A very warm welcome to Helen Jones whose book, A Thousand Rooms, is this month’s book of the month.
Over to you, Helen…
Well, I must say I’m completely thrilled to have been invited over to Hugh’s blog. It’s lovely to be he– what’s that, Hugh?
Right, of course. I’m here to talk about my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, which Hugh has very kindly chosen as his ‘Book Recommendation of the Month.’
What’s the name of the book?
A Thousand Rooms.
Tell us a little about the story and the characters.
It’s centred around the main protagonist, Katie. She’s thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. Hit by a car while texting, now left to wander the streets of Sydney alone, a lost soul. No angels appear, no long-lost loved ones – everything is just how it always was, except she’s dead. She attends her own funeral, sees her family and friends trying to move on without her, all the while stuck in a sort of limbo. But Katie, despite a slight potty mouth and a weakness for nice shoes, has a questioning mind and won’t give up, finally deciding she needs to follow the dying, trying to ‘hitch a lift’ to the other side. And that’s when everything changes…
What inspired you to write it?
The story was inspired by an incident I witnessed many years ago while living in Sydney. I used to walk to work and, one day, came around a curve in the road to see a woman lying on the pavement covered by a blanket, two police officers crouched next to her, the bus that had hit her pulled up to the kerb further along. The area wasn’t yet cordoned off and, as I walked past, I saw one of the dead woman’s arms sticking out from under the blanket. She was wearing a silver charm bracelet and I remember thinking that she’d got up that morning and chosen that bracelet along with everything else she was wearing, not imagining she’d be dead before lunchtime.
I kept walking – there was nothing I could do to help and I needed to get to work. I made it through the day but that evening, when my now-husband and I were driving somewhere, I made him stop the car, opened the door and threw up. Even now, the memory of that day is pretty powerful. It became the seed for A Thousand Rooms, as I considered the idea of sudden, unexpected death and how things might work out on the other side. The story is also a tribute to the many years I spent living in Australia, as well as an exploration of my own research into the journey of the spirit.
How long did it take you to write it?
I wrote most of A Thousand Rooms during the first and only time I attempted the full NaNoWriMo. I did hit the 50k target, words just flowing from me, but then put it away for several months, unable to bear looking at it anymore. But the idea pulled at me until finally I opened the file and read through. Happily, the story still stood up and I realised I needed to finish it. 25,000 words, several draft edits, beta reads and one professional edit later, I was ready to publish.
How long have you been writing?
I write every day, even if it’s just a few scribbled notes. I’ve been a writer for over a decade, but have only been writing my own stories seriously since January 2013, which is when I sat down and started writing about Ambeth. Before that, all I had were lots and lots of notes, and a vague plan to turn them into a book ‘someday.’
Where do your ideas for your stories come from?
Once I started writing for myself it was as though I’d turned on a tap, and it’s still the most wonderful thing. So, even on days when I don’t have time to sit at the computer, I carry a notebook with me for those moments when inspiration strikes. I’m going to be writing as long as I’m able, as I love to tell stories.
What do you think the future hold for you and your books and what plans do have for future books?
I have three more Ambeth books to complete, plus, possibly, a linked volume of short stories. I’m also working on a vampire novel, Silver and Black, and have a couple of other ideas in the pipeline, so expect to see a few more titles from me in the coming years.
Thanks for having me over to visit, Hugh, and for choosing A Thousand Rooms as your book recommendation of the month. It’s been lovely to be here, and if any of you lovely readers would like to check out A Thousand Rooms for yourself, it’s available on amazon as an e-book and paperback.
Links for buying the book.
Connect with Helen at the following sites.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helenjones
Helen Jones was born in the UK, then spent many years living in Canada and Australia before returning to England several years ago. She has worked as a freelance writer for the past ten years, runs her own blog and has contributed guest posts to others, including the Bloomsbury Writers & Artists site. When she’s not exploring fantasy worlds she likes to walk, paint and study martial arts. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and daughter and spends her days writing, thinking, cleaning and counting cats on the way to school.
Do you have any questions for Helen? Please leave them in the comments section and she’ll get back to you.
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