Wednesday, 14 May 2014

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Jennie Ann Rake

DORSET author Jennie Ann Rake has been delighted with feedback from her debut novel, Deception, Lies and Chocolate Muffins – mostly receiving four and five star reviews from her readers. Writing the book was hard work – only to be followed by a struggle to get it published. Why then would she want to do it all over again? The sequel is already underway with eight chapters written. Many may know her for other reasons – she has been speaking throughout the county promoting the concept of Fair Trade goods, something she remains passionate about together with her love of knitting, sewing, her cats, family and husband… although, as she points out, not necessarily in that order.

YOU spent much of your life out of the area, bringing up a family and teaching. What was it that made you want to settle in Dorset? 
We have been in Dorset for nine years now. When we came back to the area it felt like we were coming back to our roots. David’s (husband) maternal grandma, Florence Bartlett, was brought up at the Crown Inn at Uploders, where her mother was the licensee, and there are other family members around. When Florence married Joseph Rake they went to live in the Stourpaine area.

HOW did you both meet? 
We met through the church choir. He was also a bellringer, and still is. We married in Buckinghamshire in 1971 where we had three children and where the book is based. It was our move to Dorset in 2005 which had all sorts of problems which inspired the book. I had one of those conversations with our solicitor who said ‘you could write a book about this’ – and I thought ‘why not?’. I suppose I always thought I had a book in me, but it was that which got be started.

AS A youngster were you always keen on books? 
Yes, although I wasn’t really fixed on any particular books. I do remember a series of stories about a brother and sister who went for holidays in different countries, although it seems a little implausible as an adult. I loved writing at school, what we used to call ‘composition’ in those days and I would illustrate some of my stories with drawings. I continued to be interested in writing while I trained as a teacher at Rolle College in Exmouth and tried my hand at poetry and writing music.

NOW you are published, how much does it matter to you what people say about the book? 
For my self-esteem I like to know that people like it. It’s nice that most people do seem to like it and that a publisher thought it was worthwhile. The other aspect is that I had set writing it as a personal challenge, so I enjoyed achieving that and knowing that it’s out in print and that even if they don’t buy it people can borrow it from a library. Getting feedback is encouraging and people have been asking what happens to Hattie next, so I’ve made a start on the next one and I am up to chapter eight at the moment…I had one of those ‘light bulb moments’ and came up with how to do it.

WHICH writers have inspired you? 
I used to read Ruth Rendell under the name of Barbara Vine and in the past I’ve been keen on Thomas Hardy and Jane Austin. Then I discovered Katie Fforde, Joanna Trollope, Jill Mansell and Catherine Alliott. At the moment I like Joanna Trollope because she goes a bit deeper and deals with real-life issues.

DO YOU have a favourite word?
Yes, I like ‘chuckled’ – it’s a charming word, sort-of cuddly and good fun. ‘Chuckled’ has got something about it… but I do have to make sure that I don’t use it too often.

AND assuming you have some spare time what else do you like to do? 
I knit. I’m currently working on my third patchwork quilt. I like to sew, like one of the characters in the book. I’m a fairweather gardener and I love cooking for my husband and looking after my three pampered cats.

WHAT would your perfect Dorset day be? 
A mid-morning walk by the sea at Ringstead Bay followed by a cup of coffee and then, later a picnic lunch and a paddle at Burton Bradstock and finally fish and chips at West Bay watching the sunset – food, fresh air and sea breezes.

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