Interview with Viedelle Smith

JO by Nigel Wyndham, is a fictional epic love story, thrilling us as we move through American and British history with haunting realities while witnessing the birth of two nations over two hundred years ago. Eerily traumatic, constantly keeping us engaged, "JO" is the journey of a young woman's tumultuous life at a time when women are to be seen and not heard. Our star is an eighteenth century modern girl. Through her own strong will and obstinate choices, she is forced into the distorted truth of a world far from the reality of her high society New York upbringing. Betrayed by the love she holds for a British soldier upon following him to London, her association with an Irish Activist gives the English Militia reason to steal her away from the comforts of a life she was born into, charging her with a crime she did not commit---and from Olde Bailey's careless and corrupt, she is tossed as a felon with other female dreck into the bowels of the hell-ship, "Neptune." Surrounded by illness and debauchery, amongst the depths of degradation she is forced to accept her fifteen year fate in the antipodes: but it is through the strong will and determination born in her that she is able to survive this horrific six month journey Riveted and enthralled, we continue to stay passionately close to "JO" as our story unfolds on the other side of the world. Now a felon appearing face to face with the love that once betrayed her, again she is forced to reckon with those cruel ghosts from the past... until she meets the man who proves to be her truest love. Through emancipation with her new love, a Governor about to be ousted, and our story teller/narrator, Nigel Wyndham, she eventually finds the truth and justice she has been searching for.

1.      My book, in 140 characters, or less…

JO by Nigel Wyndham© is a love story; a period piece hidden within a 25 year backdrop of fictional characters intertwined amongst true, non-fictional American and British happenings. This riveting, 1774 through 1800 story is of a young, high society American woman who survives the ravages of the Revolutionary war… and then, after following her love to England, experiences the humiliation of expedient justice by being falsely accused of a crime she did not commit.  Surviving the horrific six month journey to Australia after being sentenced to 15 years in the antipodes, our high society felon finds peace in the penal colony by becoming emancipated through marrying the only man who proves to be her truest love... and it is here she finally finds the truth and justice she has been searching for.

2.      How much research went into this book?

The research I did for “JO” (as a book) took 8 years, with periodic breaks in between.  However, being that my screenplay (writer) partner, Frank Shields and I were originally planning this story for the big screen, some of the basic research had been done three to five years prior.

3.      What are some of the challenges of writing a historical novel?

The major challenge in writing my book was being as precise as I could with dates, people and places. Seemingly, there is nothing worse for a historian to read a historic novel, and then to find that there are non-fictional characters living in the story before they were born – or happenings, happening 100 years prior to, or after their actual happening.  That being said, just to keep things straight, there is one non-fictional person in “JO” that I worked in to help glue the story together; however, I’ve been told that it works well.  I’d be interested to see if you spotted him.

4.      Who are some of the authors that have inspired me?

Who are my favorite inspirational writers/authors?  I go way back to the classics: William Shakespeare, William Defoe, Omar Khayyam – these are just 3 of them.  However, in today’s world, I can say that William Goldman is, above all, my very favorite.  He writes with such clarity allowing the reader’s mind to go to the place he intended to lead us.  I call it true, theater of the mind, and to me, that’s perfection.  My favorite work of his happens to be a screenplay, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”  Another piece of perfect work.

5.      What do I think is the biggest challenge that writers face today?

I believe the biggest challenge writers face today are major Publishers like, Random House and Simon & Schuster.  Clearly, they are afraid to take a risk with first-time authors like myself.  My Publisher, GM Books, took a risk with me and have stood beside me all the way, and for this I am eternally grateful.  However, there are other writers/authors who have not been given this opportunity and who may possibly have a wonderful story to tell, as well.  It is a tragedy to think their creative work is blocked by a process of the times.

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