Jessica's debut novel Her Daughter's Eyes was a final nominee for the YALSA Award, and many of her novels have been published in several languages. A recipient of the CAC Artist’s Fellowship in Literature, Jessica teaches literature, creative writing and mythology at colleges, universities, seminars and workshops throughout the U.S. A full-time writer, she lives in Oakland, California. For more information on Jessica, please visit www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com.
Also, read my review of her novel Being With Him, here.
- Why have you gone Indie - the short version? (long version here, on her guest post)
Bottom line for going indie is that I think I have stories to tell that are worthwhile to tell--and yet, they don't have a platform or a niche or a certain market demographic. I feel that others might like them, and it's fun to be involved in formatting and finding a cover, things I don't usually get to have much say over in traditional publishing.
In all my books, I have characters who have issues and who want to learn to get over the problems those issues cause them. They are usually successful.
- How many of them are anyways? And how many are you writing/planning right now?
I have six indie books available from Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. I am currently writing for traditional publishing right now, but I have potentially one additional book that might go indie by the end of 2011.
- Do you have a favorite among your own books?
My favorite is always the manuscript I am currently working on. I have to be in love with it! The others are like children who have left home for college. I still love them dearly, but I don't have to think about them 24/7.
- Do you trust your publishers in other languages? How is the "quality check" on those cases?
I am relatively literate in Spanish, so I was able to read my Spanish translations. The Dutch, Portuguese, and Czech translations, however, are impossible, so I just have to have faith in the translators. I haven't had any quality control, though I did speak and email with the dutch translator of Her Daughter's Eyes and One Small Things. She had a lot of questions to ask. I suppose I should be worried that the Portuguese and Czech folks never checked in!
- What are your favorite scenes to write?
I don't think I have a favorite scene to write, but I can tell you that the scenes I don't like much are the scenes that transition, the summary scenes, moving characters from one place or time to another. I try to make them short and effective.
- Do you read much? What kind of books do you usually read?
I've just finished books by Julia Glass, Bill Bryson, Anita Shreve, and Jasper Fforde. I pretty much love fiction and engaging non-fiction, such as what Bill Bryson writes. I think I read a bit more literary than genre, but a good romance is great now and again, too.
- Have you ever wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing "seriously"?
I have always written--little stories when I was in seventh grade and up--but I started taking classes and working hard on poetry and fiction in 1993. I feel I've been working on my professional career for about that long.
- Do you outline your stories or they just flow and if you need, you go back and change stuff?
I do a little outlining, but then I just go forward, letting the story take it's course. then I often go back to change, edit, revise. I have a favorite outline that I teach all my students. It's the "20 Things That Have to Happen" outline. I think about my story and write 20 things I think have to happen. I let this list change and evolve as the story does, but it's nice to formulate some ideas.
- Do you relate more to any of your characters? Why?
Most of my main characters have some relationship to me in terms of personality or character--or maybe job. But I think I understand them all, even the "bad" ones.
- Which gender do you feel it would be a challenge to write?
I've had male main characters, and while I don't think it is harder to write male, I don't have as many males as females. So I guess that I would have to say I find it harder to write male.
- What inspires you? And how's your writing environment - music, place, etc.?
Good writing inspires me. And when I'm inspired and have a story to tell, I just sit down every morning and write. It's the only way to tell a story: tell it.
Thank you Jessica for being so nice and open with us, I'll have some insights about that portuguese translator for you soon enough ;)