Jennifer Larmar Interview Published on: 18, Oct 2019

What were your childhood dreams? Did you always want to be an author?

My childhood dream from when I was around five years old was to own my own horse. Thanks to loving and generous parents who knew of my passion, Taffy, a pretty Welsh Mountain Pony around 14.2 hands high, joined our family when I was twelve. I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven as the two of us got up to all sorts of adventures in the bushland, nearby beaches and local creeks near our home for the next several years. My first series of novels includes Clancy, a pony identical to him, as a small homage to my beautiful boy.

What was the first romance novel you ever read and how did it change you?

A touching historical novel from the Australian gold rush days in Ballarat, Victoria by Catherine Gaskin entitled ‘I Know My Love’.

As a keen volunteer in my high school library during lunch hours, I discovered it sitting on the shelves when I around fourteen years old and became instantly captivated by the storyline. It’s main focus was a love triangle between Emma, a shy and lonely young woman who has killed two men, Adam, a handsome adventurer on the lookout for an easy fortune and passionate in whatever he believes in, and Rose Maguire, a ravishing and flamboyant young Irish woman who knows what she wants when she sees it.

The way Ms Gaskin was able to weave this intriguing love story around that harsh and dangerous period of history gave me a passion for sweeping love stories with lots of dramas and tragedies.

When did you start writing your first book? Could you tell us a little about the struggles you faced trying to get it published?

I first started writing my first novel ‘Silken Images’ in August 2011. It took about eight months to complete the v-e-r-y long first draft and I found it to be a hard slog trying to find a publisher who would be willing to take on such a long tome from a new writer.

After several months of sending it out to publishers, a small publishing house in Cambridge England offered me a contract, which was hugely exciting for a newbie.

A few days later, I was one of only a handful of author wannabes to win a critique session with a New York literary agent at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival. Hannah Gordon Brown read the first 20 pages of my manuscript and suggested I break it down into a series and self-publish it myself. She felt the manuscript had the makings of a bestseller and going with a smaller publisher would limit its audience, the amount of copies printed and also my creativity. Since then that same series has been purchased in several European countries, the UK, South Africa, the Guernsey Islands, Canada, the USA and all around Australia, so I’m thrilled I took her advice.

What is one of your strangest writing habits or rituals?

I’m not sure I have any strange habits or rituals, but I was very sick a couple of years prior to starting writing my first novel and could only sleep for about two hours every night due to the strong medications I was prescribed. This meant I used to get up around 2.00 a.m. and write for several hours before it was time to go to my court reporting job at 8.30 in the morning. The meds actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise by being an excellent way to get huge blocks of writing done as the Prednisone had been prescribed in very high doses. Consequently, I never got sleepy and so it turned out to be a win win situation on all counts (except for the weight it invariably adds to your figure!).

What started the 'Til The End Of Time series? How did you come up with the title of the series?

Now that’s a fascinating and incredible story in itself! So here’s the very short version...

From a young age, I was a keen fan of both the novel and movie ‘Doctor Zhivago’, so as a birthday gift in 2011, my husband gave me a ticket to the musical version that was currently touring the east coast of Australia. Seeing Yuri and Lara’s sweeping love story come to life with a magnificent musical score underpinning that tragic storyline stirred up a tale that has been simmering in my heart and soul for several years without really knowing what era or circumstances I wanted to set it around. The musical had such a profound effect, I ended up seeing it four times in two weeks and after the second time it suddenly hit me what setting and circumstances I wanted my own tragic narrative to follow. As a former amateur musical theatre performer who adores music in most forms, I sat down in front of my computer the next day and the words just poured out.

The title ‘Til the End of Time’ for my series came from one of the main songs in that same musical. Entitled ‘On the Edge Of Time’, much to my surprise and absolute delight, the lyrics for that stirring piece now grace the last page of my series due to the incredible generosity of both the two lyricists and the musical’s composer - all USA ‘Tony’ and ‘Emmy’ Award nominated musicians. Now that’s another amazing story that you’ll find further along in my responses!

Do you prefer writing from a man or woman's perspective? What are the main differences between the two POVs?

Either really. Because of my gender, I find it quite easy relating to the female’s perspective, but because the male is also living in my imagination and I know exactly how he feels, I think that helps to give me a good understanding as to what he’s going through and this makes it fairly easy to write from his POV as well.

I think the differences aren’t so great when both their hearts are involved. After all, most people want to be truly loved and offer love in return...

Hopefully, readers find they can relate to how Adam is portrayed in my first series - all the reviews have been positive, so maybe I got it right!

When did you first start writing full time and what motivated this decision?

I had been writing almost full time (in the amount of hours I would write each day) for nearly two years, but in May 2013 the State Reporting Bureau of the state government department I had worked for as a court reporter for the previous 11 years, was sold off to a private company and so 200 of us state-wide were made redundant. I received enough in my package to give this writing career a go for at least a year, and so that’s when I began writing ‘full-time’ which turned out to be about 16 hours a day due to not needing much sleep.

And the rest is history...

Of all the characters you've created, which one do you most strongly relate to? Is there any you think you wouldn't get along with if they were real?

So far, my first two main protagonists - after all, they’ve lived in my heart for many years, and usually their struggles and feelings resonate with my own. Personally, I think every writer has a bit of themselves in their main characters. Lara, from my first series, definitely has a lot of my traits and experiences, so I feel intensely for all she goes through, but I also feel deeply for Adam and his tragic dilemma - they truly are the ultimate love story that everyone wants to experience at least once in their lifetime, according to my fans.

I don’t like Trina at all, although eventually I do feel an inkling of emotion for her towards the end.

Besides Romance, what are some other genres you want to experiment with?

I currently have a children’s book waiting to be published - when I find a publishing house willing to take it on! It’s geared to the 3-5 year old market, and is a mix of an adventure for a friendly Pygmy Possum and a social studies lesson as she travels around Australia in a variety of different modes of transport. The overall theme is, ‘There’s no place like home...’

As a former court reporter, one day I might try my hand at a crime thriller, but for now I’d rather concentrate on a love story set during traumatic periods in history. I figure there’s enough violence and nastiness happening around the world without adding any more, so I’d rather go back a little way in time and bring a bit of compassion to folk living during some bad or hard times that have already occurred.

My current work in progress is a love story set in Rwanda a few years after the genocide, and the next one will be set during the turbulent years of the Holocaust.

What's the best advice any one has ever offered you when it comes to being an author? Is there any advice you would like to share with your readers and fans?

Don’t be locked into the rules for your genre. Your story is yours to do with as the characters and your heart dictates, and there’s no formula for your imagination. Go with the flow and nine times out of ten you’ll find fans who can relate. We’re all different, so write the book you’d love to read.

What has been your most enjoyable experience as an author? What do you wish was different?

I have two most enjoyable experiences that hold equal place in my heart:

Firstly, the thrill of bringing new characters to life and taking them on all sorts of adventures - as I always say, writing is like going on holidays everyday without the expense!

And secondly, hearing the joy in reader’s voices and seeing it in their eyes when they tell you how much your characters have touched their hearts. I’ve had several begging me to write another volume so they can know what happens to some of the other secondary characters. Bliss for a writer and makes all the hard slog so worth it...

What is your author dream? Do you have any other aspirations that aren't writing related?

Every author’s dream, I’m sure: to bring joy to readers’ hearts and have them wish they were one of my characters.

My other aspiration is just to be a kind person to all I meet, offering compassion and understanding for those going through hard times. That probably comes across as way too ‘goody two shoes’, but I saw and heard far too much horribleness in my last career, and so I just wish the world and all its people were a heap nicer to each other.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? When can they expect a new book?

Thank you for being willing to spend your hard-earned money on my passion with words - it is a very humbling experience and such a privilege to have you take time out of your day to come inside my imagination for a few hours.

Hopefully, ‘Broken Pieces’ will be out late next year. I’ve been extremely slow getting this one written, but there’s been a lot going on personally in my life over the last couple of years. Please hang in there, I promise it’ll be worth it, but I don’t want to rush this one as it’s too important a period of history to not give it the justice, research and thought it deserves.

What are the greatest words of encouragement anyone has ever offered you?

Lucy Simon and Amy Powers - composer and lyricist of ‘Doctor Zhivago - A New Musical’ when they wrote to me saying they were so excited their creativity had brought to life my own when I started writing my first series after seeing their exquisite musical.

Then having their kind permission to use the lyrics of ‘On the Edge Of Time’ at the conclusion of ‘Fractured Symphony’. It was such an honour and very humbling when they are both well-respected artists on both Broadway and in Hollywood circles. Lucy Simon is a Tony Award nominee and the sister of Carly Simon who wrote and performed the well-known song, ‘You’re So Vain’. Amy Powers is both an Emmy and an Annie award nominated songwriter who is married to a Hollywood producer.

And much to my surprise and absolute honour, I was invited as Amy’s special guest to the Broadway opening for their musical back in April 2015, receiving invitations to her private pre-show party, the gala opening itself and the private invitation-only after party held at the Rockefeller Centre where I had the pleasure of not only spending time with both her and Lucy, but I also was able to chat with the two lead actors for quite some time as well. For an Aussie first-time writer, the events of that night were some of the most amazing and humbling experiences of my life.

Finally, how has your time with AllAuthor impacted your life and your writing so far? What other measures could be taken on this site to cater better to the needs of authors?

I’m just a newbie to the company so I can’t really comment yet, but hopefully it will not only open doors so others get the opportunity to read my novels, but also offer good advice from the experience of others travelling this writing path.

I sincerely appreciate being offered this chance to open up about such a fabulous new career!

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