Jana Petken reveals her secrets

Jana PetkenJana Petken is Scottish but has lived in Spain for many years and grew up under the dictatorship of General Franco. When she is not writing, she spends her spare time translating for a charity that helps British patients at the local hospital. Being ex-military, she takes great interest in studying historical conflicts and the after-effects they had on the country’s population. Her motivation to write began in early childhood, when she first discovered her love of books and history. She also writes factual books and has various projects ongoing, including another book of fiction. During her career, she has travelled to many parts of the world, and her creative inspiration comes from her love of studying new countries and cultures.

1) How would you describe your writing style in two sentences?

My writing has an engaging tone connecting the characters to the readers on a very personable level. I use factual backdrops and extensive research, which also heightens my story and characters’ credibility.

2) How long does it take for you to write a chapter?

This depends on the length of the chapter but generally speaking, one – two hours, maybe more. I then redraft a couple of times, which usually extends the size and nuance of the scene/chapter.

3) What is the best part of the writing process for you?

Watching my characters grow until they get to the stage where they have taken on a life of their own.  That’s when I feel I am almost channelling them and not the other way around.

4) If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a lot of people—what would that message be?

To read a genre that one enjoys is a relaxing and positive experience but to read historical fiction is much more than that – it can entertain and at the same time teach the reader about a period, character, king, queen, or war that they previously knew nothing about.

5) Do you ask yourself questions or do you settle for what you know?

I most certainly ask myself questions, all the time. To write history is to investigate, research, and to make the facts subtly present in an entertaining and engrossing story. I do not believe any author should write about what they know little about without learning the facts first because this, in my opinion, leads to a superficial and disappointing book.

6) When it’s all said and done—will you have said more or done more?

I can always say more. I talk a lot and enjoy public speaking and lecturing. I also write a lot. I could never write a short story. “The Guardian of Secrets” would have been even longer and bigger, had I had my way.

7) Which activities make you lose track of time?

That’s easy. Writing and painting in oils – oh and a really good curry, bottle of wine, and good company. On our curry nights we’re usually first in and last out.

8) What’s your single greatest moment of personal failure?  Looking back on it now, did it make you weaker or stronger?  What did you learn?

My greatest failure was staying married to a man well after love had ended. For a while I lost my self- esteem, my self- belief, and my confidence to be a person in my own right. I learned as I looked back after it was over that no-one has the power or the right to under-mind who you are as a human being, what you think, and what you believe. I learned not to fear love in the future but I also believe now that love cannot be selfish or unrequited, instead, it should be based on mutual respect, friendship, and physical affections.

9) Joy is found with simple awareness.  What does your joy look like today?

I feel joy when I realise that I survived hitting my head on the ceiling of a Boeing, 747 aircraft at 39,000 feet and lived to tell the tale.  Having said that, I would like the full use of my arms back after paralysis and swim once again in the sea. Now, what a joy that would be!

10) If your life was a novel, what would be the title and how would your story end?

“No ordinary life.”  It would end with me having an entire shelf with my published novels sitting proudly upon them but honestly, and most importantly, finding love again would be my fairytale ending.


Click here to get your copy of “The Guardian of Secrets: And Her Deathly Pact”

A historical family saga spanning four generations, from 1912, Kent, England, to Spain and its 1936–39 civil war. Celia and Ernesto’s two sons march under opposing banners, whilst their daughters take different paths, one to the Catholic Church and the other to the battlefields, and in the shadow of war, an evil ghost from the past watches and waits for an opportunity to destroy the entire family. In exile, Celia and Ernesto can only wait and pray for their children and their safe return home.


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