An Interview With Jane Wood

This month I’m delighted to welcome Jane Wood, an author who has written two books, and has a third to be released soon. When I selected Jane’s first book, GoldenEars: The Whispering Mountain, I didn’t realise it was aimed at the age group of 9+ years. However, I found it was an enjoyable book for adults too, and I look forward to reading others in the future.

So, a warm welcome to you, Jane. Perhaps you would like to tell us a bit about yourself.

Firstly, I would like to thank you, Marcia, for offering me this wonderful interview opportunity to showcase my books. I do appreciate it, thanks so much.

You’re very welcome, Jane; it’s always nice to hear news from another author.

My name is Jane Hilary Wood and I’m married and have two grown-up sons. I began writing my first book, GoldenEars: The Whispering Mountain, in the spring of 2015. This was my first ever step into the world of books as an author and I’ve enjoyed the writing experience ever since. Book two: The Pale Skulls, soon followed my debut novel and was published in 2021, which completed my GoldenEars series duo. Both titles have received five-star reviews, and are suitable for readers aged nine to adult, who enjoy intriguing, uplifting stories that feature wolves, friendships, and nature, interlaced with myth and legend. I am proud to say both my books have won ‘Recommended Read Awards’ in Author Shout’s Book Contest 2022.

My affinity for books, and being an avid reader while I was growing up, has not changed, the only thing that has changed are my eyes, I’m afraid age has crept up on them and reading an ebook is not as easy as it once was. I prefer a physical copy any day, the only thing is, my bookcase is packed to bursting point, mainly because I refuse to get rid of any of the titles.

Yes, I know what you mean, my eyes are not as good as they were. I like reading both though, physical books and ebooks, and I find the Kindle invaluable for taking on holiday.

I enjoyed English lessons at school and my parents thought I would pursue a job where this talent would be useful. Unfortunately, I didn’t see my future quite as my dear parents did. In my early teens, I remember women’s fashion was the thing I was interested in. And so, it will come as no surprise that my first job was in women’s fashion. Over the years I job hopped a bit, still keeping in the fashion world, and learnt every aspect of the trade. My creative side beckoned, and unable to ignore it I turned my attention to the window display. I learnt from the best, studying techniques in display and advertising. I attended courses and workshops. I even did some modelling for buyers when they came to our store to order stock from us. I had long dark brown hair in those days, and it looked good against the whiteness of the wedding gowns we sold. My career moved on and I became a senior window display designer for a leading fashion house and department store located in the city centre of my hometown of Bristol. I had a great team of seven talented innovative display artists and together we created eye-catching window designs, with the hope of attracting customers inside. Our store was quite large and took up the entire length of the street, sporting 21 large display windows to keep us busy. Back in the decade of the 1970s, window display was all the rage and shops competed to come up with the best-themed design.

I think few of us follow the careers that we anticipated. I wanted to be a nurse and got a job in a bank temporarily until I could enrol on a nursing course. I ended up staying in the bank for seven years until I started a family and I certainly never expected to write books.

This April is going to be a busy interesting time for us. Peter and I will be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary towards the end of the month, so we decided to spend a few days at Longleat Safari Park Estate. Both my GoldenEars books are on sale in their gift shop, and I can never resist popping in to see how they are selling.

Congratulations! That sounds great and yes, it is lovely to see you’re own books in a shop.

Later this summer my husband and I are planning to visit our eldest son, Tony. He lives in Massachusetts with his American-born wife, Susan. Together they have one daughter, Amelia. She is eleven years old now. The couple run a farm, and grow an assortment of organic vegetables and they keep about a thousand or so free-range chickens, and I mean Free Range, with a natural field to run about in. We haven’t seen them for a while so it will be nice to catch up.

My youngest son, James, still lives at home with us. His work, being a baker, requires him to get up at 4.20 am every morning. Horrible during the winter months and he does this very quietly, so my husband and I seldom hear him go off to work. So considerate. He is a great help at home and is lovely to have around.

Golden Ears: The Whispering Mountain

The story begins in book one. ‘It is a tale as old as the trees themselves, for man has always hated wolves, and feared and persecuted them to near extinction. Their very existence teeters on a knife’s edge, but fate is set to cast hope among the wolves for a new dawn is about to begin.’ A story of bravery, loyalty, friendships, and treachery, but love is the overriding emotion, stronger than all the other emotions put together.

Mira the alpha grey wolf gives birth to four pups. However, two of her pups are special, born with golden hairs on their ears. Their unusual appearance frightens the rest of the pack and as superstition turns to aggression, Joel, the alpha male, is forced to defend his family. Banished from the pack, the little family flee for their lives and travel further into Canada’s western wilderness.’

Golden Ears: The Pale Skulls

The story continues from book one. With the strange disappearance of the wolves, the mystery deepens, taking the reader into the dark realms of myth, legend and terrifying spirits. How will Edmund respond when he learns the truth?

Enjoy the twists and turns in this unpredictable story as you are taken on a roller coaster ride to the book’s climactic final page. Find out how the story ends in this thrilling last book.

I am proud to announce my forthcoming new book; Stikki the Squirrel which will be published on May 28th 2023. This is a children’s book for 7 – 11-year-olds and features my own illustrations, which I’m excited about. The story is about a little grey squirrel called Stikki.

‘We must always be wary of the longlegs for they are unpredictable and puzzling.’
Join Stikki on his madcap adventures as he leaves his nest and sets off to explore the world around him. Mischievous and a little reckless, Stikki manages to get himself into scrapes at almost every turn. When Stikki and his sisters, Mollie and Tia, venture out of their familiar surroundings for the first time, life changes dramatically for our little explorers. Danger and peril lay on their chosen path – and, as with every exciting adventure, there are spills and thrills and good friends to be made along the way. A whimsical, heartfelt story of friendship, bravery and love for each other.
The book is available for pre-order on Amazon and from my publisher, The Book Guild Ltd.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Thinking back to my childhood in the 1950s, and all the books I read while growing up, it’s hard to single out one title to mention here. I remember being immersed in a particular book about a cat, although I can’t remember the title name, except, I believe the cat was called Marmaduke. I remember as soon as school was finished for the day, I would race home to continue reading it. And at bedtime when I should have been sleeping, I would be flat on my stomach under the covers, torch in hand, thoroughly enjoying the story.

These are the two books that are an absolute must for children to read; the fabulous and timeless: Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell and Little Women, by Louise Alcott. Two favourites of mine.

Yes, I have to agree about Black Beauty, a great book, and one I have read several times. For me, another one is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Reading was a huge part of my daily life because growing up in post-war Britain, television sets were hard to come by, and those that were affordable were not the marvellous wide-screen visual splendours that they are today. No, television sets were small, dumpy things, the screen showing black and white, and nothing like the marvellous colour HD devices widely available in our shops and online. Back then we weren’t so lucky, often problem-solving ourselves to get it to work. Remember the knobs at the back of the tv which controlled the vertical and horizontal holds that you had to twiddle if the picture started to jump out of sync? This usually happened at that crucial moment when a favourite television programme like Z Cars was playing. Oh, the joys of technology!

I’ve read some of the classics by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Mark Twain. Also the brilliant vibrant writing of Jack London and Philip Pullman with his “Dark Materials” trilogy and Dan Brown’s “Inferno” and “Origin”, remain some of my favourite books and authors. Their stories are so riveting and imaginative.

If you could meet one person from history, whom would it be – and why?

Thinking of writers I admire, I would say, Jack London. His writing is incredibly compelling and vibrant. His storytelling is so moving, depicting life for animals and people in such an imaginative and visual way. He was a sensitive man with foresight, a gifted man born at a challenging time in history. Jack London had a tough, interesting life though full of extremes. Born illegitimate in 1876, he was reared in poverty and died aged 40 from a stroke and heart failure. The quality of his literary works endures to this day. Jack London is best known for his books: ‘Call of the Wild,’ and ‘White Fang.’

What inspired you to start writing?

Inspiration comes in many forms. For many people that may be nature, an admired family member, or simply a sunny day with birds singing merrily in the treetops. For me, my inspiration came from my beloved dog, Beamish. Our family pet, whom we all loved and cherished for nearly thirteen years before it was time to say goodbye. A devastating time for anyone who has gone through the loss of a beloved friend or family member.

Writing helped to focus my grief, and a story about wolves gradually materialised in my mind. Although my little dog rarely strayed far from my thoughts while I was writing the story. In this way, I was able to connect with my young protagonist, Edmund, through my feelings and the deep affection I had for my beloved Beamish. I realised I needed to focus on something that I passionately believed in, a passion that would equal the emotions swirling inside me. The plight of wolves has always disturbed me ever since learning about them at school in a lesson recounting American history. The relentless hunting of this endangered species still goes on and I was determined that this subject would be highlighted in my story. So, inevitably, grey wolves became my main characters, their struggle for survival in North America, and how a teenage boy befriends a wild wolf pup. A special wolf with golden ears. And so my GoldenEars books were born.

What is your process when planning a new book? Do you plan out each chapter, or just start writing and see where the story takes you?

At the start of my writing experience, I remember jotting down notes about how I wanted the story to go. I suppose you could call this a rough draft.

I learnt the hard way by trying to cram too much into the story. I lost the main thread and after completing a written creative writing course I quickly realised I had too many side stories that detracted from the main plot, making the story confusing and over complicated. I reassessed my work and deleted several chapters, swiping away around 80,000 words. This may sound extreme, and I suppose it was looking back on it. But miraculously the book suddenly came right, and I rebuilt it around my wolves and my young protagonist, Edmund.

I now can say writing a draft beforehand is essential. Think carefully and try to stick to the plot as written in rough. I plan each chapter and knowing what is included in it will keep you on the straight and narrow, meaning it’s less likely to confuse you. If the story decides to take another route, go with it. Sometimes your characters know better than you. Keep notes as you go so you don’t repeat or contradict yourself, if, for example, one of your characters is injured, you can keep that injury consistent. If you don’t like where the story is heading, you can always go back. Keep a steady eye on structure, ensure it all makes sense and your writing is fluent.

Know the beginning, the middle and how your story is going to end. Don’t worry about editing at this stage, begin this when you’ve finished the text. And let your heart lead the way but your brain must have the final say.

What do you think is the best way to market your books? i.e., which social media platforms do you find most successful? Do you give talks and attend book fairs etc?

I’ve found that the best way to market my books is to capitalise on as much publicity as I can. If you have a publisher, they will initiate first contacts for you that may lead to an interview, whether with a newspaper or a magazine showcasing yourself and your book/books; plug the event yourself. Social media websites are a hit-and-miss affair but also can be highly effective with the right promotional visuals on screen. Local radio too. Don’t be scared. I’ve taken part in a live radio chat show, and I admit it was pretty scary, but I got through it.

Advertise your books. If you have a website go for it. Keep it fresh and up to date. A book signing is a great way to boost your books and their sales. Getting your books into a bookshop is everyone’s dream but not everyone can be lucky. Space is at a premium and shelves are home only to the well-known authors with a track record for high sales and are preferred over us, newbies. But we can dream. Libraries too, write to them and ask. Offer to post physical copies or better still hand deliver them yourself.

I have attended several author book fairs over the brief years I’ve been an author. The success of these largely depends on the location of the event and the time of year it takes place. Footfall is often slower at these events if the weather is cold or wet. Although I have sold a few copies of my books, you rarely get your money back from your initial outlay for the use of the table and space allocated to you. But what you do get is exposure. You are out there, and your books are on show, plug the event like mad.

I’m lucky to have both of my GoldenEars books on sale at Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire and chuffed to say that they are selling well and have enjoyed two Christmas seasons in Longleat’s gift shop. Last summer I went along to my local high school and chatted with the head teacher who was interested in my books. I donated some of my author copies of my first book to them hoping the middle-grade readers would like them. The feedback was encouraging. Everyone seemed to love the books, but that was as far as it went. No one wanted to write a review. A disappointing outcome I will not repeat.

For me, the most productive social media site to join is Facebook, where you will find a host of groups to join. Check them out.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

One of my favourite things to do when I’ve got some free time away from my laptop is art. I’ve dabbled with paints all my life. My interest began when I attended primary school and has continued into adulthood. So, this is an extension of my life which I truly feel at home with. I find it relaxing to sit with a sketchpad on my knee and quietly watch the picture take form before my eyes. Or grab my paint tubes, brushes etc and challenge myself to produce a picture on canvas or paper.

My favoured medium is acrylics, with oil paint a close second. The latter is a very forgiving medium. Coloured pencils, pen and ink, and simple graphite work brilliantly too. At present, I have a theme which features nature and wild animals. This will come as no surprise to you when I announce that wolves and squirrels are my favourite subjects to sketch right now.

I’ve been an avid reader all my life and it’s still a great way to unwind.

Baking too is something I enjoy, and my family are very appreciative of the vegan creations I come up with. Cooking without using eggs was a big challenge but one I am confident to say I’ve mastered. The secret is to use ground flax seeds mixed with a small quantity of cold water. This is your egg substitute, and so good for you too. Using one tablespoon of ground flax seed add two and a half tablespoons of cold water, stir, then let this mixture sit until it goes sticky and gloopy before you use it. About 10 minutes.

That sounds like a good tip that I will pass on to my granddaughter, who is also a vegan.

Where is your favourite place on earth and why?

Well, that’s not easy to pick just one place in the entire world.

I’m spoilt for choice. We’ve holidayed in so many countries it’s hard to choose a favourite. From our beautiful British Isles to the Seychelles islands, southern and northern Europe to the North American continent. Canada comes immediately to mind. The reason is their wildlife, wolves specifically, and the vastness of the beautiful country as a whole: the majestic mountains with their snowy peaks, the rich diversity of the forests, the countless rivers interconnecting the thousands of lakes that spread randomly across the entire country. A breathtaking sight, and glorious to behold from the air.

Describe your ideal menu- and where you would like to eat it?

Well, for simplicity, we start with marinated olives while enjoying a cocktail or sometimes our favourite tipple. Stoke up the barbecue or light the gas burners. You can’t beat hotdogs cooked on a barbecue on a lovely warm summer’s day. Meat-free of course, covered with lashings of fried onion, mustard and sauce, with a mixed salad on the side. What could be nicer than relaxing in your own special place, in my case, our back garden? It’s so lovely to just sit back, listen to the birds and contemplate the world. Fresh strawberries and vegan ice cream to follow, or a lemon cake and coffee. It depends if I can muster the energy to move from my tranquil haven. Simple pleasures are the best.

Thank you for taking the time to read about me and my books. I hope you have enjoyed reading my story as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you.

Thank you all. Keep well, everyone.

Jane H. Wood, author of the GoldenEars books.

Thank you so much for talking to me today, Jane; it’s been most enjoyable.

Readers, if you would like to find out a bit more about Jane and her work here are her social media links:

Jane Wood Website

Jane Wood Facebook Page

Jane Wood: Twitter

Jane Wood Goodreads

Jane Wood: Instagram

Jane’s books are available from Amazon, and other online retailers’ bookshop websites.


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