I’m Jenny Twist. It seems a long time ago that I first visited this page. On that occasion it was to publicise my first book, “Take One At Bedtime”. I seem to have come such a long way since then. I’ve published two more single author books and contributed to several anthologies, including, most recently, “Bedtime Shadows” with the amazing Tara Fox Hall. (and if you haven’t read any of her stuff, you certainly should). I have also reviewed countless books and written a great many articles. Yet it is actually less than two years since I first graced the pages of this illustrious blog.
My latest offering to the Gods of Authors – the Readers – is “All in the Mind” and this is the story of how it was born.
Years ago I read about an old people’s home where they did the experiment of making the residents’ environment like that of their youth. I can’t remember where I read this or what the experiment was attempting to prove, but I do remember that one surprising result was that the subjects’ hair darkened.
I’ve had the idea lurking at the back of my mind ever since. What if you carried the experiment to its logical conclusion? Would the residents actually regain their youth? Where would it stop? Would they regress to childhood and eventually go out all together?
Last year I entered Nanowrimo for the first time (a competition to write a novel in a month) and this was the idea that resurfaced when I sat down at my computer. I have never written so fast and furiously in my life before. The story just poured onto the page.
I kept coming across gaps in my knowledge but followed Stephen King’s advice and just wrote it, intending to deal with all that when the first draft was finished.
When I picked it up again a few weeks later and got down to seriously working on it I found I had to do a lot of research on the Second World War. I knew a fair bit already from reading and television documentaries, as well as from the experiences of my own parents, but I needed to know things like what branded goods they used, how the rationing system worked, etc.
I also realised, when one of my characters suddenly got completely out of hand and decided to go to India, that I was woefully ignorant of Indian culture. I knew some from reading, and I had studied a lot of Indian history at university, but I had no idea whether my knowledge would suffice for modern day India. The problem with something like that is you don’t know what it is you don’t know. I did not realise, for example, that a Hindu would be unlikely to understand Urdu. So I appealed on Twitter for experts on Hindu culture to read and correct it. I had four responses and checked all their comments with Google. Thank you, you wonderful people. You’ve saved me a lot of embarrassment. And thank God for Google. It’s saved me weeks of work.
My dear friend, Caroline, read the proofs when she was staying with me and suggested the idea for a cover. She painted the beautiful hands. They belong to her mother, Anne Ritson, to whom the book is dedicated. The photograph is of my own mother, May Thornton, who was a nurse at the end of the Second World War.
So, to a large extent, this book is the product of friendship.
It’s out now, no longer just a figment of my imagination, but a story waiting to be lived by the people out there who now rule my life – you – the Readers. I hope you will love it, as I have, and I hope you will be kind.
Here are some of the things other authors have to say about it:
“Jenny Twist is an enormously talented story-weaver who just goes on getting better. Fans of the wonderful novel, ‘Domingo’s Angel’ will not be disappointed with this latest offering from her. It’s a sweet and haunting feel-good story which will immerse you totally in its fictional world and leave you feeling deeply satisfied. Absolutely recommended.”
“All in the Mind will take you on a mind trip, one from which you won’t want to return. As always, Jenny Twist’s fiction is an addictive treat that’s tightly woven to draw the readers in and keep them there.”
“This book moved me more than any other in recent memory, not because it was sad, although some scenes were very tragic, but because of the depth of emotion I felt for the characters, and the lasting love they share. I dare anyone to read this book and not be moved to tears of joy.”
Tara Fox Hall
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat
Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angels , was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon, was published in Spellbound, in November 2011, Jamey and the Alien and Uncle Albert’s Christmas were published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011, Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011 and Away With the Fairies, her first self-published story, in September 2012.
Her new anthology, with Tara Fox Hall, Bedtime Shadows, a collection of spooky, speculative and romance stories, was published 24th September 2012.
Her new novel, All in the Mind, about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger, was published 29th October 2012.