Interview slots are now closed until September 1st, when I am opening the slots up for author book release and promotions (i.e. without the interview).
What are you currently writing/working on?
I tend to have several projects going at once, but my main focus is on a scifi about a Moon colony at present. I’m not ready to release the title of that one yet, but I’m also sporadically working on a comedy scifi called The Chase For Choronzon, about two reincarnated historical magicians trying to chase down the demon Choronzon after he abandons his position, guarding the gate between the worlds. One of them was Aleister Crowley in a previous life, who hated cats. He has, of course, been reincarnated as a cat, but doesn’t realise it. They have some pretty weird adventures.
When and how do your characters come to you? Is it in a moment of inspiration, an epiphany? Or do they grow in some murky recess of your mind?
Characters are a strange species. They tend to appear and demand to be written about, then they go all independent and do surprising things. Half the fun of writing is in watching to see how they develop and who they become.
There’s an acceptance that authors often write in traits or characteristics of themselves into their work, is there any part of you in any of your characters?
Occasionally. My sense of practicality has transferred itself to some characters, while my sarky sense of humour has also slipped into one or two.
How do you develop your characters? Do you let them brew in your subconscious, use character interview sheets, or something completely different?
I just sit back and watch. They always reveal themselves in stages by how they handle situations.
Are you a planner, or free writer?
As you may guess from my last couple of answers, I’m 90% free writer. I sometimes have a loose sequence of events in mind, but I do retrospective outlining rather than pre-planning. What I mean by that is I keep a chart that has notes about the major points of each chapter. That’s mostly in case I come up with something and need to go back and add some foreshadowing or plant an event related to the later chapter.
When you are developing a book, what tools or techniques do you use, e.g. timelines, mood boards, character interviews, scraps of notes?
None of that. I’m writing a story, not developing a game. I scribble plot points when they hit me and I keep a notes file for each project with any random thoughts that need to be remembered.
Has your technique changed over time?
The retrospective outline is a relatively recent development, after trying to find where in a book that a particular event happened because I needed to change something.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you actively look for it?
I can’t get away from it! My files of projects yet to be written should keep me busy for the rest of my life.
What kind of an environment do you write in? Day/night/silence/music/desk/sofa etc
First thing in the morning, as little noise as possible and tuning out family noises. At my desk with a desktop PC. Sitting down to it instantly puts me in ‘writing space’.
Half way into writing my first novel, it’s taking over my brain! What advice can you give me on completing it? Or maybe an easier question. What do you wish you had known about writing a book before you started?
Write something every day, even if it’s only 100 words. Keep notes of every little inspiration. You WILL forget them! If your story is taking over your brain, you’re on the right track. Give it some of yourself every day and watch it blossom into your own imaginary world.
The publishing industry is in decline across the board. Do you think things like the Kindle are bridging the gap, is there still the same love for the written word, or is it being diluted by the modern obsession with tech and gadgets?
Book lovers will never die out, they just roll with the changes. Some of the publishing industry has overpriced itself and the gatekeepers are down since Kindle publishing so that readers are having to sift through the slush pile themselves, but there is no lack of readers. Gadgets have shortened attention span perhaps, yet the old Classics are still popular. It’s only the industry that has turned upside down, not the love of reading itself.
50 Shades of Grey author EL James was reported to make around £100k a day at the book’s height, and the upcoming film will make her millions. Do you find it a shame that the most lucrative and famous book franchise of the moment is one so widely derided for its lack of literary value? Or is it just good to have a book going mainstream?
Having read a page and a half of that book, I keep reminding myself that there has always been a large market for the level of writing that was always to be found in Harlequin Romance. I don’t see this sort of fadism as competition for intelligent books. It’s just a different audience.
If a fascist regime was burning the worlds libraries, what books would you save?
Mine of course. 😉
I have a few good reference books and favourite novels that I would find a place to hide. Being a writer gives me an advantage. I can keep on telling stories.
Which publishing route have you taken? Did you always know you were going to go down this route, and if so why?
I started out in traditional publishing in the Mind. Body, Spirit category (I can’t really call non-fiction a genre). My first novel was also placed with a small traditional publisher, but it was a new company that hadn’t yet achieved US Distribution. Slowly I came around to the idea of self-publishing and I plan to release more books in my old category myself, although I’ve promised something to a friend of mine who owns one of the most respected publishing companies for Occult books. I still have eight books with my first publisher as well.
What do you wish you knew about the publishing process before you started?
I actually started learning about the business side of writing when I was 13. The one thing I would go back and tell myself is to go ahead and write what I was driven to write, but put it aside for a few months and read it again with fresh eyes. It’s amazing how much better a story can be if you do this.
What is the best advice you could give to aspiring novelists like me? Or what was the best advice you were ever given?
Don’t rush it. Make sure it’s ready. Get other eyes on it than your own. Even your mother can spot typos you can’t see because you know how it’s SUPPOSED to read and the brain just autocorrects. Then do what I said above. Put it aside for at least three months and work on something else, then go back and read it afresh. You’ll see things you can do better, guaranteed.
Oh and whatever you do, don’t use one of those cartoony covers that a lot of CreatSpace books use. Walk around in a bookstore and look at what bookcovers in your genre draw your interest and make them your teachers.
Is fanfic to be welcomed as it broadens interaction and the readers experience or a scourge that devalues the ability of an author?
I pretty much ignore the world of fanfic. I’m not interested in reading it or writing it.
I am finding more and more, that writers often have several creative outlets. Do you? Or is writing your one source?
I took up amateur filmmaking in 2005. It interferes with my writing, but only because I’ve got material that is too good to abandon.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A lion tamer, definitely.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 6. Seriously, I started writing my first autobiography on notepaper with a pencil as soon as I learned to write.
What authors do you admire, and why?
Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Roger Zelazny. All of them have either been publicly cool people or answered my letters, the first three have done a lot to help new writers, and all of them have created imaginary worlds that have impressed me significantly.
To find out more about Jaq read her Author Bio:
Jaq D Hawkins was originally traditionally published in the Mind, Body, Spirit genre, but moved to indie publishing soon after releasing her first Fantasy fiction novel. She currently has five novels released and two more in progress, as well as further writings in Mind, Body and Spirit subjects, some of which continue to be traditionally published while others are destined for the indie market.