Author Jesse Stuart: Interview & Book Release!

I’m honored to have interviewed Jesse Stuart, author of Victorian Mistress, Nine Shillings, and her soon-to-be released Rum Cove. Thank you, Jesse, for taking the time to answer my questions and for sharing Lot’s epic tale with us! It will be a favorite of mine for years to come.


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VICTORIAN MISTRESS

PAPERBACK NOW AVAILABLE!

UK & US

Summary via Amazon

Lot Maguire gets you right in the heart.

Charlotte ‘Lot’ Maguire is a thief on the streets of Victorian London until she meets Brandon O’Connor and spies a route to an easier, well paid, life. Except Lot isn’t made for the life of a Victorian lady and can’t resist the lure of trouble. With corrupt business men in the drawing rooms, vampires in the gentlemen’s clubs, and her old associates in the alleys she doesn’t have to look far to find it.

In retrospect, maybe ‘easier’ was the wrong word.

Contains bonus story, First Meetings, revealing how Lot and Bran met.

Content Warning: Victorian Mistress features: sexual content, violence, and references to physical and emotional abuse.

The bonus story, First Meetings, features: violence, sexual content, including bondage, and one instance of on page of self-harm.


Interview with Jesse Stuart

 

Who is the easiest character to write and who is the hardest?

I would say Lot is the easiest because I write the most in her voice but I’m not sure I would call any of my characters hard to write. They’re difficult to begin with because I tend to write into a character, I start off not knowing much, sometimes nothing, and figure it out as I go. It tends to work well for me but, perhaps, blurs the line between easiest and hardest.

 

Do you have a favorite?

I love most of my characters for different reasons. I love writing the dynamics between Lot, Bran, and Josef. Writing the kids is fun too because I love trying to write them as kids rather than little adults. Then there’s finding all the quirks of the side characters and the different ways they interact.

It’s an adventure getting to know them.

 

Sometimes characters take over the plot and surprise even their authors. What’s surprised you most about your main character (or choice character here) you’ve created?

Lot’s compassion surprised me. In very early versions I imagined her as a much colder manipulative character, although she had the same humour. In the finished version she’s still a manipulator and morally grey but she has this desire to protect that forms a clear line in the sand for her I didn’t find until I started writing.

 

You edit your own work, which is amazing! How long does it take to perfect each chapter?

It varies from chapter to chapter. I have some which in the serialised version had less than 10 edits. Then there was one chapter that had 30. It was a scene where finding the right emotional balance proved tricky but it was very important to get it right.

How did you learn self-editing?

Part of it was studying at university and working with different writers and seeing how they reacted to my work.

Most of it was practice and self-study. I’ve written all sorts of different forms and genres which all require different skills. Radio is great for developing dialogue because everything is dependent on sound. Film and stage for the visual elements.

Instead of reading ‘how to’ writing books I read literary theory and criticism which look at the mechanics of how fiction works and why it works in a completely different way. I also read books not only looking at how novels worked but how screenplays, radio plays, and poetry work. Each one gave me a slightly different perspective on my novel writing.

I also went in what, in my experience, is a different direction to other writers. Instead of beginning in long form I started in shorts. Short stories are great practice for self-editing because you have to get the maximum amount of story in the minimum amount of words. My average story was about 1,000 to 1,500 words, the average length of a Nine Shillings chapter.

 

How do you select the names of your characters?

Oddly a lot of them come to me when I need them or, in a few cases, I needed a name mentioned but the character didn’t appear until later so I didn’t know exactly who they would be when they got their name.

There is an inherent problem with serialising by the seat of your pants that you don’t always know a character until you meet them and sometimes you don’t realise things about them until later which makes picking names based on who they are tricky. Then there’s issues around characters who don’t want to stand out because they’re immortal so I have to try not to reuse common surnames.

Having said that, there is a gag in the second book about how common the name John was in Victorian Britain so there’s big John, little John, and Johnny. I’ve used the Victorian fashion for giving children names with the same first letter too, which is how Millie, Merry, and Mary got their names. Things always get interesting when they all appear in the same scene.

 

What did you edit out of VM or Shillings?

There was definitely some sex edited out of Nine Shillings, it was little too graphic to match the rest of the scenes but bits of it was reused. I save all the versions of my chapters in separate files so I can reuse things later. The odds are if something was cut out it will reappear where it fits better.

At the other end of the spectrum the new edition of Victorian Mistress had some sex added because after writing on page sex in Nine Shillings the closed door seemed odd.

I can’t remember exactly what I edited out of either of them and didn’t reuse but there’s a lot of material waiting to see the light of day. By the time I finished the Wattpad/blog version of Nine Shillings I had 151 draft chapters saved but the book is 74 chapters in total.

 

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I read some the Mystery Man books by Colin Bateman and I found his use of first-person/subjective narration interesting because his narrator is an amateur detective who gets it wrong. Usually when we have a narrator investigating, or any main character, when they get to the end everyone else is wrong and they’re right. It made me think about how subjective the narrator’s perspective can be.

I’ve incorporated that subjectivity into Lot’s perspective. In Victorian Mistress Lot thinks part of the River Thames is classed as the sea and later on argues with Josef about this. The truth is that it’s not but young Lot based this assumption on her perception of the docks and the beach like river banks. It’s not a fact, it’s her subjective opinion based on her perception and experience which informs what she tells the readers.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

A lot of Victorian Mistress and Nine Shillings are based on narrative sleight of hand so there’s possibly a few things readers might only pick up on with multiple readings. There’s also a lot of Lot, Bran, and Josef’s pasts that’s hinted at rather than explicitly stated.

I also know my version of their history which isn’t always the same as readers’ so it’s always interesting to see how they interpret the stories based on the clues.

 

What was the hardest scene to write in either VM or Shillings, or both?

The hardest was probably the ending of Victorian Mistress. It was a tricky balance of what to reveal and what not. I won’t say anymore so I don’t give spoilers but I think the reasons why are clear when readers get there.


SEE H.A.LYNN’S FIVE STAR REVIEW OF VM!
“Lot is everything you wish you were, and everything you beg for from a female character”


You can find Jesse Stuart on Twitter, WordPress, Wattpad, Redbubble.

Love Victorian Mistress?

Sink you teeth into Book Two!

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BOOK THREE

COMING SOON TO WATTPAD!

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THE AEON CHRONICLES by April M. Woodard

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My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Summary via Amazon: SOULMATES ARE DESTINED TO DIE BUT THE END IS ONLY THE BEGINNING

Darkness descends upon the Infinite Realm as Aalok prepares to wage war with his creator. A plan of redemption has been set forth, but first, heaven and Earth must be destroyed. Sophie is ready to face death if it means saving her brethren. But when she learns that her suitor, Serus has been exiled, she begins to question her new life without him. That is until, she meets her Guardian, Alexander. The Aeon is shifting into oblivion and Sophie has but a short time to decide. Will she choose her love or die to live again?


My Review: The best speculative romance of the ‘fallen’ angel and creation story I’ve read in a long time! Woodard captured my heart with light and dark, intriguing characters, who must choose between their faith and loyalty to their King or exile from their heaven.

My emotions were all over the place with the multi-POV, which was brilliant. Something shifty about Serus made me wary of him from the start, but I love his passion for Sophie, his need to do whatever it takes to win her over. I immediately fell head-over-heels for Alexander, the patient, strong Guardian. Sophie is irritatingly relatable, fickle and faithful rolled up into a confused little mess. I yelled at the book a few times due to her deals with devils and making choices she was warned against. The ending had me fan-girling hard over the inevitable ‘goodbye’ the reader will expect and dread the entire length of the book.

I read this book for my own enjoyment and look forward to discovering what happens now. Will Sophie and Alexander find each other? What will Serus do after a desperate move to make Sophie his again? I’m itching for the next book and have already recommended it those who may enjoy it (including my mother)! Bravo, April! Thank you for sharing your story with me and thank you for signing my copy!

Get your own signed copy of this beautiful book here: http://aprilmwoodard.com/

Cover Reveal! Soulmated: Fighting Fate by Shaila Patel

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ENTER TO WIN: ARC of FIGHTING FATE & $25 Amazon Gift Card

 

FIGHTING FATE Summary

Empath Liam Whelan is determined to protect Laxshmi “Lucky” Kapadia, the girl he loves, at all costs–even if it means breaking her heart to keep her alive. Stopping the joining cold means Liam’s life is in danger from the Soul Seekers and the ruthless Minister Gagliardi who now has designs on Lucky. Liam has no choice but to find the strength to fight his desires, fight the joining, and fight fate.

After the unthinkable happened, Lucky’s “hallucinations” have been working double-time. Heartbroken and plagued by doubts, she meets a man who gives her a mind-blowing explanation for her predicament. Her apparent savior provides her with an escape from her hell: run away with him or return to her drab existence and watch Liam move on with her heart in his hands. All Lucky ever craved was to be in control of her own fate, but when her only choices fight against her heart, can she find the strength to battle for what she wants?

SOULMATED: FIGHTING FATE – EXCERPT

(Joining of Souls Book 2)

Under the cover of her porch, I returned her bag to her. We moved apart. With the connection broken, she let out a shuddering sob. The pain of separating from her hit me square in the chest. I wanted to hold and comfort her, but I was already making a dog’s dinner of this just by being here. This would set her back—set us both back.

She turned away from me. Her hand shot up to her mouth, and her shoulders shook. I instinctively stepped forward, but all I could do was curl my fingers into my palms to keep from touching her.

“I miss you so much, Liam,” she said, the words choked out between hoarse cries. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be weak.” She slapped away her tears and turned to face me. A bolt of lightning cracked nearby. I couldn’t stay. The tingling was pulling us together like it was some sort of magnetic current.

“You’re not weak. I miss you too, Lucky.”

Her eyes grew cold in an instant. The fury of the sandstorm I sensed from her made me gasp, and I stumbled back. “Jaysus, Lucky.” We were crossing interpretations again. I was reading her emotions as air metaphors instead.

She barreled toward me, her hands balled up, apparently unaware of the effect her anger had on me. “You have no right to miss me. You left me!” She beat her fists against my chest, and I had to grab her by the wrists to stop her.

“Are you thinkin’ this has been easy for me?”

She wriggled free from my grip. “Whose fault is that?” she yelled above a roll of thunder. I didn’t want her to see the pain on my face, so I turned away, holding myself up on the white, wooden railing. The whirlpool of her anguish surrounded me, making my head ache.

I took a deep breath and lowered my voice. “Lucky, I broke my promises to you. For that, I’m truly sorry. But I had little enough choice. None of that changes my feelings for you.”

“I’m not The One, so it’s time to move on. Is that it? Regardless of how you feel? Of how I feel?” Her voice cracked. “You’re a coward.”

I heard her fumbling for her keys. She’d be inside soon, and I’d rather be fighting with her on the porch than be without her.

“So where next, hmm?” she asked. “North Dakota? Vermont? Ooo, I know. You should go to India. You could play this game for the rest of your life!”

I turned to face her. Her sarcasm was brutal, but I deserved all that and more.

She tried to unlock her door, but the keys slipped from her grip. She stooped to pick them up, but her fingers were shaking so badly, she dropped them again.

“Dammit!” She crouched a second time and sucked back another sob.

I swept down and set my hands over hers to steady them. Taking the keys, I unlocked the door, followed her inside, and bundled her in a blanket from off the sofa. Lucky didn’t protest. We stood there, dripping water on her mum’s carpet, staring into each other’s eyes. Grabbing fistfuls of the covering around her neck, I gently rocked her, tugging her closer, fighting the craving to kiss her. My breaths came out fast and shallow, and only clinging to the material with both hands kept me from sneaking a touch of her soft skin. If I didn’t leave now, I’d stay because I didn’t have an ounce of the strength she had. Maybe I was the coward she’d accused me of being.


About the Author: Shaila PatelShaila_Patel_3x4.5[5776]

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and chuck it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. SOULMATED, her debut novel and the first book in the Joining of Souls Series, was the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. Book 2, FIGHTING FATE releases April 2018. She loves craft beer, tea, and reading in cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or gushing about her favorite books online.

Represented by: Agent Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | BookBub


Start Reading Book 1, SOULMATED, today!

Given a 5-Star Book Review by H.A.LYNN

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Books-a-Million| Google Play | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo

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All eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan—an Irish royal empath—wants to do is stop the frustrating search for the elusive girl destined to be his soul mate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and give the couple legendary powers, painting a bullseye on Liam’s back—and hers.

All Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia wants is to free herself from her traditional mother’s ultimatum: graduate from high school early and go to medical school, or have her marriage arranged. Neither allows her to pursue her dreams of a career in dancing or of falling in love.

When Liam moves in next door to Laxshmi—a non-empath, he’s immediately drawn to the purity of her emotions, and she sees in this charming Irish boy a future with the freedom to follow her heart. But Liam’s father will never consent if she’s not The One. And Laxshmi’s mom won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. But hiding their relationship can’t keep them from becoming targets of a dark and ancient group determined to destroy the soulmated.

What will these two risk to choose their own fate?


ENTER TO WIN: ARC of FIGHTING FATE & $25 Amazon Gift Card


Would you risk death to join (I mean metaphysically, of course!) with your soul mate?

 

Victorian Mistress by Jesse Stuart

My Rating: 5/5 Stars (Can I give it 10 stars?!)

Summary via Jesse Studio: “Charlotte Maguire gets you right in the heart. Literally. 

Charlotte ‘Lot’ Maguire is a thief on the streets of Victorian London until she meets Brandon O’Connor and spies a route to an easier, well paid, life. Except Lot isn’t made for the life of a Victorian lady and can’t resist the lure of trouble. With corrupt businessmen in the drawing rooms, vampires in the gentlemen’s clubs and her old associates in the alleys she doesn’t have to look far to find it.”

My Review: Full of clever metaphors, unique vampire romance and a badass female protagonist, you won’t want to miss out on this fast paced freebie!

Lot is one of my new favorite female characters. She’s independent and strong, but still opens up little-by-little to the idea of love. She’s everything you wish you were, and everything you beg for from a female character.

Victorian Mistress is brilliant and beautifully written. Edited by the author, there are little-to-no errors and mistakes throughout, which is impressive. The story isn’t bogged down with unnecessary narrative or dialogue. It all flows well together, moving the plot and building the palpable world Stuart created. Each character has a unique voice. The tension throughout the dialogue and narrative pulls and pushes you from scene to scene with little room to breath. It’s fantastic! You won’t want to put it down until you’ve consumed the ending.

You can read this book for free at Victorian Mistress on Wattpad, or on the author’s blog, Jesse Studio. Follow Jesse Stuart on Twitter @sisterquill.

The Siren by Kiera Cass

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Short Summary via Amazon: Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger . . . but Kahlen can’t bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?

My Review: I was sucked into this spellbinding story from the first page, but expected so much more from this story than I got. 

Captured by the plot of this story, I fell in love with the sisterhood the sirens share, and Kahlen, the protagonist, as well as the Ocean herself. I don’t care much for the side character, Akinli, as a character on his own, but appreciate the conflict he creates for the main character. 

I definitely wanted more from the shipwrecked scenes. More detail, horror, sensory. Sensory details that would have made me sympathize with Kahlen and the other sirens, or side with the Ocean. I wanted to feel her emotions more–not just the teenage romance, but her love and hate of the Ocean herself.  

This book has a lot of potential, but there were so many questions I had left about the sirens and ocean history. Instead of the mopy romance, I wanted more from the fantasy, magical side of the story. 

That being said, it was a sweet, fast paced read. Definitely got me in a magical mermaid mood while I was lounging at the beach. My copy of this book is full of salt water and sand.