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Interview with Zoe Brooks


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always written poetry: My parents say I was making up poems before I could read and write. I was first published at the age of thirteen and was regarded as one of the bright young things of British poetry, but poetry doesn’t pay the bills and I had to focus on my career. For over twenty years I had a very demanding job working with disadvantaged people and loved it, but a few years ago it all became too much and I changed my career. I decided I would follow the dream of writing novels. I had always made up stories but up until then they were for my enjoyment only.
What genre do you write and why?
I have been told I write magic realism. I had never heard about magic realism before – but basically it's realistic but with something magical or strange in it.  My books are set in an unspecified place and time, which some people find disturbing, but it means that readers are encouraged to think about what happens to Judith without bringing preconceptions. The book is also women’s fiction – I write about women, all my books have strong heroines. There’s some romance in the book, but it’s not the only thing by any means.
Tell us about your latest book.
Love of Shadows is the second book in The Healer's Shadow trilogy. It follows the story of the young perfume-maker Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. At the opening of the book Elma, their employer and Judith’s mentor, has just died and Judith is trying cope with her grief. In the city of Pharsis, where Judith lives, women healers are being persecuted in favour of the university-trained male doctors. Judith is accused of making medicine for Elma and then of killing her, but she escapes prosecution. Judith’s mother was a healer and Judith more and more feels that she is called to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Then scarlet fever breaks out and Judith must decide whether she will risk the gallows to help others. The second element in the novel is whether Judith, who has been badly damaged by past relationships, will be able to trust a man enough to let him get near to her emotionally.
What marketing methods are you using to pro mote your book? 
I've used several methods. The first was sending the book to book reviewers who reviewed the previous book in the trilogy. The second is writing interviews like this one and guest posts on blogs - this interview is part of a blog tour with Orangeberry Blog Tours. The third is using Kindle Select - I offered the book free shortly after it was released. But the best promotion is that the book is part of a series: if people like the first book they will buy the second.
What formats is the book available in?
It is currently only available on Kindle via Amazon, but it will be published on Kobo and Nook shortly.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I spend half my life in the Czech Republic, where I have a semi-restored farmhouse. It's where I do my writing, but I also have a business bringing English-speaking tourists to the country that I love. In my free-time I love walking so I can enjoy looking at nature. When I was a little girl my mother used to take me for long walks and she taught me how to look at the world. That sounds strange but a lot of people when out won't see anything. My mother taught me how to see flowers and animals and how to use my imagination. Now I've caught the Czech obsession about foraging for wild food. There are raspberries and wild strawberries in the woods above my Czech home and best of all lots of mushrooms.
Zoe Brooks
Who are your favourite authors?
That is a difficult question to answer as I like so many authors. The first adult author I read was Charlotte Bronte. I read and reread Jane Eyre when I was a teenager. This trilogy has been influenced by that book, they are both about strong women who have been orphaned and abused by an aunt. Another author I adore is Ursula Le Guin. My son introduced me to her writing. I love the way she writes good stories which make you think. The worlds she creates are totally believable.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Finish the first draft. They say everyone has a book in them. I think that should be changed to a half-finished book. There is a point (at about 30,000 words) when I get stuck. I've run out of the adrenalin that comes from starting a book and there are an awful lot of words left to write. It's then that I have to force myself to continue. From what I've read nearly all writers have this pain barrier to go through and it is painful. You just have to find a way of getting through it that suits you - maybe it's locking yourself away somewhere, maybe it's taking a break from writing.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
"The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds a house, but the reader makes it a home" - Jodi Picoult
What's the best thing about being a writer?
When you get a review or feedback from a reader who clearly has completely understood what you were trying to do with your book. Good reviews are lovely, but the review which shows that the reader has really thought about your book, that is really rewarding. All my books have been about people on the edge of society. I used to work with such people and one of my reasons for writing is to tell their stories.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
On my blog Zoe Brooks - Books and Things - http://zoebrooks.blogspot.com
Anything else you'd like to add?
First of all I would like to say thank you for the interview. I would also like to say that I welcome feedback. If anyone has any questions, please write a comment and I will reply.

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