Author Interview #9 with Sandra J Jackson

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Q1. Tell me about yourself – biography, career, likes, dislikes, hobbies etc…anything you would like to share about yourself? Any fun, interesting facts? Please insert a photograph if possible.

I was born in Montreal, QC Canada and moved to Ontario when I was 16. I have always enjoyed and participated in many art forms but painting was my favourite. It seemed natural that I took some form of art in school and so I graduated college with a 3-year graphic design diploma. Though I had a couple of jobs with some aspect of graphic design, I never made a career out of it. After marriage and children I ended up working as an administrative assistant and now I am a full-time Financial Assistant. I think this is kind of funny since math wasn’t my favourite subject. Writing came much later in life when my children had grown, and I no longer told them made-up bedtime stories. One night I sat down at the computer and wrote the beginnings of my first story.
Likes: Spending time with my family, animals, reading, hiking, kayaking, chocolate, sleep, travelling especially to the east coast of Canada, and a whole bunch of other things I can’t think of.
Dislikes: Olives, Crocs, not being able to sleep, really cold weather, freezing rain, and beer.

Q2. Can you tell me about your work – what have you written, what is it about, what type of genre is it?

I have written and published two books. The first is Promised Soul. It is the story of a young woman whose strange dreams and visions of déjà vu turn out to be memories of a past life. This is a romance, with a little paranormal or supernatural story.
My second book is Playing in the Rain, Book 1 of the Escape Series trilogy. This is the story of two sisters coming out of a drug induced hypnosis. The oldest realizes they need to escape their present. Before she can she finds that both she and her sister have been moved elsewhere. And their new “home” is much worse than the last. This story crosses a number of genres, specifically suspense, sci-fi, dystopian, and young/new adult (though only in the sense that the characters are young).

Q3. Can you tell me about your writing process e.g do you prefer to plan or write spontaneously, favourite writing times, pen or computer, how long do you spend writing?

My writing style is that of a pantser, in other words, flying by the seat of my pants or spontaneously. I don’t do much planning, though I will take down notes of key elements.
I don’t have a favourite writing time. It’s more like whenever I get the chance.
I write with pen and paper because I feel like the words flow better. Then when I have a chapter or two written, I type it up on my laptop.
The length of time I spend writing depends, but usually when I write I try to get one chapter completed. Sometimes, though, I may only write a paragraph or two of a chapter and then finish it the next day. I don’t always write every day either. I have gone days, weeks, and months in between writing. I guess I write when my characters tell me to.

Q4. What inspires you? How do you come up with your ideas?

I’m not really sure what inspires me. Maybe an idea sparked by a conversation with someone or from something I’ve seen, heard, or read. It snowballs from there until I have to write it down.

Q5. How long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me a long time. The first book took two years, but as I stated earlier, I don’t write every day. My second took much less time, maybe a year. I have finished both the third and fourth books as well (they are in the editing stage right now) and they were anywhere from six months to a year. I think I’m getting faster.

Q6. Favourite part of writing a book / least favourite part?

Favourite part is the actual writing. I love it when my characters lead me in directions I had not planned. I also like to keep my readers guessing; I like to make them think and feel what they are reading.
Least favourite would be editing, I find it so time consuming. Because I write “organically”, when I edit there’s a lot of re-writing, cutting out, and adding parts. I edit every day with only a day off here and there. I also don’t like the marketing part once the book is published. I suck at that.

Q7. Favourite character and why? From your own work.

This is a tough question as I like all of my characters, even the bad ones. Though I think with the bad ones it’s not so much that I like them as I like creating them and exploring their nature. I guess if I have to pick it’s a tie between April and Beth, the sisters in Playing in the Rain. Both are smart and strong young women but in different ways. April is strong when she overcomes her anxiety and Beth, she’s just stubborn and doesn’t let anyone push her around. Things just pop out of Beth’s mouth and she doesn’t care who she says them to.

Q8. How did you break into publishing?

When Promised Soul was completed I had heard about a website called Wattpad. I thought it would be a great platform to see what people had to say. I received a lot of positive feedback and that is what made me seek out a publisher.

Q9. How do you market your books?

Not very well!  I use social media, particularly Twitter and marketing in Facebook groups. I also participate in craft fairs where I sell signed hard copies of my books.
My marketing has been lacking in the last month or two as I have been spending so much time on editing.

Q10. What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research?

I was busy with something else at the time so I asked my son to look up how a body would decay in a few months. He refused as he didn’t want that on his computer. I just laughed and researched it myself. I also attended a psychic medium party for research for Promised Soul. I’ve researched telekinesis, astral projection, viruses, and a lot of other strange and interesting things.

Q11. Any tips for new / aspiring authors?

Before you get published, build an author platform. Write a blog on WordPress or other blogging platform. Wattpad is also a good place to start. I wish I had known more about the whole author platform before I started.

Q12. Do you think writing is an innate gift or something which can be learned?

Hmmm, I think it’s a little bit of both. You have to have a creative mind in order to write. However, I am still learning and improving despite writing for a few years now.

Q13. Have you ever participated in any writing courses / retreats? Have you any writing related qualifications? If so have they been beneficial?

Before I decided to write a book, I did take an online college grammar course. I found it helpful. I also did my own research like understanding show don’t tell, using less adverbs in writing, and other tips.

Q14. Who are your favourite authors and why?

I like many authors but Diana Gabaldon is one of my favourites. I love that she didn’t start off to become an author and sort of fell into it. I also like J. K. Rowling. She has an amazing imagination.

Q15. What is your favourite novel and why?

I don’t think I have a favourite novel; at least I can’t pick one. Outlander Series are some of my favourite books, but I also love all the Harry Potter books.

Q16. If you weren’t an author – what would you love to do?

I would continue painting. I haven’t done much of it at all in the last five or six years, and I hope to get back into it again.

Q17. What are your plans / dreams / ambitions for the future?

I try to set writing goals of some kind every year. This year I wanted to receive an award and/or have a best seller. My goal for winning an award happened when Playing in the Rain won the 2018 Golden Quill Book Award for Science Fiction. I hope to continue to win more awards and someday have a best-selling novel.

Q18. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on editing the 2nd book of my trilogy and then I will move on to editing the 3rd. I also have another manuscript that I finished and so I might begin working on that one again. I put it on hold once I realized Playing in the Rain was going to be a trilogy. I have a number of manuscripts started as well. I guess I will decide where to go next once the Escape Series is complete.

Q19. Can you supply a favourite excerpt from any of your works?

Promised Soul Chapter 7
The ship tossed back and forth as waves crashed against the hull rocking the people within. Having left London a full week earlier, they had finally reached the Atlantic after passing by the Isle of Wight. Two days later, there was no land in sight and as they headed for New York, there seemed to be no end to the cruel winter storms. Chunks of ice crashed into the sides of the ship, the sounds of which sent shivers up the spines of the passengers and crew aboard.
“Mary, hang on to your brother and sister, I’ve got to find your mother.” The man took his two younger children by the hands and handed them over to his eldest daughter. Two smaller bodies pressed into Mary’s own. She wrapped her arms around them in the dim light. The ship tossed again and they fell to the floor.
“Father, don’t leave!” Mary cried after him, but it was too late.
“Ann! Ann!” Mary heard him call.
Mary looked around. She could scarcely make out the faces of the people around her, but she could feel and hear their fear. There was a loud sound as the ship rolled back and forth, screams filled the air followed by a rush of cold water. Large chunks of ice battered against the hull, tearing it apart, sending splinters of wood careening through the air. Mary felt the sting as one such splinter slammed into her forehead inches above her right eye, and almost sent her over backward. Water rushed heavily through a large, gaping hole, passengers cried – there was panic on board.
“Hang on!” Mary cried to her siblings above the clamour. Rivulets of blood mixed with the spray of salt water ran down her cheek and into her mouth. The metallic taste of blood and salt assaulted her tongue.
Another wave forced its way through the ever-enlarging hole. Passengers scrambled, trying to get up the ladder and up to the deck above, each wave taking its toll on the side of the ship. Mary clung to her siblings as tightly as she could, but it was getting harder to hang on to them as the icy water crept up their bodies chilling them through to the bone.
Mary attempted to stand, pulling her brother and sister with her, but each time they fell back down. They tried crawling toward the ladder, but the other passengers and rushing water shoved them out of the way. An exhausted Mary began to lose her grip on her brother as her fingers became numb with cold. Another wave rocked the ship again, and as the water rushed back through the hole, Mary felt it pulling her brother with it.
“Hold on, John!” Mary yelled. She looked into his sad and scared deep brown eyes.
“I can’t!” he cried; his icy cold hand slipped from her grasp.
“John!” she screamed. There was no answer.
Mary gripped her sister as tightly as she could, pulling her toward her body with one arm as she tried to make her way to the ladder again. Another wave grabbed them and dragged them back down toward the lower end of the sinking ship. The frigid water took their breaths. More waves crashed through, their long icy fingers clawing and pulling them closer to the opening. Sarah slipped from Mary’s grasp, the waves claiming her and dragging her out to sea. The water receded from above Mary’s head; she took a final breath of air and slipped out the hole. The freezing water enveloped her as she felt herself sinking towards the bottom. She struggled – she wanted to breathe. Her lungs burned with the desire to inhale – she did and the icy cold water filled her lungs.
‘Thomas’ she heard her mind scream and then darkness.

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Author: juliasuttonauthorblog

Hi there, I'm an author from Wolverhampton, England. I've written and published seven contemporary fiction novels, which are all available via online stores. Thanks for following my blog :-)

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