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Monday, July 11, 2016

Interview with Award-winning Historical Fiction Author Jana Petken

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Jana Petken, who writes extraordinarily good historical fiction (some of it set in Spain) as an extension of an extraordinary life.

Jana Petken served in the British Royal Navy as a leading Wren Regulator, equivalent to a sergeant in the military police.

After the Navy she worked for a travel company as an overseas representative.

She was a security guard at the BBC World Service radio station. Afterwards she spent twelve years as a bodyguard for a Saudi Arabian Princess.

Her final career was as a cabin-crew member for British Airways. Unfortunately, she suffered serious injuries on board a flight. The aircraft, a Boeing 747, was flying at 39,000 feet above Africa when it was caught in clear-air turbulence. As a result of that accident, she endured three major operations on her spinal cord, and was forced into retirement.

Jana Petken is a multi-award-winning and best selling historical fiction author. Her books include:
The Guardian of Secrets. (2013)
The Mercy Carver Series: Dark Shadows, book 1, and Blood Moon, book 2. (2014)
The Errant Flock: The Flock Series, Book 1. (2015)
Swearing Allegiance. (2016)
Coming Autumn 2016, The Scattered Flock: The Flock Series Book 2.

JK: I notice some of your novels are set in Spain, the country that occupies my heart and mind 99% of the time. Please tell us about them.

Jana Petken: I have two books about Spain, with a third on its way. The first is The Guardian of Secrets, a Readers’ Favourite 2015 silver medalist. Here’s a little bit about the story.

After fleeing from an abusive husband accused of murder, Celia Merrill becomes embroiled in a Spanish Civil War.

Celia’s two sons march under opposing banners, whilst her twin daughters take different paths; one to the Catholic Church and the other to the battlefields. And in the shadow of war, a sinister villain from the past resurfaces.

"Three generations struggle in this suspenseful and compelling saga, which begins in 1912, Kent, England, and ends during the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War."

The Errant Flock is a two-part series, with the second in the saga being released in October. TheErrant Flock was a top 100 book, across all genres, according to Shelf Unbound magazine, in 2015. It also won a 2016 silver medal, at the Independent Publishers’ awards, the IPPY’s.

Valencia, Spain, 1491
The ambitions of four men merge and collide in a deadly game of intrigue.

David Sanz, a young militiaman, is forced to carry out a heinous crime, and he becomes an unwitting pawn in a tense battle for power.

Luis Peráto, the duke of Sagrat, sacrifices his own people to cover up dark secrets that could see him burnt at the stake for treason.

Sergio Garcia, Sagrat’s lord treasurer, is a cruel and unscrupulous man, willing to eliminate anyone who opposes his rise to power.

The inquisitor, Gaspar de Amo, zealously punishes heretics for their sins against Rome and her Holy Office. But bringing the Inquisition to the town of Sagrat proves more challenging than he or the church could ever have envisaged.

In the midst of chaos, the people of Sagrat, terrorized by a series of murders, face an even greater danger with the arrival of the Inquisition and the unimaginable horrors it brings.

Jana Petken with her well-earned IPPY award. 
JK: What inspired you to write about Spain? 

JP: I grew up in Spain. It’s a country with a rich history and one can’t help but be fascinated by times gone by. Once an empire, it evokes colourful characters, from Don Quixote to its kings and queens, seafarers, Inquisition, and civil war. The historical material is massive, and I want to let the rest of the world to know about it.

JK: How do you research all this great material?

JP: My research goes deep. I suppose I’m lucky, in the sense that I know the Spanish culture and its people pretty well. Having said that, I work hard to bring facts to life, merging them with the story, but hopefully, not overpowering the fiction and entertainment value for readers. I also love being able to research subjects close to home, geographically.

JK: What do you do when you're not writing?

JP: When I’m not writing, I enjoy doing simple things. As an author, I don’t believe I ever really switch off, but I do enjoy walking in the country and by the sea. I love to paint in oils and socialising. I’m also love to lie back and watch a good TV series or two.

JK: It really all counts as research! Thank you for being here today.