Heather Rose Jones writes alternate-Regency-era Ruritanian adventure revolving around women’s lives woven through with magic, alchemy, and intrigue. Heather blogs about research into lesbian-relevant motifs in history and literature at the Lesbian Historic Motif Project and has a podcast covering the field of lesbian historical fiction which has recently expanded into publishing audio fiction. She reviews books at The Lesbian Review as well as on her blog. She works as an industrial failure investigator in biotech pharmaceuticals.
Your 4th book, Floodtide (A Novel of Alpennia), comes out on November 15, What was the inspiration for the story?
As I was writing the second book in my Alpennia series, I realized that my central characters were accumulating a number of teenagers around them: cousins, apprentices, students. I wanted to write something–maybe with more of a young adult feel to it–that allowed them to have adventures together before they “aged out” and had to be adults. On a more practical level, I felt like the series needed a new entry point–a book I could pitch to new readers without asking them to read the previous books. Floodtide (A Novel of Alpennia) breaks a lot of my established patterns: in structure, in focus, in characters, in voice. I never want to write the same book over and over again, and this was a chance to play around.
Give us an insight into your main character. What do they do that is so special?
Rozild Pairmen is a country girl who came to the city to work in service as a laundry maid and begins her adventures when she’s dismissed without references after being accused of a sexual relationship with one of the other maids. There is absolutely nothing special about her. That was part of my inspiration for the story: the principle that you can have adventures and help change the world without being a “chosen one” or being special in any way at all. Roz has a good heart, a solid work ethic, and a determination to support her friends to achieve their dreams. In the process of doing that, she works out what her own dreams are and what she needs to sacrifice to live them.
If you could name a pet after a book character, what would you choose?
For a long period of my life, I named all my cats after characters in the medieval Welsh Mabinogi: Rhiannon, Pryderi, Branwen and the like. These days, I let them tell me what their names are, but one of my current cats is named Cheshire, after the looking-glass cat, because for the first month I had her she existed only as a pair of eyes and a grin in the shadows under the bed.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Questions about advice I’d give my younger self tend to take me to a bad place, because I’m not sure that the advice I’d have now would be any more helpful than all the useless advice other people tried to give me back then. I have issues with people giving me advice because I already over-think things on my own. I’ll fall back on what one of my characters, Barbara, says in Mother of Souls: “I think…I am more than content—no, I am joyful—to be in the place I find myself. And I don’t think I could have come to this place by any road but the one I’ve traveled.” Maybe I’d tell my younger writing self that some day I’d have a published novel that phrase appears in, and that however hard the road may seem, it’s the one I need to travel to get there.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
That’s a tough question because I have no idea whether other people have inadequately appreciated the books I’ve loved. I’m going to go for a series rather than a specific novel. I’ve always had a soft spot for stories with Regency settings: romance, mystery, adventure, anything. Back in 1998, I ran across a Regency-era mystery short story by Kate Ross in the anthology Past Poisons. I loved it so much that I went out and bought the four novels that featured the same character, Julian Kestrel, and devoured them in short order. When I went back to my local genre bookstore and begged, “When is the next book in the series coming out?” the proprietor got a stricken look on his face and said, “I’m so sorry. The author just died.” I have to think that fate cheated her series of being properly appreciated. It was just that good.
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