Monday, 27 March 2017

Author Feature: J.D. Smith

Once in a while, we like to remind ourselves of why we're an author collective. Five individuals in three countries bound by a love of writing. People often ask how it works, but rarely why.

Here's the latest - in fact the last! - in our Author Feature series, on why we appreciate JD Smith.

Catriona Troth:
While historical fiction often comes in hefty tomes, Jane’s novels are pared right down, homing in on the stories of one or two individuals and creating their worlds with a few deft touches of the pen. She uses simple, unfussy language that feels timeless. While the story of Zenobia, Warrior Queen is epic in its scope, Jane delivers it in serial form, each element a small gem.

JD Smith is not only a novelist, but also a highly sought after cover designer. She has created the whole Triskele ‘look,’ from the logo on, as well as designing covers that establish distinctive brands for each of us as authors. She has an instinct for understanding what it is an author wants, and then delivering it with panache.

And as if that wasn’t enough, she is also the founder of and the power house behind both the literary e-zine Words with Jam and the review site, Book Muse UK.

What readers say about Tristan and Iseult:

“This is one of the most intelligently written and beautiful books I have ever read. The theme is well known, as are the characters, but JD Smith narrates the story from both perspectives with a haunting quality. The descriptive text is first-class and the reader can feel the cold winds, the biting rain together with the contrasting landscapes of Wales and Cornwall. The love shared and lost is a strong emotion brought tenderly to life in brutal times, accurately described.”

"The legendary sad tale of Tristan and Iseult told with spare, crisp prose, keeping the story taut and short. Very evocative of the time period with no sentimentality brought from the present day. A haunting melancholy of unfulfilled longing peppers every page and the brutality of that age is shown with unsparing detail. The imagery is immediate and vivid of each location, whether salt laden coast or the wet greenery of Wales. A recommended read if you want to understand why this famous legend has stood the test of time."

Gillian Hamer:

Jane has an outstanding talent for her organisational approach to life, and when you know exactly how much she handles on a daily basis, you can understand why!

Her design work is professional and polished, and her eye for detail is pure magic. I don't think Triskele Books would have had the same success, certainly in terms of branding and reputation, without Jane's creativity. I can't think of a time any of us have ever disagreed with her input on the design front. And we have all been blessed with praise for our individual covers. Professionally, she has years of success ahead of her, and her reputation will continue to grow.

From a writing perspective, I think it's totally brilliant that Jane has the opportunity to write what she loves, and that passion shines through in her writing. In Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, Jane has brought to life a character lost in the mists of history, and she manages to make all of the trials and hardships that come with writing historical fiction look effortless. I admire her enormously for taking on such a challenge and creating such a brilliant series of books. She also has an editorial eye that is another huge attribute within the Triskele team.

And let's not forget she created the e-zine Words with Jam from scratch and continues to manage that in between her other work.

Add to that three adorable children any parent would be proud of - and I often ask how on earth she manages to juggle it all - a talent in itself!

What readers say about The Rise of Zenobia:

"From the beginning I was drawn into an ancient world, a world of hostile environments where only the daring survive. And into this harsh and often brutal land, comes Zenobia, a warrior queen who dares to take on the might of the Roman Empire. Based in Palmyra, (modern day Syria) in the 3rd century and mixing scanty factual evidence alongside pure fiction, the story of a brave and bold warrior is told in easy to read segments and with a lightness of touch this story of intrigue and political skulduggery comes gloriously to life."

"There are some twists in the story, moments of great poignancy, of violence, of triumph and of loss. Based on actual history and added to and blended beautifully by the author, this is a gripping read. It's scale is epic. It leaves the reader satisfied, but also wanting more - more of Zenobia who's shaping up to be quite a warrior queen and more of all these wonderful vivid characters and places."

JJ Marsh:
The remarkable thing about Jane's Overlord series is how she can transport you right into the middle of a battle or draw you to the heart of political manoeuvering, complete with smells, textures, tastes and tensions. You feel you are there. Her writing is both beautiful and sensory, but nothing is sanitised for modern sensibilities. She excels in atmosphere, whether that is a Cornish beach or the Syrian city of Palmyra in the 3rd century. Some scenes from Tristan and Iseult have stayed with me for years. I secretly believe she would make an extraordinary screenwriter but Hollywood can't have her because she's ours.

Her talents extend beyond writing superb historical fiction. She is the design mind behind all Triskele's covers and in fact our whole image. She combines an awareness of the market with an intelligent visual eye, working in harmony with her clients to achieve their dream covers. Small wonder she is so successful.

What readers say about The Fate of an Emperor

"Sometimes the best story about a figure that looms large in history is told through the eyes of another; this is something that the late Mary Renault did to perfection in The Persian Boy, and J D Smith does it here. It really felt like it worked as a narrative choice, to tell the story of an extraordinary historical woman from the perspective of a man who was close to her. I found myself appreciating that angle on it."

What readers say about The Better of Two Men

"Make no mistake, this is mature and assured writing. In the space of the opening paragraph, JD Smith will transport you to Roman East in the third century where you will follow in the footsteps of Zabdas, whose duty it is to stand by the side of his half-sister, Zenobia."

"What J.D. Smith does with historical fiction is to take it one step further. She makes you feel – feel what it was like to exist in that place and time, feel what the people who lived then went through emotionally, mentally, and physically. She picks you up and plunks you right in the middle of it so that you get the real experience of the characters’ lives with her vivid descriptions and her ability to make you feel the emotions of the characters."

Liza Perrat:
Jane’s professional skills as a talented designer are invaluable both for myself and for Triskele as a collective. Designing and setting up our website and blog, as well as the Bookmuse and Words with Jam sites, sending out regular newsletters and basically taking care of all our technical stuff is a real relief for someone like me who finds that side of things challenging. Jane is always there with a prompt answer or solution for my many silly “techy” questions too. I also appreciate her taking care of my own website design, as well knowing that, in her designs, I have the best book covers possible. One in particular comes to mind: Blood Rose Angel. For ages I tried to get that “B” right, searching for something medieval, striking and elegant. Eventually, the “B” that Jane painstakingly created was stunning, and exactly what I had in mind! I also value Jane’s critiquing skills. Succinct, and straight to the point in her own lyrical prose, she is quick to “red pen” any of my paragraphs that tend to lapse into purple prose.

Find Jane online:



TWITTER: @JDSmith_Design

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