Tell us about your past careers.
I joined the (British) Royal Navy at the age of seventeen. I was a leading Naval Policewoman, equivalent to a sergeant in the Military Police. After the Navy, I went to work for a travel company as an overseas representative. During the first Gulf War I was a security guard at the BBC World Service radio station. After I left the BBC, I spent twelve years as a bodyguard for a Saudi Princess.
My final career outside the house was with British Airways. I was a cabin crew member on the worldwide fleet, which allowed me to travel extensively to every corner of the world, at least two or three times. Unfortunately, I had an accident on board a flight. The aircraft, a Boeing 747, was flying at 39,000 feet above Africa when it was caught in clear-air turbulence. As the plane dropped my body flew upward causing my head to hit the cabin’s ceiling. As a result of this accident, I have had three major operations on my spinal cord and am now retired. I missed the busy and interesting experiences that my job had brought me, thus turning my attention to writing.
I’ve lived in so many countries, I’m dizzy. I’m a jack of all trades but master of none. I’ve made so many mistakes in life that I often wonder how I managed to survive all these years – But, I feel blessed to be able to call writing, my last stand. Long may it last x
Why historical fiction?
I can still picture the day my passion for history was ignited. I was a little girl, sitting with my mum in a cinema watching a re-run of, Gone With the Wind. Whether it was the costumes, dialogue, accents, or horses that caught my attention, I don’t know, but that was the moment my love affair with the past began.
Do you stick to the same historical period, and do you have a formula?
No. I don’t really have a favourite historical period, or event. I’m a Gemini, and as changeable as the weather. It will be impossible for me to cover all the historical periods that I would like to write about, in my lifetime, but I’ll get through as many as possible, because I want to share as many historical stories as I can. There’s an old saying: We are only passing through. That’s so true when you think about thousands of years, full of historical events that we can only read about.
When choosing my books’ themes, I think about where I’d like to be and what I’d like to be involved in. When I write, I see, feel, and go with gut feelings. I enjoy the journey, and rarely plan ahead. There are no outlines, notes, or list of characters. My preparation is negligible, and I rarely follow rules. Right or wrong, this is my method, and I guess I’ll continue adhere to the proverbial saying, ‘going with my flow.’
The Guardian of Secrets
“An epic in every sense, The Guardian of Secrets is War and Peace for a new generation. Jana Petken is a natural storyteller and in The Guardian of Secrets she weaves an engrossing, passionate tale of family life, of love, of betrayal, of war and redemption. These are classic themes and they are combined here to produce a classic tale in the finest traditions of historical fiction.”
Dark Shadows: Mercy Carver Series
“Dark Shadows, is the first five-star book in Jana Petken’s exciting Mercy Carver series. This meticulously crafted and riveting tale had me captivated from the very first page.”
Blood Moon: Mercy Carver, Book Two
“The author did a fantastic job weaving this story. I admit I was surprised at some twist and turns. Many times, I found myself holding my breath!”
The Errant Flock
“A glorious read, I was totally captivated by this story. Her descriptions of the people, the country and the history put me right in the picture and I couldn’t put it down. She is a great storyteller with lots of depth to her writing.”