Monday, August 19, 2013

Interview: Jade C. Jamison

Author Interview of the Week

Meet author of Bullet, Jade C. Jamison!

Photograph by Cyndi Jamison
What made you want to be an author?

There was never a "defining moment."  I was born a writer.  As soon as I could put pen to paper, I had to tell stories and write poems and plays.  I never had a choice in the matter.  I've always been compelled to write and wrote my first "book" in middle school.  Writing is fulfilling, and there's something to be said about creating a reality that doesn't really exist.  More than that, though, I often don't know all the details of the stories I'm writing until they're down on paper...and even I encounter some surprises on occasion.  That keeps it fun for me as well.  But what made me want to be an author?  There was never any thought to it.  I just was one.

Who has inspired you the most?

In the author world, two people.  Well, that's not true.  There are so many, and I could fill up a page just rattling off a list of names.  That said, there are two (sorry, can't narrow it down more than that) authors who have been and continue to be an inspiration to me.  One, Stephen King.  Holy crap.  He is by far the most prolific writer on the planet, and the man just keeps going.  I also believe he has written the best, most practical guide to creative writing that's ever been written (On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft).  In the creative writing classes I used to teach, I always recommended this book to my students.  Yes, there are other good ones, but what makes King's so good is it's not a textbook.  The second part, where he gets into the nuts and bolts, is a simple "guide" to writing.  He doesn't pull punches, either.  But I find myself going back to that book over and over, because it's just so damn good.  I love his fiction too.  Misery is still one of my favorite books, all these years later.  Toni Morrison is also a huge inspiration to me.  The woman can weave a story like no other, and every time I reread one of her books, I'm simply blown away.  She can paint a picture with words and she is a poet.  Her stories cut to the core, and many of them have touched me deeply.  BelovedThe Bluest Eye, and Paradise...I don't understand how anyone could read those books and put them down not having changed emotionally.  She makes you think about who you are and what you believe, what you value, and what you hold dear.  She is absolutely incredible.

Can you tell us about some of your earlier days of writing?

When I was twelve?  Haha.  When my children were young, I would go through periods of trying to become traditionally published.  I'd had success (under another name) with poetry, short stories, academic writing, and journalism, but being published as a novelist continued to elude me.  I would throw the feelers out there (query letters with synopses) every once in a while when I'd finish a book.  I got a lot of nice rejections.  Then life would take over and the need to be published would go on the back burner.  I never stopped writing, though, because it's a compulsion.  Some rejections were form rejections, but many were personal, and one I remember in particular said I had a strong writing voice and a great story, but it wasn't quite what they were looking for.  I felt like, in the writing world, I was always the bridesmaid and never the bride.  But I couldn't stop writing.  I just stopped writing query letters.
Then, two and a half years ago, a very close friend of mine (Stacy Gail, an author with Samhain and Carina Press) landed a publishing contract.  If you think I write a lot, you should meet Stacy.  She puts me to shame.  She and I were chatting as we often do, and I felt the burning desire to submit to a publisher again.  I was working on my most current compulsion (Tangled Web) and had no intention of doing anything with it; I just had to get it out of my head and onto paper.  Talking to Stacy, though, I got the itch again.  Sure, I had to write; it was in my blood, after all, but writers also want to be read.  I could have gone my whole life with all those manuscripts in my trunk, but I wanted more.  By early spring, I had my manuscript with beta readers and I was drafting a query letter (ugh!).  Then Stacy mentioned a successful woman by the name of Amanda Hocking (perhaps you've heard of her?), and the rest is history.  After doing some research, I published Tangled Web on Amazon for the Kindle in April of 2011...and the rest is history.

How has your life considerably changed since you've been published?

It's been a slow haul, but just recently things have started to change quite a bit.  Up until May, I had worked two jobs forever!  I left my teaching job in May and I hope to leave my other job within the next three years.  And I have made some close friends as well, women I never would have met had I not been a writer.  Oh...I also do less housework and more Facebook now.  But...I see an end to the nine-to-five job very soon.  About damn time.

What sparked the idea for Bullet and the books that follow?

Bullet was actually the first adult book I had written and finished.  I was eighteen when I wrote it (although, at the time, it was called Bottom of My Heart).  I was thinking about that silly book last fall and turning it over in my mind.  The premise had promise but it was too fantastic and silly to work.  I won't tell you why, but let's just say I was, at the time I wrote it, as naive as Valerie.  But as I mulled that old story over in my head, I could sense the potential.  One night, I was driving home from the college and it just hit me.  I figured out the perfect way to make it work.  In the original story, Val just wound up being pulled into the band because of her friendship with the band.  That wasn't realistic, though, because Val had no vocal training, no musical background.  But what if she were a writer and her lyrics blew them away?  What if her words put theirs to shame?  That's how Bottom of My Heart matured into Bullet.  The band's name really was Bullet in that original manuscript too.  The sex scenes I wrote at eighteen were embarrassing and awkward--laughable!  And I had two endings I'd written back then.  Finally, Val's reason for not being in the band in the present was different from what you read in Bullet (that she needed surgery).  But--if it hadn't been for that book I'd written back in college, fueled by Dokken's Under Lock and Key cassette--Bullet probably would never have crossed my mind.

You're a fan of metal music yes? How has that specific genre inspired or helped "get your juices flowing" with the books you write?

Are you kidding?  Am I a fan of metal?  ;)  Yes.  I live, breathe, sleep, eat, and drink metal music.  Eighteen-year-old me was much like Valerie.  I wanted to be in a band, but I heard from all sides (family, friends, college professors) how unrealistic it was.  Back in the eighties, women in metal were rare.  Yes, they existed (Lita Ford was my idol), but metal was (and still is) a boys' club.  I didn't have much musical training and had little aptitude for it (save being able to sing on key), but I could write like a mother.  If I couldn't be in a band (although I was in a kick ass air guitar band), I could imagine it.

More than that, I don't go a day without listening to lots and lots of music, especially when I'm writing (right now, as a matter of fact, I'm listening to Glamour of the Kill's The Summoning).  When I have music playing and I'm writing, the rest of the world--the real world--disappears (even when I'm not writing a rock star book).  If I didn't have music in my life, I would be a very sad person.  When I'm angry, I it's also a release.  It keeps me from being a bitter, angry, mean person.  I feel emotions from music too, and sometimes I'll play music just to get in the mood I should be writing about.  I might not be a musician, but music is an integral part of my life; it's part of who I am. 
Yes, dad, I still listen to that "crap."  :)

What has been the best experience so far on your journey as an author?
Photo by Jade C. Jamison

Just one?  Well, I just hit 3000 Likes on Facebook and 2000 followers on Twitter, and I have to say that kicks ass.  And there are so many other experiences...I just can't pick one.  Getting on some of Amazon's Top 100 lists when I published Everything But was awesome, and Bullet sales far surpassed my expectations as well, getting high on Amazon charts.  Let's see.  What else?  The first time Jerry Horton (guitarist for Papa Roach) tweeted me back, you would have thought I'd died.  And it's also cool when huge bands follow me first. I've also made some best friends on this journey, women I never would have met had I not been a writer.  My first (and only, so far) blog tour was pretty cool too.  And every time I get a four- or five-star review is wonderful as well.  The best experience thus far, though?  Probably being invited to my first book signing (Naughty Mafia Sunday Sinners in August).  I got the email and called my husband, squealing.  That was when I felt like it was all real...only "real" authors are invited to book signings, right?  That kicked ass.  And I know it's just the beginning.  (I have a second book signing in April of 2014!!!)

Can you give us some insight on any upcoming projects?
Photo by Jade C. Jamison

Yes!  I'm two-thirds of the way done with Rock Bottom, the second Bullet book.  Bullet was going to be a stand alone, but readers begged for more, and I was happy to give it to them.  It will be published the first week of September.  The next Nicki Sosebee book, Fake, is about one-fourth of the way done as well, and I hope to have it done and ready to one click in three or four weeks.  I've also started writing Seal All Exits(Tangled Web #3), but it has a long way to go.  And...last but not least, readers have also demanded that I make the story "Be Careful What You Wish For" (in Quickies) into a full blown series as well.  Again, who am I to argue with my readers?  So I've been mulling it over and have figured out the first book.  I just need to write it.  And...I always have lots of other story ideas.  These are just the ones for this year, the foreseeable future.  :)  There are at least four more Nicki books in that series, four more Bullet books, and three more Tangled Web books.  There will probably be four books in the new series I'll be starting this fall (the one based on "Be Careful"), so I have plenty to keep me busy.

What advice can you give to any upcoming authors?

First off, read Stephen King's On Writing.  I can't emphasize that enough.  I don't care if you've read twenty other books on creative writing.  King's is the best by far.  Second (and this is advice King himself gives), write a lot.
Once you have something you've written that you think is high quality, have your work read.  Take feedback.  The best way to do this is to find a group of writers near you.  Get together frequently and read each other’s work.  Then offer honest feedback—both critical and praising.  My philosophy (and this comes from being an English instructor) is that every story has something worthwhile about it, even if it needs work.  You can tell someone gently what needs work.  Don’t hesitate to tell the person what is good too, though, because otherwise she might toss out the whole damn thing…and we don’t want that.  Can’t find a group?  Organize your own—in your community or online.  Or take a creative writing class.  Read widely too (another brilliant bit of King advice).  Don’t just read in the genre you plan to write.  Branch out, because you’ll learn so much more and it will improve your writing.
You can also read the following advice on my website, but in case you haven't read it, here goes:  
If your grammar, spelling, and/or use of punctuation is atrocious, have an expert fix your work.  This piece of advice should perhaps be number one, but your story comes first.  That said, some readers will be forgiving, while others will not.  Again, I’m going to play the teacher card.  I used to tell my students when they would complain about instructors grading them down for poor grammar that while your content might be solid and well thought out, a paper riddled with errors can be confusing and hard to read.  Your readers just might not have the patience to wade through your book.  This is an area where you should spend a little money.  It will pay off in the long run.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a few beta readers along the way who are willing to give you feedback not only on editorial problems but also other things that might require revision—things like pacing, dialogue, and the like.  And, while you're at it, grow a pair.  If you want to be good, you need to listen to criticism.  You won’t always want to make changes and that’s okay, but listen, because a lot of times your beta readers might be onto something.  It's best to develop a thick skin before you publish, because I promise you won’t always get five-star gushing reviews…no matter how good your story is.

This one I learned from Stephen King (tired of hearing me rave about that book yet?):  Tell the truth.  No, I don’t mean write nonfiction.  I mean feel the story; listen to your characters.  They will tell you where to go and what they are going to do.  Are you always going to like it?  Hell no!!!  Your characters are going to piss you off, make you cry, and frustrate the hell out of you…just like they will your readers.  And that’s good.  If your readers want a boring book with flawless characters, I can recommend a few.  Remember…you’re not perfect and neither are your characters.  Early in my writing days (pre-publication), I’d censor my characters.  They’d say damn on paper when in my head they really said f*ck.  I don’t censor them anymore (and you’ll never read a book like that from me).  They say and do what they’re going to do.  I’m merely a scribe.  And that’s the way it should be.

Thanks so much, Jade for interviewing with us! Don't forget to follow Jade on one of her outlets listed below!

Want to get your hands on a copy of her books? Click the links below!

Photo by Jade C. Jamison

1 comment:

  1. YAY, Jade! Great interview! And YAY for supportive writer friends that keep us going!