Welcome to the four hundred and eighty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with humorous novelist and memoirist Jade Heasley. 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, Jade. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Jade: My name is Jade Heasley and I’m an American author from central Pennsylvania, which is in the north eastern part of the United States. I’ve written four books. I have always loved books and I remember thinking about the age of five or six that it would be really cool to grow up and see my name on the cover of a book. I began writing creatively as a hobby when I was a teenager and decided at the age of twenty-two to seriously pursue a writing career.
Morgen: You’re so lucky (fortunate); it took me nearly 40 years to realise that I could have my name on the front of a book. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Jade: Typically I prefer to write humorous fiction, but I’ve actually written books in a few different styles. How to Rule the World and Bratty Becky and the Firecracker Kid are humorous novels, The Incorrigible Dreamers is novella, and the other is 1980s Kid, a humorous memoir about being a child during the 1980s. It’s ranked as one of the Top Ten Best Books about the 1980s.
Morgen: Wow. Humour’s really hard. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Jade: All of my books are available in paperback and as e-books on the Amazon Kindle. As far as my own reading habits, I love the feeling of a book in my hand, but I have an e-reader and I really like the fact that I can download almost any classic book for free. One advantage of an e-reader is that when you come across an obscure word or term that is no longer listed in a standard dictionary, you can use an e-reader to find the meaning on the internet within a few seconds.
Morgen: You can, that’s very true. I’ve just bought an iPad 2 and just love the Kindle app on it – getting two pages on the screen is fantastic… like a real book. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jade: I get an idea and I run with it. Sometimes when an idea strikes it’s only a few words or an image of a character’s facial reaction to something. I like to write longhand and see what the story turns into. Truthfully I’ve never plotted out a book from start to finish, and sometimes I don’t even write the story in chronological order but I patch it together when all of the clarifying details of the story emerge. I make sure that the book flows into a smooth plot when I’m editing it together, so my process can seem to be a bit scattered to some but it is very effective to create a whole little world which is what I feel a good novel should be.
Morgen: It’s my favourite part. Many writers say that the characters take over the story, do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Jade: My major characters usually come into focus for me as a whole person, but to really make a character realistic I like to get an idea of their background and what has shaped them into the person they are, and ultimately, who they will choose to become. When I’m choosing a character’s name I like to look up baby names and give the character a name with a meaning that reflects something in their personality, and something that’s appropriate to the time period in which the character lives. I also pay careful attention to the character’s dialogue and manner of speaking. Speech is a powerful method to convey a person’s values, level of intelligence, education, and attitude.
When I create minor characters, I usually decide on what that character’s dominate personality trait will be and then I mold the character around the personality trait. This method seems to work well because readers will often ask me who the minor characters are based on in real life, and truthfully they are purely fictional characters but they seem so lifelike because of the personality trait method that I use.
Morgen: That’s what writing is all about – having reader wanting to know more… I love that. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jade: I really do believe that my writing keeps improving over time, but any book that is publishable will undergo a lot of editing from the first draft to the final product. Part of my creative process is writing a lot of back story so I know where the characters are coming from, but the excessive details can weigh the story down if they are not essential to the plot so I usually end up cutting a few chapters worth of material before the manuscript is finished. I don’t believe in wasting the reader’s time with excessive words that don’t ultimately play into the book for a real reason. Readers are smart people who will quickly figure out if a book has unnecessary fluff and will grow bored and stop reading.
Morgen: Absolutely. Do you have to do much research?
Jade: For historical fiction books, yes, I do research because I want the books to be as authentic and realistic as possible. I enjoy the process because I love history, so it can be a lot of fun.
Morgen: History was my worst subject at school and I write very little historical… perhaps why I’m not a fan of research, although I do like scouring the internet. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Jade: I love writing in the first person narrative and have used that style for How to Rule the World, and Bratty Becky and the Firecracker Kid. I think it’s a great way to immerse a reader into the character’s world. I used third person narrative to write The Incorrigible Dreamers because I felt that due to the book’s unusual premise that it would be more effective to allow the reader to absorb the situation from an objective point of view before they became fully engrossed in the world as the characters begin to tell of their own experiences.
My memoir was written in the first person, for obvious reasons. But it also helped the reader connect with the way a child’s mind works and how they see the world.
Morgen: They both work well for the right story. I’ve had some writers tell me that they’ve written whole novels in one pov but it hadn’t felt right so they switched and it made for a much better story. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Jade: I love being outside, spending long afternoons in bookstores and coffee shops, and going to antique shops.
I also play the drums. My favorite styles are swing and rock-and-roll.
Morgen: I always fancied the drums out of everything but I think my mum’s probably glad I didn’t take it up. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Jade: I have a fan page on Facebook which I find is very handy for keeping my fans updated. I am also on Twitter and I welcome e-mails from my readers. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I do my best to answer e-mails from fans as soon as possible.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Jade: I have a website at www.jadeheasley.com and the page has links to all of my social networking sites. It also allows readers to sample the first few chapters of each one of my books. I’m also on Twitter (@JadeHeasley). Here is link to my work on Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Jade+Heasley
Morgen: Lovely, thank you Jade.
I then invited Jade to include an extract of her writing…
I remember a lot of things from my last summer as a teenager quite vividly, but maybe that’s true for anyone during those few precious years of transitioning into adulthood. For most people, those years of the late teens and early twenties often set the course for the rest of their lives, and in my case, that was certainly true. I think that for all of us, those years are filled with soaring highs and some crushing lows, fiery determination and sheer exhaustion, and more dreams and ambitions than most people can achieve in a lifetime. But it’s the thrill of chasing those dreams that adds so much color and meaning and depth to life, rescuing us from the monotony of day-to-day routine that so many people seem to get lost in. When you’re young, you’re determined that you won’t ever be someone who gets trapped in a dead-end job or that anything in your life will ever be less than total excitement. During young adulthood the days have a tendency to fly by at a dizzying pace, filled with thrilling anticipation and hope for the future that you will be one of the few who can grab ahold of everything you ever wanted.
At the age of nineteen I knew exactly what I wanted out of life, although I wasn’t entirely sure of how to attain it. Nonetheless, I was fired up and ready to go after my dreams just the same.
What I remember most about that time of my life is that summer, when I came up with the best scheme I’ve ever dreamed up, and even though I was nineteen it was like one last, grand childhood caper. That stunt was like the gateway that led to adulthood in one singular event, when a girl with a goody-goody reputation shook up an entire town with an infamous act and the subsequent aftermath . . .
And to include a synopsis of her book…
When 19-year-old Wendy Sloane comes home from college in May to work in her family’s bookstore, she’s expecting a slow, predictable summer. After an unexpected event and the aftermath shake things up in her small town, Wendy is inspired to create some chaos of her own. With the help of her wise (and wisecracking) mom and grandpa, Wendy attempts to pull the biggest stunt her little town has ever seen. In her quest at attempting the impossible, Wendy accidentally discovers the power to rule the world.
Jade Heasley is an author and speaker who keeps readers and listeners laughing about her true tales of her happy childhood during the magical time known as the 1980s, and challenging them to chase their dreams and think outside the box.
During her childhood, she developed a love of books and from early on began dreaming of seeing her name in print. Although she assumed that becoming an author was unlikely, she couldn’t let go of the idea and chased her dream. Her humorous memoir, 1980s Kid was published in 2008, followed by her first novel, Bratty Becky and the Firecracker Kid in 2009.
In 2010, she debuted her novella entitled The Incorrigible Dreamers, her first book that wasn’t a humorous story. Audiences were intrigued by the book’s unusual premise, and it resulted in radio interviews on both internet and traditional broadcast radio shows from Connecticut to California.
Heasley’s fourth book, How to Rule the World is a novel mixing her humorous style and some serious themes to tell the story of a college student whose summer break turns into an unexpected journey of pursuing dreams and ambitions, and disillusionment.
Some time between her birth in Pennsylvania and the publication of 1980s Kid, Heasley earned degrees from Valley Forge Christian College and Lock Haven University.
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