Our newest author, FJ Mitchell, discusses her debut novel Destiny's Boot and the drivers behind her desire to become an author.
1. Why did you want to become an author? Have you always had a passion for writing?
In answer, I’m not sure how to say: “It’s not a choice, it’s just me” without sounding egotistical.
I was a bookworm as a child, easily devouring eight books a week (for those who remember ye olde days, I was registered with two libraries and had four magical getaway tickets from each). From there, it was only a small hop to writing my own and I have vivid memories of carting folders containing my notes and current chapters around on family holidays. From then on, I’ve written whenever life has allowed me the time to do so, which hasn’t been nearly enough!
2. What inspired you to write Destiny’s Boot?
Now, this is a story I am going to have to tell very carefully... One day, and completely out of the blue, my husband handed me a novel. He’s more of a hunter-gatherer than a librarian, so I was immediately curious. He had an odd look on his face and said nothing, just gestured wordlessly for me to take a look. I am naming no names but honestly, the day I opened that book was the day I regretted knowing how to read.
After I expressed those emotions and downed a swif shot of something to fortify my shredded brain cells, my family gathered around. Not so much in emotional support but more to inform me that they would expect my first chapter in a week. There was nothing else to do but accept their challenge.
3. Why write in your chosen genre?
Fantasy is so much better than reality! Flying pirate ships, snarky demon swords, exuberant hellhounds, magic and mayhem? Sign me up!
4. Are your characters and settings ever based on real people and places?
Absolutely never. Except when they are.
However, the only one I will immediately confess to is the obvious one. Dozer, the infernally created Rottweiler with leathery wings and a ridiculously waggy tail is based on one of our dogs who we lost far too young to cancer. Medicine couldn’t save him, but literature can.
5. Which of your characters, if any, do you identify the most with?
All of them in different ways, but my family would tell you it’s definitely Arke.
6. What is your writing schedule like? Do you write every day?
I totally don’t have any obsessive tendencies. I can stop writing/editing/talking
about the books, I absolutely can. I promise.
7. Is there a particular place you like to sit and write? Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Another odd story coming up… When I’m concentrating, the sound of people eating drives me insane. You’ve seen cartoons where characters slowly fill with red rage? That’s me. And I used to write in the kitchen. It took only a few weeks of my patented 'barely repressed snarls' before we decided to find a better place for me to work. Deeply disappointed that we couldn’t afford to buy an island somewhere, picturesque (and warm), I ended up with the second best option. A perfect little room with patio doors that open to the garden, a big desk and a sofa which is usually strewn with snoring dogs.
8. What did you do before becoming an author? Or, in fact, do you still do it?
I’ve been breeding American Quarter horses and Paint horses for many years, and
hope to continue for many more. As any horsey folks out there will know – horses
are addictive. Once you start, there’s no turning back.
9. What are your hobbies?
Crochet, jam-making and soap operas… are things I’ve never enjoyed. When I’m
not writing, I’m gaming. Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed and Baldur’s
Gate 3 are my main getaway vehicles, and the only ones I’m going to admit to!
High Haven from 'Destiny's Boot'
10. What was the greatest challenge when writing your very first book?
Stopping my brother from reading it and taking the mickey. I was about thirteen
when I finished my first novel and I absolutely dread to think how awful it was. I’m
really hoping it never turns up in some random box in the attic.
11. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned as a writer to date?
Honestly, I’m still thrilled every time someone drops me a message to quote a line from the book or talk to me about their favourite character.
12. Do you have any advice for aspiring, first-time authors?
Nothing that would be helpful. I write from a place of chaos and possibilities, where it all plays out like a movie in my head, so I’m absolutely not the person to ask for sensible advice other than – just do your own thing and see what happens.
FJ began her life in Hampshire but has lived on a farm with her family in the wild west of Wales for over twenty years. Having merrily wasted her history degree from the moment she received it, FJ decided to keep on doing so by writing about magical flying ships, sharks with jet packs, weaponised gazpacho, and swashbuckling sky pirates with incredibly good hair. She blames her time raising animals and children for combining what was an already lively sense of the ridiculous with the desire to live in a fantasy world; and the result is The Barsian Job, a six-book series for anyone who ever wanted to break the fourth wall and demand to speak to the manager. FJ guarantees that her books are more exciting than chasing sheep around a field, funnier than watching a beloved child faceplant in the mud and warmer than losing your welly in the muck heap. Trust her, she’s an expert.
Read more about FJ on her website: www.fjmitchell.co.uk
Destiny's Boot can be ordered on Amazon