14 Nov 2013

Entrepreneur and fiction author Joanna Penn is here!

J.F.Penn writes the bestselling ARKANE thriller series, with ‘One Day In Budapest’ her most recent work. Her new crime series opens with Desecration in Dec 2013. You can sign up for pre-release specials and receive a free short story and audio at http://www.JFPenn.com
Joanna also writes non-fiction and her site, www.TheCreativePenn.com has been voted one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers 3 years running. Connect with Joanna on Twitter @thecreativepenn 

Tell us a bit about your books

I describe my books as thrillers on the edge, because they’re on the intersection of thriller/action/adventure, crime/mystery, even horror, and have a tinge of romance. I love reading all kinds of books, so I guess that comes through in my own writing.
My ARKANE series features Dr Morgan Sierra, an ex-Israeli military psychologist, who joins a secret agency to investigate supernatural mysteries. Whether it’s hunting the Pentecost stones through the history of the early church, stopping the pale horse of the apocalypse or searching for the Ark of the Covenant in the Middle East, each mystery keeps Morgan on the move through global locations.
In the movie version of the books, Angelina Jolie will always be Morgan Sierra for me, in the same vein as Lara Croft, or Salt. Jake Timber, her partner and love interest is either Hugh Jackman or David Boreanaz. Yum!

Morgan is pretty kick-ass. Why are you drawn to write strong female characters?
Morgan is my alter ego so I have to put her through her paces! She’s always challenged, forever on the brink of saving the world from some disaster and she is super-smart. Her flaw is that she is, perhaps, too independent and that stops her from being vulnerable. She also has personal tragedy in her past, so her relationship with Jake is complicated. I guess I write her to explore myself and my own fantasy adventures, traveling the world, beating up bad guys, and maybe having a few dalliances along the way ... I do see Morgan as a female version of James Bond, and I would love to write a Bond book one day.

What themes continue to emerge in your writing?
I’m fascinated by the edge of what we consider real. To some that could be called supernatural, or unexplained science, and to some it is a question of faith and belief. I like to explore these questions in my writing and a lot of it stems from my Masters degree in Theology from Oxford, where I studied the psychology of religion. I’m fascinated by what people believe and the variation of faith across the world. I love to travel and include that in my books, so art, architecture and culture also play a large part in my books. I share a lot of my research on my blog http://www.JFPenn.com/blog/ For example, this video goes into the research for One Day In Budapest, a chilling view of a possible future as Eastern Europe embraces right-wing nationalism.

Your thrillers are quite dark, and Desecration, coming in Dec 2013, sounds dark as well. What’s your fascination with the shadow side of life?
I think it’s the writer’s responsibility to think about deeper things, and although I think I am a happy, well-adjusted person, I’m definitely drawn to the dark side. Stephen King’s The Stand is one of my favorite books, and recently, Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects really resonated with me. I think people want to read fiction to tackle things they might not face in their own lives. It’s a way to face fears in the imagination, and thrillers should give the reader an emotional workout!

Where do you write?
A few days a week, I write at home, in my little flat in central London. I listen to rain and storms on my iPod which sends me into some kind of writing trance! I sit on a swiss ball to keep my back supple, and I recommend it for all writers as it seriously makes a difference to your health. I also work in the London Library in St James’ Square a couple of times a week. It’s full of writers, so a creative environment, and early members included Dickens, Tennyson, TS Eliot, Agatha Christie and even Bram Stoker. It’s good to get out of the house and work somewhere surrounded by history.

Speed round ...
Top tipple?
Vodka lime and soda, or Pol Roger on a special occasion. I do like a drink :)
Favorite movie? Legends of the Fall. Showing my age but damn, Brad Pitt is a beautiful man!
Scarlet flamenco dress or little black number? Scarlet flamenco every time.
Shopaholic or shopadon’t? As soon as I make my millions, I’ll be getting a personal shopper because I hate shopping! I do like to buy Indian saris and get them made into skirts, so they are original and colorful.
Cry baby or tough cookie? Tough cookie. At least until I came off my bike cycling through India a few months ago. I bawled my eyes out then! 

WIN a signed copy of 'One Day In Budapest'
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J.F.Penn on Amazon.com - all Joanna’s books in print, ebook and some in audio.
J.F.Penn: Thrillers on the edge. Free short story and audio as well as pre-release specials, plus buy links for all books.
Joanna on Goodreads
Joanna on Twitter
Joanna on Facebook 


  1. great interview. But seriously - if Legends of the Fall makes you feel old, then I feel like Methuselah! I vividly remember Brad's cameo in Thelma and Louise!

    "I’m fascinated by the edge of what we consider real." Nicely put

  2. It was my pleasure, Joanna! Thanks for being here :)

    Thanks for stopping by Dan!


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