24 Jul 2014

“Circle of Five” by Jan Raymond

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“Circle of Five” by Jan Raymond is an exquisite magical adventure story that should please young adults and adults alike. Five unlikely partners in crime find themselves as the circle of five from the title when an electric storm during their detention gives them superpowers. Circle Of Five Cover 1
The dislikes and tensions between the five are really well written and are as good as Enid Blyton to me. I enjoyed their struggles and their ‘being stuck with each other’ very much, particularly the brother-sister team that have their own problems.
The teacher from detention helps the youngsters develop their skills and how to use them.
But there is the matter of the mystical beginning, a message, a death and its unknown consequences that carries a lingering promise of something bigger.
To me, the biggest strength of the novel lies in the great characterisation of the circle as they learn to overcome their differences and become friends. You rarely find such heart-warming story telling any more. It is beautifully plotted and unfolds cleverly. The story stops at a good point but leaves enough to be continued. 
I look forward to the next part of the adventure. Highly recommended.


Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H6LS59E

These are Jan’s FB pages: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Circle-of-Five/228557627318055?ref=hl


Jan on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20801439-circle-of-five?from_search=true

Interview with Jan: 1601443_10151862683290509_1038097574_n

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I suppose I am a bit of a dreamer and have always been. I like books and movies that entertain me. I don’t read profound and deep books much, unless it really pulls me in from the beginning. What I want a book to do is to take me away to a fantasy world, not remind me of sad reality.

I think that is why I like writing fantasy. When I am writing, I live in that world. I step out of the world into reality because I have to, but I can’t wait to get back into my fantasy world.

Tell us about your book and how it came about.

It is a bit of a funny story. My children like writing too. My older daughter writes pretty dark poetry, and my younger daughter has written short and quite good stories when she was in school. We always thought of writing, but just never got around to it. One day, we decided to each write a story, and to give each other a push, we were to mail a chapter to each other, every week.

They gave up after 2 weeks. I went on to finish “Circle of Five”.

Why did you choose to write in this genre?

I think growing up on a large diet of Enid Blyton gave me a very active imagination. My favorite books are all fantasy like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy etc, and I feel that’s what I enjoy most. It’s what spills out of me with no effort at all.

Did you write it for your children or the child in you?

I write for myself. Of course, My kids are my first beta readers and their feedback on the book is very helpful.

What do you like most about your characters?

I like their little personal stories and their dynamics with each other. I tend to elaborate a lot on that, really get into who they are. They’re all so different so I can’t pick one quality as such. But I love them.

 Are you or your children like any of them?

Yes, I think I unconsciously include a lot of my children’s personalities in the five children. I don’t really identify myself with any of the characters, but I’m sure there must be a bit of me there as well.

Who is your favourite character and who would you hope plays the characters in a movie version?

My favorite was Sam but I just finished the second book and now Seb’s my favorite. Here is the link to my pinterest thread of who I see playing the characters in my book. http://www.pinterest.com/janraymond397/characters-for-circle-of-five/

How long does it take you to write and publish a book?

The writing part goes very fast. I finish in about four months but it takes me a couple of months or more to edit, edit, edit…

What is the easiest about writing and what is the hardest?

The story is the easiest. It comes out so easily. Sometimes I don’t know what happens next till I take pen to paper, and I’m surprised at a sudden twist that pops onto the paper. I actually think, ‘Oh! Ok, then! That’s how we’re going!’ I love those moments. The editing is the hardest.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story?

I’m not trying to send a message. It is a good vs evil fantasy, and well, good wins, so I guess that’s a message.

Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

Yes, it has, I love each and every review, even the ones that are not that good. It’s feedback and someone’s opinion, and I think every opinion counts. It makes me a better writer.

What do your family or friends say about your books?

Weirdly, except for my kids and my sisters, none of the family have read the book, though they’re very proud of me. Their excuse-they’re waiting for the hard copy. Hm, ok!

Do they mind you taking so much time to write?

My older daughter is pretty needy. She has this horrible habit of interrupting me when I’m in the middle of an intense scene and gets into a huff when I ask for a little time to finish the scene.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

That’s another funny story. My cover was designed by my younger daughter, she’s a graphic designer. So she read the book, we sat and spoke about what I envisioned for the cover, and then she just went ahead and did exactly what she wanted. It had nothing to do with what we had spoken about. But it was amazing, I love it, and I get a lot of compliments on the great cover.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write? image

I jog everyday and I listen to music when I jog. That’s when I think about how the next scene will go. But when I sit down to write it, I prefer silence. I have to write the story before typing it in. I find a quiet corner.

How many rewrites does it normally take you for each book?

Between six to ten? In fact, maybe more! I’m still tweaking the first book. I am a bit OCD in that way.

How do you edit and quality control?

I do a lot of edits myself. My kids give extremely helpful feedback. I send it through many beta readers. I use Grammarly. And there are still mistakes. I guess the OCD helps.

What is your advice to new writers?

Everyone has a story rolling around in their heads. Get it down on paper. Luckily, we live in a world where there are so many ways to get your book out there and to market it. Use them!

Who are your favourite authors?

Stephen King, P.G. Wodehouse, Tolkein, Salinger, Rowling, Ruth Rendell, Dick Francis… I could go on.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I don’t like reading when I write because the writer’s style influences mine. But the last one I read was a Ruth Rendell. It was paperback.

What is your life like outside of writing? What do you do for pleasure? What makes you laugh? What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island? Who would you like to invite for dinner? Hot or cold? Salty or sweet? What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality? What would you name as those qualities?

I live with my daughters and a spoilt basset hound. My kids are all grown up and are great fun to hang out with. We love going to the theatre. We do that a lot. Wodehouse makes me laugh…actually laugh out loud. I guess a multi-purpose pocketknife would be very useful on a lonely island. Cold! Salty! My friends find me good company because apparently I’m a barrel of laughs. I talk a lot to myself…I have whole debates between me and myself. A lot of people find that odd.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

I’d take any Coldplay song!

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I get a bit upset, but it passes. I actually found my book on a shelf called “whaddisthis?” on GoodReads. After the initial ‘huh?’, I couldn’t help laughing. I believe that even criticism is better than indifference.

What are you working on now? Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?

Editing my second book and begging my daughter to get a cover ready while writing my third.

Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H6LS59E

These are Jan’s FB pages: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Circle-of-Five/228557627318055?ref=hl


Jan on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20801439-circle-of-five?from_search=true

written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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