Posted on 05/18/2016 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Writing has supported Jessica McBrayer and her family in more ways than you might expect.
There is, of course, the satisfaction of following a lifelong dream and succeeding at it: McBrayer has published 11 paranormal novels and built a fan base beyond her original goal of friends and relatives.
Her success allowed her to leave her original job and make writing a full-time gig, without resorting to ramen and extreme couponing.
That freedom from a strict corporate schedule also let her be there for her family during an incredible tragedy, while the proceeds from her work have enabled her son to pursue his own creative passions.
We spoke with McBrayer about her long journey from adolescent poet to self-sustaining writer.
SADYE: You’ve been writing your entire life. Have you used or published anything produced during your teen years?
JESSICA: I wrote mostly poetry during my teens and did a lot of journaling. I have used bits and pieces of my poetry in my work — a first line or a description of a feeling.
I think through poetry you have the unique opportunity to express raw feelings in unusual ways. These are good to use in your writing to help evoke those same feelings through your character’s eye.
SADYE: What prompted you to seek publication?
JESSICA: My first finished manuscript. I was so excited to share it with friends and family. I thought self-publishing my book would be the easiest way.
I was shocked when other people started buying it. Once I figured out that I had something that readers wanted, I started to market it.
SADYE: What is it like to have your books made into audiobooks?
JESSICA: Creating an audiobook is so much fun — everything from selecting and auditioning voice actors to listening through your chapters to make edits! Something about hearing them spoken out loud brings them to life in a way they hadn’t been before.
I loved my actress so much that she did two series of mine and we still exchange Christmas cards and emails.
SADYE: What is the best advice you’ve received as an author?
JESSICA: To keep writing. Set up a schedule and plant your butt in your chair and write every day. Make a page count goal or a word count goal.
Stephen King has a 2,000-words-a-day goal and doesn’t leave his computer until he reaches it. He says sometimes he gets it in a couple of hours and other times it takes him all day.
SADYE: Your daughter passed away just two weeks before your first book was published. How did that affect your writing?
JESSICA: I had just published my first book two weeks before she died. She was so proud of me. I’m not going to tell you that I used the grief to fuel my writing or to get through it because I did the opposite. I shut down. I couldn’t look at my computer. I was just devastated.
But something amazing happened when I came out of the fog and started to write again. I found myself creating a character that was based on my daughter. It surprised and delighted me when I figured out what I had done. I used that character throughout my entire series. She was one of my favorites of course and even got her own novellas. The fans love her too.
I’ve now seen my daughter’s spunky personality pop up in all my strong, independent heroines. One might use a phrase my daughter was fond of, or they might wear the same shoes. There are so many ways that her spirit has mingled into my books. It keeps her alive in my heart.
SADYE: Is there something you wish nonwriters could know and understand about the life of an author?
JESSICA: So many people I’ve talked to think that because you are creative the work must come easy. I think anyone that creates — sculptors, writers, painters, photographers — will agree that hard work is essential. But that doesn’t mean we can’t love our job.
We may set our own hours, but we put our blood, sweat and tears into that time. I love my job, but it is work.
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Categories: Author Interview