Friday, December 23, 2011

Up Close & Personal with Caroline Barnard-Smith, Author of Jinn Nation (Vamp)

Where were you born Caroline and where do you call home?

I was born just outside London but my parents moved us out to the beautiful Devon countryside when I was seven so that’s the place I’ve always called home.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

My latest book is a dark fantasy about a hedonistic vampire called Jinn Nation.  Hmmm, a summary in less than thirty words, you say?  How about "The last surviving vampire of a once ruthless kin finds salvation in the desert, in the form of a woman with awesome powers she doesn't yet understand."

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

They'd probably say quite a lot. My main characters, Dylan and Christa, are quite opinionated! Dylan is a vampire with serious issues about being alone in the world. After watching his kin burn at the end of Dunraven Road he turns to the jinn, a race of nasty creatures who eat human organs in order to glean their power, and has jinn stones sewn into his stomach, making him one of them. Dylan also has a weakness for powerful women, a fact that piques his interest in the mysterious Christa and later in Bredia, a maniacal jinn goddess.

Christa starts out as a seemingly timid, curious character who has the unique ability to read minds and control people's actions; powers she doesn't really understand and later on finds hard to control. The reader is slowly told more of Christa's back story as the novel progresses and by the end of the book she is a changed person.

Do you have plans for a new book?   Is this book part of a series?

Jinn Nation can be read as a one off (you don't need to have read my debut novel, Dunraven Road to enjoy it), but I've left it open for a sequel. I'm working on something much closer to home at the moment, set in a Devon town. I can't tell you too much because I'm still working out the details myself, but it will definitely draw on faerie mythology, which I've been interested in for years.

What or who inspired you to write?  And how long have you been writing?

My Mum always encouraged me because she's a writer herself, albeit unpublished (so far!) I started submitting seriously to publishers when I was still at university but it took another six years and two novels before somebody wanted to print my work. I'd previously published a handful of short stories in small press magazines, but there's nothing quite like the feeling of selling an entire novel.

How did you come up with the title and cover design?

I’m actually really bad at coming up with both.  I let titles come to me organically while I’m writing because I rarely have a good one in place when I start, and even then I’m often unhappy with them.  As for covers, I’m hopeless with any sort of graphic design program and was so happy when my lovely cover designer offered to help me.  Jinn Nation’s cover was created by a good friend, using my ideas and images I’d sourced.  I think having so much input into the design of your own book cover is one of the most satisfying aspects of indie publishing.

Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?

Not this time ;) Parts of my first novel, Dunraven Road, were semi-autobiographical, albeit heavily disguised. In Jinn Nation I allowed myself to imagine all the things I'd always wanted to do but never could or would, and that was actually a lot more fun.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

I often imagine meeting my favourite authors but in reality I think I'd prefer not to, particularly if it was someone I idolised. I'm certain I'd just make an idiot out of myself!

Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?

Since getting my Kindle, I'd have to say ebooks. I just love the fact you can download any book in seconds and although I'll always keep my favourite paperbacks, living in a small flat has meant it's been excellent being able to clear space and get rid of 'real' books that I've replaced on the Kindle.

Are you a self published (Indie) Author?

I am indeed. I decided to self publish Jinn Nation before I started the usual round of submissions to agents and small presses because I'd been so impressed with what I was reading about emerging indie authors. Being able to retain complete artisic (not to mention financial) control really appealed to me and I knew from past experience that I would be expected to do the bulk of my own marketing anyway, whether I was with a publisher or not. All of this is a lot of hard work, but personally I’ve found the experience immensely satisfying.  The paperback proofs of Jinn Nation were delivered just the other day and being able to hold that beautifully printed book in my hands and think, “I did that”, was fantastic. 

Have you ever read a book more than once?

I used to do that more when I was a kid. I loved A Wizard of Earthsea by Usula Le Guin and I read that more than once. These days though, there are so many books to read and so little time to read them in, I tend to read books just the once. I won't even allow myself to plough on through a book if I'm not enjoying it or if I'm finding the writing style annoying, life's just too short! There are a couple of exceptions to this rule though. I've read some of my favourite authors more than once - Tolkien, Poppy Z. Brite and Anne Rice.

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?

I don't know if I preferred the movie over the book version, but I think Peter Jackson did a phenomenal job with The Lord of the Rings.  Much of it looks and feels just the way I’d imagined it when I read the books, and that’s something I wasn’t expecting.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does with The Hobbit.  I’ve also always loved the movie version of Interview with the Vampire, which I think sometimes surpasses the novel.  Those are very rare instances though and most of the time, for me anyway, a movie comes nowhere near a novel.  One of the worst adaptations I’ve seen is Queen of the Damned.  While Interview with the Vampire was dark and lush, this supposed sequel turned The Vampire Chronicles into a shallow, disjointed music video.  It didn’t help matters that two 500-page novels had been ripped apart and condensed into one hour-and-a-half film.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?

I'm currently reading something very non-fantasy orientated for a change - The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. He's the guy who published The Virgin Suicides back in the early '90's but this is the first of his books that I've read. I'm really enjoying it so far. The characters are scarily recognisable and the fact that it's set in the early 1980s gives it a really interesting feel. I'm reading it on my Kindle but as it's only available in hardback in the real world, the price was a bit steep. I was suckered in by the sample ;)

What book do you know that you will never read?

Probably anything by Mills and Boon. I'm not a big romance fan.

Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest and why?

I don't know if you could call them new because many of them have been writing for years, but lots of indie authors have grasped my interest since I started hanging around Kindle Boards. The next author I want to check out is Tara Maya who writes The Unfinished Song epic fantasy series. That one looks really good, it's on my to read list!

Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?

There are always things you could change when you finish a novel, but you could be tweaking and polishing forever and never release it into the world. I prefer to do the best that I can, then let it go and try to quell those inner voices that keep telling me certain parts of it aren't good enough.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find time in your day to write, and stick to that chosen hour or evening or whatever religiously. It can be so hard to get started sometimes, you can keep putting it off and making excuses. Just sit down and write something, even if you think it's awful.

What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?

You can't write well if you don't read a lot. Simple but true.

Do you ever write in your PJ’s?

It has been known! Usually with my baby daughter on my lap.

What are your pet peeves?

Rudeness and ignorance. I often find it difficult to excuse either.

Cats or dogs?

Definitely cats! My in-laws' dog once very deliberately (or so I like to think) drooled into my shoe before walking away, tail high in the air, looking extremely pleased with himself. That was the beginning of the end of good relations between myself and dogs.

White wine or red?

It used to be white and German but my tastes must be changing in my old age because now I like a good red.

Patti Says: Australian Merlot is my favorite red.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. I can't function without it and cutting down while I was pregnant was hard.

Patti Says:  I have just started drinking green tea after reading all about the great Health benefits.  It's an acquired taste :)

Favorite food?

This changes at whim but at the moment I'd have to say the chinese sauce and turkey mince my husband makes with noodles.

Vanilla or chocolate icecream?


What are 4 things you never leave home without?

Well, my priorities have changed recently so now it's nappies, nappy cream, baby wipes and an annoying squeaky giraffe called Sophie.

Laptop or desktop for writing?

It used to be a desktop but I've since discovered the joys of sitting on the bed with my baby playing beside me in the afternoon sun, busily typing away on my netbook.

One of your favorite quotes -

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." - Bilbo Baggins

List 3 of your all time favorite books?

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

List 3 of your all time favorite movies?

Interview with the Vampire

An actor you have a crush on -

I'm old school, it's still Keanu ;)

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?

I really enjoyed Game of Thrones, that was excellent. I'm ashamed to say I've never read the books so I'll have to rectify that!

Patti says:  Me too, I love Game of thrones!!  Can't wait for season 2.  I've read book 1.  I'm glad I saw the TV show first tho otherwise I may have got lost J

Where can your readers stalk you?

Amazon - ebook and paperback

Smashwords - All ebook formats for all popular eReaders
Is your book in Print, ebook or both?

You can buy it as an ebook from Amazon or Smashwords and as a paperback from CreateSpace or

The book blurb:

Once, the vampire Dylan had feared nothing and no one. He'd rampaged throughout the world on a seemingly never ending quest to fill his eternal years with the finest, most outrageous extravagances; with exquisite, soft-limbed young women and copious amounts of rich, vibrating blood. But life, however full of joy, inevitably changes.

Finding himself alone for the first time in his long unlife, Dylan turns to the preternatural race of savage creatures called the jinn - a path that inevitably leads him to Christa, a strangely childlike woman with the power to control minds and read thoughts. Mutually intrigued by each other, they set out on a blood-soaked road trip that crosses the United States and the Atlantic Ocean, finally leading them beyond the world itself to the mysterious fae kingdoms of the Inbetween.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me, it has been fun, and allowing us a glimpse into your writing word.  I hope you share this interview with your friends so we can all get to know you a little better.  Patti

Competition closed -  If you would like to win a copy of Caroline's ebook please leave a message on the bottom of this post along with your email address.  1 lucky winner will be drawn on the 1st of January!


  1. I would love to win a copy! It sounds like a great book.

  2. Count me in too! Thanks for this awesome giveaway It looks like an awesome book.

  3. Ohhh awesome! I would love this!


  4. Count me in too!


  5. The book sounds just like my type of book! Enter me please :)


  6. I would love to win! Happy New Year!


  7. Thank you so much for the giveaway. It looks like an awesome book. :) And of course, HAPPY NEW YEAR! <3

  8. May Richard is the winner of the comp. Your ebook will be sent to you shortly :) All the very best for a great New Year to all the participants.


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