Interview with Jenna Burtenshaw

I reviewed Wintercraft a few days ago (click on the link to check out my thoughts on this entertaining read). Today I’m pleased to welcome the book’s author Jenna Burtenshaw to Bart’s Bookshelf to chat about her new novel.

Welcome to Barts Bookshelf, Jenna, before we get to the main questions could you introduce yourself and your latest book to my readers?

Hi Darren. Thanks for inviting me!

My names Jenna Burtenshaw. I’m a writer of young adult fiction and I have three dogs and two rabbits who all battle against my writing for my time.  Wintercraft is my first published book and mixes together everything that I love reading myself danger, darkness and the supernatural.

You’re welcome Jenna, so on with the first proper question!: What inspired you to write Wintercraft? Were there any major changes to the plot and characters as you wrote the book?

It took a long time for the story to come together in the form you see it now.  Pieces of it were taken from short stories written when I was younger and I auditioned different characters in the main roles before settling on the final group.

One of the main changes to the characters was the introduction of Silas Dane.  The part he plays was originally taken by someone very different.  In early drafts something just wasnt working.  Then Silas came in and took charge.  He pulled it all together and everything really started to shine.  I rewrote the story many times before I sent it out to agents.  Writing Wintercraft was like putting together a puzzle and Silas was the final missing piece.

It’s interesting that it took Silas to pull the book together, because Wintercraft is populated by some really great characters as well as just himself, is there one that interests you the most and could you tell us a little about him or her? And maybe a little nugget of information about them that doesn’t appear in the book? 😉

One of the most interesting characters for me has to be Edgar.  Edgar is Kate Winters best friend.  He’s a nervous character who reveals hidden bravery when the people he cares for are under threat.  Edgar has learned to live on his wits but he would much prefer a peaceful and simple life.  Because of a bad past experience he is scared of deep water, but like many of his fears he keeps it well hidden.

The book is your first, could you tell us a little about the events leading up to getting the contract and knowing the book was going to be actually published? I can only imagine this as being a wonderfully exciting and yet terrifying time for a new author!

Once I signed with an agent everything started moving very quickly and a few publishers were interested in Wintercraft right away.  I was very lucky.  I travelled to London for meetings and the book went to auction two weeks later, which was a very nerve-wracking day!  After years of writing other books, submitting to agents and collecting rejection letters, last summer was definitely a rollercoaster.

The cover for the book is wonderfully atmospheric, what where your thoughts when you saw it for the first time?

I loved it right from the start.  Headline showed me drafts as it was being created.  The spirit wheel was one of the last features to be added and with it in place I thought the entire cover suited the story perfectly.  The colours are beautiful and if you look at it from a distance it looks a bit like a skull.  I don’t think that was intentional, but I like it!

Could you share a little of your writing-day with us? For example: Do write in a particular spot? Surround yourself with inspiration or shut yourself away from all distractions?

My desk is covered in piles of paper, pens and sticky notes to remind me about plot points and exciting ideas that I want to slip in somewhere.  I work in a constant state of gentle chaos.  I always have music playing when I write and I know things are going well when I start tuning it out.  I never write in public – I’m a bit of a people-watcher, so Id be too distracted – and I like having unusual things around me that I’ve collected.  A few things on my desk right now are a stone dragons head, a steampunk-inspired necklace and a robotic talking parrot.  If they creep their way into a story one day, now you’ll know why.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have a few books on the go right now: My Swordhand Is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick, Shadowmagic by John Lenahan and Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge.

I love My Swordhand is Singing (in fact I love all of Sedgwick’s books) you must check out the companion novel, Kiss of Death! when you’re done with the first one. Before you go, can you tell us if there is anything else you are working on at the moment? And would you like to tell us anything else about yourself or your writing before we end the interview?

I’m in the middle of editing the second book in the series and I’m also working on the first draft of book three.  If any of your readers decide to try Wintercraft, I hope they enjoy reading it!  There is still a lot more to come from Kate, Silas and their world.

Thanks again for inviting me to your bookshelf!

Many thanks, Jenna for taking the time to answer my questions today, and I wish you every luck that Wintercraft will do well.

Wintercraft is released on Thursday, why not pick up a copy from The Book Depository!

You can also find Jenna on twitter, her blog & the Wintercraft website.

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