Thursday, 16 October 2014

Interview with the Author - Cathy Jackson on writing Inspirational Fiction, and achieving stupendously large wordcounts.

Today's interview is with Cathy Jackson, author of As You Wish.

OK, Cathy, thank you for joining us today. Let's start with the genre. Can you tell us a bit about what led you to write Inspirational Fiction?

Trial and error led me to writing inspirational fiction. I did try writing other genres but they never seemed to fit me. When I began writing Inspirational Fiction the words just flew onto the page.

And you call it Inspirational Fiction. Now in the past I've generally seen this genre referred to as Christian Fiction. Is there a difference, or what's the reason for the name change?

My mother's death is why I call what I write Inspirational Fiction. I wanted to take a very dark time in my life and give people hope so that they knew if they were going through something that it was going to be okay in the end. 

Oh that is lovely. And of course it opens the way for the genre to be inclusive for writers of other faiths.
And how has your own faith helped you in your work?

I base my writings off of real life situations. Empathy is one of my greatest emotions and if I can understand how the character(s) feel I know how to write them. What I don't try to do is generalize my faith in my books but try to inspire people by how the characters use it to be better people.

And what about the genre, if anything, do you find difficult?

I think I have written most genres. It's weird because when I find the one song that writes the chapters for me I'm done.

What do you mean, the one song?

A novel will usually write itself in my head while I am sleeping our taking a nap. I use music to fit each chapter of the book when I write the novel. If I need a sad song to write a chapter, I play a sad one. If I need a happy one because the chapter is happy I play a happy one. If I find the right song to fit the mood of the chapter I can usually type around 10 pages in a half an hour.

My goodness! That's a very novel approach, very original. Can you give us some examples of the songs you used when writing As You Wish?

No. I have started a Playlist for my other novels but I don't think I made one for As You Wish.

OK then, could you give us some examples of songs you've used in your other work?

No One Ever Saw – Lykke Li
Love Someone – Jason Mraz
Run (Revised Album Version) – Snow Patrol
Magic – Coldplay
Geronimo - Sheppard Best Day of My Life – American Authors Strange Enough- Verite Little Bit – Perrin Lamb Jose Gonzalez, Stay Alive This Love – Julia Stone   

So, how does it work? You can write 10 pages or so in half an hour with the right song: do you put the song on continuous repeat, is that how it works?

Yes! It drove my husband INSANE when I began doing it. But on repeat the words fly from my head onto the page.

That's probably THE most original writing technique I've ever heard of. How did you come up with it?

I guess that's why my husband calls me unconventional. But it works! Original!

So how did you come up with this technique?

How did I come up with it? I was trying to find a song one day to fit a mood in the book. It was The City by Exitmusic. I played the song over and over again and noticed the words would just fly from my fingers. 

But what made you think of listening to music while you wrote in the first place?

I love music! I have always associated my moods with music and to an extent the type of music I am listening to is how I feel. So I just thought, hey maybe the same thing would happen with the scene I am trying to write.

Brilliant. Ten pages, that would be around 5,000 words wouldn't it? Gosh, you could finish a novel in a day at that rate. Or is it something that can only be sustained for short bursts?

Short bursts. My husband says I am manic. I just finished 70,000 words in 9 days.

Oh, that is so very impressive. I wish I could do that. So tell me, what things do you find difficult in your work? Obviously not meeting a daily wordcount!

Difficult in my work? World building. I dislike the tedious stuff. So my husband Matt and I have begun collaborating on world building.

Do you build your whole fictional world before you start the book, or is it more of an 'as you go' kind of thing?

For me it's a build as I go kind of thing. I know what it looks like in my mind but getting what I see onto the page is a challenge.

And is it a new world build for each book? Or do you use the same framework with different characters for multiple books?

It's a new world build for each book.

Can you give us some examples of the kind of information?
For As You Wish?
Or any of the 15 books I have written?

Oh, let's say As You Wish if that's convenient.
Story starts out in any town USA then moves to England then to Scotland.
I didn't want to peg down any particular location because I wanted the book to be universal.

So what kind of information went into your world build?

I made it up as I went. Airport and hospital UK along with a travel agency. What they saw and heard. I had a lot of feedback from those living in the UK on what was right and wrong.

So do you write full descriptions of all your settings? And end up with a really detailed file, floor plans of the houses and all that kind of thing? Or is it more generic?

Full descriptions of the settings? No. Only what the character is seeing or experiencing at the time. Definitely generic because I want the reader to feel like character I am describing.

OK. And do you use pictures at all? A story board? Writing software, any of that kind of thing?

No. The entire idea is in my mind and I have to get it on paper. I have tried writing it all down but it just confused me and I didn't end up using it.

OK, well we come to the biggie for a writer in your genre. How does your faith contribute to your writing?

I know what I believe and what has made me who I am today. A big part of who I am is my faith. My mother and father's family is riddled with drug abuse and alcoholism. I am making the choice not to fall into the trap of either. I chose to believe in God because he gives me the strength every day to be a better person. I know that if I lost my faith, who I am as a person, would no longer exist. And I need to for my family and for those I love.

So would you say that your faith sustains your writing by sustaining your existence as the person you are, and the person who writes the things that you write?

Yes, my faith sustains my writing. I write honestly what I have been given. Yes, my faith sustains my existence as the person I am. My faith helps me to write what I do.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers today?

I just want people to love reading. Find a book you love and immerse yourself in it. Fall in love, fight alongside a warrior, be a vampire or a shifter, or anything else that makes you love to see words on a page.

Well, thank you Cathy for joining us today. We'll all go and struggle with the sin of envy now, after hearing about those amazing wordcounts.

Cathy's newest book, As You Wish, is available from Amazon.








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