Today I’m delighted to welcome Jane Dixon-Smith to the blog.
She is also an award-winning book cover designer. She loves books, both the physical and the words contained within. She’d like to think it was no surprise that she ended up immersing herself in the world of book design rather than marketing materials for corporate companies, but in many ways it was.
Her office door is always open, although in its current state you will have to sit on a box of books if you wish to join her for a cup of tea.
She loves cake. Just in case you were wondering.
You’ve just published the fourth book in your Overlord series about the 3rd century Queen Zenobia of the Palmyrene Empire. What is it about this period of history that so fascinates you and why does Queen Zenobia make such a good protagonist?
I’m a huge fan of Roman history generally, but the reason I was so drawn to Zenobia was first and foremost the fact she led one of the greatest rebellions the Roman Empire ever faced, and yet her story is barely told. Her path was also an unusual one, to go from being a merchant’s daughter to sole ruler of the Palmyrene Empire.
Historical fiction of this nature must take a huge amount of research. What does your research process look like and where does the research end and imagination take over?
The research was a little easier than some periods because of how little is documented about Zenobia and Syria at that time. I was able to use what little is known, cross-referenced with major events in Roman history, to create a framework, and from there I began to lace my own account of what happened and how the characters might have acted in each scenario they found themselves.
As a cover designer, how big a part do you think a cover plays in influencing a reader’s buying decisions?
It can be a huge factor for people who are browsing either real-life or online bookshelves. In that situation it’s a huge factor in both a label of quality and also appeal to the right audience.
Which other authors do you most enjoy?
I love Bernard Cornwell and have done since I was a child. Also George RR Martin, Jane Austen, Michelle Moran … too many to list. Mostly historical fiction, as it’s what resonates most with me and leaves a lasting impression.
What are you currently working on?
Books five and six in the series, and then it will be complete. I’m not sure after that, there’s so many untold tales out there it’s hard to choose, but I have every confidence one will find me.
How do you like to relax at the end of the day?
I like to go for a walk and then settle down to watch TV. I always feel too tired to read at the very end of the day.
Thanks Jane, that was great!
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