I’m George, and I decided to interview Jemima when we were on our way back from interviewing Ludo. That’s because we were camping by the side of the river where the flying machine was moored for our overnight stop, and she asked if I wanted to do my interview now, and I said no, I’d interview her instead.
She’s the author of the books, of course, The Princelings of the East. So I asked her about her background and how she came to write them. She said she had a number of careers all of which involved writing things, like manuals or reports and she always had to write things so that the audience she was talking to felt comfortable with them. She wrote a story when she was a teenager which was rubbish, because she sort of made it up as she went along. When she had us guinea pigs, the stories about us sort of jumped into her head all at once. Although they took some odd turns when she was writing them, she said.
“Why was that?” I asked.
“The characters do things because they are the people they are,” she said. “Sometimes that takes you in directions you didn’t expect, so you go with the flow and keep an eye on the story and who is doing what when. It makes it quite exciting!”
“Do you ever get stuck?” I asked.
The answer is Yes. She got stuck for a month or two in Hugo’s story and then woke up one morning with the answer, and just had to change one line that someone said early in the story and it all fell into place. “What about ours?” I asked.
“Not the trilogy, or at least I don’t remember getting stuck. I wrote as long as I wanted to and then went to bed , so when I had run out of ideas my brain sort of worked on it overnight and I woke up with the next phase all sorted out,” she said. “Although I’m working on a later one, which I really like, except I don’t think it’s the right story for where it is in the timeline. It might have to get split into two and put in different books.”
That sounds interesting, I think. I’m looking forward to reading it, or them, or however many they turn into.
“Who are your most important contacts in the realms?” I asked. Well, it was the next question on her list.
“Everybody is important,” she said. “Even the smallest characters are important, like the people on the coach that you’re travelling with. You never know when they might turn up again. But of course you and Fred are the most important.”
I think she’s just saying that though.
“What is the most exciting thing you’ve done so far.” She thought about this for a bit. It was either appearing on television in a quiz show, or going up in a plane over Ayers Rock in Australia or going up in a helicopter onto the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand, she said. “Or seeing my first niece for the first time.”
“That sounds like a lot of exciting things, and I don’t understand them all,” I said. “Your readers will understand though,” she said. I hope you do.
What is your most embarrassing moment? She thought for a bit about this.
“When I was little, there was a song that was popular which started ‘Oh, my papa, what makes you oh so wonderful,’ and one day in church I sang it very loudly as the priest left the service. It was extremely embarrassing,” she said. “I remember lots of people laughing at me.”
“I expect you were very little and they thought it was cute,” I said.
“Maybe,” she said, “but I was still very embarrassed.”
What is the thing you’d most like to change and why?
“I would like everyone to value our planet more,” she said, “and stop thinking they can use it all up like there’s no tomorrow. Especially not use up all the land so there’s nowhere for plants and animals to live.”
That sounds pretty serious to me. I couldn’t imagine why people would think like that. Then I thought of a couple of people I know who aren’t from Marsh and don’t work for sustainability in their lives. They are probably that type of person.
“Who would you most like to say sorry to,” I asked. She thought about it for a long time. “I don’t think there’s anyone really, although I do wish I’d managed to help a couple of people better before they died. I’m sorry I didn’t, but I don’t know really whether there was anything better I could have done.”
That sounds sad so I moved on. Who would she most like to be with in a life or death situation?
“You and Fred,” she said. I think it was mainly loyalty as I’m sure she knows people who can help her more than we could, but I liked her saying that. It made me feel all warm and cuddly.
Finally, if you weren’t you, who would you like to be?
“It’s a difficult question, isn’t it,” she said. “I rather like being me. I’d like to be thinner and more attractive and stay a lot younger, but I don’t mind being me. I would quite like to be a really successful author so that everyone knew about the books and you guys, but I don’t know about managing all the publicity that goes with being really successful. I can see why people I’ve interviewed decided to say someone like Jupiter or you. You both seem to have relaxed, enjoyable lives.”
“Well, I like my life,” I said.
“Good,” she said. “I like being with you and Fred. You’re very special to me.”
“Aww,” I blushed. We giggled and decided it was time for bed because we had an early start in the morning, flying back to Castle Marsh. I hope you like my interview with Jemima Pett, author of The Princelings of the East trilogy and other books.