Wednesday 10 July 2013

The Secret Eater Review and Interview with Author Ros Jackson

SEThe Secret Eater by Ros Jackson


Kenssie is a demon who feeds from secrets. Lately pickings have been slim, and she has grown so weak that her shield of invisibility is slipping. As the servant of a demon who eats embarrassment she already feels like she's the laughing stock of the demonic world. But the scorn of someone who thinks that Hawaiian shirts are the height of cool is the least of her worries.

A powerful fear demon is dead set on making her his slave, a position that carries seriously short life expectancy.

She has no friends.

No powers.

No clue.

Her only hope of escaping a life of terror lies in stealing a grimoire she's never seen from the clutches of a vindictive group of master demons.

Lisa's Review - 3.5 stars out of 5

I received an ARC copy of The Secret Eater, and I wanted to read it as I was intrugued as to how the title fit in to a paranormal book about demons! This soon  becomes apparent, but I wont say any more as I don't want to give anything away.

The Secret Eater is a novella, and I had to remember that as I was reading. The concept of the story was good, and Ros Jackson has created some brilliant characters and has a fantastic imagination when it comes to the demons she has created. I just felt like we didnt have a chance to go into as much depth with all the different demons as I would have liked to as the reader, and I also felt like some of the best parts of the story were rushed and I wanted more from them, they seemed to end too quickly. Agaian, this was because The Secret Eater is a novella, and not a full length novel, but I couldn't help it - once I finished the book I really wished it had been a full length nocel instead and we could have learnt more about the amazing characters Ros Jackson has come up with.

That said, I did really enjoy the story. I loved the fact that it was set in England, with modern day terminolgies, I read a lot and it is very rare I find a book set in London, and other places I am familiar with and can easily picture in my head. A lot of books are set in America or fictitious places, so it was refreshing. I also loved the main character, Kenssie, who even though she is losing her powers and fighting to save herself, she is feisty, and a strong character, her only weakness being her own master.

I did enjoy the story, and just felt it was let down by being a novella, and I think had this been another 200 pages long I would have loved it!

Ros Jackson

ros  Rock singer, xenobiologist and ninja are just some of the jobs Ros wishes she could put on her CV. She has been a book blogger for over a decade, and has done a wide range of different jobs whilst dreaming of the written word. She lives in Lincolnshire under the iron rule of a grumpy black cat. The Secret Eater is her first book.

Booky Ramblings is pleased to have Ros Jackson join us for an interview today and we hope our readers enjoy it!

Thankyou for taking the time to join us, Ros.

1. What inspired you to write your first book?

It was the simple idea that when the Nazis spoke of the Jews, they talked of them in terms of a different species, not even human. So I wanted to explore this dehumanisation, using characters who may not be entirely human, but who have feelings and motivations that deserve our empathy. And I wanted to tell the story through the eyes of a physically weak but gutsy heroine who has issues with self-image. I also wanted to set it in a world full of dragons, magic, and swashbuckling rogues.

None of that relates to The Secret Eater, because my first published book was actually the third one I’ve written.

2. Do you have a specific writing style?

I approach fiction rather like making soup. You need a little bit of spice, maybe some sweetness, plenty of meat for the plot, and at least one hotpants-clad demon to give it a kick. I don’t know why people won’t come to my dinner parties.

3. How did you come up with the title?

The main character eats secrets, it’s that simple. I also like the double meaning. The next book will be called The Furtive Nibbler, and the one after that, The Brazen Gobbler.

4. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yuck. I mean, of course the story has a point. But stating it directly ruins the joy of discovery, I think. I might as well give my readers a crossword puzzle that’s already filled-in.  I like themes and morals that unfold subtly and gently, with a touch of ambiguity because life isn’t full of absolutes.

5. How much of the book is realistic?

All of it. I’m fiercely opposed to the use of imagination, and so is the Demon Council.

In chapter 2 in particular, Kenssie has to fill in a “form from hell” to get to where she wants to go. I based this on the DLA form, which disabled people in the UK have to complete in order to get state benefit.  I more or less lifted it word for word, because you couldn’t make that stuff up.  I believe DLA is being phased out in favour of herding disabled people into quarries, filling them with water, and then shooting those who can swim. They call the new system ATOS.

6. Are your novels based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not directly, no.

7. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I try not to be unduly influenced by any single writer, because I find other writers’ styles can influence my own if I’m not careful. My solution to this is to read as widely as possible. I learn something from every writer I’ve read, whether or not I rate them highly, so in a sense they’re all mentors.

8. What book are you reading now?

I’m reading something on the BFS shortlist. I’m on the awards jury this year, so that’s all I can say about this book because I don’t want to give anything away about who might win.  What I can say is I have fairly eclectic reading tastes within the speculative fiction genres: I’m into hard science fiction, YA, epic fantasy, slipstream, steamy paranormal romance, the whole bag.

9. What are your current projects?

I’m working on a follow-up to The Secret Eater. That’s a stand-alone prequel, but this will be a full novel that puts more meat on the bones of Kenssie’s story.

I have a couple more projects up my sleeve, at various stages of completion, more in the epic fantasy vein. But Kenssie’s series is my current priority.

10. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I think my main issue is speed. What tends to happen when I don’t write quickly enough is that little details that I put in at the beginning of a story get forgotten by the end, so I need to carefully check it for continuity during editing. This is especially true if I’m writing a long epic fantasy trilogy that takes years to complete.

11. Who designed the cover?

The cover was done by Rick Parsons, who has a design company called Graphicgene. I don’t think it’s all that noticeable at smaller sizes, but if you look closely you can see he’s made Kenssie semi-transparent, which I think is a nice touch.

12. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Hunt in pairs. Live somewhere with its own well, and buy a generator. Stockpile canned goods, dry staples, and medical supplies. Don’t answer the door to anyone who gives his name as “Brains … Braaaaiins!” Do this, and you’ll get through the sales season just fine.

Do I have any real advice? Sure: if you give out writing tips before your first book hits the shelves, it feels weird.

13. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Since The Secret Eater is my first novella, and it’s out on July 15th, most of my readers are the people who follow my blogs. Their feedback over the years has encouraged me and helped me learn a great deal about what works and what doesn’t. So, thanks!

Thanks again, Ros!


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