From Wise Words blog: A sassy author interview, prizes, a fab book… what more do you want! .@jennifermacaire .@rararesources #historical #timetravel #funbooks
Jennifer Macaire is a brave author who has agreed to be interviewed in a style that many authors shy away from—derogatory. The sassier the answers to WWBB’s rude questioning method the better!
So welcome, Jennifer, and let’s get the ball rolling, shall we? In your book, the protagonist, Ashley Riveraine (what kind of name is that, Jeeze!), gets pitched back in time some 300 years BC (before chocolate) and meets Alexander the Great—her hero.
Hero? Oh, come on! Okay, I’ll go with it for now. So, is Ashley Riveraine happy now their story has been told or is there more to come (God help us!)?
The funny thing is, this was going to be a short story. I started out as a journalist writing articles for magazines, and at the same time, I wrote a few short stories and published them. One was nominated for the Push Cart Prize, and I’m afraid it went straight to my head.
I set about writing a short story about Alexander the Great not dying and going on to conquer the world (you see how things can get out of hand – one mosquito gets squashed, and we’re speaking Greek instead of English and the Romans never got to build their straight roads anywhere. Much less paperwork too, and we’d still be offering sacrifices to Zeus.
We could always offer this book!
We could, but as my neighbour’s rooster wakes me up every morning at the ass-crack of dawn I was thinking more about sacrificing the rooster… anyhow, I was going to send The Road to Alexander to a Sci-fi magazine as a time travel tale and things got out of hand.
I didn’t realize Alexander would kidnap Ashley – I forgot how omnipresent gods and goddesses were at that time. And I didn’t realize how crazy Alexander’s mother was, and, to make a long story short, there are 7 books in the series.
Seven! Jeeze… you get less for murder! Okay, so give me the best one-liner from your poor excuse of a book.
I realized I was now over three-thousand years older than my own mother.
Do I have to elaborate?
Good, because the instructions say a ‘one-liner’, so to go on and explain would be a clear indication of my inability to follow the simplest instructions, which is why I did so badly at school, and why my husband has given up trying to tell me what to do…)
Yawn, so basically, you’re the same as all the rest of the authors on Amazon, and you’re the Next Best Thing. I don’t think so. Come on, tell me why I should spend time reading YOUR book over more well-received authors?
Oh, come on – who likes best sellers, I mean, besides the teeming masses. But you know the teeming masses yearning to be free – it says so on the Statue of Liberty (written in Gothic Script somewhere around her big toe, I think). So, feel free to try something different – the hero and heroine don’t hate each other on sight! The hero is Alexander the Great, and how much more heroic can you get? There is action and adventure! It’s based on real history (at least part of it is – it’s time-travel, so there is a slight wobble in reality. Be prepared!).
It’s a mad, tongue-in-cheek romp across mixed genres of Sci-fi, romance, adventure, and history. It’ll make you laugh and cry. Oh, and there’s lots of hot, bouncy sex. (If you like that sort of thing. Otherwise, just skip those parts!) But most of all, just relax, sit back, and enjoy your trip back in time. You can always close the book and come back to the present – but Ashley is stuck in the past!
Hang on, there, lady. Bouncy sex? Sex that’s bouncy? I may just have to read this malarkey of a book! So, spill, as an author have you ever regretted anything, i.e. written your own review (or written a bad review on a competitor’s novel), argued online, copied someone else’s idea? Any juicy naughtiness at all?
Mark Twain once said, ‘The kernel, the soul, let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances is plagiarism.’
In a way, he was correct. We, the people of the present, are standing on the shoulders of those who went before us. Our stories, our art, our science – it’s all based on work that our ancestors did. We simply keep it growing, expanding on it – but we invent nothing brand new. (And stop screaming, ‘The Internet!’ that’s just another way of communicating, and there are more ways of doing that than stars in the sky… I exaggerate, but you get my gist).
I wrote The Road to Alexander after falling in love with ‘Outlander’, so the time travel element was copied from the fantastic Ms Gabaldon. She may have gotten it from H.G. Wells – who in turn, got it from somewhere else.
Time is an interesting subject. I’d like to say I was the only one who ever wrote about Alexander the Great, but Mary Renault did a fabulous job with her series of historical fiction novels – if you haven’t read them, you’ve missed a rare treat.
As for arguing or regretting, or writing bad reviews, I’ve only written two bad reviews, and both were for novels that featured super-alpha-male-control-freaks, and I’m a staunch feminist.
I have argued online, but that was then. Nowadays I just refer people to PubMed (peer-reviewed scientific publications) or Snopes and let them learn for themselves. I never wrote my own review, but I encouraged my daughter to read one of my children’s books and write her own review. It was awful, but this proud mama didn’t mind – I fixed up the spelling, changed a few words (terrible to great, boring to amazing,) and had it published…. well, not really, but it’s an idea. Probably not an original idea – those are all taken!
Describe your writing style in ten words or less. I’ll begin with the first two: Crap, dull…
Pedantic springs to mind. That’s what my editor kept saying. ‘Jennifer, you’re being pedantic again. No one needs to know where the army’s food came from, just tell them what they ate and be quick about it.’ Or, ‘Jennifer, three pages on oral hygiene in ancient times is going to put readers to sleep. I barely got through it without dozing off. Scratch that. I dozed off twice.’
Otherwise, my style has been variously described as fluid, engaging, easy-to-read (not my fault – my editor keeps correcting my spelling and grammar!), and one reviewer—who said the book had way to too much sex in it—admitted it was ‘well-crafted and proficient’. Hmm. Was he talking about my writing or about the sex scenes?
Fuck knows! He certainly wasn’t my husband! All right, just for a laugh, share with us one of the WORST reviews you’ve had.
I’ve had so many – where to begin? Let’s see – one said (1 star): ‘Why, oh why must the ‘heroine’ of these sort of time travel books be so smug, so captivating to their target and so unreal. No-one in their right mind is like this. Go away Ms Macaire, and think real. I suppose I have been spoiled by Diana Gabaldon whose heroine at least shows some reticence towards the hero or Jodie Taylor who is constantly amusing and deep by turns.’
I like this review on so many levels – it perfectly describes Ashley, who arrives from the future feeling smug and superior to the ancients (Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall, Ashley!). It compares the book to Outlander and the St Mary’s series, both of which I adore – (thank you, terrible review, for at least hitching my book to their star for a brief instant before you demolished it).
It is confusing in that it acknowledges the book as being time travel, then beseeches me to ‘get real’. That’s where I’m not sure if she doesn’t like the alacrity Ashley and Alexander (trying to think of another word starting with ‘A’ and failing here…) fell in love, or was it the improbability of Ashley being a real person?
At any rate, I enjoyed having my book in the same paragraph as my two favourite writers! (There are other, more brutal reviews, but they actually had more stars, so the readers must have liked the cover art or something.)
What qualifications do you have for writing in your genre? (Apart from waking up in the morning, that is).
I was afraid someone would ask me this one day. Can I take the fifth? No? Well, #1: The book is science fiction (I love science and work with scientists as an information researcher – I know, it doesn’t count, sorry!) with a #2: time travel element (I have the worst case of left/right, before/after, letters, and numbers, dyslexia. So time has no meaning for me. It’s a miracle every time I show up at work or to an appointment. #3: It’s in English (I was born in the USA and grew up in the Caribbean, which accounts for that part, anyway). #4: It’s set in Ancient Greece, and my mother is a history teacher. She gave me lots of hints about where to look for information on Alexander the Great. No, she didn’t help me – how many of your teachers wrote your assignments?
Many authors use their qualifications to show off their so-called talents, i.e. crime writers are often coppers (or police, for the non-Brits present) and the book becomes boringly technical. How have you managed to keep your knowledge low key? Or haven’t you bothered?
When I was a kid, I was skinny, had glasses, big teeth, and was dyslexic. I was also clumsy because my glasses didn’t correct my huge astigmatism, which meant I could not catch a ball, no matter how gently it was tossed to me.
I was the last to be chosen in gym for the teams, and, on one sad Valentine’s day, at a party, the boy I had a gigantic crush on threw chocolate kisses at me, telling me I could only keep the ones I caught. I caught none.
Sobbing, I went into the house, collided with his father, and made him drop his finest bottle of wine that he’d been keeping for a special occasion. I stared at the mess, listening to the howls of rage, wishing I could become invisible or at least grow some sort of backbone and stop snivelling (I was nine years old at this time, so excuse the melodrama).
At dinner, the grown-ups drank their not-so-nice wine and glared at me. The other kids snickered. And I decided I’d show them – I’d become so knowledgeable about dinosaurs I’d write and illustrate a fabulous book, and they would come begging for an autograph. This has nothing to do with the question – or everything, depending on how you look at it. I’m actually quite knowledgeable about dinosaurs but have managed to keep all that info out of my books.
Sorry, I asked! Jeeze… whinge, whinge, whinge, me, me, me… If your book disappeared forever, do you think it’ll be missed?
Honestly? No, I don’t think it will be missed at all unless you’ve somehow time-travelled to read all the series and missed the first one and decided you had to read from the beginning. Then it might be missed. Maybe. I’m not sure anything on this earth is irreplaceable except maybe chocolate. I would definitely miss that. And coffee.
Don’t forget the wine. Not expensive wine, obviously, as you drop that! Describe your perfect death (in case I must kill you. Touch my wine and I will!)
Need you ask? Death by chocolate – of course!