For this third edition of the semi-regular feature Living With The Writer, we welcome our first husband to the hot seat. Today we talk to Dave Fenn, husband of Jaine Fenn who has two books (Principles of Angels and Consorts of Heaven) published through Gollancz. Dave is a rather private person, so we express our gratitude that he was willing to spill some details about his life with Jaine.

Gollancz have very kindly put up three copies of Jaine’s latest book, Consorts of Heaven, for a UK giveaway! Please leave a comment for Dave in order to be entered into this giveaway. For those US readers who wish to put your names forward – if you are successful, you can pick a book from the FanLit stacks. Please make sure you say whether you are US or UK based!

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

AMANDA: Hello and welcome to FanLit! Thanks for agreeing to be another Living with The Writer victim. How are you today?

DAVE: Not too bad this afternoon. Jaine’s back in the garret working on the next book while I enjoy the Spanish Grand Prix.

AMANDA: First of all, can you please introduce yourself in your own words?

DAVE: Well I’m Dave and for three days of the week I’m a quality manager for a small engineering company. One day of the week I spend with the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service which lets me get out in the green and helps keep me fit. I also do some volunteering for SUSTRANS looking after a local section of the National Cycle network.

We try and spend the later parts of our evenings together and a reasonable part of the weekend, but it depends on how the writing is going. So I started playing an online science fiction game, EVE, with some of my friends to keep me occupied when Jaine’s busy.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsAMANDA: How did you and Jaine meet?

DAVE: Jaine and I met within a few weeks of our first year at college. We had some friends in common and both joined the science fiction society. It seemed like we hit it off almost immediately and we’ve been together ever since.

AMANDA: Did you know that Jaine was an author prior to your meeting or was it something she dropped on you afterwards?

DAVE: It was clear Jaine was into writing from the beginning. But she had to concentrate on the essays necessary for her degree during our early years together. So early writing from Jaine came as role-playing scenarios for our friends at college, which needed less polish.

AMANDA: What is your personal interest in fantasy and science fiction?

DAVE: I started reading science fiction and fantasy when I was seven, so it seems like it’s always been part of my life. I’m more into science fiction than fantasy these days, but I still have room for both. I also like science fiction and fantasy movies and have a reasonable collection.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsAMANDA: Have you enjoyed attending conventions as the attentive husband, or is it something you prefer to skip?

DAVE: I greatly enjoy conventions, though rarely as the attentive husband. You see Jaine and I have attended and even run conventions from our first times together. Jaine being a recognised author is quite a new innovation. We are both recognised by a lot of British fandom in our own right, having been around so long. So conventions are for me a time to catch up with old friends that I maybe don’t see that often elsewhere.

What has made a difference for me is that more people in the business side of Science fiction now recognise me at conventions. In particular I get to meet authors more often and less formally than before.

AMANDA: What is your favourite part of Jaine being a writer?

DAVE: It’s great that Jaine is a published author and is seeing her dreams fulfilled. She’s been telling her stories to a smaller audience for years. But now she’s finally getting the wider exposure she’s worked hard for. But truth to be told, the best thing is finally to be able to read the stories in print and see the smile on her face when each new book comes out.

AMANDA: How does the writing fit around your daily lives?

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsDAVE: Jaine has a day job in the mornings, but gets down to work after lunch. She tries to stick to a word limit each day which means that we usually sit down to share dinner about eight. To offset this we try and find more time together at the weekends, but this varies depending on how the writing is going. Overall though, it works for us. But we’d both be happier if Jaine could give up the day job.

AMANDA: What is the hardest part of being the partner of an author?

DAVE: The hardest part is not being to help when the writing isn’t going well. At these times Jaine has to put in more hours and it’s stressful for both of us. Most of the time, however, Jaine is able to write quite freely so it’s not normally a problem.

AMANDA: If so, do you perform test reader responsibilities and advise on plot? If not, do you read Jaine’s books once they’re released?

DAVE: I often act as a sounding board for Jaine’s ideas, and as a sanity check on the science. My interest in maths and physics comes in handy on these occasions and I keep myself up to date with reading and occasional study with the Open University. However, the plot is all Jaine’s, even if she does insist on exploring the latest ideas with me over pizza whenever she thinks she’s stuck. But it’s more like the cardboard analyst, as she usually already knows the answers but needs to convince herself.

AMANDA: Thanks so much for agreeing to talk to us today!

Jaine Fenn’s website can be found here. The third book in her series, Guardians of Paradise, is due in September 2010 from Gollancz. Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win Consorts of Heaven (UK) or a book of your choice from our stacks (US). (Tell us where you’re located.)

Photo of Dave and Jaine Fenn are courtesy of James Cooke.


  • Amanda Rutter (guest)

    AMANDA RUTTER, one of our guest reviewers, used to be an accountant in the UK but she escaped the world of numbers and is now living in a fantasy world she creates. She runs Angry Robot's YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. And we knew her when....

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