Author Interview – Jackie Parry

From corporate girl to sea-gypsy woman

Welcome back to my author interview series.  Today, we have Jackie Parry with us.  I met Jackie on Facebook through a fun group of authors dedicated to helping authors called “Books Go Social.”  We’ve talked a tiny bit, so this is a wonderful chance to get to know her along with the rest of you.

Jackie, can you tells us a little about yourself, where you are from and your childhood?

  • I was born in the UK, but ran away to Australia when I was twenty-six and a few months later I ran away to sea on a ten metre boat with my new husband! However, I now live in France on a 1920s Dutch Barge. Home is wherever I lay my hat!
  • I grew up around horses, and then embarked on a short event management ‘career’. When my fiancé died, I ran away and now my ‘career’ is my life. Aside from the heart-ache, it scared me to witness a strong, young man die. Right then, I knew I had to live every moment as if it was my last – because it could be.

Do you remember what got you interested in writing, and any interesting stories about your early writing efforts?

  • My interest in writing originated while reading the first book that made me cry, I wish I could remember what it was. But I was amazed that plain old writing had evoked such strong emotions – fascinating!
  • I began writing at school. Yes, we had to, but I loved it! During my ‘office-based-career’, I helped put together the corporate magazine. When Noel and I were sailing I wrote thousands of articles for magazines and naturally progressed into books.

Do you remember when you first considered yourself to be an author, not just a writer?

  • When my articles started appearing in magazines around the globe – what a buzz!

Did you think at the time that writing would be your career?  Do you still feel that way?

  • Yes, I can’t stop, there’s something I love about it. I’ve always been fascinated that black words on white paper can create tears and laughter – it’s so powerful. Plus I am a challenge/adrenaline junky and to put together another book and hold the completed item in my hands is such a buzz.I am not content unless I have many challenges underway, all at the same time, even though I moan about how busy I am!

Did the articles lead you to writing your first book?

  • Being an ordinary woman who’s living an extraordinary life inspired me. Plus, I just can’t seem to stop writing. The experts say ‘write about what you know.’

What method do you use to create your titles?

  • The title Of Foreign Build was easy to come up with for two reasons. Firstly, when we sailed in Niue in the Pacific, we received our checking in paperwork, part of which said “… navigated with one female, foreign built…”Secondly, at the beginning of the story, I was very lost. As you now know, I ran away. I was living in a foreign country, with a new husband and within the bizarre world of boats – I felt very ‘foreign-built’ and way out of my depth.

    Okay, I lied, there are actually three reasons. I read Of Mice and Men at school and John Steinbeck’s story has stayed with me, I adore this book. So that had a bit of an influence on the title too.

    My first book’s title has other connotations too (which helps encourage people to ask about it!). Cruisers’ AA (Accumulated Acumen) – was written with Noel has over 1,800 tips, tricks, ideas and advice on living on board (plus articles and short stories). The title shows that this book contains our accumulated shrewd ideas and knowledge. It also includes ideas from other cruisers too.

    A Standard Journey – I have chosen this title for my next book for two simple reasons. Firstly, it was a journey with Standard-bred horses and this is what it was all about – those marvelous boys!

    Also, I have been influenced by another book, A Fortune Life by Albert Facey. The simple title drew me in and I was deeply enthralled into his straightforward writing, revealing a fascinating life.

Do you work with a cover artist, or make your own covers?

  • The front cover on Of Foreign Build is my photo, a clever chap in Australia put it together for me.

Can you tell us anything about your latest project?

  • Of Foreign Build – From Corporate Girl to Sea-Gypsy Woman was launched at the end of last year and I am incredibly proud of how well it is doing and the wonderful reviews. My story has won the 5* Readers’ Favourite Award and many excellent write ups in international magazines. This is the story of losing one man and falling for another, while trying to figure out who I am and sailing around the world.I am busy marketing this book and currently lining up promotions (keep an eye on my blog for announcements). I am also editing my next book, which I am launching in May.
  • A Standard Journey is the story of Noel and I rescuing five scatty horses and training them (and us) to be a team. We ventured along part of the Bicentennial National Trail in Australia (BNT). The story is heart-warming and hysterical. The horses were amazing – Noel and I not so!

    I can’t wait to launch this book as 50% of proceeds will be donated to the organisation that helps rescue ex-trotters (Standard-breed horses), when they can no longer race.

  • I am editing A Standard Journey before sending the manuscript out to Beta Readers for its first ‘fresh’ set of eyes to pull it apart! (Their instructions are to “be brutal with your comments!”). Then more editing before it goes to my professional editor.Meanwhile, Noel and I are renovating our barge and setting up a boat handling/manoeuvring school. I’d like to say I am learning French, but that would be stretching the truth!

What influences do you draw from for your writing?

  • All my experiences!
  • Every letter, every exclamation mark!

Has that influenced your writing style in any way?

  • Honesty is my first thought. I don’t think about it too much, how I write is who I am, ie how I sound every day. There’s no pretense. I like to show the good and the bad, and reveal who I am – warts and all! I think we all have our own demons and mine are readily revealed! I find the line between sanity and insanity is a fine one. Not everyone will admit that.

Were there any books that influenced you when you first got started?

  • The two books I have already mentionedA Fortunate Life by Albert Facey and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, not just because of their titles! I study books as I read them. These two books influenced my writing career. I learned from these authors, writing does not need to be flowery and tricky – it needs to be concise and clever.
    Question:If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

    The two above and I’d add Dick Francis for his style. I adore reading his books, his characters are well thought out and I feel a real connection with them – that’s clever!

What about authors?  Who influenced your writing the most?

  • Oh toughie! Ken Follet is one of my favourites, such mastery, how does he weave such mammoth and complex stories in a way that they are easy to follow?Dick Francis, because every one of his main characters I love and wish I could be more like.

Are there any recent authors who have caught your attention, or influenced the way you write?

  • Yes, lots!Mark Fine, author of The Zebra Affair, an incredible story of a thrilling fusion of suspense and romance in exotic, yet brutal apartheid South Africa.

    Rachel Amphlett, she’s on her fourth or fifth book now, I recently read her latest ‘Mistake Creek’ it kept me up all night, completely breathless!

    Val Poore has written Harbour Ways and African Ways amongst others, I have read one of her books and can’t wait to read more.

    Rochelle Carlton caught my eye with a beautiful romantic story set in New Zealand. Romance isn’t my usual choice, but this book is so beautifully written I couldn’t put it down.

I can feel your excitement.  Does that come from wanting to share any of your current work?

  • A Standard Journey – excerpt from Chapter one – ‘We Won’t Even Have A Sink!’Galloping down the mountain to find a gun to shoot one of our horses, I realised that I had bitten-off more than I could chew.

    My borrowed horse sensed the fear as we plunged down the trail. My mind focused on the gun, a necessity to terminate excruciating pain. There was a broken horse on the ridge. He had released a knowing groan as his fetlock snapped.

    Plunge, jump, ford – I squeezed my aching legs around my brave mount. We both expelled urgent pants from our flared nostrils. I have to find a gun!

    Sweat and tears mingled, running clean streaks along my grubby face; my eyes stung. Intense heart-pumps banged in my chest, while the horse’s heart thrummed beneath calf muscles. Time slowed as we hurtled through syrup.

    I cursed Noel – it was his idea. Not to shoot the horse, but living with horses twenty four-seven while trekking along the Bicentennial National Trail. We had rescued five lost beasts that could have been destined for dog meat. Over many months of struggle we transformed the seven of us into a team.

Can you share any of the challenges you’ve faced in your writing and how you overcame them?

  • Eye strain! I can’t handwrite as I write too slowly for my thoughts and therefore I scribble! So, I am always on the laptop for writing and marketing. The other challenge is time, but we all have that problem.
  • Crying at the sad times, but then I get the giggles when writing the funny bits, so it makes up for it!
  • During editing, my biggest challenge is to stop reading over my typos! That’s why I have quite a large team of Beta Readers and a professional editor!
  • Writing is cathartic. Currently I write stories about my life, A Standard Journey is an emotionally intense story as it is within a shorter time frame than Of Foreign Build.
  • As for the structure, layout, flow, grammar, spelling, skill, show and not tell, etc – I learn more about writing after typing out every single line. The learning process never stops.
  • I am always learning and growing. Constant research and study is a part and parcel of being an author (and takes so much time – see I told you I moan!). I am sure I could now find better ways to do express myself, but I won’t read my work for many years – there are too many new projects to indulge in! But, this makes me happy because I can see how I’ve developed and learned and changed – that’s what it is all about – you need some rewards with getting older!

Outside of your immediate family, who was your biggest supporter?

  • Can I name two? Oh, no, I can just do one. My initial thought of Noel, we’ve been married seventeen years this year and I couldn’t do any of this without his help and support, but he is family!Outside of family, I’d have to say Rachel Amphlett. Authors help each other a lot, and when I started publishing Rachel graciously answered my unending and naive questions with such grace and patience I am forever grateful. Those questions still continue by the way – and yes, she’s still patient and graceful with her answers and help!

It is said that authors are readers as well.  Do you have a book you are currently reading, along with all of your other projects?

  • I’ve just finished Housewife to Hobo by Tanna Stone, this is a fun book! Next is, wait a minute, let me check… Lost in Kakadu by Kendall Talbot, I am really looking forward to this one!

When you write, do you leave messages for your readers to find?

  • My story is about survival and living your life now, not when the time is ‘right’ – that time is now! Anything is possible, you just need the guts to go and get what you want. It rarely comes down to money, it is about being brave – it is not easy to leave ‘normalcy’ but once you have you wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.

Any last words of encouragement for new authors to take to heart?

  • Keep at it. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. It is a marathon not a sprint and the entire process will take longer than you think. Try to write every day, if you can’t then read, learn, research (that part never ends!). Remember too, once you have published your book, you then have to learn to become a marketing professional! People won’t buy your book unless they know about it.

Jackie, thank you so much for coming over today.  It has been fun getting a chance to sit down and talk with you.  Any last words?

  • Thanks for the support, it is amazing and so appreciated. Please do write and tell me what you think. Can I help you? – let me know, I am happy to discuss marketing, writing, life!

I will gladly forward any comments to you that we get.  Thank you all for coming out to day to support this fun, world traveling author.  If you would like to find out more, you can catch her on her blog, on her Facebook Author’s Page, on her Facebook () page.

You can excerpts of her books on Amazon

Of Foreign Build

Cruiser’s AA

Information about A Standard Journey can be found here (more info, out in May 2015)


If you have enjoyed this interview, and would like me to host yours, please visit my Offered Services page, and submit your request.  Thank you for stopping by, and I look forward to next week’s Author Interview with Wolfgang Schimanski


Comments and questions welcome.

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