Posted on 09/06/2017 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Writers come to their craft in a variety of ways, but Jacci Turner is the first one to cite a personality-assessment tool.

Turner’s results from the Enneagram told her that when she’s happy, she is a creative person. So naturally, she sought to add creativity to her life.

Theater had been her artistic outlet of choice for years, until it grew too time-consuming. Writing, however, seemed more feasible for a weekly practice.

She set aside Tuesdays for her craft; ten years — and ten published books later — the rest is history.

At a reader’s suggestion, we reached out to the author of mostly YA/middle-grade books (who's also dabbling in adult fiction) to hear more about what happened next.

SADYE: How did you think up the characters in the Willow series?

JACCI: It was during the Hunger Games craze. My friend had two young daughters who wanted to read those books, but she felt they were too old for her girls.

One day she said, "How come no one writes strong female characters for girls my daughters’ ages?” The idea was born for Bending Willow, and I actually named the girls after her daughters and used some of their characteristics in the books.

SADYE: How would you characterize the strength of Riley and Mia from that series?

JACCI: I think tough circumstances build character and tenacity. Riley and Mia will grow up to be strong women! I anticipate rich, full lives for both of them as they build a community/family around themselves.

In my experience, and this is the foundation for the Finding Home series, family is what you make it to be. My husband and I have many kids that call us Mom and Dad that we aren’t related to. We even have a dad we aren’t related to.

Family is something you can create. If the one you’re born to doesn’t work out, make a new one.

SADYE: What’s the most rewarding moment you can think of during your writing career?

JACCI: I’ve had a few occasions where a young person will post that they read a book of mine and liked it so much they read it five or six times. This is huge to me. It’s every writer’s dream that their books will be read and enjoyed.

My greatest hope is that my books will encourage readers who might be going through difficult circumstances to hang in there and keep growing, for readers to know they are not alone and to be encouraged that they will make it through this difficult period.

SADYE: In a previous interview, you mentioned that you’ve learned that characters can take over stories and that stories can sometimes demand to be written, no matter what you want. Which of yours are you referring to?

JACCI: In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, she talks about creativity as being alive, like a sentient being with a mind of its own. Here are two examples from my writing experience.

I was writing The Cage, and suddenly Tyrell started to look at Tiffany differently. There was this spark of romance that I was not anticipating. It was like the characters took over the story line, and I let it. Who was I to deny young love?

And then another time, this idea came to me about a book about Snapchat. I didn’t want to write it; I’m too old to be interested in Snapchat. I told the idea to go away and bug someone younger. It was a very persistent idea and would not go away.

Eventually I wrote that book and am currently pitching it to publishers. Sometimes, you just have to listen to the ideas and see where it takes you!

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Learn more about Jacci Turner on her website, where her books can also be purchased; like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Know an author you'd like to see featured? Email sadye (at) thefussylibrarian.com with a recommendation!

Categories: Author Interview

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