Saturday, 24 June 2017

An interview with Joan Fallon

Welcome to the blogsite, Joan. Thank you for joining us.
Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A. Yes, my name is Joan Fallon. I have spent my life moving south—I was born in Scotland, grew up in England and now live in Spain. I used to be a teacher and then a management training consultant but I gave all that up when I moved to Málaga nearly twenty years ago. Since living there I have dedicated my time to doing what I have wanted to do since I was a young girl - writing fiction, both historical and contemporary.

Q. When you’re not writing, what leisure time activities or hobbies do you enjoy?
A. I used to play a lot of golf, especially at weekends but now my hobbies include walking my two dogs on the beach and reading. I also enjoy films and drama and going to concerts. My husband and I also travel a lot, exploring Spain. As most of my books are set in Spain this comes in useful when I’m writing.

Q. Do you like to read or do you prefer to listen to audio books?
A. I love reading and I still prefer to read paperbacks rather than ebooks. I don’t have any audio books but I’m sure I would enjoy them. The only drawback I could see for me is that I would be doing things while I listened to them instead of just sitting down and letting myself become immersed in the story, as you do when you are reading a book.

Q. Do you have a kindle, nook, or reading device yourself, or do you prefer to read from printed versions of a book?
A Although I prefer to read from a printed book I do have a Kindle and I have the Kindle app on my iPad. It’s very useful for travelling and also when you want a book for research rather than pleasure.

Q. Who are your favourite authors?
A. This could be a long list. Andrew Greig is currently at the top of my list but I also like Stevie Davies, Hilary Mantel, Ian McEwan, Niall Williamson, Roddy Doyle, Beryl Bainbridge, Mavis Cheek, Margaret Atwood, Graham Greene. I could go on.

Q. Which ‘genres’ do you prefer to read – and write? Is there a difference?
A. Yes, there is a difference in that I like to write historical fiction but I don’t read much of it, except for Hilary Mantel and Ken Follett. My favourite genre for reading is contemporary fiction, sometimes crime but mostly human drama. I also like international fiction.

Q. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing any writer at the present time?
A. The greatest challenge facing writers is how to get your book noticed - first by an agent or a publisher and then by the public. It is so much easier these days to produce and self-publish your book and then sell it on-line. Consequently there are millions of books out there and there is a real danger of your book sinking beneath a sea of other self-published books. It is important to find ways of making your book stand out so that people can read it and judge for themselves.

Q. What inspires you – or has inspired you – to write a particular book?
A.   I am normally inspired by the location or by some historical event that took place. For example when I began writing the al-Andalus series, it was because I had visited the ruined city of Madinat al-Zahra near Córdoba in southern Spain. This led to the first book, The Shining City, the story of a family of artisans living in the city, whose lives are turned upside down when the youngest son falls in love with the Caliph’s favourite concubine. I then stayed in Córdoba for Books two and three.
Similarly I was inspired by living in Málaga, to write a love story set in the Spanish Civil War where the action is in Málaga. This book is called Spanish Lavender and tells of the exodus of thousands of people from the city, who were gunned down by enemy cruisers as they tried to flee to Almeria.

Q. Do you write from imagination, personal experience, or a mixture?
A. I write from a mixture of imagination, personal experience and research. None of my characters are based on people I know, but many personality traits are taken from them

Q. I’ve always argued that to be a good writer you need to be a good reader first. Do you think that is true or false?
A. I absolutely agree. Part of the preparation (or training, if you like) for writing is to spend a lot of time reading and not necessarily in the same genre that you intend to write in.

Q. Do you have a current ‘work in progress’? Can you tell us anything about it?
A. Yes, I have just finished the third book in the al-Andalus series, The Ring of Flames. Once again it is set in Córdoba and the action takes place during the fall of the city and the demise of the Omayyad dynasty. The next generation of the family of artisans that the reader originally met in book one, battles to survive pestilence, floods and invading forces. When the city is besieged they know they must find a way to escape.

Q. When you have finished writing the book – what do you do next? By that I mean, do you edit the book yourself? Do you design your own book cover? Do you prepare a project plan to market your book?
A.   It would be wonderful if I could just get started writing the next book, but before that can happen there is a long list of things to do. The first is to have it professionally edited and then to get a good cover. I used to design my own covers but now I use a company called Lawston Design and I think the quality is much improved. When the book is free of typos and spelling mistakes then I have it printed. I have a marketing plan which includes using social media, local press, book signings and some advertising. One of the best ways to interact with your readers is to offer to attend book clubs, either to talk about the book or to sign copies.

Q. Do you have another book in mind?
A. Yes, I have an idea for a book set in Spain  about a woman whose mother escaped into exile during the Civil War. Brought up in Mexico, when she hears that Franco has died she returns to try to discover the graves of her family but uncovers something much more sinister.

Thanks, Joan.... Readers, You can connect with Joan Fallon at the following links:
And click into her amazon pages listed below to check out her books - a small selection of which are included below.