Interview With Author Marie Louise Jensen.

14 October 2012

Today I am pleases to welcome the lovely Marie Louise Jensen author of, among others, The Lady In The Tower and The Girl In The Mask.

Hi! Welcome to Ebony Black Lines. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Hello and thank you for the invitation.
I’m a life-long reader, writer and book lover and I write historical adventures with romance. I’ve been writing for publication since 2005 and Oxford University Press are the lovely people who publish my books.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was very young. It took me a long time to get around to it! I’ve done lots of other interesting things along the way though, such as learning a number of languages, teaching and living and working in different countries.

Was your journey to becoming a published author a long and/or hard one? How did it come about?

I was incredibly lucky. I wrote my first book in nine very concentrated, dedicated months and finding an agent and a publisher took only around five months. But there was then a two-year wait for publication. I used it to write lots.

How long does it take you to write a book and what do you have to do to finish it? (choosing a cover, editing etc.) 

I do plan. Not every detail, but I like to know where I’m going and a few of the points along the way. A lot of the planning is done through the months I spend researching. You certainly waste less time that way. My imagination fills in the rest as I go along. 
Writing the first draft is a huge task, but there is plenty more to do afterwards. I usually rewrite at least once before the book goes into my editor and once after. Plus I do endless reading through and adjustments. The copy-editing process can also involve rewriting sections and checking research. And then the proof pages need careful checking too. It’s a long-painstaking process. The publisher does the cover design.

What is your daily routine for writing?

I don’t have any kind of routine. I’m a single mum and very busy. I write whenever and wherever I get the chance. At my desk, in my bed, in libraries, in cafes, in the car even.

Top five tips for budding writers?

1) READ!
2) Practice writing very regularly – poems, scenes, short stories, diaries etc.
3) Read some more. Try new genres, authors you don’t know: challenge yourself.
4) Look at the books you enjoy and think about how the writer has constructed the scenes you loved and think about how you might apply that to your own writing. Think about what elements make you like the story.
5) Read lots more and keep reading. Reading widely and regularly is key.

Your books are all historical. How do you find it when you start a book and you have to do lots of research? How do you do the research?

Beginning a new book in a new era is always daunting and exciting in equal measure. It is so much work! I research for at least two months before I begin writing. How I research varies. With Between Two Seas and my Viking books, I did a lot of visiting locations and museums as well as reading. For The Lady in the Tower and The Girl in the Mask, I spend hundreds of hours reading, often in the library. You can’t set a book convincingly in a time-period without knowing an awful lot about it. 

What do you think of the phrase, "always write what you know"?  

For me personally, it helps to have a certain knowledge base as a starting point. I knew the scenery and the history I used in Between Two Seas rather well before I began, and my research built on that. Having studied the Icelandic Sagas at university gave me a starting point (as well as the idea) for the Viking books. I still needed to spend many weeks in Iceland before I felt confident about writing them though. 
I knew very little about the Tudor era before I started work on The Lady in the Tower (although I used a local story and location) so that was a huge amount of work.
For my next book Smuggler’s Kiss (publishing March 2013) I walked a large section of the Purbeck coast in Dorset last January. A wonderful way to research!

Do you think it's important for young people to start writing early?

I don’t know. I imagine it depends on the person. I’ve certainly written from a very young age.

When you look back on your novels, do you come across things you'd want to rewrite?  

Oh yes! You find little errors of research, clichés or clumsy sentences. Rereading your own work is a painful thing to do.

Which of your characters do you think is most like you?

All my characters are much braver than me. Marianne (Between Two Seas) and Sigrun (Sigrun’s Secret) have the most of me in them.

Could you give us a first line or title that we could turn into a story?

Here is the first sentence of the book I’m working on at the moment (due for publication 2014).  It doesn’t have a title yet, and I’ve only written nine chapters:

"I knew there was something wrong as soon as I saw the door was ajar. "

What are the best and worst things about writing?

The best thing is the sheer pleasure it gives me to create and work on stories. I love every stage of the process. And it gives me the freedom I need to work around my children. The worst thing is probably the lack of financial security.

Quick fire questions:
Cheese or chocolate?  Chocolate! Especially when working.Laptop or desktop? I’m a laptop girl – need my work to be portable.Kid or adult? Kids every time. Reading or Writing? BOTH!Quiet or loud? Quiet. Although I can work anywhere.

Sorry about the amount of questions i got a bit too excited! ;-)

Absolutely no problem! 

Hope you enjoyed reading!
Don't Forget To Smile!! :D


  1. I've read both The Lady in the Tower and The Girl in the Mask and absolutely loved them! I'm just about to start Between Two Seas!

    Lovely interview! :D <3

  2. Great interview! I really want to give more historical books a go - maybe I can start with The Girl in The Mask? ;)
    Thanks for the advice - I'd love to be a writer! :D


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