Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then a university lecturer and researcher. Finding Jess (2018) is her sixth book and the last of the Drumbeats trilogy (which begins and ends in Ghana). Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.
Thank you for spending a little time with us here on the blog today, Julia!
Thank you for having me here today! It’s lovely to be with you.
Where are you from?
Originally south of Birmingham in the UK, but I was at school in York and at university at Keele, Staffordshire, lived and worked in Ghana, West Africa, and have lived around the midlands most of my life.
Married with children, pets, or annoying roommates?
I’m married to a husband who is devoted to, not to say obsessed with, golf (maybe that’s an annoying roommate!) Seriously he’s very kind and does the cooking when I’m engrossed in my manuscript and forget the time. I have two beautiful and talented daughters and two lovely grandchildren as well as two stepchildren and two step grandchildren.
Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?
I started off self-published but was lucky enough to be offered a deal with a trad publisher after only 3 months on the wonderful RNA new writers’ scheme.
How long have you been a writer?
I’ve always been a writer (I wrote my first novel at age 10 but never submitted to a publisher) and my dream from an early age was to be an author. However, life intruded and I didn’t have much encouragement from family, so I became a school teacher then a university academic, throwing myself into my work which was very demanding, and found myself unexpectedly as a single mum for 10 years. When I married again, I wrote many academic papers and texts which were published but my real love was creative and imaginative writing. I was persuaded by friends to write a book about our old rectory in the heart of the English countryside which I renovated with my second husband. I was captivated by the idea of the previous occupants who would have cooked in my kitchen over the years, and I researched the history of food throughout the life of our house. I do think that history and the lives of people are embedded in the fabric of houses. That first published book was the cozy read, The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen, and it is a combination of a feel-good memoir, research on the history of the house, and the history of cooking, along with recipes to feed the soul. The joy of that book was that I realized I could write and get published, and that there were actually people who wanted to buy and read my books! My dream had come true: I was a real author at last!
Have you ever taken the NaNoWriMo Challenge?
I have, for a couple of years, and I found it really helpful as a means of focusing and challenging myself every day over the month. It was hard work but worth it as I created the first draft of two of my books over those two NaNoWriMos. It’s good to know that people are supporting your writing process and it keeps you on your toes as you feel you’re accountable to keep up those word counts each day. I do recommend it especially for writers starting out: it’s excellently motivational!
What’s your favorite genre to write or do you only write in one genre?
I have written in several genres, mainly because I couldn’t decide which was MY genre – I loved different genres. Also, I’m an avid reader of historical romances/ mysteries, contemporary psychological thrillers and crime, especially police procedurals, although I couldn’t write those last two. But I have published different genres and I chose my publisher because they publish across genres; they’re not genre-centred like some. I have a memoir/recipe book (The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen), a children’s fantasy medieval adventure for 9-14 year olds (S.C.A.R.S), a gritty but ultimately feel-good romance (the Drumbeats Trilogy), a historical medieval/dark ages time-slip romance (A Shape on the Air) and my WIP follows the latter. I especially loved writing the latter two because my specialist field is medieval history, language and literature. I still do a lot of research in it and love the medieval world, and also am fascinated by concepts of time. So, I think I’ve found my favourite genre at last!
What are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton. I like books that deal with past and present, and how the present is affected by the past. In this case it’s an old lady’s contemporary memories of being in service to a family with big secrets after the first world war, and how she gradually unravels and reveals them. I love time slip especially, though, like those of Pamela Hartshorne and Barbara Erskine. My last, A Shape on the Air, is a time slip from the present day to the dark ages, and my WIP is a time connection between present and 14th and 16th centuries in Madeira.
Favorite beverage to read with?
Fresh ground coffee (love the smell!) or chamomile and honey tea. Sometimes green tea with jasmine. I’m giving up gin & tonic and wine, at least at the moment, in a bit of a health campaign!
What’s the inspiration behind your latest release? Who’s your favorite character?
My latest release was the last of the Drumbeats Trilogy, Finding Jess, which was published August 2018, and subsequently the Omnibus edition of all three novels together (Drumbeats, Walking in the Rain, and Finding Jess) which my publisher, Endeavour Media brought out in kindle version just before Christmas. The omnibus edition is available at http://mybook.to/DrumbeatsOmnibus
Each of the novels is also available separately on Amazon, both in ebook and paperback. My first inspiration behind the series was the fascinating country of Ghana, West Africa, where I worked years ago. I had always wanted to write a book set there – and finally I did! My other, and equally important, was the strength and spirit of a woman rising above adversity. So, essentially, it’s a feel-good work. Although parts of the trilogy are gritty and deal with hard issues like divorce and mental health, the trilogy as a whole read is definitely up-lit. I guess my favourite character has to be the protagonist, Jess, who is feisty and independent, despite all that life throws at her. I also have to say I adore Jim, the love interest, because he’s gorgeous: strong and principled but also caring, loyal and fun.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice is always to persevere and to never give up. If you believe in yourself and your work, you will get there in the end.
Thank you for the lovely chat!
~ KINDLE UNLIMITED ~
It’s 1965 and 18 year old Jess escapes her stifling English background for a gap year in Ghana, West Africa. But it’s a time of political turbulence across the region. Fighting to keep her young love who she believes is waiting back in England, she’s thrown into the physical dangers of civil war, tragedy, and the emotional conflict of a disturbing new relationship. So why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?
This is a rite of passage story which takes the reader hand in hand with Jess on her journey towards growing into the adult world.
Drumbeats Purchase Link http://myBook.to/Drumbeatstrilogy
Walking in the Rain
Jess happily marries the love of her life. She wants to feel safe, secure and loved. But gradually it becomes clear that her beloved husband is not the man she thought him to be. She survived civil war and injury in Africa, but can she now survive the biggest challenge of her life?
Walking in the Rain purchase Link http://myBook.to/WalkingintheRainDrumbeatstrilogy
Single mother, Jess, has struggled to get her life back on track after the betrayal of her beloved husband and her best friend. When she is on the brink of losing everything, including her family and her job, she feels that she can no longer trust anyone. Then she is sent a mysterious newspaper clipping of a temporary post back in Ghana. Could this be her lifeline? Can Jess turn back time and find herself again? And what, exactly, will she find?
Finding Jess is a passionate story of love, betrayal and second chances – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.
Finding Jess purchase link http://mybook.to/FindingJess
The Drumbeats Trilogy Boxed Set
Omnibus Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/DrumbeatsOmnibus
Also by Julia Ibbotson:
A Shape on the Air (2017): historical (Dark Ages/early medieval) time-slip romance. Two women 1,500 years apart, with one aim: to reclaim their dreams and fight the dangers that threaten them both across the ages …
The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, (first published 2011, rereleased 2017) a feel-good story of the renovation of a Victorian rectory interwoven with period recipes to feed the soul, all from the rectory kitchen.
S.C.A.R.S (first published 2012, rereleased 2016) (children’s novel): a troubled boy slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe into a parallel medieval fantasy world of knights, dragons, and a quest for the triumph of Good over Evil. But can he save himself?
Social Media Links
Pinterest Page includes boards with pics and images that inspired each book
G I V E A W A Y
Win a PB copy of Drumbeats (book 1), book marks, post cards, key ring and handbag fob
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