Welcome to the three hundred and eighty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with romantic suspense novelist Trish Jackson. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Trish. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
I’ve loved writing all my life. I come from a family of writers and artists, so writing a novel seemed the most natural progression.
Morgen: Great to have you here. You’re so lucky having that background. I do come from an arty background (photographer father & uncle, artist mother & aunt, web designer brother but it took me 30-something years to realise that writing was the profession for me. In the intro I described you as a romantic suspense novelist, why did you choose that genre?
Trish: I write romantic suspense because that’s what came out of my head when I sat down and wrote that first novel, and every novel I have written since, many of which are yet to be published. I guess I am a romantic at heart.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Trish: My novel, “Redneck P.I.” was published by Uncial Press last year in March. It’s about Twila, a self-professed redneck woman who invites hunky Harland O’Connor to the company picnic to spite “those bitches” her co-workers. When he gets shot and wounded, she becomes entangled in a dangerous web of murder and intrigue.
“Way Out of Line”, just released (May 2012), is a story of undying young love that survives despite a series of harsh and terrifying occurrences. Much of the action takes place in Africa—exotic, wild, savage and vibrant—which is where I come from.
Morgen: All stories should have a pace and yours definitely sounds packed with it. Are you self-published at all?
Trish: I self-publish the print version of my novels.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Trish: Uncial press is an eBook publisher. They do not publish print books, but I do offer my books in print on Amazon. I never imagined I would enjoy reading on an electronic device, but I fell in love with my Kindle the moment I got it, and it was especially convenient when I flew to California recently. An unlimited number of books could suddenly fit in my handbag.
Morgen: Exactly. That’s why I love it although I still enjoy reading the umpteen books I have dotted around the house. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Trish: My redneck character, Twila, is my favourite. She is so bold and true to herself, and doesn’t care what other people think. If it was made into a movie, the actress portraying her would probably have to be a little politically incorrect herself.
Morgen: I’m sure there are plenty of those. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Trish: The titles just seemed to be there when I started writing. My publisher’s professional designers created the eBook covers, but they would have changed them if I did not approve.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Trish: I’m working on the edits of my next novel, “Kick Assitude”—the sequel to “Redneck P.I.”. It has been accepted by Uncial Press and will be released in March 2013. In this book, Twila gets a dog, who rides around on the back of her Harley with her and helps to protect her. I’m an animal lover and animals are probably going to play a large part in most of my books.
I’m also writing my fourth novel, “To the Limit,” where my heroine is a veterinarian and has dogs, cats, and a palomino mare named “Flight of Fancy”.
Morgen: My dog would definitely approve. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Trish: I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. I’m lucky I can write anywhere. Sometimes I keep my computer on my lap while watching TV and write when the ads are on. I write during my lunch hour at work. On days I don’t write, I think about what I’m going to write.
Morgen: There’s dedication for you. I could write anywhere (it only takes a pen and paper after all) but I do prefer quiet or classical music. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Trish: Somehow, the story just seems to be in my head. When I sit down in front of my computer the characters take over and I just record what they tell me.
Morgen: I love that… that they just get on with it. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Trish: I have a “Character Analysis Sheet” I use to document the traits of the primary characters. It includes such things as their religious beliefs, education level, favourite subjects at school and physical appearance including nervous habits, scars or tattoos, etc. I think it is important to know a lot about them to make them believable.
Morgen: I’m sure it certainly does help. Have a sheet like that and magazine photographs is something I sometimes set on a Monday night workshop and it’s great fun seeing these ‘people’ coming to life. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Trish: I like to write the first draft in its entirety. I leave this for at least six months and come back with fresh eyes to start fleshing it out and adding the details, which is my favourite part of the process.
Morgen: I think the creating is mine but you’re right to leave it a while then it does seem like new which I like about the editing process. Do you have to do much research?
Trish: All novels require some research, but I enjoy doing what is necessary.
Morgen: It sounds like you love it all. I’m less keen on research but the internet has made it so much easier. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Trish: “Redneck P.I.” and its sequel are written in the first person and I enjoy that the best. The other novels are in third person. I doubt if I would try to write in second person.
Morgen: That’s a shame but probably wise for longer pieces. It’s certainly an acquired taste, although one I love, and little known so I created its own page here on my blog. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Trish: I have published my grandfather’s memoirs and a booklet for teens about safe driving, “Don’t Text and Drive”, which I also illustrated.
Morgen: I see so many drivers who do, or who chat on their mobiles. Of course everyone who does it thinks nothing bad will happen to them. It’s saddening and maddening. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Trish: I have several almost complete novels in my computer, some of which I will probably never publish.
Morgen: That’s a shame although you say you have no trouble coming up with new ideas. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Trish: Rejections are part of the publishing process, unless you choose to self-publish. I sent “Redneck P.I.” to several publishers before Uncial Press accepted it. I didn’t mind the rejections—each publishing house has specific needs and I realized my book may not meet all of them.
Morgen: True. Just finding the right thing for the right person. You’ve obviously skipping the agent route, do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Trish: It’s not easy to find an agent who is willing to represent you until you have a proven track record of success.
Morgen: And the likes of Amanda Hocking, John Locke and Joe Konrath are inspiration to every self-published author. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Trish: I belong to all the social networking and writer’s Internet sites and have tried to get my biography and info onto as many as possible.
Morgen: There are a lot, aren’t there. You’ve mentioned that you enjoy editing and research, what’s your least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Trish: The only least favourite aspect is the fact that I have to work and cannot spend all my time writing.
Morgen: I think every writer feels like that. Even authors I’ve spoken to who have mainstream publishers behind them still wish for more writing time. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Trish: Believe in yourself and don’t let anyone discourage you.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Trish: The first verse this poem by an anonymous poet says it all:
“If you think you’re beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t
It’s almost certain you won’t.”
Morgen: If you’re passionate enough you just keep going, don’t you. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Trish: I like to hike. It’s my way of getting close to nature.
Morgen: I’m just back from the beach (two-thirds of my way through a week’s holiday) and although I didn’t write anything it was inspiration for a short story (and as they tend to do, it’s dark). Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Morgen: It’s a very popular site. Not one I’ve really explored other than accept friend requests but I should – I can see it as a potentially good platform (despite being the toughest ‘crowd’ for my eBooks). Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Trish: I have found Linkedin‘s writer’s groups to be the most beneficial, because one can network with other writers.
Morgen: And probably where we met. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Trish: This is the best time ever for aspiring writers because they can self-publish in the Internet. I believe in the fiction world, eBooks will eventually replace print books, but reference and illustrated books will probably always be in print as well as electronic form.
Morgen: With bookshops closing all around us (we have one left and that’s a chain) it does make it more difficult to get paper books to readers and with postage increasing all the time and eBooks generally being cheaper (and certainly quicker) it certainly does look as if it’s heading in that direction. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Thank you, Trish.
I then invited Trish to include an extract of her writing…
“You’re so tanned, you don’t really need this.” His skin flinched at the cold sunscreen lotion. His breathing quickened, and his body stirred uncontrollably from her touch as she gently massaged it in. He buried his head in the towel, not wanting her to see the lust in his eyes. When she stopped, he turned to look at her.
She unfastened the bikini top, held it tightly over her breasts, and lay down again on her stomach. “Now it’s your turn,” she said, and handed him the bottle.
Hal poured the lotion into the palm of his hand, hoping she wouldn’t notice it was shaking. He started rubbing it slowly onto her back. Her skin was soft and warm. He had to summon all his control to keep his hands confined to her back.
“Now my legs, please.” Amber eyes studied him coolly from under thick brown lashes. She flinched and squirmed at the first touch of his hands on her thighs.
This is crazy. I must be crazy. He couldn’t stop. He never wanted to stop touching her. Slowly, he felt the tense muscles soften under his caress. She moaned.
“Your hands are so warm,” she whispered.
She’s a little wasted. Just enough that I could do anything I want to her. His hands moved to the inside of her thighs, and he pictured himself slipping his fingers under the skimpy scrap of fabric and touching her there.
His heart raced and he turned his gaze to her face, trying to gauge her mood. Her eyes were half-closed, her breathing slow and relaxed. This is way out of line. She’s so innocent. I can’t take advantage of her like this. It just wouldn’t be right.
As he watched her face, her mouth opened slightly and her eyes closed. Her breathing became slow and deep, and she whimpered and twitched a little. He jerked his hand away and shook his head. I can’t believe it. She’s asleep.’
…and then a synopsis of one of her books and this is from ‘Way Out of Line’…
Trent lied about her age. Hal was convicted of statutory rape. Two lives, ruined.
Despite a brutal existence in prison, a desperate escape and a chance for a new life in Africa, Hal never forgets his first love. If only there were some way he could return home, return to Trent.
Never, warns his wise friend Demetrio, reminding Hal that they are escaped felons, and to be caught is to go back to prison.
Trent can’t forget Hal, nor can she forgive herself for his fate. The future holds no promise, and finally she seeks solace and expiation in a cult calling itself The Church of Hallowed Revelation.
Her parents seek to have her deprogrammed, but instead lose her to ruthless kidnappers, who hold her in their African headquarters until her ransom is paid.
Seeking a hostage held by a quasi-military faction, Hal and Demetrio head into the wilderness. At the end of their quest is violence, death, and–just perhaps–another chance for Hal and Trent.
Africa can be described by many words—exotic, wild, savage, cruel, mystical and vibrant. What better setting for this unique, suspenseful and romantic story that will make you gasp, hold your breath, pant with desire, and cry?
Trish Jackson is happiest when sitting in front a computer, feeling her characters come to life. Born and raised on a farm in what is now Zimbabwe, Africa, she loves animals and country living.
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