Kathy: In Beyond Dead Bridget Sway may be dead, but she's still working. Do you believe in life, and working, after death?
JSR: My views on what happens when you die are a little contradictory. I believe in reincarnation (although I’m not entirely sure how that could happen) but I also believe that when your body dies your soul/spirit/energy goes on to the next phase/life and your journey just keeps going. Whether that’s Heaven in the traditional sense or some place else. I know that sounds all new agey and a bit out there but we’re all made up of energy so the thought that when you die that’s the end just doesn’t seem plausible to me.
Kathy: Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?
JSR: Honestly, no. I haven’t had anything even remotely close. I don’t know anyone who has actually which is odd because I live in a very old city. I’ve been on a ghost tour around it a few Halloweens ago so I’ve heard a lot of the stories but I’ve never experienced anything. And I’m sort of glad about that to be honest because I’m pretty sure that thought would spring to mind every time I had a shower!
Kathy: Bridget has mediums demanding her attention. While I know a psychic or two, I don't know any mediums and I've never had one give me a message. Have you?
JSR: Again, no and it’s not something I’d seek out either. I’ve known people who have received messages from mediums and gained comfort from that but it’s just not for me. Whilst on one level I’d find it reassuring to think that a loved one who’d passed away was still around and watching over me I’d also find it upsetting that they hadn’t moved on with their journey.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
JSR: Murder, She Wrote I think! And Remington Steel. I know they’re not technically cosy mysteries but they’re sort of the TV version. To be honest, I love murder mysteries in all their forms whether books, TV or films – Cluedo is my favourite board game too! Also, I’m a big fan of humour in books and if you can toss in a dash of romance too then I’m extra happy. Cosy mysteries have all that and are usually a series as well which is my preference over stand-alone novels.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
JSR: I want to say yes to this because I feel like I do but I suppose they’re really all a sub-category of the cosy mystery genre. There are always three basic elements in any story I write and they murder, humour, friendships. I feel this, more than anything else, makes them cosy mysteries even though they might spill over the side of the typical cosy mystery mould a little.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
JSR: The Bridget Sway series is about a ghost, with a bit of an attitude problem and a best friend who used to be a PI in life, who solves ghost murders. That’s really Bridget in a nutshell.
I have a new series out at the start of next year which revolves around a newspaper reporter, Aurora North, who investigates paranormal happenings and finds rational explanations for them and a few dead bodies along the way. The easiest way to describe that is to say it’s a bit like a cross between Scooby Doo and the X-files.
I have a couple more series out towards the end of next year. One is about the assistant to the horsemen of the apocalypse and the other is a YA urban fantasy type deal.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
JSR: I do! Aurora North (Rora to her friends) is far and away my favourite character. She was my very first heroine (even though her series wasn’t the first series released). She and I started our journey together so she’ll always have an extra special place in my heart.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
JSR: No, not really. Someone else asked me about this recently and I can’t even remember how the idea of Bridget came about. The inspiration for Aurora, though, came from the trillion jobs I’ve had. Her character was initially a retail worker (like myself) who really struggled to keep a job (like myself) because weird things kept happening at her jobs (completely unlike myself!). Her character and the series have changed so much from where we started out.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
JSR: I desperately wanted to quit my day job so I could write all day, every day! When I first started out getting traditionally published was the goal but the more I looked into it the more I realised it wasn’t the route I wanted to take. It was quite a lengthy transition in terms of a shift in mindset but I realised that self-publishing held so many more opportunities for me.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
JSR: Harper Lee because every time I read To Kill a Mockingbird it just blows me away. Richard Castle – yes, I know he’s fictional but he’s awesome. G. K. Chesterton because I think he would be just fascinating, and Shakespeare because I’d love to know what he thought of his work being studied under such scrutiny year after year in schools. That and whether he really was trying to say all those things my English teacher said he was trying to say.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
JSR: When I’m in the middle of writing I try not to read other cosy mysteries because I find it really difficult to write my own books when I’m immersed in someone else’s characters. I try to read books that will help with my writing. Currently I’m trying to read The Hero with a Thousands Faces by Joseph Campbell but every time I sit down to read it I get that unsettled feeling that I should be writing!
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
JSR: Sure. I really enjoy knitting while watching TV. I don’t watch TV in general but I have certain programmes that I record and watch (iZombie, Agatha Raisin, Blindspot). I want to learn to crochet but I never seem to be in the right mindset to set aside ten minutes to learn the basics from youtube. Also, I love running. I find it really peaceful.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
JSR: Milk, teabags, chocolate and sugar. Although, to me, this is technically one item since the milk, teabags and sugar make a cup of tea and the chocolate accompanies it!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
JSR: Absolutely! As I mention earlier A Little More Dead, book three in the Bridget Sway series, is due out late autumn/early winter this year. I’m also working on a novella series specifically for my newsletter list. Hopefully that will be out later this year too. Then I have a series called Things That Go Bump In The Night which features Aurora North which will be out at the start of next year. Busy, busy, busy!
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
JSR: I love living in my imagination. I love that I can sit at my desk/picnic bench and create something from nothing. Also, I quite like not having to do my hair or make up and the extremely short commute!
BEYOND DEAD by Jordaina Sydney Robinson
The First Bridget Sway Novel
BEYOND DEAD is the story of the afterlife of Bridget Sway who's discovering that things can actually get worse after you die. On her first day of work Bridget finds a dead ghost guy in her locker. That's bad, as is being taken in by the police for questioning. What may even be worse is being forced to share a house with a bunch of strangers, living...er dying, without basic hygiene essentials, and having to not only go to work, but attend Ghostly Acclimatisation meetings. Basically Bridget is living in a bureaucratic nightmare. The good news is she found a like minded friend in Sabrina. Bridget's new best friend happened to be a PI when she was alive and convinces Bridget to investigate the dead ghost's murder. Between trying to learn her new job, getting used to being dead (the GA meetings aren't that helpful), dealing with her incredibly annoying, yet very hot, guardian, Bridget must also learn to deal with mediums and avoid being killed herself! It's not easy being dead.
You could easily dislike Bridget. She's vain, spoiled, and a bit shallow, but you don't. She exemplifies that snarky bit that exists in all of us. Add all the horrible things she's been dealing with recently and Bridget becomes someone to sympathize with and root for! And laugh with. Or maybe at...see, there's that snarky bit of me. Something tells me my behavior might be quite similar to Bridget's if I found myself in a similar afterlife.
Jordaina Sydney Robinson creates a unique view of the afterlife in BEYOND DEAD. She also gives us an interesting and complex mystery, some sexual tension, and lots of laughs. Filled with quirky characters BEYOND DEAD is a fantastic start to a new series. I look forward to seeing what trouble Bridget, Sabrina, and Edith get into next. Whatever happens, I expect that neither Oz, the GBs, nor the police will be prepared for it!