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Author Spotlight with Jessica Huntley

At the age of just six years old, Jessica Huntley wrote her first book. Between the ages of 10 & 18, she had written over TEN full-length fiction novels as a hobby, in her spare time between school and work. Jessica is an identical twin and grew up on a farm in wales, she absolutely adores animals, at one point in her life she had a whopping TWELVE dogs, and THIRTEEN cats, 100's of mice, guinea pigs AND rabbits! When Jessica was a teenager she trained for her black belt in karate and went for her grading, unfortunately failing and ended with her giving up, she explained she has regretted it ever since, which was her determination point to never give up on anything again.. At aged 18 she joined the British Army as a intelligence analyst where she spent four and a half years as a solider, becoming unable to finish her novels. Jessica eventually left the British Army and became a mature student at Southampton Solent University where she studied fitness and personal training, she is now a stay at home mom and a wife to a beautiful toddler and currently living in Edinburgh.

In 2020, she signed up to a novel writing course and the rest is history...

Her debut novel 'The Darkness within ourselves' was inspired by her love of horror and thriller. She has completed her very first trilogy 'My dark self', 'My true self' and 'My real self'. Jessica has recently completed a Level 3 diploma in editing and proof reading and is working on further novels in the "My self series" her new venture including co-writing a new horror novel called "The Summoning". I am so excited to have such a fabulous author taking part in this interview with me, I am honoured and I hope my followers enjoy.

Scroll down for Jessica's interview with me...

Hi Jessica! Your debut novel 'The darkness within ourselves' is an incredible suspense thriller, after reading it myself I can honestly say it was a fantastic read. What was the particular influence that inspired you to write this genre?

Thank you! I've always been a big fan of thrillers and horrors (both books and movies) so it was a natural step for me to write them. That being said I am a massive wimp when it comes to horror stories, but I love it! The Darkness Within Ourselves really looks at the mental health side of things, and having suffered from depression and anxiety myself I wanted to use my own experience. Obviously, the plot has been dramatised to make things more...interesting shall we say? But I like to draw on my own life experience when writing my books and those who know me personally will immediately understand this. Those who don't know me will hopefully see the depth and research that has gone into my books. Are any of the characters that are in your novels based on anyone that you know? Yes! But not directly, however I do use the names of people that I know in real life as my character names...Sometimes I get complaints when I kill them off! In the My Self series of books, the two main characters are called Jossyln and Alicia and these names are very closely related to my name (Jessica) and my twin sister (Alice). I'm not saying my sister is a psychopath! But I have used a lot of her personality traits and my own in the books, which was a lot of fun (with her permission, of course). So! How long does it usually take you to write a book? You were in the army for a number of years, did this give you time to think of any ideas for new novels even if you weren't able to finish them? I seem to be getting quicker at finishing books now. My debut novel took me nearly 9 months, but thanks to lockdown I had a lot of time. Roughly I can finish a book in possibly 6 months now, but I never rush it. The first draft usually takes the longest. Yes, I joined the army at 18, and by that time I'd actually written 10 full length novels (not that they were any good) and when I joined I stopped writing for a number of years to focus on my career. I didn't write again until I left 5 years later. I started writing a romance novel, but gave up because it wasn't working for me, so writing took the back-burner again, until lockdown happened and I did a novel writing course, and my love of writing (and reading) came flooding back. Who would you say has been your biggest supporter within your writing career? Definitely my twin sister and our best friend, Katie. They've read through everything I've ever written and I know they'll tell me the truth. When I was writing my debut novel I'd send them random pages and just tell them to read it and tell me what they thought. My dad has always known I'd be an author one day. Let's not forget my husband who will occupy the child while I hide away and write.

As a child who would you say was your favourite author, and has this changed now you're an adult? As a child my favourite author was Jacqueline Wilson. She wrote a series of books about identical twins, which I loved. I also love JK Rowling. However, now my favourite author has changed because I'm now more interested in reading thrillers. At the moment my favourites are Lucy Clarke, T.M Logan, Caroline Kepnes and Sarah Pearse.

As stated before, the number of amazing reviews you have been given for your first novel is outstanding! What part of "The Darkness within ourselves" was your favourite part? Thank you! My favourite part, weirdly enough were the parts involving The Creature, the eerie, demonic-like creature who haunts Amber, and the sleep paralysis. Those parts were so interesting to write because I did a lot of research into sleep paralysis and spoke to a few people who have it. It is sometimes known as the "sleep demon" which is what gave me the idea of The Creature. So! What would you say comes first for you? The plot or the character development?

Tricky question because to be honest, they both develop on their own as I write, but I'd have to say the character development comes first because I need to know who I'm writing about before I can start. However, once I start writing, the characters often have a mind of their own and change and develop on the page, so then I have to go back and re-write them and the plot, such fun! Jessica, what would you say is your least and favourite part of the whole publication process?

Least favourite is marketing, I'm no good at it, and to be honest I'm still making it up as I go along. I always said writing a book wasn't about the number of people who read it, and it's still true, but in the right hands I believe people will enjoy my books so I want to get them out there. Favourite part, apart from the actual writing, is the cover design. I have my covers designed by experts (because I suck at design) and they get it right every time, first time. I love it because it makes my whole story come to life.

Strange question, but I love to ask it... Have you ever googled yourself? What did you find? I hadn't until I read this question and then I did... and nothing came up on the first page about me, so yeah...on the second page is a link to my profile on Goodreads, so that's exciting!

Have you got any advice that you would give to others to help create their plotlines? During my novel writing course it was all about planning and writing everything down, however since then I've come to rely on a bit of planning and a bit of "making it up as I go". But what I would say is to get a notebook and write down everything in there. My notebook is full of scribbles and random notes that I can come back to later.

If you have had any bad reviews, how do you deal with them? I have had a few bad reviews, and I won't lie, the first time I read one it floored me and I became very upset. However, after speaking to fellow authors I realised that every reader is different and I can't be so arrogant to think that every single person who reads my books will like them. So now when I see a negative review, I read it, but then I don't dwell on it, which is easier said than done. I also remind myself of the many positive reviews I have, so I must be doing something right!

Has writing and publishing books changed the way that you see yourself?

Interesting question, Yes. It's definitely changed me as a person. I have always doubted myself and that's why I never attempted to finish and publish a book before now, because I thought no-one would want to read them, so I think I have a lot more confidence in myself now. Also, as I'm not working at the moment due to staying at home with my son, I found myself feeling so lost and felt as if I'd lost my identity (other mom's will be able to relate to this!) So now I can say I'm a stay at home mum...and a published author! And that's pretty awesome!

You have a trilogy out called 'My dark self' 'My True self' and 'My Real self' could you tell us more about these? Are you excited to have published a whole series of books?

This series is my favourite and probably will be for a very long time. As mentioned before the series is very personal to me, as the character's are based on me and my twin sister. The series begins with Josslyn, who is a mild-mannered vet who loved animals and has a seemingly ordinary life, but she has a secret, a secret that is that she has a voice in her head who she calls Alicia... who is a psychopath and can take over her body at will. The next two books delve deeper into the mental health side of things and the bond that Alicia and Josslyn share and develop. Yes, there's blood, there's serious topics and there's some pretty far-fetched plot lines, but I think the series is so much fun and I have many fans who are itching to get their hands on the final book (out 4th April) to see how the story ends. I can't wait until they are all published. I'm very proud of them.

You have recently published and co-written a new novel called "The Summoning" how did the idea come for the inspiration?

Yeah, so this book is an interesting one, as it's a full-on horror book, which is something I haven't written before, I usually stay within the realms of psychological thrillers. But Stuart and Harriet asked me to come on board with the project and I couldn't refuse. At the time I was in the middle of writing the second book in 'My Self' series and I was a bit stuck, so I thought this project was perfect to do on the side. I didn't come up with the plot though, that was done by Stuart Knott but the character I created I wrote from scratch and all of her backgrounds and movements within the book, I wrote. As well as the short story called 'The Devil's Graveyard" which was my first experience of writing a short story. It was a lot of fun and we had many zoom meetings and laughs hammering out the plotlines and making sure all of our characters interacted with each other properly.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to take part in this interview, what are we expecting from you in the future?

Thank you so much for interviewing me. The questions were great. At the moment I have two books on the go. One is the sequel for The Darkness Within Ourselves and the other is a standalone novel which I wrote when I was 16. But I am developing the plot a lot more and adding in some of my Army experiences, so that's a lot of fun! I probably won't have them ready to be published for a while, maybe towards the end of the year, but in the meantime I hope you and your readers enjoy my current books!

Thank you so much Jessica, what a great interview!

To follow Jessica Huntley on social media:

Instagram : @jessica_reading_writing

Good Reads: Jessica Huntley

Twitter: @jess_read_write



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