Indie Spotlight – Jane Smyth

Today on Indie Spotlight I am joined by Jane Smyth.

Jane was born in Birmingham, UK and remains a Brummie at heart although she has lived in north Worcestershire for many years. She worked as a lecturer at a college in the West Midlands for most of her career, starting out teaching secretarial subjects and having to re-educate herself every few years as technology and computers gradually took over. By the end of her career, she held the position of Senior Teacher and lecturer in IT. She also has qualifications in photography and fitness instruction, the latter she no longer uses, saying she much prefers being a participant rather than the teacher. Happily married, she and her husband Rob have two children, three granddaughters and two fox terriers. They share their time between the UK and their little house in the Alpes de Haute Provence.

Welcome to my blog, Jane!

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

Self-publishing for me was a no-brainer.  It was my first book and it seemed ridiculous to me that a publisher would have the slightest interest in my musings about our little house in Haute Provence.  I’d also read a lot about the trials and disappointments of sending out manuscripts, very few of which are accepted.  The other reason for joining the Indie publishing community, was the fact that signing with a publisher usually meant joining a conveyor belt of writing a book every few months.  I do want to write, but at my own pace and not feel pressured as this would remove any joy from something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I chose the subject matter of my first book after reading a lot of advice from those ‘in the know’ so to speak.  The recommendations, whether writing a book, a blog an article or short story, was to start with something you know about and see how things go.  It was a great starting point for me as I had a whole store of memories, facts and funny tales about our experiences to draw upon.  

Do you only read the genre that you write? What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m a complete bookworm and have been since a child.  I read any genre and have just finished Tears of Amber by Sofia Segovia who wrote The Murmur of Bees (which I also read). I’m now reading Lindy Viandier’s Damson Skies and Dragonflies, a memoir.  I rarely read two of the same genres one after the other, but like to mix things up.  My ever growing list of favourite books contain A Year in Provence, The Moon’s a Balloon, The Shadow of the Wind and Lord of the Rings!  Go figure! I do however, have a real love of memoirs and autobiographies from a range of people because I’m basically nosey!

Music is another huge part of my life.  I used to play an acoustic guitar, heavily influenced by Bob Dylan and my brother, who taught me.  This was back in the dark ages of my youth and I’ve not touched my old guitar for years.  My parents were into classical music and I hated it as much as my mum loathed Dylan and all the immerging ‘long-haired’ bands back in the day.  She tolerated the Beatles .. just!  I’ve attended so many live performances over the years, seen all the major bands and vocalists across the full range of musical genres.  Some more than once.  I’ve lost count of exactly how many and have more lined up for 2022.  Funnily, I’ve grown to appreciate classical music and developed a love of Frank Sinatra, probably because he was my dad’s favourite.  My dad was more amenable to modern music too, often buying me ‘singles’ (remember those?) of the Who or the aforementioned Beatles and their contemporaries.  Mum would howl in horror at the thought of the racket she’d be exposed to and probably grateful I didn’t resort to playing Led Zeppelin!  Once again, my loves are fairly eclectic.  As for TV?  Once again I’ll watch most things if they’re interesting or exciting.  My pet hate is reality TV.  Can’t stand it.  I confess to loving Strictly!

My Dad was also a big classical music fan and I love going to see live bands – my husband and I have tickets to see Madness and New Order next year.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

For anyone, like me, who has always wanted to write but somehow never got around to it, I’d say do it!  Find the time if you can.  Try not to start with a ‘War and Peace’ tome as it’ll never get finished and don’t imagine your book has to be a literary masterpiece, highbrow enough be selected for the Booker prize!  Though brilliant if it is! There will always be an audience for the book you are working to achieve, as long as the standard of writing is good enough and the story interesting. Write from the heart and be honest.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

Another book is on the cards and I’ve several ideas buzzing around in my head.  May be another amusing memoir digging into the stock pile of memories again, or one that is a complete reversal from this; an account of the real-life story of my friend, her years of mental abuse endured at the hands of her husband, who she married after a holiday romance and moved abroad.  It’s a tough story, but one that differs in many ways from those already told.  I also have a couple of fictional stories which require some detailed research!  

Thank you Jane for joining me on Indie Spotlight today! Good luck with sales of your book and with your next projects!

French Dreams, Dogs and a Dodgy Motor

This light-hearted tale describes how two ex-council house kids fulfilled their dream of owning a holiday home in France, something they never thought possible as they started out on life together as a young couple with two small children and not much money to survive on. Hard work, study and a determination to fulfil a long-held dream eventually became a reality when a computer search led to the discovery and purchase of their much loved mountain property. Follow Jane and Rob on their journey through a mosaic of early memories, anecdotes, observations and funny stories. As they travelled back and forth from their home in the UK to the Alpes de Haute Provence, their journeys over the years have provided a rich source of material, from a weird encounter with strangers on a ferry to the trouble dogs can get you into. Jane brings to life these and other experiences, introduces residents and neighbours and peppers her tale with facts and vivid descriptions of the area, making you want to pack your bags and see it for yourself!

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US | My Review

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