Author Interview #1: Jo Zebedee

Today marks the start of a series of posts where I will interview an author every Friday. If you are an author interested in being interviewed, please contact me. The first interview is with fellow Northern Irish author Jo Zebedee.


I write science fiction and fantasy in a little corner of Northern Ireland. Sometimes I write about Earth, sometimes my space opera world of Abendau. I have a healthy interest in lots of things like reading, and writing, and gardening. I have an unhealthy interest in sexy space pilots, aliens and all things Space Opera. When I’m not writing I run a management consultancy and run after children, dogs, fish, not neccesarily in that order, ably supported by my husband.

Find out more about Jo at

1) How long have you been writing for, and why did you start?

I’ve been writing for five years now, although when I look back I did do quite a bit of writing as a teen. In fact, I subbed my first book when I was about 14 to Jonathon Cape who’d published Whale Nation, and it was a sort of environmental awareness thing. Very earnest. (They sent me a lovely rejection, telling me to keep writing. Very nice, and classy.)

I stopped during my 20s and 30s, had a family, did the career stuff people do etc etc. The year I turned 40 I decided it was time to write the Space Opera that had been in my thoughts since I was about 16. I mainly did it in the hope that the characters – particularly Kare – would get out of my head, but that hasn’t happened yet. But, also, I felt if I really was going to try writing their story, I’d better get on with it.

It seems unbelievable that in a few weeks, I’ll be finished telling that story and moving on to other characters and worlds. I think I might need a tissue or two the day I push the final send command.

2) Out of all your published works, what is your favourite and why?

I think that’s almost impossible to answer – it’s like choosing between my children! I love them all for different reasons.

But, okay, getting off the fence. I really like Sunset Over Abendau, the second book of the Inheritance Trilogy. I like it because it is fast moving, and that there is hope after the rather miserable experience I handed them in Abendau’s Heir. It’s also the first book where I felt real confidence in writing.

I also love Inish Carraig, my standalone aliens vs Belfast. I love it because it’s good fun writing about Belfast and the local area but also because the characters are big and bold and don’t hold back. Plus, I self published it, so I have a real sense of ownership with it.


3) Which author is your biggest inspiration?

That’s hard, because to be an inspiration means moving beyond the writing. By that I mean if you’d ask me who’d written my favourite books, I might have named Marion Zimmer Bradley, but her personal ethics were very far from mine and she could never be an inspiration.

So, for me, it has to be a combination of the writing and the person, and two people come to mind:

Isabel Allende. I love her work, but I read Paula by her, about her daughter passing away, and it was so raw and brave – one of the few books I don’t think I could ever go back and read again – that it touched something in me.

The other person is Sir Terry Pratchett. He was so graceful in a graceless place, again so brave in facing his illness, and determined to hold his own voice throughout.

4) One of your books was recently released as an audiobook, how does that feel?

It’s a funny one. (I have two more audiobooks in production, at the moment, so I’ll have to get used to how it feels!)

I feel more removed from the work than I do when I write it. I don’t feel the same personal ownership to it – it’s someone else’s telling, and they’ll always put differing emphasis on certain passages. So, I’m relaxed about it and just enjoy listening to it – which I do when I proof it.

I’m excited to hear how Inish Carraig turns out. It has such a strong voice that it will be a little different in the market, I think.

5) What are your plans for the future? Are any more books in the pipeline?

Loads. I am very busy these days. I’m in an anthology coming out in a few weeks from Woodbridge Press, called Explorations, which is very exciting and has some big names in it.

Then I have Abendau’s Legacy, this autumn, which will complete the Inheritance Trilogy and I’m looking forward to people seeing where I took that one. I started with a trope and I hope to have used that intelligently, but we’ll see what others think.

After that, I move to my first fantasy book, Waters and the Wild – due in 2017. It’s set in the Glens of Antrim, and features 18 year old Amy who is either mad, or hears the fairies. I’m working hard on that one over the winter, pulling it together, and am excited to see its final shape emerging.

I also have a couple of sci-fis I’m looking to complete and find homes for before embarking on a new fantasy duology and standalone paranormal history. Time is the factor for me – the more I publish, the harder it is to squeeze everything in.

On top of that, I’m getting more and more calls for a sequel to Inish Carraig. I may have to clone myself…

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