With April as our Aussie Author Month, I thought I’d like to bring you a new author, that I’ve only just heard about.
Jaye’s book, Beyond Fear has kept me glued to the pages over the past few weeks and I’ve enjoyed every word. Her call story is even more inspiring. I’m really pleased to introduce you to Jaye.
Hi Fleur and thanks for having me as your guest blogger. I started my writing career as a journalist, where I got to ask all the questions and I’m still getting used to being the one doing all the talking.
Beyond Fear is a thriller and my first novel. It’s the story of four women on a girls’ weekend away, whose fun time-out turns into a fight for life when two strangers arrive. Main character Jodie Cramer is fit, strong and tough, and still living with survivor guilt eighteen years after a brutal assault. The unfolding events at the isolated cabin rekindle her shocking memories, but Jodie’s past might be the only thing that can save the friends.
I’ve always loved a good story, one of the reasons I became a journalist, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been making up stories in my head and thinking about writing a book. It took until I was forty to realise that if I didn’t get off my butt I’d be on my deathbed wishing I’d done something about it.
I started working life as a radio news journalist. Over twelve years, I worked in news and sport in print, radio and TV and in 1988, hosted Sport Report on SBS, becoming the first woman to host a live national sports show in Australia. A year later, I was the only pregnant woman on any Australian sports show!
I took some time off after the show was cancelled, had another baby and decided I’d have a go at writing that book. That first attempt didn’t last long, as I moved to Newcastle and fronted the evening news on Prime TV.
When I eventually left the media, I set up my own public relations business. It was five or six years later that I started thinking about that deathbed scenario and I decided it was time to do something about it.
I started with chick-lit. I wrote two full manuscripts. It took me seven years and they went nowhere. My characters weren’t romantic enough, I was told, and they had a tendency to create their own high-action, life-threatening events. I’ve always loved crime and thrillers and I figured, as it was entirely likely I might never get published, I may as well write to entertain myself. So I started Beyond Fear.
I wanted a heroine who got to be the hero of her own story. I say hero because a heroine usually gets rescued or plays side-kick to a man. I wanted mine to save the day and save herself in the process. She would have to be tough and strong, both mentally and physically, to do what needed to be done.
I also wanted her to be an ordinary woman. Not a cop or a PI or superwoman but a wife, mother and friend – like me. And there was the problem – your average thirty-five year old mother of two doesn’t become a gun-toting hero and make sense.
So she needed something to explain herself. I read a newspaper article about thirty years ago about a teenager who’d been attacked on her way home from a bus stop. She’d been punched repeatedly in the stomach but she managed to escape. When she got to the road, she saw she hadn’t been punched but stabbed and she was covered in her own blood. I wondered what someone who’d been through an experience like that might be like at thirty-five and what effect that memory would have in another terrifying and violent situation.
That was the birth of Jodie Cramer – except I made it much worse for her. She’d been with a friend when she was attacked. The friend didn’t make it, so Jodie is fit and strong for her own sanity, and packs a huge dose of survivor guilt.
I pitched Beyond Fear to an agent at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in 2009. A short time later, she took me on, suggesting some rewrites. After about four months of rewriting like crazy, the new version was submitted to six Australian publishers. Over the next month, the manuscript I’d written to entertain myself became the subject of a bidding war – and I was gobsmacked.
I eventually signed up to a two-book contract with Random House Australia. Since then, Beyond Fear has sold in Germany, Russia, Poland and Spain, where it will be released in 2012. Recently, Vision Australia has decided to produce an edition in Braille.
So now I’m living my dream life. I’m working full-time on my second novel, a thriller called Scared Yet?, and enjoying promoting Beyond Fear. And I’m holding close the lessons I’ve learnt in the years it’s taken me to realise my dream – that writing is more than just a talent for words. It’s about perseverance and discipline, doing what makes you happy regardless of the outcome, and daring to have a dream, no matter how unlikely it seems.
Thanks, Jaye. You can find out more about Jaye and her books at http://www.jayefordauthor.com/ or be-friend her on Facebbok, here: