of Bronze and Gold is the first book in a trilogy. Can you give a hint of what to expect in the sequel, The Mirk and the Midnight Hour? 
The Mirk and Midnight Hour (available spring 2014) isn’t really a sequel to Strands - it's more of a companion book. It takes place in the same Mississippi County during the American Civil War, and is based on the “Ballad of Tam Lin.” The knight in the old Scottish story is a captured Union soldier in my retelling, and instead of fairies my story has voodoo practitioners. It has more fantasy/magical elements than Strands.  As for “trilogy,” I’m currently about two-thirds through the first draft of the third book. It’s unsold so far, so wish me luck. A Place of Stone and Shadow (which I think might be the title of this one), returns to Wyndriven Abbey (the house that was the setting for STRANDS), but years later, during Reconstruction after the war. The story is original - not a retelling. The abbey has been turned into a girls’ boarding school, and some of the deceased inhabitants of Wyndriven do not rest easy. As I’m now well into writing it, and I’m realizing that I have lots of good material, there may well be a fourth book. What’s the name of a series of four books? Quad-something? 

Quick Questions: 

You grew up in Mississippi but eventually moved to Canada. What was the biggest adjustment for you? 
I still feel nervous every time we cross the border back and forth, which is silly, but I have this fear, What if they won’t let me get by? 

What's the best thing about living in Bradford? 
A couple minutes from our house is an absolutely glorious nature area, where I can hike several times a week. 

You go on a cross-country trip across Canada. What is the one place you have to visit? 
I’m betting you get this answer a lot – I’m dying to visit L.M. Montgomery’s world at P.E. Island because she makes it sound like a piece of heaven in her descriptions. 

What's your favourite book by a Canadian author and why? 
I love Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Leavitt, because of her beautiful writing and because of the fascinating character of Lord Death. 

A huge thank you to Jane for taking the time to answer my questions!

Jane can be found on: [her website] [her blog] [Twitter] [Facebook] [Goodreads]
Click here to find out more about Strands of Bronze and Gold
For this giveaway, one person will get the chance to win a copy of Strands of Bronze and Gold. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
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  1. I can't see myself writing contemporary fiction either. Not that I could see myself writing any sort of book, but that's a definite no-go area. ;) I love the sound of this book! The Bluebeard tale is pretty new to me, but I'm definitely curious about this. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Loved this interview! I'm just so excited to read this book:) I can't imagine being a pantser, I would fail miserably and my book would be an epic meandering mess. I'm such a planner/organizer, I would have detailed outlines but my book would probably come across super rigid because I'd never stray from what I had planned. Clearly, an author I am not:)

  3. Romantic suspense is right up my alley so I'm really looking forward to reading this one! I think it's interesting the book is set in the American Civil War, which is very rare in YA. Great interview, Z!

  4. Great interview. The three reaons why we all should read this book has convinced me that I need it! The villain, damn, I want to read about that villain. & I really want to visit Canada.

  5. This book has been on my radar for quite some time now! It sounds amazing and I can't wait to see how the Bluebeard tale is incorporated into it. Like Jane, I just dive into it when writing short stories. It's so much more fun that way! But that's why I probably could never write a novel. I can't plan things out like a skeleton, the way Jane does. Thanks for sharing, Zahida! Lovely interview!

  6. Cool, I didn't know this one was a sort of trilogy. The companion books sound awesome, too. Especially the one that is based off the Tam Lin fairy tale! Very cool. I also keep fiddling toys at my desk to distract myself when I'm thinking hard!

  7. I find a gothic element to a fairy tale retelling so intriguing. It gives it a darker side and with the time period it makes me want to read it all the more!

  8. I love fairy tale retellings~ because I know the storyline i always feel I know what to expect, but am always surprised (in a good way...) Really exited to read this book!


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