We Talk Domestic Violence, Self Publishing, Book Covers & More…
Welcome to the blog, Jennifer and thank for taking time out today to answer my plethora of questions!
You and I have a fair bit in common when it comes to the subject of our novels (my debut novel, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ also has an abusive thread running through it), and so it’s fascinating for me – as well as for other readers out there – to learn about your own journey to the publication of two very important books on the subject:
-You have published two very unique books on domestic violence, ‘Isolation Junction’ and more recently, ‘Clipped Wings’. Can you tell us a little about each. How do they differ?
Isolation Junction is a fictional novel based on my own experiences of domestic abuse and that of other women, as well as research.
Clipped Wings is an an anthology of other survivors’ experiences and is non-fiction.
They are both very different but both serve a similar purpose, and that’s bringing awareness to domestic abuse.
-Writing your first book, ‘Isolation Junction’, will be viewed by many as a very brave move. Were there times when you didn’t know if you had the inner strength to get this fictional story about Rose down on paper; times when Rose’s journey took you right back to the kind of struggles you yourself encountered as a former victim of domestic violence?
My goal kept me determined to complete Isolation Junction and gave me a focus. I also felt like the process of writing the feelings and emotions was, in fact, therapeutic to me. There are times I read over sections and it still bites at me and brings back memories, but now I am at a good part in my life and recovery, I feel like I am able to reflect rather than hinder my mind and torture myself. This is the same with writing any current work, or work in progress.
-As a self-published author, how much do you think your ability to have more control over all areas of the publishing process has helped your books reach winder audiences?
I feel I am free to write how I want and I also feel I know the readers’ boundaries. There is certainly a line I don’t want to cross… and that’s to put the reader off the book completely. I am afraid that if I was to get published by a publisher, then the initial reason for me bringing the books to readers would alter the content drastically. Although on a marketing front it is most likely more beneficial to be with a publisher – as I am the one marketing on my own as a mum of three and not as a team of people – it has its pros and its cons.
-What is your biggest piece of advice for anybody reading this who is currently wondering a) if they are in a mentally and/or physically abusive relationship, and b) how to escape?
I would recommend they tell someone they can trust, a safe person. I often talk about what I mean by a safe person. A safe person is someone not involved – especially with the perpetrator. It could be a work colleague or a distant friend. Failing that, there are services, as well, that you can contact and I include some on my website; http://jennifergilmour.com/support/
It would be useful to have someone who can support you along the way while talking to services. I feel that this was the part where I needed someone the most; holding my hand whilst I was on the phone so I was facing it with someone by my side.
-What are the biggest myths surrounding D.V?
That it only happens to a specific stereotype of women.
That it only happens to women.
That it’s all about violence.
They are the three main myths that irritate and frustrate me, and one of the reasons why I wanted to get the awareness of what domestic abuse can look like out there in an ‘entertaining’ way; people reading my debut novel for pleasure, but getting educated on emotional abuse as a result.
-The work you do to support other women and men who have left /want to leave abusive partners must be very rewarding, but overwhelming at times. How do you unwind and ensure that you set their stories to one side when you are not working?I am a mum of three which keeps me pretty busy when I am not writing; I have a 5, 7 and almost 2 year old. As a family we enjoy the hobby Geocaching which gets us out and about, learning about the local area as well as having some fun. It can get rather competitive! If you haven’t heard of it Geocaching, it’s a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
I am also a Jamberry Nail Wraps Consultant which brings in most of my income to support my work in the domestic abuse sector, including my writing. You can find out more about that on my other website: https://jennifergilmour.jamberry.com/uk/en/
All that helps me keep my mind off things and is a perfect distraction.
-What’s your favourite quote from Isolation Junction?
I have lots of favourite small quotes that I have shared before, and so I wanted to share this extract with you instead. It shows that throughout chaos and upset, there are little flickers of light that bring you through the dark times. I also wanted to share this with you, as many people hear about Isolation Junction and think it’s going to be a depressing book… but in fact it has romance and comedic moments woven through the plot which makes it enlightening.
Rose woke up at lunch time the next morning with a pounding headache and dry mouth; she had never slept this long since before Millie-Rose was born. Next to her on the bedside table she saw a glass of fresh orange, a glass of water, a cup of tea and a cup of coffee that Tim had made for her. Rose could hear some pottering about going on downstairs and she put on Tim’s robe that was hung up behind the door and went to investigate. Tim was cleaning up and had breakfast ready to cook.
“I didn’t know what you would like so I got everything. Cooked breakfast? Croissants? Cereal?”
Rose blushed and smiled as she looked and saw the selection; she felt so cared for instantly. It was an unusual feeling for her and overwhelming at the same time but Rose had started to become familiar with this caring treatment.
Tim spoke again, “Is that my robe?”
-What’s your favourite quote from Clipped Wings?
It has to be this short piece which explains why it is called Clipped Wings and introduces the book, I also hope that it will be used by many as a quote.
‘Our wings were clipped, our restrictions were made, our boundaries were tested but now we are free, aren’t we?
We look above in the sky at the birds and hope to be free. But the birds make their nests in the trees high above, to protect themselves from predators. Free birds must keep looking over their shoulders the same way all of us have to.’
-How did you choose the covers for both of your books?
The covers were actually images I had in my head that I sketched and then gave the designers… along with lots of instructions regarding the textures and items to be used within each cover. I was very lucky that both designers I have worked with managed to capture the idea I had in my head, and, after rather a few emails, we headed in the right direction. Both Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings were custom made and I am glad I took this decision, as I have had a lot of positive feedback on how they both relate to the content and how they both stand out.
-What can we expect to see from you next?
That is a good question and I have lots of ideas to move forward with my journey in building awareness. I don’t know which path I will be taking next. I am working on a short story which links with Isolation Junction, and I have lots of notes for another novel. I guess for now all I can say is watch this space.
You can also keep up to date by signing up to my newsletter and following my blog via my website at www.jennifergilmour.com
About the author:
Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.
From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write this first novel ‘Isolation Junction’. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.
Since the publication of her debut novel Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.
Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that ’Clipped Wings’ gives a voice to survivors’ experiences and raises awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.
If you’d like to order a copy of Jennifer’s latest book, Clipped Wings, here is the Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2gVBCSO