Today I’m delighted to welcome Eva Jordan as a guest on my blog. Her book 183 Times a Year was published in September and has had some amazing reviews. I’m hoping to get to it in the next couple of weeks so watch out for my review soon. You can order a copy of the book here: 183 Times A Year
Thanks for answering my Author in the Spotlight questions Eva. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
Hi Joanne. My name is Eva Jordan and I am a published short story writer with a degree in English and History. I live in a small town in Cambridgeshire with my partner Steve and three of our four children who are a constant source of inspiration – they are all teenagers, need I say more! My career has been varied, including working in a Women’s Refuge and more recently at the city library. However storytelling through the art of writing is my true passion.
What inspired you to start writing?
Oh dear – this is going to sound like a cliché but I’ve always liked to write and have done on and off for as long as I can remember. I suppose my inspiration for writing came from my love of reading and the oral storytelling carried through various members of my family. My Dad was, and still is, a brilliant orator. I know the stories of my Dad’s youth inside out and yet I can still sit for hours listening to him recant them all over again. I also love history, in particular social history. It’s important to be aware of specific landmark events, leaders and dates throughout history but the everyday people behind those events – people I can relate to, always fascinates me. Whilst reading History for my degree I decided to write about the London Blitz for my dissertation – the bombings of London during WWII – but I wrote about ‘The People’s War,’ a study of civilian morale that also included the oral history of my Aunt Irene who, as a young woman, lived and worked in London during the Blitz. I wrote about the social history of those events. I suppose that’s what my debut novel, 183 TIMES A YEAR, is all about really – a social observation of today’s modern family.
Tell me about your journey to publication
After several re-writes I was itching to get my book into print and available to the general public. I did write to a few literary agents but in the meantime a good friend of mine that I met at university had self-published her YA book called Timeslip (by N.M Kirby). She explained the procedure she went through. The fact that she did it through the self-publishers called Troubador, who took most of the hard work out of it, appealed to me. I also got talking to the writer Ray Robinson – author of Electricity and Jawbone Lake – at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year and he advised me to think about self-publishing my novel as an ebook, at least to begin with, so it was ‘out there’ and to continue looking for an agent in the meantime. So I approached Troubador and the rest, as they say, is history.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book. 183 TIMES A YEAR is a funny observation of contemporary family life heard through the voices of two main characters.
Lizzie – exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy – is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself – out loud. Whereas 16-year-old Cassie – the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen – hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents – and Joe, of course.
However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery – accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way.
Although tragic at times this is an amusing exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes – I have about three! I am writing a sequel to 183 TIMES A YEAR but I am also writing notes for two other stories I have on the go. One is a children’s fantasy story, the other is a dark thriller.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read so far this year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
No! Not fair – I don’t even think I can pick three! I’ve enjoyed most of the books I’ve read this year. I’ll name three that spring to mind but that doesn’t necessarily mean they qualify as my favourite.
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle
What are you reading just now?
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Usually in bed, evenings, some mornings, kindle and books. I also read on my phone if out and about, waiting for appointments etc.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Hmmmm – this is actually harder than you think. Once I’d given this question some thought I realised I’m always rooting for the strong, female characters of books. I loved Paula in Roddy Doyle’s The Woman Who Walked Into Doors but I can’t say I want to be her or would have wanted her life – but I loved how Roddy Doyle showed both her strength and vulnerability. Although things are a lot easier for women these days I still think there are a lot of barriers that need to be broken and women should always help one another. I still find it astounding that my own mother – who was a young woman during the 1960’s – earned half the wage of a man doing the same job, simply because she was a woman, abortion was illegal and you couldn’t get the contraceptive pill unless you were married. History shows us that life has been hard for women so I’m naturally drawn to strong, female characters like Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Margaret in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South and Anna McPartlin’s Molly (and Mia) in The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes. However I’ve decided (as she’s also one of my daughter’s favourite characters) I’d probably like to be Josephine March in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Josephine (or Jo) is an outspoken tomboy with a passion for writing. She is a strong, feisty character and her disappointment at not being born a boy and therefore not privy to the opportunities afforded men is evident throughout Little Women. Set during the time of the American Civil war and like most good stories it is also a social observation about the plight of women and their place in society at that time but it is also a story about love and the diverse, everyday struggles of family and friends – much like my own book. Little Women’s Jo demonstrates the conflict between the desire to help one’s family and the desire to help oneself – a battle most women still struggle with today on some level.