On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist and dedicated introvert, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. With her confidence shattered and her future uncertain, on impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. Here she finds love—for the eccentric islanders who become her family; for Tom, the laid-back turtle whisperer; and for the turtles whose ancient mothering instincts move her to tears. But Anna finds that even on her idyllic drop in the ocean there is pain, and as the months fly past her dream for a new life is threatened by a darkness that challenges everything she has come to believe about the power of love.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Jenni Ogden whose book A Drop in the Ocean captivated me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love moving novels but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for Jenni, a biography of the author and an interview between me and Jenni will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Jenni!
I hold five university degrees (a PhD in neuropsychology, and further postgraduate degrees in social psychology and clinical psychology), and am an Emeritus Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Psychological Society. I was awarded the Distinguished Career Award by the International Neuropsychological Society (US/UK and International) in 2015. In the mid-1980s, during a postdoctoral research fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I had the opportunity to work with the world’s most studied neurological case, the amnesiac HM; the man with no memory, and seem now to be widely associated with him! As a university professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, for 22 years I taught clinical psychology and neuropsychology, supervised numerous postgraduate theses, and carried out research on a wide range of neuropsychological disorders, publishing 60 research papers and book chapters. I also practiced as a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist in acute neurosurgical and neurology wards and rehabilitation centres. I’m the author of two non-fiction books frequently likened favourably to Oliver Sacks’ books: the popular text, Fractured Minds: A Case-Study Approach to Clinical Neuropsychology (OUP New York, 1995, 2005, and a book for the general reader, Trouble In Mind: Stories from a Neuropsychologist’s Casebook, published by OUP, New York in 2012 in the US and by Scribe in 2013 in Australia. My debut novel, A Drop in the Ocean, was published by SheWrites Press in the US in May, 2016, and has won four major awards, been a bestseller in the US, Canada and Australia, has sold the Bulgarian Print rights and will be released as an Audiobook by Tantor Media in August, 2018. I now live with my husband on a remote off-grid island off the coast of New Zealand, with three months every winter at our small place in Far North Queensland, Australia. We travel extensively (I have dual NZ and UK citizenship), enjoy our five grandchildren, and I now concentrate on fiction with a psychological or medical theme. I am an expert blogger for Psychology Today [http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/trouble-in-mind-0], have an author website [www.jenniogden.com] and monthly e-newsletter [http://www.jenniogden.com/newsletter.htm] and am on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn. I consume one or two novels a week and review regularly for Netgalley and Goodreads and in my newsletter. I have been a guest presenter at Writers’ Festivals for both my non-fiction and fiction in NZ and Australia, including in the fabulous Auckland Writers’ Festival. Some talks on my nonfiction: Youtube at the Mind & Its Potential conference or listen to an interview as she talks about her patients on Australian National Radio program, All In The Mind.
Now, how wonderful does Jenni sound?! Jenni is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of Jenni’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and Jenni, I hope that you enjoy Jenni’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
A Drop in the Ocean will, I suspect, always be the novel that contains the most autobiographical material. The protagonist, Anna, is a Boston neuroscientist—although she is almost the reverse of me personality-wise—and the main part of the book is set on Turtle Island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which is modeled on Heron Island, where we spent many summers long ago.
Anna becomes involved in turtle tagging research and many of her tagging and snorkeling experiences are closely based on my own experiences as a turtle researcher in my younger days (including coming face-to-face with a giant Queensland Grouper!). Near the end of the book, Anna goes to Unst, the northern-most island of the remote Shetlands in the UK. Just before I started writing the novel, we spent some time there, and the descriptions of Shetland, the croft Anna stays in, and the trip to the gannet colony are based closely on this.
The story champions marine turtle conservation and also touches upon the tragic genetic disorder of Huntington’s disease. I include author’s notes on both these topics at the end of the book, as well as suggested topics for reader group discussion.
It won GOLD: NAUTILUS BOOK AWARD, FICTION, LARGE PUBLISHER (2016)
GOLD: SARTON WOMEN’S BOOK AWARD, CONTEMPORARY FICTION (2016)
GOLD: INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER BOOK AWARDS (IPPYS), BEST FICTION, AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND (2016)
SILVER: READERS’ FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD, WOMEN’S FICTION
Tantor Media is bringing out the Audio book this August, and 7000 print copies are currently on sale in Bulgaria (in Bulgarian…)
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
Most importantly, write the best book you can and this often means having a high quality developmental edit, and revising and revising again if necessary; being willing to throw away large chunks however wonderfully written they are if they do not add to the story, and learn that patience is a virtue! Then either make sure your publisher, or if self-published, you, produce a quality book with a superb cover, be prepared to work hard on the publicity and marketing (or better still hire a good publicist to help you) and encourage genuine reviews.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
The character development, a plot with suspense that keeps the reader turning the pages (suspense can be the quiet sort!), and good writing are all equally important.
What is your writing process like?
Rather spasmodic and depends on what else is going on in my life. But when I am really into a story I can write for eight hours a day, almost without a break (very bad practice). Usually however I write for a few hours from abut 9.30am (after a leisurely breakfast and perhaps a walk on the beach), and then go to the beach around 3pm for two or three hours. I do a lot of my thinking about characters, plot turns and even marketing strategies when on the beach as well as reading on my Kindle. In the evening I usually don’t write but spend time with my husband and friends (or family in summer holidays) relaxing, reading (always reading) watching Netflix series and films, or in summer having BBQs with friends and family (We have 4 children and 5 grandchildren).
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
As a previous university professor, I love research. I have 60 published scientific articles and two non-fiction books published by Oxford Unversity Press, New York, (‘Fractured Minds’ and ‘Trouble in Mind’) which are still selling well after many years. They tell the stories of my neuropsychologcal patients (often likened to Oliver Sacks’ books) and these of course are based on facts, research and my personal experience. But even when writing fiction I have to stop myself researching and get writing, but I am obsessive about getting the silliest facts right. For example a rather well-know marine biologist who is an expert on the Great Barrier Reef contacted me after he read ‘A Drop in the Ocean’ and said he loved how I got the moon phases and tides right as most novels didn’t!
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
A bit of both; I do love to write and writer’s block is never a problem, but life getting in the way is; for example right now I am project anager for a house build which is no easy task on an off-grid island! So I do have to make myself sit down and get on with writing even when the sun is shining and the sea is beckoning. I also write a monthly Psychology Today blog and a monthly newsletter, write lots of book reviews, and sometimes articles on writing for book journals and blogs, so most days I do spend at least an hour or two writing something!
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I am an avid reader and read one or two novels a week and review for Netgalley and Goodreads and also put a book review in my monthly newsletter. Because of Netgalley I get to read lots of wonderful novels before they are released. I am always finding new incredible authors but some of my long term favorites are Anna Quindlen, Sebastian Barry, Rumer Godden, Sebastian Faulks, Elizabeth Howard, Sue Miller, Lionel Shriver, Ian McEwan, Chris Cleave, Nicholas Evans, Kate Atkinson, Richard North Patterson. My favorite novel of all time is ‘Crossing to Safety’ by Wallace Stegner, and my favorite classic is ‘Wuthering Heights.’
I also am a passionate supporter of Book Festivals and have been fortunate to be a guest oresenter in festivals in NZ and Australia. The Auckland Writers’ Festival, held every May over 4 days sells 74,000 tickets to its sessions and I go to about 20 one hour sessions evey time. The buzz at these is so wonderful; all these thousands of people of all ages passionate about listening to great authors from all over the word talk about books. They put lots of Pod casts of sessions online so go here to listen to a few. http://www.writersfestival.co.nz/look-and-listen/videos/
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
I am currently revising one ms and have two more ‘completed’ manuscripts waiting for revision. I sometimes think I should have had them out there sooner but I want them to be as good or better than ‘A Drop in the Ocean’ and hope the wait is worth it. Also I am spending three weeks at the Research Station on Heron Island (the island that Turtle Island from my novel was modeled on) in January 2019, (the height of the turtle and bird nesting season) to research a new novel set on the Great Barrier Reef. I will also become a turtle tagger again! Perhaps I will see Eve (need to read ‘A Drop in the Ocean’ to understand that reference!
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Jenni! If you have liked what you have read about Jenni and are interested in learning more about Jenni and reading Jenni’s work, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,