This week’s spotlight is on author Jossie Marie Solheim. Join us as we talk with her about her first novel Insane Reno and more.
Where are you from?
Well, originally I am from Kent; but I have lived most of my life in
Cornwall. I love Cornwall and have been so lucky to grow up here and,
although Kent is lovely, too and I enjoyed my time living there in my
teens, Cornwall will always be the place I love best.
Tell us your latest news?
Ha-ha! Well, that would be my first novel, Insane Reno, being
published. It is truly some of the best news I have ever had and a
dream come true.
When and why did you begin writing?
Oh, I started writing when I was around nine years old. My childhood
wasn’t the best, you see, and it was my way of escaping reality. I
would write myself into happy stories with happy endings and pray that
they would come true. Well, they didn’t, when I was young, but the
last few years, more and more of them are coming true; perhaps, not
quite how I imagined them, but I am enjoying the discovery process, so
I don’t mind, too much.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I have called myself a writer for a long time; but honestly, it
wasn’t until I got my publishing deal for my novel that I really felt
I had made it as a writer. For me the short stories and articles I had
published just weren’t enough, it had to be a novel.
What inspired you to write your first book?
So many things. Bodmin moor was one of my biggest inspirations. It
just held a fascination for me that just had to be explored and
understood. I read everything I could get my hands on, regarding the
moors and its myths and grew, ever more fascinated. If you spend a lot
of time there, you’ll understand what I mean. I guess they just spoke
to me, because they felt isolated, lost, and alone; things I had felt
a lot in my own life.
People also were a big inspiration. I had observed different types of
people for so long and examined human nature and I just longed to play
around with that, especially secrets and lies. I guess I experienced a
lot of secrets and lies growing up and longed for the truth to come
out. Well, I never achieved that with my own mysteries, so I wanted
Tizzy to succeed, where I had failed. That goes back to my childhood
days of writing a better outcome, I suppose; however, Tizzy is nothing
like me, she’s a far tougher cookie than I am.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think so. I tend to adapt and change and like to try different
approaches. For me, writing is an exploration. I want to play around
and dabble with different styles, because I feel that, what works for
one book, may not work so well for another.
How did you come up with the title?
Well, I think the title, more likely, came up with me; just, one day,
I got Insane Reno in my head and it would not go away and I just knew
I had to write a book with that title. I had no idea what or how it
would work at the time, but it all came together, in the end. I think
it was made to be. Perhaps, it was God giving me a helping hand and
setting the wheels in motion. Whatever the case, it’s a title I have
loved from the start and I’m sure I’ll always love.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, kids are smarter than you give them credit for. No matter what
you try to hide from them, they see things; notice subtle signs that
something is wrong. All you do, when you hide the bad news is make
them search for it. Honesty is always the best policy, because bad
news, broken gently, in a well thought out way, is better than bad
news discovered alone or from an uncaring source.
How much of the book is realistic?
Well, the settings are real. Bodmin moor and Bude are both real life
places and Charlotte Dymond was a girl who really was murdered on the
moors and yes, people really do visit her memorial on the anniversary
of her death, in hopes of seeing her ghost. My husband and I try to
go, most years. It’s great fun and a little bit spooky, too.
Smuggling, too was common in the area. The Jamaica Inn, on the moors,
itself, is testament to that. So, I guess you could say it’s fiction
surrounded by a few snippets of reality.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, there are a lot of my own feelings and experiences fictionalised
in the book, but I think that is true of most books; however, the
story itself comes from my vivid imagination and my characters
occasional shoves, when I am being a bit blind.
What books have most influenced your life?
I guess books that were filled with tragedy, heartache, fear,
struggle, and hope; because that was something I related to and, in
the case of hope, longed for.
Flowers in the Attic, by Virginia Andrews really spoke to me; because,
like those children, I felt abandoned, lost, and alone, and Junk, by
Melvin Burgess, too, for similar reasons. I also devoured anything
about animals, because I longed to work with animals, at that time.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Virginia Andrews and Daphne De Maurier, because their characters are
so vivid, they’re not afraid to be blunt, and they deal with topics
that some people would have shyed away from. I think it’s important to
deal with difficult subjects; to let other people know that they are
not alone, to give them a sense that there are other people facing
similar situations or feeling the same way as they are. That’s what
books did for me, when I was younger, and they also gave me hope that
things could get better.
What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading a couple of good books; the first is The day I
died, by Polly Courtney, which is a really intriguing read that isn’t
what you’d expect, and the second is Patrick Patterson, by James
Fryer, which is very interesting and is keeping me very absorbed. It
also happens to be published by Raven Crest Books, the very publisher,
who has made my own dream come true by publishing Insane Reno.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Absolutely, I love discovering new authors; that’s part of why I love
my Kindle, so much. Someone who has really got me hooked is Karen
Amanda Hooper. Her book, Tangled tides, made me feel like a child
again, taking me into a magical world that I longed to be a part of
and leaving me giddy for more.
What are your current projects?
My writing very much depends on what is speaking to me at the time. I
would like to say Annie, which is the prequel to Insane Reno is my
sole focus, right now; but, I actually have three books that I am
working on and with regards to which is published first, well, it
really depends on which one calls to me the most.
Annie is on its way, though and looks at Tizzy’s mum’s story; giving
us even more insight into the farm’s past and helping us to see that
life and its many twist and turns have played a huge part on how Annie
has become. I hope that it will give people a little more
understanding of Annie’s actions and also help them to understand that
we are all human and as such, capable of making mistakes.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My editor, Chuck Jolly; he pushed me, guided me, and encouraged me to
keep going, every step of the way and also helped me to have more
faith in myself. I can’t thank him enough for all of his help.
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely, it might not make me millions and it may be very hard;
but, it is the only career for me. I couldn’t live without it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your
There are always things I would change. Even if I did a thousand
re-edits, there would be something I would change. I’m a worrier and
so I would always worry it wasn’t good enough and, thus, always make
changes; it’s just my nature. It took a lot for me to pluck up the
courage to let it head out into the big wide world, but I am glad I
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I said before, it grew out of personal need. It was an escape from
an, at times, less than pleasant reality. I read books and I just
thought; maybe, if I write my own, I can, at least, imagine a better
life. It helped me get through things I probably couldn’t have,
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Of course. I’m gonna choose something with both Jem and Tizzy in it,
as Jem is such a loveable rogue and is proving very popular with the
I could sense Jem’s eyes on me, as I laid the table, so I added a
little extra swing to my hips and bent over a little further than was
necessary, as I set each dish in place.
“Your thong’s showing,” My dad said, making me jump out of my skin, as
he strolled into the kitchen, sniffing the air.
“Something smells good,” he added, dropping into his seat at the far
end of the table and gazing at me, with a wry smile.
“Did I interrupt something?” He asked.
“I dunno, did he?” Jem said, directing his question at me, as he
beamed like a Cheshire cat.
“No!” I snapped, mortified.
“Guess not then,” he replied, “must have just been my imagination,
playing tricks on me.” He added.
“What are you on about?” I growled.
“Oh nothing, it’s just I could have sworn you were doing your best
model swagger and making and extra point of flashing me you’re…” he
paused, mid-sentence, and looked to my father.
“Thong?” My father replied, with a laugh.
“Well, I was gonna say cute little butt, but thong works.” He added,
and joined in with my father’s laughter.
“Oh, very funny,” I snarled. “Anyway, what gave you the right to look?”
“If you wiggle it at me, I’m gonna look.”
“I didn’t frigging wiggle it.” I hissed.
“No, but you wanted to and that counts.” He replied, the smug smile,
still firmly in place.
“Dad,” I cried, “are you gonna let him get away with that?” I said,
knowing instantly what his reply would be.
“Hey, you were flashing him your thong, so you can fight your own battles.”
“So, if I flashed my thong at a stranger and he grabbed my butt,
you’d be ok with that?” I asked.
“I dunno,” he replied, then leaning back to look at Jem he added.
“Hey Jem, why don’t you try it and see.”
“Dad!” I cried, quickly dropping onto one of the bench seats as Jem
turned, eyes full of mischief.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get ya later.” He said, rubbing his hand together,
then turned back to the cooker, switched the hob off and scuttled
towards the table, frying pan in hand.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Staying focused. I always have so many ideas, that I often jump from
one novel to the next and back again, trying to accommodate all the
characters and ideas that are screaming for release.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you
about their work?
Oh, I couldn’t possibly choose just one. There are just so many great
authors out there; however, the one I am really watching at the moment
is Karen Amanda Hooper.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not at present. I tend to stick with my local area for settings, that
or other places I have lived; although, there is a book planned for
the future that might require a bit of a road trip, something to
look forward to.
Who designed the covers?
Well, with Insane Reno, it was actually me; I just had such a vivid
idea of what I wanted that it just seemed easier that way, but that
might not always be the case.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Knowing when to let go. As I said before, I’m a worrier and letting
Insane Reno go out into the world was like waving my son off, for his
first day at school, a very emotional and nerve racking experience.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think every book is a learning experience and, as an author, you are
always learning new things; but a big lesson I learned from writing
Insane Reno is to try not to over think things, as it just leads to
unnecessary worry and stress.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just enjoy what you do and don’t worry, if someone doesn’t like what
you write, because everyone is different. What some people love,
others will hate.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read my book. Taking the step to
publish is such a scary one and knowing that people are reading and
enjoying it is a great blessing; so, thank you from the bottom of my
heart for taking a chance on Insane Reno. It truly means a lot.