One of my recent interviews was with Glenn Maynard who is signed to Black Rose Publishing. After our interview he asked if he could send a few of their other authors to me for interviews. To date I have had the pleasure of working with four more of their authors. Today, I welcome the second of the Black Rose writers, Jessica A. Scott, author of Chase and Charlie in her very first interview.
IDI – Let’s start with your process. What works for you? Can you give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product?
JS – A lot of people would find my ‘writing process’ to be very arduous, but I love it; it is the only thing that works for me. I start by writing the entire novel out by hand (Chase and Charlie took up six spiral notebooks, two of which were the five-subject kind). Then I go back and reread and revise it before typing it up on the computer. That part can take months, depending on how much I type per day, but it is essential, because it gives me the opportunity to really slow down and pay attention to the words I have written, and to see what works and what doesn’t. After that, I print the novel and read it over again, and after making the necessary revisions to THAT draft, it is finally ready to start shopping around to publishing houses.
IDI – Wow. That process certainly takes dedication to the craft. We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?
JS – In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he says that all of the characters you write have an element of you in them, and I find this to be absolutely true. In Chase and Charlie, for instance, I can of course see some of myself in the way the main character talks and thinks, but I can also see glimpses of myself in the character of her mother, or her brother, or even in the antagonist, which is a scary thing, if you think about it! But that doesn’t mean that these characters ARE me. They all have their own wants and dreams and life goals like real people, completely separate from mine. I don’t consciously base any of my characters in any of my novels on myself or people I know, but I think it is impossible not to allow a bit of yourself to spill over when you are creating and developing a character.
IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our tastebuds?
JS – Sorry, but no. I am pretty private when it comes to my writing, because I find that if I tell people anything about my works in progress, it jinxes me, and I get a raging case of writer’s block! I am not sure why that is. Perhaps subconsciously I feel more pressured to finish something or write a certain way if someone else knows about a specific project, or maybe, for me, writing is an intimate thing that only works if it is between me and the characters in my story. Whatever the reason, I have a policy of not revealing anything about my books until they are finished. So I’m sorry, future readers, you will just have to wait!
IDI – Jessica, you have the distinction of being the first person to ever refuse to share your current work. I’m not sure if that leaves me in awe or incredibly eager to see the finished product!
What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?
JS – Publishing. For me, writer’s block is pretty terrible, but trying to get published is like trying to drive the wrong way down a one-way street. A lot of times I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t seem to be making any headway, and there didn’t seem to be anyone who really wanted to give me a hand. Then, once I finally got my book accepted by a publisher, the REAL work started! I had to become not just a writer, but a businesswoman, and that is something that I still struggle with. Writing itself is beautiful to me even when I am struggling, because I know that the struggle makes me stronger, and will eventually make my writing better. Even though it is the end goal of the writing, this philosophy seems harder to implement when it comes to publishing. But I am learning, and I will surely get better and more savvy over time. Still, though, if it were possible to write for a living without ever having to deal with the publishing process, I would sign up for that career in a heartbeat!
IDI – Have you ever wanted to give up? What stopped you?
JS – I think all writers have thought about giving up at some point, whether it’s when you’re enduring the agony of writer’s block, when you’re not getting anywhere when you’re submitting your manuscripts or query letters, or when you’re just trying to make your friends and loved ones understand that writing is a valid profession. But I’ve never actually seriously considered giving up. Writing is too important to me. It is the thing that makes me happy and gives me fulfillment in life. I don’t know who I would be without it. And I don’t want to find out!
IDI – This is your first published book. What part of being a published author are you looking forward to the most?
JS – Most authors want to see their book for sale, or on bookshelves in a bookstore, but for me, the most exciting part of being published will be going into the library down the street and seeing my book on the shelf next to all of the other writers’. I have found many a book in that library that unexpectedly changed my life in some way, and I am hoping that my book can do that for someone else. And in the library, as opposed to a bookstore, all they would need to have that experience is a library card. Somehow, to me, that accessibility makes it more meaningful.
IDI – What is something you have learned from another writer, and how do you incorporate this into your own work?
JS – I mentioned Stephen King before, but he is an extremely influential author for me. I am not a huge fan of horror novels, but I admire the way that he makes his characters “real.” He is a big advocate for having your characters speak and act in the way that a real person would out in the world, and I try to do that in my own writing as well. I don’t just make the characters speak as they would if they were real people, but I also write in a style that is accessible to people, so that they feel like they are talking to a friend instead of just reading a made-up story.
IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?
JS – The most important thing I have learned as a writer so far is that you have to try not to get in your own way. I have a tendency (and I think a lot of other writers do too) to overthink things, and to constantly critique my own work. In the moment, when I am writing, things are fine, and the story seems great. But the more I think about whether what I wrote was good or not, or whether eventual readers will like a certain part, the more difficult it becomes to just write the story. So the lesson I have learned is just to allow myself to make mistakes, and save the criticizing and self-doubt for the second draft.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
JS – I know that the biggest misconception I had was that it would be easy to get published. I figured I would just go straight to the top and submit my unsolicited query to the top publishers in the business and be published in no time. In reality, though, it is much harder than this, and you have to do lot of work and research and make a lot of connections before you can really start to get anywhere. So if you want to get published, you have to be prepared to put in the effort, for sure!
IDI – I think that is probably the biggest misconception among new writers. I also believe that is why there are so many new writers. If only it were that easy.
What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?
JS – DON’T GIVE UP!! As a newly published writer myself, I can tell you that writing is the easy part when it comes to getting published. You are going to face A LOT of rejection from agents and publishers and everyone else when you try to get your book out into the world, but don’t lose hope. Keep querying, keep researching, and just keep trying, because you’ll make it eventually. You just have to stick with it and have faith in yourself and your book.
IDI – Great advice! Writing is not for the faint of heart or thin-skinned. Perseverance is key! Jessica, thank you so much for chatting with me and best of luck with Chase and Charlie.
Interested in learning more about Jessica and her work? You can visit her at the following links:
Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, among other titles.