Tonight, for Friday Night Drinks, I am joined by children’s environmental author…. Jane Browne.
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
It’s great to be with you, Julie! That would probably be a Disaronno and diet coke. I love Amaretto!
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I’m a Leeds girl born n’ bred. There are so many great bars and Leeds has a huge reputation for being student party central, but I would take you to enjoy the views from the Sky Lounge, but there are so many incredible new bars in the city, we’d need a weekend! Or two…
I’m a Yorkshire lass myself, and love going out in Leeds. Sky Bar is a popular choice! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
The female is easy, Jane Austen. I’d really want to pick her brains about Tom LeFroy and whether he really broke her heart. And the male, Freddie Mercury. I was a teen when he died and a school friend was devastated as Freddie was his idol. Now, I get it. Raw talent as its flamboyant best.
Great choices. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
Currently, I am writing Hollow’s End, Book Three in my children’s environmental series The Earth Chronicles. It’s turning out to be a whopper so I am splitting it into two parts. Last year, I decided to step back from teaching full time and begin the so-called “pivot” towards full time writing. I began writing the series back in 2007 when the environment and climate change weren’t in the mainstream media as they are now. I was so taken by a tree that had been struck by lightning whilst visiting Blicking Hall, the seat of the Boleyn family, that I literally sprinted back to my car to grab my notepad and began writing down the idea of a young girl, full of potential, with a hidden secret in her family of which she knew nothing of.
I had many rejections from trad publishers, but now, I am so grateful for that because being an indie is who I truly am. I love that I am carving out my own writing career and I hold all the creative control. Just this month, I hit the Amazon bestseller list for Children’s Environment eBooks, so that right there was a dream come true!
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
My proudest moment was that my Dad got to see Hannah and the Hollow Tree in print shortly before dementia completely swallowed him. One of his last ever words to me was “Hollow Tree”. To have that memory means everything, because sadly my Mum never got to see it. They’re my book angels now.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
Well, hitting a bestseller list was pretty incredible, but I’d love to write full time. I’m not there yet, but I will be. And, it’s a bit of a cliché but, I’d love to see The Earth Chronicles on screen, a bit like the BBC’s stellar job of His Dark Materials. But I’d have to be involved in casting, lol!
What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I’m doubling-down on Hollow’s End – the cast has really grown and this book sets up the next three in the series, so I’ve got some pretty epic storylines to keep a track of. Also, my marketing strategies and website development. It sounds so glamorous, right?
I do have a t-shirt and tote line for The Earth Chronicles via Teemill. I love their company, the ethics, and their approach to sustainable fashion. The quality is amazing. But, you won’t see me strutting down a catwalk a’la Victoria Beckham any time soon!
After I’ve released Hollow’s End Part I I’ll begin work on my audiobooks for release next year.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Italy! My Mum would rave about it, having spent many holidays there with her friends when she was young. My husband also wanted to go so we booked a trip of a lifetime for our honeymoon to Venice and Sorrento. We visited Pompeii which is just breathtaking. We went back last year to Rome for my friend’s wedding, their reception was a rooftop terrace over-looking the Colosseum. Heaven! Next, I think the Maldives, St. Lucia and Dominica, too. It looks idyllic and there’s family heritage there too on my husband’s side so it feels like a place we got to experience.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
My Mum and I were obsessed with Pride & Prejudice and Austen in general. We spent several summers having long “girlie” weekends visiting stately homes from the T.V. and film adaptations and enjoy endless cream teas. Pure heaven!
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. It’s unbelievable how alike humans and trees actually are and how we as a species are so dependent upon them. The book is beautifully written and the audiobook is a treat to listen to.
Are trees social beings? How do trees live? Do they feel pain or have awareness of their surroundings?
In The Hidden Life of Trees Peter Wohlleben makes the case that the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.
A walk in the woods will never be the same again.
That sounds fascinating. I don’t think anyone else has recommended a non-fiction book before. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Being a Yorkshire gal, I can hold my liquor, but I’d say drink a pint of water before you crash into bed. If you do have one, a full English should see you right. I’ve been plant based for over two years now, so I do my veggie version and trust me, it is just scrummy!
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
A lazy Sunday morning reading as the smell of freshly ground coffee wafts through the house. My husband takes his coffee very seriously, lol! We have a grinder, a Bialetti coffee pot and air-tight container for the beans. And I even have a milk frother for my lattes. If you’re going to do it barista style, you’ve gotta do it right, right? ; )
Sounds perfect. Jane, thank you so much for joining me, I have really enjoyed it and maybe we can do it for real in Leeds soon.
It’s in her nature
When thirteen year old Hannah is awoken by a phone call in the middle of the night, she finds herself at the centre of a family secret her mother long thought was buried with the mysterious Hollow Tree. But as Hannah’s grandmother reveals the truth, she discovers exactly who she really is, and why the life of Gaia, the Mother of All Nature depends upon Hannah staying alive…
J.A. Browne is an Amazon Bestselling children’s author born in Yorkshire in the U.K. Her environmental fantasy series, The Earth Chronicles introduces you to Hannah Walsingham, a thirteen-year-old with a destiny she knows nothing about…until now.
Passionate about environmental issues, Jane began writing the climate fiction series about the death of Mother Nature and the potential that lies within children whilst studying to become a primary teacher in her home city of Leeds. Now, having graduated with an MA in Creative Writing, she followed her dreams to become a full-time author. Her love of literature began when she was little, sharing books with her grandmothers, filling her head with fairy tales and whimsical adventures.
Whilst holidaying in Norfolk, Jane was captivated by a tree struck by lightning in grounds of the home of Anne Boleyn and began scribbling down the idea of a girl whose destiny was hidden within the depths of a hollow tree…a destiny that would save worlds…
She now lives with her husband in the Calder Valley aka “Bronte Country” and still teaches occasionally and enjoys reading and long walks in the countryside to get the creative juices flowing.
Next week, Jessica Norrie and I will be having Friday Night Drinks back here, same time. All welcome to join us.