Today I had the opportunity to speak with S. Jackson, one half of the co-authors of When Angels Fly.
IDI – To begin, tell us a bit about yourself.
SJ – I grew up in a small Kansas (USA) town and I lived in more than one state since then. At this time, my husband and I split our time between Kansas and Colorado (we love the mountains and off road 4-wheeling). Traveling is one of our most favorite things to do and I always have a book or even three books that I read, in the same week.
IDI – Has writing always been part of your life?
SJ – Not at first but somewhere in my fifth grade school year, I wrote a play for three friends and myself, all on my own for a school assignment. In reflection, it seems really hilarious now. My “co-writers” were quite glad when I volunteered to write the play by myself (how little did I know at the time). Picture in your mind a young girl about 9 years old, using an old manual typewriter, not knowing how to type, and using old style carbon paper between layers of white paper. That was a recipe for disaster in 1969. Needless to say I had many errors and with carbon paper copies underneath even worse. We performed our skit and so many laughed at our pathetic yet humorous play. I wrote short stories growing up and kept journals, however books were really my thing. It seemed like every time I turned around I was obtaining a new library card due to the current one being stamped complete. Diving into a good book made any day perfect and you would be surprised at the number of books I read over and over. I drew paper dolls and clothes for them, and using watercolor as my medium when painting scenes, especially flowers. I continued with art in high school exploring a wide variety of arts and I loved it! The creative side of me loves to be an amateur “shutter-bug” and we actually have an online art gallery. In college I went into the sciences of all things and received a Bachelor’s degree in the Science of Nursing. My nursing career was highly successful and I hung up my nursing hat in December 2012.
IDI – When did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?
SJ – I don’t really recall having a true moment since I have written various things including poetry and prose my whole life. However, I knew I would write a book eventually back in 1990. That year was a rough one for me and my family personally and I’ve kept journals most of my life. I had many stories to tell but I wasn’t quite ready mentally or emotionally in going headlong into a 376 page book. When 2013 rolled around, I knew then that I was going to put words and stories from my journals into digital format.
IDI – How difficult was it writing your first book?
SJ – The hardest and most difficult part initially was actually going into and reading my journals from 1989 – 1990 as my first book is Non-Fiction/Spiritual in nature. I knew my book had to be written and I knew the many messages in my book needed to be published so that hopefully I could help others through difficult times in their lives or the lives of others they knew. The timing was right as I had left nursing in December 2012. My first book was extremely difficult since the stories were real. Some days I could write one sentence and then I was done for the day. Other days I could write more.
IDI – Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?
SJ – On really tough days I wanted to just stop and sometimes I did for a week or so. Yet I knew in my mind that I needed to finish my book and get out to the public. I knew all along what the beginning, middle and end would be and I wondered about publishing my book as well. Now that my book is published, I feel a deep sense peace within myself.
IDI – Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
SJ – I would have to say both my husband and my son. Without their help and support with my first book, my book would never have ended in fruition. They helped me to keep focused on how my book would help so many other people and they were there to help me when I was feeling overwhelmed. They also helped to put journals into digital form so that editing and writing could then be started.
IDI – 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?
SJ – In my first book the character of ‘Sarah’ is actually me. With that in mind, readers will read about me and some life experiences along with tragedy and inspirational moments. However, my first book isn’t simply about ‘Sarah’ – readers will see that by the time they have read the first chapter. When writing about real people in real life situations that many people can’t
even imagine seeing themselves in, then one finds that ‘curve balls’ just keep on coming. I don’t want to give away or spoil my book for those who have yet to read it. I will say that names, places, and states are fictitious yet my book is completely true and real life. One other thing that I had to change was author names. Since my book was co-authored both names had to be changed to prevent libel.
IDI – What is the best advice given to you, and by whom?
SJ – Aside from my family and their support, I would have to say that Susan Vance Web of Deceit, has been most supportive. Susan writes contemporary fiction with a touch of romance and suspense while my book is Non-Fiction/Inspirational. Even with the differences in our style of books, she believed in me and gave me support in completing When Angels Fly. Susan praised me for being strong and she pushed me in a good way to keep on writing yet taking breaks when I needed to do so.
IDI – Who’s your target audience? What aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
SJ – My book reaches a wide group from teenage on up to geriatrics and many facets of humanity itself. I know that my book can help others in dealing with such a wide variety of life’s issues, and that no one needs to feel alone in their own situation. My aim isn’t to convey only sadness and family dysfunction but to convey to others who have been in my situation (or similar) that strength and courage can be attained, and that there are options available. Losing two boys to Heaven changed my life forever. I want to encourage others who have suffered the King of Loss that anger at God is normal, and that faith in God will come back to them. I want those parents to know they are not alone. If a parent loses a child to a horrid illness, I want to encourage parents on how to be an advocate for their child and how to reach out for help when the pain overcomes them.
IDI – Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?
SJ – I created my one cover actually. My background was a photo taken by myself, while at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park and then I created white puffy clouds onto which I placed my own son white robes. I then added the face and hair of a little boy taken by another photographer, Aimee Low, who allowed me to use that precious little face for my cover. Using Aimee’s face and hair ensured no libel existed.
IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt to maybe tickle our taste buds?
SJ – There are several things going on. I am writing a screenplay in collaboration with Joshua Vickery who has written many screenplays in his career; some of which have become movies. The producer isn’t set in stone just yet, but it looks like we it will be Pure Flix Entertainment co-owned by David A. R. White and Andrea Logan White (Do You Believe or Revelation Road etc.) so this is exciting times for sure. We may never make the movie but if we do, Logan would portray Sarah and David would portray Matthew. We are in the process of a new book and this time the focus will be on our (USA) national parks and the hash tag #RodentRoadAdventures and this book will be mostly a picture book with words about each park along with one of our backyard squirrels doing funny things such as backwards bungee jumping the Grand Canyon. No more spoilers on this book in process.
IDI – Any last words before we wrap things up?
SJ – I am so very fortunate to have my husband and son by my side throughout the writing of “When Angels Fly”. I feel that our lives, although not easy by any means, have been blessed.
IDI – This has been a pleasure. I wish you the very best of luck and if you should make that movie, you’ll have to let us know.
S. Jackson & A. Raymond