Happy Friday. This time next week I’ll be fretting myself silly as I scramble round gathering my bits to head off to Bristol for this year’s UK Meet, but that also means there’s only a week until we can get our sticky paws on an ecopy of Not Quite Shakespeare, the anthology of British themed stories from Dreamspinner Press. You can either wait or you can pre-order it HERE. Or you can leave a comment on any of the interviews with contributing authors and your name will go into the hat to win a copy in the eformat of your choice.
We have another interviewee today, someone I hope to see next Friday – Jay Northcote, fellow Bit and a fairly new author who is definitely on her way up the ranks.
Hello, Jay, and welcome.
Have you always lived in the UK? If not what drew you back?
I lived abroad for two short periods as a child (in Germany and Cyprus) when my father was posted overseas for his job in the army, but I’ve lived in the UK permanently since the age of six.
Is there any place that is a must-see for any visitor to the UK?
There are so many, and I’m sure there are hundreds of incredible places that I’ve never been to yet myself. But of the places I’ve visited the ones I would most highly recommend to tourists are (in no particular order): Stonehenge, Avebury, The highlands of Scotland (Glencoe and the Isle of Skye), The Cornish coast – Land’s End and Sennen, Snowdonia. I’m expect I’ve forgotten loads though. As you can see, I’m more of a history and natural beauty fan than a city person. But if you like cities then my local one, Bristol, is a wonderful place to visit. Of course, it’s also the location for the UK meet this year!
In how many counties have you lived? Cosmopolitan or rural?
I had to make a list and I’m still not sure. Army children move a lot! But I’ve definitely lived in Kent, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, and what used to be Avon (in the city of Bristol). I’ve never officially lived in Cornwall but my parents moved there after I left home so I have spent a lot of time there. I currently live in South Gloucestershire.
As a child I mostly lived in small towns or suburbs. Then as a student I lived in the city of Bristol and ended up settling there for about ten years after graduation. But we moved out to a more rural area several years ago when our children were small and now live in a village.
What inspired you to write your story for the anthology?
As a morris dancer myself, I’ve wanted to write a story with morris dancing in it for ages, and this anthology seemed like a perfect opportunity. You don’t get many things more quintessentially English than morris dancing, even if it’s a bit of a national joke.
Could you tell me a little about it?
The story is called Tops Down, Bottoms Up (see the extract below to find out why). Here’s the blurb:
Rowan is stuck at a folk festival for the weekend and it’s really not his scene. Early morning meditation, yoga, and singing workshops are bad enough, and when he hears there are morris dancers too, it’s the last straw. But all Rowan’s preconceptions about morris dancers are shattered when he meets Seth, who looks like all Rowan’s fantasies rolled into one. Rowan decides he’ll do just about anything—even attend a morris dancing workshop—if it means he can get closer to Seth.
The fact that a lot of people are rather rude about morris dancing seemed like a fun set up for two characters meeting with the potential for awkwardness. Poor Rowan makes a bit of a fool of himself at the start, but he redeems himself later. Tops Down Bottoms Up was a lot of fun to write, and I was really pleased with how it turned out. I hope people will enjoy reading it!
Could you please tell me about your other work?
I have three books out with Dreamspinner Press. Nothing Serious, The Little Things and Not Just Friends. They are all contemporary romances set in the UK. I also have a novella due out in August called Nothing Special and another one in the pipeline that I’m hoping will be out in November as long as it gets contracted.
My stories are usually feel-good reading with not too much angst and drama. The Little Things is the exception to that rule, but generally with one of my stories you can expect it to be mostly light-hearted and a little bit smutty. Happy endings (or happy for now) are guaranteed of course
What are you working on at the moment?
At the time of answering this question I literally pressed submit on my latest novella less than an hour ago. So I’ll be starting something new soon—hopefully! I’m not sure what though. I have a document full of plot bunnies so I need to kick some ideas around and see which characters shout the loudest.
Please could we have an excerpt?
In this scene, Rowan is taking part in a morris workshop (having been persuaded to join in by Seth, the sexy morris dancer). He’s learning a dance, and Seth is his partner.
The figures were mostly straightforward and some were reminiscent of things Rowan had learned in country dancing at primary school. He enjoyed the warm grip of Seth’s hand when they did a ‘hands around’—which involved clasping hands as you did a full turn with your partner. But the thrill of the physical contact made Rowan forget what his feet were doing. When he stumbled and nearly tripped, Seth caught him with a strong arm around his waist that fucked up Rowan’s concentration even more.
After that, everything went smoothly until they got to learn two figures called ‘tops down’ and ‘bottoms up’.
“Seriously?” Rowan met Seth’s gaze and tried to keep a straight face.
“That’s how you name the couples in a morris set.” Seth replied, utterly deadpan. “Top couple, middle couple and bottom couple. So we’re the bottoms.” A quirk of his lips betrayed him.
Rowan couldn’t resist “Both of us?” He raised his eyebrows. “Could be awkward.”
“Pay attention. That’s our cue.” Seth grabbed Rowan’s arm and guided him as they danced up the middle set for a few steps, and then back to where they’d started. “See? Bottoms up.”
When they got back to their place, Seth leaned in close so only Rowan could hear him. “I’m actually more of a top.” His words sent a jolt of heat through Rowan that left his heart pounding as Seth pulled away.
Rowan stared into Seth’s eyes and saw a clear invitation there this time. Oh yeah, he thought. Game on. He licked his lips deliberately and watched as Seth caught the movement. “I was hoping you might be.”
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her amazing, occasionally ridiculous husband, two noisy-but-awesome children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.
Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/dellamere
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/jaynorthcotefiction
Jay’s books: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_953