Jane Shand lives in Hampshire, England with her family and two cheeky cats. She has always been an avid reader and got hooked on fantasy after reading ‘Lord of the Rings’ at a young age. She dabbled at writing all through school, college, and university but then life, career and children kind of got in the way. She became serious about writing again when she picked up a copy of ‘The Writing Magazine’ in 2017. It took three years to get her first short story published and meanwhile she completed the ‘Constructing a Novel’ course with The Writer’s Academy. This novel would not be what it is today without that course.
Tell us your story. What made you start writing?
I have always loved writing and making things up since I was a child. I loved English at school (along with science!) and I made up elaborate games with some of my toys. Between the ages of 16 and 20 I wrote an 80,000-word novel. But I had no idea about POV or editing or who to send it to. I wrote another novel length story in my late twenties, but it was just for my enjoyment. I wrote all through my thirties, but just bits and pieces as I had a career, and then kids came along, and it was harder. But in 2017 I found Writing Magazine and it inspired me to take it seriously. I wrote a novel called The Towers and the Mist and sent it to a couple of agents. It wasn’t taken up, but I had some interesting feedback. By this point I had a new idea and had joined the ‘Constructing a Novel’ course with The Writers’ Academy. I used The Shard during that course.
What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a coffee?
Billy Monger. He is a young British racing driver who had a horrendous crash in 2017 and had to have both legs amputated. He recently did a challenge to raise money for Comic Relief. He walked, cycled and kayaked over 140 miles in just a few days. His determination, courage and ‘never give up’ attitude was incredible. It just shows what you are capable of if you don’t give up. But I’m not sure I have quite the same determination. I would like to wish him all the best and tell him how proud he should be of what he has accomplished.
What 3 items would you take with you on a deserted island?
It would have to be a jumbo pack of writing pads, a pack of pens and a copy of Lord of The Rings
If you could hire someone to help you, would it be with cleaning, cooking, or yard work? Anything else?
It would have to be ironing and dusting. I hate both of them! I hate dusting so much it rarely gets done. Mind you it’s a bit hard since the shelves are jam packed with books!
About The Shard
Darkness is falling. The children of the land are devoured by it.
Slowly every child in possession of magic is being turned into something twisted and horrid – a Darkling. Nobody knows how to stop it. Nalani has a Gift that can help the Darklings. It beckons her to do its bidding for her. She grew up hating the magic inside of her; it must have been the reason her father left her. It certainly was the reason she didn’t get along with her mother. When the Gift suddenly demands that she journey to the mainland, she sees it as a chance for escape, for a new life and purpose. With both hands, she grabs for it. Except as she settles into her new life in the city of Karas, she soon discovers more questions than answers. The history of the city and some of the darker secrets are coming into light. With the help of those she encounters including a Darkling boy and Luca, a young man whose research seems to hold the key, Nalani sets out on a path that will forever change her life. But will she figure out all of the answers, including ones shadowed inside herself, before the darkness overpowers them all.
Tell us a little about the book. How did you come up with the idea for The Shard?
The story is about trust, friendship, being different and learning how to overcome all these things. I came up with the idea by combining two previous ideas, actually. I had thought about a place where magic was somehow going wrong, and I had also thought about the search for some kind of magical object. When the two came together it clicked. I was also inspired with the setting by a travel advert to the Mediterranean! Those three elements along with my main character just resonated with me.
The main character Nalani is a strong, independent back girl. What made you choose to write the story in her perspective? Is there anything in Nalani’s character or story you can relate to?
I wanted a strong female character, and I had the setting. I wanted her to feel out of place and awkward there. I had also been watching Moana with the children and I think she was born from those things! Nalani is much stronger than me, I would love to have her abilities and her drive.
Which character did you have most fun writing?
I enjoyed writing all the characters though I guess Garthwin and Felipe were the most fun. They were so cheerful and fun despite their hardships.
If you would rewrite something in The Shard right now, what would it be?
A) I’m not sure I would re-write anything, but I would add more depth to Nalani’s hatred of her gift and her desire to be rid of it even in the face of the need for it to complete her mission. I would also perhaps go into a little detail of where the magic comes from. In my head is was a genetic, but random thing. I’m not sure that comes across in the book.
If you were a character in The Shard, who would you be and why?
It would have to be Nalani. She is strong and capable and overcomes her distrust and her hate for her Gift. And she is really good with knives!
Did you need to do research for The Shard? What was the most interesting thing you learnt while writing The Shard?
I did do research for The Shard. Once I knew it was to be set in a land inspired by Ancient Italy/Greece, I did a lot of research about architecture, customs, politics etc. I chose and adapted the things I liked. I also needed to know the climate and what plants and animals live there. It might only be loosely based on these places, but I wanted it to have an authenticity to it. Nalani’s island of Naia is even more loosely based on Hawaii and Polynesia. I also looked up Hawaiian names and Italian names.
How did you feel when your first book was released? Is there anything particular about the journey to the publishing you’d like to share?
I couldn’t stop grinning when it was finally available. When people started reading it and enjoying it – well there’s no feeling like that. Knowing something I created is being enjoyed by other people. I would say that you need to get into a routine, a habit of writing as often as you can. Learn from other authors, learn from ‘How to..’ books or courses. Never believe that you already know everything. There is always more to learn and practice.
What are you currently working on?
I have just finished a first draft of a novel which I think will be called The Light Wielders and have begun the self-edit process before handing it over for a professional edit. Again, we have a female protagonist, though she is joined by 3 other POV characters. All magic users are in danger and these four strangers will hold their fate in their hands. The setting here was inspired by South East Asia/Indonesia. I have also started writing the sequel to The Shard.
When can we wait for the sequel for The Shard? Is there anything you can say about it without any spoilers?
I am hoping to be able to get the sequel done this year with a Winter publishing deadline. I hope that might be late this year, rather than early next year. But we will have to see how it all goes! I can tell you that Nalani’s Gift sends her on another mission to the mainland and she will join up with some of her friends again. She might also meet a few new ones. She will also finally get to learn what happened to her father fifteen years ago. I have called the two book series, The Darkling Duology but I can’t reveal the title of the second book yet as I am not 100% certain what I am going to call it.
You are lost in a foreign city. It is getting late. Your only options are to ask directions from a man hidden under a long black coat and sunglasses or a drunk woman in suggestive clothing. What do you do?
I read Fantasy and Murder/Mystery/Thrillers and I write Fantasy. Man in a long black coat is extremely suspicious. Spy? Magician? A woman is less threatening and is not likely to see me as a threat. Though how helpful she might be as she’s drunk…