Uh, running the household, cooking everything from scratch, homeschooling, novel writing, nursing the wee one and part time with the military....eh, yeah, no comment DH, at least not until you do it all and get up with me a few times a night, every night.
Oops! OK, back on track...
Let's move on to Africa! Yes, we've left space and the Amish behind. We now make our way across the globe to chat with Vered. (Unless you already live there, then it would be nice if you could get the tea ready.)
Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?
For some reason, that’s such an intimidating question! In a nutshell, I’m South African born, Canadian raised and Kenyan resident. My husband and I have an assortment of animals, including the
Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
It depends. I’m a consultant, which means I’m either overworked or unemployed. When I’m unemployed, I write full time. When I have a contract, not so much.
Could you tell us a little about your novel?
My most recent novel is the first in a series concerning dead husbands, African legends and the search for a perfect spot of tea. I wrote it for those readers who adore “Pride & Prejudice” and would love to experience “The Parasol Protectorate” set in colonial Africa. So basically I wrote it for myself. You make me laugh...and I love the mix found in your book.
Armed with Victorian etiquette, a fully loaded walking stick and a dead husband, Mrs Knight is desperate for a pot of tea. What she ends up with are the machinations of her best friend’s dashing godfather and the efforts of her safari guide to feed her to the lions.
Throughout the series, I’ve woven in African mythology and cultural tidbits into the story, while attempting to be true to the historical facts of the time and place. This involved a bit (or rather, a lot) of research, but living in Kenya for the past 15 years helps with getting the ambience and environment into the book.
Where does the inspiration for you main character and story come from?
Mrs Knight and I do share a few interests: we both live on tea and consume far too much of the substance; we both have a snarky sense of humour (although I draw the line at laughing when someone dies, barely); and we love being in Kenya. As for the story… Well, I’ve wanted to write about my current home for a while now, but couldn’t quite drum up the courage to do so, as modern Kenya is a complex place. However I love historical fiction and a Kenyan friend of mine began sharing tribal stories of local myths his grandmother used to tell him. And thus it all began. Interesting!
What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
The message can be best summed up with the eloquent words of Mrs Knight: “Being dead is no excuse for bad manners.” (Choked on a sip of tea)
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
A bit of both. I do sketch out the overall flow of the story, the major plot points, characters, important directions, that sort of thing. But in the writing process, some intriguing little detours pop up, and often I didn’t see them coming. For example, I had no idea Mrs Knight felt that way about a certain person whose name shall go unmentioned. My kind of characters...the question here is 'How much did you argue with her before letting her have these feelings?'
What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years? How much research went into it?
The novel happens over a few weeks (not including the passage by ship from London to Mombasa – that was a very tiresome time and we don’t dwell too much on that). Research – quite a bit. I needed to study not only the historical facts around Kenya of the time, but also Victorian dress and conduct, East African culture and myths, the general events of the time that may have impacted on decisions and attitudes etc.
Could you tell us how you go about your research, how you ‘catalogue’ information to make it all work?
Cataloguing makes me sound far too organised! I started off with a list of questions that I added to as I wrote. Research happened all through the writing process, and on a few points, the research actually indicated a new idea or character to add in.
How does this book differ from what you have written in the past?
My other books have for the most part also been in the paranormal sphere (apart from a brief dabble into Sci-Fi, but it still had a bit of the unworldly involved). This series though is truly dear to my heart, and is one with such a rich world, eccentric characters and so many opportunities to continue the journey or delve into side series. Previously, I didn’t write more than two books in a series, but I’ve already finished the first four in this one, and have a fifth sketched out and started.
How have the changes in present day publishing impacted your schedule as a writer?
My schedule, when I’m not working on a contract, is not much different than if I do go to work elsewhere. In other words, I treat this as a business. I think that's wise, because a lot of time goes into writing our books, we need to invest as much in the marketing and promoting of our work.
How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?
I have a plan… sort of! The first and most important part of marketing is to keep writing. That I intend to do. I’ve also been reading about marketing and experimenting with ideas I’ve picked up.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Keep writing! Also a book I’d recommend highly is “Write. Publish. Repeat.” Practical and to the point. I will have to look into that one, I haven't read it.
Could you tell us what you’re working on now?I’m polishing up the next three books in the series, and working on the fifth. I also am working on in-between short stories; these will be given out to anyone who posts a review of a book in the series. The shorts have secrets that aren’t fully disclosed in the main books. We're going to have to post a review here too!
Armed with Victorian etiquette, a fully loaded walking stick and a dead husband, Beatrice Knight arrives in colonial Kenya desperate for a pot of tea and a pinch of cinnamon. But she’ll need more than that if she’s to unravel the mystery of the Ghosts of Tsavo without being eaten in the process. All this while surviving the machinations of her best friend’s dashing godfather and the efforts of her safari guide to feed her to any lion willing to drag her away. What is a ghost-chasing widow to do?
Kobo and Barnes&Noble to be added shortly
Vered Ehsani has been a writer since she could hold pen to paper, which is a lot longer than she cares to admit. She lives in Kenya with her family and various other animals. When she isn’t writing or running a radio show, she pretends to work as an environmental consultant. Visit Vered and her world of African paranormal thrillers at http://veredehsani.co.za and get a free book. Email her at veredehsani (at) gmail.com – she loves to hear from her readers.
We can look forward to Vered possibly indulging us with a character interview...I'll keep you posted! Keep your fingers crossed :o)