Welcome to Author Interview Thursday hosted by the Never Too Old for YA and NA Books group on Goodreads. September is our Indie Author Interview month and we're very excited to share it with you!
Today we welcome Jacqueline E. Garlick to the group and blog for an interview!
One resourceful boy.
One miracle machine that could destroy everything…
After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.
Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.
Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same goal, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.
Welcome Jacqueline, take it away!
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I’ve always written and drawn and painted since I was very small. Earliest account, by my mother’s confirmation, I was three, sitting on my sister’s lap drawing the cartoon that used to appear in the back of magazines for a chance to win a prize. (Apparently, I always wanted to be a winner, too!) I’ve always told stories, too. One infamous one when I was three was about myself as a mouse living in the cupboard of my family’s kitchen, before I made the choice to come live with them. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to get back to my earliest passions, diverted by the saddle of responsibility, I took jobs I was less than passionate about, always looking forward to one day being able to write and create art. So glad to be spending my days that way now!
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It takes me about two months to write the first draft of a book. It then takes me anywhere from four mouths to two years (apparently) to re-write that draft. (I say two years because that is how much time I spent editing and improving LUMIERE.) It was definitely more difficult when I was focusing on publishing traditionally. It takes a lot of perfection to be that one grain of sand that gets through the New York publishing house hourglass. Now that I’m self publishing, I can relax a little, but for me, the quality still needs to be there, so I give books whatever time they need to become great stories. It also depends on the depth of the plot and what type of story I’m telling. Science fiction and fantasy books take longer because you have to define the world, build it from the ground up, establish the world’s rules, create unusual, yet believable characters—that all takes time. Whereas, a contemporary plot is a bit easier to complete, because the reader automatically understands the world. That kind of novel I can re-draft it in about three or four months time.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I’ve discovered that my writing generally centers around one consistent theme and that is, the quest for justice. I guess subconsciously, my mind is obsessed with my characters obtaining the justices I’ve been denied in real life. HA!
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
Yes, I do have a schedule. I typically write every day, almost all day, while my son is in school. I treat it like a job. I start around 8:30 – 9:00 after he gets on the bus and I write until he gets off the bus around 3:30. I sometimes take a short break to grab something to eat at lunch, but most of the time I’m so engrossed, I write straight on through the lunch hour. I don’t write on weekends, on whatever day my son has sports (he plays soccer, volleyball) but I do sometimes sneak in some writing on the opposite day. For me, writing is a full time vocation. I also write in a room with lots of windows, because I love light, but it has to be silent when I’m writing. I can’t write with noise.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
That’s a toughie. I’m not sure that I do balance the two aspects very well. HA! In fact, I’ve been known to skip family functions to attend special writing conferences. (Yes, I’m that obsessed!) There’s a very funny story about my family having to eat a one-legged Turkey for Thanksgiving at a relative’s house, while I was away at writer’s retreat in the US, where I’d earned a scholarship. But we’ll save that for another time. (PS: Canadian and US Thanksgivings are not at the same time.)
What elements do you think make a great story line?
I have a passion for books with deep hidden meaning, not the kind that knock you over the head with it. I like to come away from reading something having learned something about myself, or others, or the world. I like to be forced to think a little when I read. Therefore, I tend to write what I’d like to read. Thus, developing themes in books is very important to me, but again, not ones that knock you over the head with their message. Just ones that poke you a bit keep you on the edge of your seat a little, force you to feel and wonder and think. Hopefully! HA! I also (heart) books that resonate with you long after you’ve finished them. Books with characters you’re sad to say goodbye to, that you’d like to go have a coffee with long after you’re finished reading their adventure. I strive to create those types of characters in my books, because I feel the essence of any book really comes from memorable characters.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Knowing when it’s finished. I honestly believe I could write the same book forever and ever. Tweaking here. Revising there. For me, it’s really hard to know when it’s time to let go, and believing it’s good enough for the world to read.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve written six full novels. I haven’t released them all. My favorite? It’s hard to choose a favorite, it’s like choosing my favorite among my children, but if you’re going to force me, I’d have to say, I love LUMIERE the most. I LOVE the characters and the world and the inventions, (especially the inventions!) but I also love a book I haven’t released yet entitled, RAGING BITCH QUEEN. (Yeah, you heard that right!) I love RBQ because it’s completely different to LUMIERE in that it has a contemporary setting and a very sassy fun, funny voice. I also love it because it is partially based on the struggles my daughter and I faced, trying to see eye to eye, throughout her teen years.
Do you have a favorite character?
Hands down, I love to write Iris from LUMIERE. She is such a challenge because, of course, she doesn’t speak. It is extremely difficult to bring a mute character to the page and still have her stand out enough to win a tender spot in a reader’s heart, let alone become a reader favorite. Though fan mail, I’ve been told readers adore Iris and want to read more of her, which I guess, means I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. (yay)
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
Failure. HA! No. I think a more accurate term for it would be, rejection. I spent six years beating down the doors of traditional publishing, nearly five with a top agent. Though I received consistent glowing feedback from top editors at major houses, my work was never chosen, and it was starting to affect me, creatively. I felt as though my best was never, and would never, be good enough. Then I attended a weeklong writer’s workshop taught by Donald Maass, (on my relentless quest for New York publishing house perfection) where I was lucky to have a thirty-minute private interview with Don. Not only was Don excited enough about my work to try to get me to jump ship and be represented by one of his agents, he praised my work in such a way that made me realize my work was good enough and ready to be read by the world. There just wasn’t room for it in the inn. Because publishing houses couldn’t find room for it on their shelves, didn’t mean it wasn’t worthy. In fact, according to Don, it was quite the opposite. I gained a lot out of that meeting but there was one thing Don said that never left me, and that was, “If you can write like this, why are you begging at the gates of publishing? Why don’t you boot down the door and walk right through?” I remember not knowing exactly what he meant by that. Was a top NY agent advocating for me to self publish a particular piece of my work? I left that meeting, mind reeling, trying to process what happened. A potential offer, a loaded suggestion…so many things he’d said made so much sense. Sadly, I wasted another full year being rejected by top houses and chasing an illusive measure of perfection, before I finally came to my senses and took the world and character I loved and set them off into the world.
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
My husband is my first reader, my second reader, my sometimes eleventh reader, and my last. (He’s a trouper, no?) He will let me know if things sound wonky, or if I’ve used the wrong word (which I do a lot) or if the plot is going astray in some obscure way. He is very bold and very honest, which I appreciate most of the time! HA! He gets all bent out of shape when I make up words (which I love to do) and starts shouting, “Who do you think you are, Stephen King?”
Despite all the craziness, I love him for all of it. He is a great GREAT help to me. I couldn’t do it without him.
I also have a good friend and fellow writer, Rosemary Danielis, who reads over my work and has a keen ear for story and an even keener eye for errors. She too, is an amazing help and frank friend, and I love her for it.
Did I answer the question? What do they think?
Well, they seem to like my work! Believe me, if they don’t like something about it, I hear about it!
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love to watch my youngest son, now nearly fourteen play travel soccer. I love to watch his games. I get so into them, I feel like I’m running every step of the play along with him. (Though he’s so much better than I’d ever be!) I also love it when my older kids come home to visit. They were all home for Christmas last year and it was the biggest treat, hasn’t happened in years. I also love to read on the porch at dusk in the summer, and draw and paint and sculpt. I drew special thumbnail sketches in the front of the limited edition copy of LUMIÈRE that I offered to readers as collector pieces, when it was first released. Though they are expensive, I’ll likely offer a limited number of them again when I release NOIR.
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Make sure you really love what you are doing, and that you have really tough skin. It’s so easy today for people to have an opinion and state it today, and for some reason, it seems that spewing negativity has become a very popular art form. It’s true, not everyone is going to love what you have to offer, and they don’t have to, but you need to be prepared. I’d also say, make sure you are writing what you love, and only what you love, because if you develop a fan base, they are going to want more of that and only that. Also, I’d like to say, there seems to be so many stories of self-pubbed insta-success floating around out there, but those stories do not represent a guarantee. It’s difficult not to be swayed by the push and pull of what’s trending, and of a lure of a viable income from something you love, but in reality the writing is the only thing that you have control over—the quality of it, the depth of it, the creation of compelling story, memorable characters. That’s it. The rest is really up to algorithms and fate. So, don’t waste mind power on the financial dream—just do what you love—just write.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
This is going to sound crazy but I grew up on Little House on the Prairie books. I loved those adventures, being transported back in time, to a place in history. I’ve been a history nut all my life over it. Because of those books and ones like Black Beauty, I decided at a very young age I wanted to be an author, though it seemed very unattainable from my small town of Chatham, Ontario. Then I grew up and I walked into a bookstore one day and saw this book, Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens on the shelf. Lori was high school friend of mine. Suddenly, the dream was possible. I bought the book and read it, and it remains for me, one of my most treasured reads. The book is a masterpiece. Truly, it is, on so many levels. (If you haven’t read it…you should.) I also, have another book that has never left me, and that was CHIME, by Franny Billingsley…okay…LOVE! And Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone…yum!!!
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
Yes, I have a few. Good friend and writer, Rosemary Danielis is always there for me, to beta read and proof read and pretty much keep me on course. Veronica Rossi, of the Under the Never Sky Trilogy, is also a great friend and critique partner. We’ve known each other for years, and I trust her to tell me when my characters need puffing or my plot needs whittling. She’s truly a master, as you all know. I also brainstorm and get guidance from Story Developer Extraordinaire, Lorin Oberweger, who is also a great friend.
Are you working on anything now?
Several things, actually. I am finishing up the second book NOIR, of my beloved Illumination Paradox Series, (hoping to have it out just prior to Christmas, January at the latest.)
I’m also working on a secret new New Adult Romance, entitled The HeartMender’s Society, about a romance writer wannabe, who can’t seem to get her life in order, and suddenly finds herself in charge of repairing the lives of six other young men, when she takes a part time job (out of necessity) as a the group leader of the Widower’s Club at the HeartMender’s Society, a self help group for young men who’ve tragically lost their wives. Mayhem ensues, when one of the men’s dead wives leaves her a package with specific instructions to find her replacement.
I am also hard at work on part three of my IF ONLY serial, which I’m really enjoying, (and I hope readers are, too!) AND, of course, because I’m not busy enough, I’ve started a new project, something that’s near and dear to my heart. A love story entitled: SCARLET’S LETTERS loosely based on my mother’s true life experiences, inspired by the discovery of my father’s love letters sent home to my mom, during WWII.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Jacqueline. It's been great having you here.Jacqueline’s edgy, rule-breaking, Tim Burton-esque style of writing has seen her dubbed—the Quentin Tarantino of YA.
Known for telling stories that are gritty and visceral and rather in your face, Jacqueline’s work is, at the same time deeply emotional, featuring realistic, loveable characters that her readers really connect with.
Jacqueline loves strong heroines, she despises whiny sidekicks and adores a good tale about a triumphant underdog. Don’t you?
Once a teacher, she was placed in a portable teaching building filled with black toxic mould in 2005, which sparked a three year long battle with her negligent school board, resulting in her forced dismissal from that career. But as they say, when one door closes another one opens. (That is the saying, isn’t it?) Always a risk taker, Jacqueline jumped ship and began writing novels, something she’d been itching to do since she was born.
In 2008, she was accepted into Ellen Hopkins famed Nevada Mentoring Program. She has had a top literary agent, studied under best selling author’s James Scott Bell, Disney Story Guru Christopher Vogler, and the infamous, Donald Maass–Top NY agent and author of Writing The Break Out Novel, every writer’s bible. An excerpt from Lumière won her the prestigious 2012 Don Maass Break Out Novel Intensive Scholarship.
Lumière—A Romantic Steampunk Fantasy—Book One of The Illumination Paradox Series.
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