Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on author Jacqueline Winspear. When asked to tell us a little about herself and her writing, this was her response:
My name is Jacqueline Winspear, I am the author of fiction, non-fiction, essays and articles. Readers are probably more familiar with my historical fiction series featuring psychologist and investigator, Maisie Dobbs. My next book, A Sunlit Weapon, will be published on March 22, 2022.
Where can people find your work, Jacqueline? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
Anywhere people buy books!
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
I sometimes post on my Facebook page, and I send newsletters in the months leading up to publication of a new book – those newsletters focus on the background and research involved in the upcoming novel. I also have my website where readers can access the Newsletter Archive: www.jacquelinewinspear.com/newsletter – those newsletters contain much of the history underpinning my books. I’m also going to be launching a women’s history blog soon – there will be an announcement on my Facebook page and a link on my website as soon as it’s “live.”
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
My favorite part is when I’ve finished the first draft. My next favorite part is when the book goes into production and my job is done – then the worrying about it stops. No big lessons apart from those I learned before I ever wrote a book, which is to have a good work ethic and never give up on anything. Another lesson would be that the real work – and the real fun – begins when the first draft is finished. The first draft is just the clay on the wheel – but there’s a certain relief when I know I have the clay.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
See the above. You sit and you write. When working on your first draft, don’t edit as you go along or you’ll never finish the manuscript. With the first draft you’re a storyteller, so just tell the story. With the second you’re finessing, sculpting the story and you’re an advocate for the reader. And you don’t need the perfect work space, or to have loads of time on your hands, you just have to be committed to what you want to accomplish. Some of the best books from authors we love have been written in challenging circumstances – after a day’s work in a factory, or from a war zone, or while raising children and holding down a job at the same time.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I’m very committed to my training in the equestrian sport of dressage, and to that end I train four or five days a week – but my training sessions are set for late afternoon, so I work for at least 6 hours before I set out for the barn. Then I come home and get to work on any admin that goes along with my job. So it’s at least an eight hour working day. I also love to hike, to read and all the other things that people do.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I just need my desk, my computer and my books. My writing space is basically wherever I am, which used to also include hotel rooms while on book tour – now I would imagine all my tours going forward will be “virtual.”
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
I’m very down to earth. And I’m a Rolling Stones fan – that always surprises readers, for some reason. I like classic rock and smooth jazz, but never when I’m working.
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
Just being able to do the work I’d always wanted to do. Readers of my memoir, This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing will know I was quite young when I declared I wanted to be a writer. That’s an adventure in itself, and it’s a privilege – the fact that I am blessed to be able to write for a living is not lost on me.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I don’t listen to music and I don’t live in a silent world, so I just sit and work and whatever sounds happen outside my office (lawn mowers, the washing machine, traffic passing) are just part of the day.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?
I’m always amused by questions like this. Do we ask doctors, lawyers and accountants what they like to eat and drink? The question that always tickles me – and it comes up a lot – is “Do you light candles when you work?” I wonder why there’s a sense that writers are somewhat different when they sit down to work. The food and drinks I go for during the working day are pretty much the same as when I worked in sales and marketing – breakfast, lunch and dinner, and not to be eating those meals at my desk. And no, I don’t light candles, and I don’t meditate before writing. Creating a whole world in a story and writing that story is what I do and I just get on with it. If the muse isn’t present, I write anyway, because an entire publishing schedule is dependent upon me meeting a deadline. It’s a creative business, granted, and one I love, but it’s a business all the same, and booksellers, too, depend upon writers to get on and do the work they’ve committed to finishing. And as I said, I feel privileged to be doing something I love. I know only too well from experience what the opposite feels like.
Jacqueline, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions!