Jeannie Van Rompaey

An interview

What would readers be surprised to find out about you?


I’ve always thought I might have an identical twin sister. From time to time I feel as if we are exchanging thoughts and feelings. This could be true as I was adopted soon after birth.


Tell us about your writing process. Do you start with an idea or a character?


I start with two characters and a blank page on the computer. I put them in a situation and allow them to speak and act for themselves. The theme, something that concerns me, seems to emerge naturally.


Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?


The first time I read Dianne Doubtfire’s seminal book, The Craft of Novel-Writing (1978) I was impressed by the first sentence of the Introduction: “Writing a successful novel demands not only talent and determination but also a high degree of craftsmanship.” I agree with this and would recommend reading this book to any budding novelist.


Is there one thing you have to have when writing?


Chocolate plus a glass of water to wash it down. Once I’m writing I often forget to eat. That’s my excuse anyway.


When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?


Not one moment. Lots of moments. Every time I browsed in a bookshop or library I knew I wanted my books to be on the shelf beside the books of the writers I admired.


What book is on your nightstand?


I don’t read in bed, but almost everywhere else. I’m currently reading The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa, who was born in Peru in 1936 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010. I’ve only read three or four chapters but am already gripped by it. He has a talent for making history come alive through fiction,


What’s your favourite scene from your books?


Three-legged, power crazy mutant humanoid, Heracles, transports himself to Planet Oasis, where only completes are allowed. He’s arrested and put in a cube with a transparent wall. School children arrive and point, make faces at him and laugh at and mock him. Heracles gives as good as he gets, He roars at them, beats his chest, walks about on all fours (fives) and bares his teeth as if he’s an animal in a zoo. The teacher reprimands the children and moves them on. It seems that Heracles has become an exhibit in a museum.


If your book was being made into a movie, who would you include in your dream cast?


My protagonist, Mercury aka Michael Court must be played by Ben Wishaw. Please let it happen.

Snake woman, Kali, Mercury’s adoptive mother, should be Whoopie Goldberg.

Heracles, Henri Cavill, and his sidekick, the thug with two mouths, Ray Stevenson.

Warrior Queen Durga could be Indira Varma.

The two headed Mata Kbula, Idris Elba, and his faithful deputy, Sophie Okonedo.

How’s that for diversity? I could go on, but read the book and you might have some ideas yourselves. Do let me know, just in case….


Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?


I’m passionate about reading, art and the theatre. I live on the subtropical island of Gran Canaria and run a poetry and play-reading group at The British Club in Las Palmas. I’m interested in current affairs and politics, although often disillusioned by politicians. I also paint – mainly abstracts and faces. Not realistic portraits – I only wish I could do that. The character of three-headed Ra in Ascension was inspired by one of my paintings. This picture still hangs above my desk as I write.