Today I am interviewing Jennie Giardine, Author of Opium Dreams, published by Eternal Press in February of 2013.
This interview will be open for commentary following publication, and should be written in a professional tone.
Hello Jennie and welcome!
Q: Your novel, Opium Dreams, sounds very intriguing. As a 19th Century Historical Suspense novel, what are its elements of alternative history or secret history?
A: The opium den was an actual den in London at that time. The opium master was Chi Ki, as the character is named in the book. In addition to sailors and the Eastern people who frequented the den, it was the upper middle class Londoners who used to be taken with the idea of smoking an opium pipe with these exotics. My main characters are from this good society. Victorians needed to hide to have their fun, but it was a time of much unseen debauchery. It was also a time of much addiction, as opium came in the form of pipes, pills and laudanum, the tonic which was used by many for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Q: Is this book part of a series you have written or will write in the future?
A: This book is the first in a series. I learned from my first novel that my pet theme was seemingly good people doing bad things. For instance, my sequels to this novel, with the next generations of characters, will be set in the Prohibition years of the 1920's with speakeasies and bootlegging, the late 1950's/early sixties with the swingers in a suburban town, and the 1990's with the Wicca, or witchcraft, fascination that took hold then.
Q: What drives you to write?
A: I like exploring the middle class or upper middle class who has the facade of civility and showing what they really do for entertainment. I am much more fascinated by the dark side of good people, than their goodness. I am fascinated by complex, sometimes duplicitous people, and they make great characters. They are real, and much like real people, we are not sure whether we love them or hate them. Sometimes it depends which side shows up.
Also, I learn a lot about my own psyche because of the way I write. I write an opening scene, then figure out why the character is doing that. I write in a stream of consciousness style, until eventually I have to make some decisions and revisions. I write like I read, not wanting to know what happens next and letting the characters develop for themselves.
Q: Do you have any literary influences?
A: Literary figures such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas DeQuincey used opium to have wild dreams and stimulate their creative process. I did research to capture the effects of opium effects and addiction. DeQuincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater was my main source. Two of my characters are authors who use the opium to create unique work.
Q: How often do you make time to write, and what is your favorite atmosphere to write in?
A: I teach English part-time at the college level, which helps give me time to write. Teaching and actively writing work well together. I have grown up with my students in many ways, reading their stories, listening to their ideas, and appreciating the diverse population that I teach, which gives me great insight into human behavior and resilience. They helped me to become a writer as I taught them writing, and in turn, as I wrote, and practiced what I had been preaching, I became a better teacher. I was going through the process of writing along with them and was able to capture the stages of creating something from nothing that every writer has to go through. I would share my new-found knowledge and discoveries with them. I write when inspiration hits, but I do set aside about 8-10 hours a week just for writing and sit there until it happens. I sit in my sunroom to write. It is the perfect room for contemplating life around me.
Barnes and Noble Print or Nook:
Eternal Press website (available in epub (Nook compatible), pdf, mobi (Kindle compatible), lit (Microsoft Reader), and pdb (Palm) formats):