Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m a stay-at-home Mom turned professional writer, with a love of books and tea and snuffling, short-snouted dogs. Our current family friend is Lady Ursula, a dignified and lovable English bulldog.
…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I’ve published numerous short stories, poetry, a novella, and novels. Most of my stories have involved an element of science fiction/fantasy/the paranormal; I think because that’s where I get to break some rules and rewrite society’s expectations. It’s fun to examine life through the eyes of an alien, or a mythical creature, and to examine why, in our everyday life, we either believe or don’t believe the things we do.
…and what you’re working on right now.
Currently, I’m in the editing phase on the third and final book of my Leland Dragon series, entitled “Reclamation.”
What are your earliest book-related memories?
One of my earliest book-reading memories is “My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannon. I’m certain that had a long-lasting effect on me, although I can’t say for sure how that all works. I never woke up one day and decided to write about dragons, but Kallon Redheart, a main character in the Leland Dragon series, definitely introduced himself to me as one, and I couldn’t have written him any other way.
What are your three favorite books?
I have so many favorite books, but I like them each for different reasons. First, without a doubt, is Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for its redemption and hope. Shelley’s “Frankenstein” -it’s so much more than the cult movies make it out to be. And Wyndham’s “The Midwich Cuckoos” for his utterly charming way of telling a chilling tale. I’ll stop at three, but I could go on and on!
How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I sometimes have 2 or 3 books going at one time, if I’m reading non-fiction, which I do when I’m involved in my own writing projects. I think because it fires different brain cylinders. Most non-fiction reading of late has been related to how-to’s on screenplay and such, but in my stack of to-be-read fiction are Asimov’s FOUNDATION and Philip K. Dick’s A SCANNER DARKLY, among others.
Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…become utterly lost to the rest of the world. I might as well be invisible!
To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Re-read, and re-read, over and over. Some of my favorite books are so worn around the edges they’ve become soft as fabric.
How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely! Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to discover new authors and new stories.
How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I recommend books all the time! I even do something called “Booktasting”, where I pair a book (usually a classic science fiction novel, but not always) with a certain tea you should drink while reading. It started out as something I was just doing for fun, for myself, since I love both reading and tea. But then tea drinkers, or book readers, began asking me about it, as well as authors, who were interested in knowing what tea I might choose for their book, and I decided to start sharing my Booktastings with the world. It’s been so much fun!
What do you look for in a good book?
I like a book with characters I can root for and a good conundrum I can help them figure out.
Why do you write?
I began writing very young. The trickier part of that question is the answering why–it’s a bit like trying to figure out why some kids climb trees, or collect marbles, or play with dolls, or paint, or play video games. I seemed to be an observer-type and I wrote out poems and story bits to process through what I was seeing. Or feeling. I’ve always been intrigued by mysteries, and writing is one way I explore that.
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I would be a baker; it’s one of my other life dreams. In fact, I’ve recently started working in a bakery, in addition to writing, so I’m working my way through my bucket list, slowly but surely.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My writing inspiration comes from everywhere, because people are everywhere! I tend toward character-driven fiction, which draws on the “why”. Why does a person feel the way they do? Why do they act a certain way? What about their life could create their fears, their hopes? In my attempts to fill in the blanks, stories emerge.
What has writing taught you about yourself?
Writing has taught me that I can persist as much as I need to, after all. If I can wrangle one thing, I can surely wrangle another. I keep piling dreams on top of aspirations, on top of goals (even becoming a baker, too). I came a little late into this “believing in a dream” life. Took me a while to unhinge my baggage and step out into a brave new world. Deciding I was going to write “for real” was a first step in finding out what I’m capable of.
How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My family has been my best supporters. On days I didn’t think I could keep going, my husband helped me hobble along. And having my two kids be proud of me has been terrific incentive to do my best, and keep on keeping on.
Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
The writing life is not the glamorous, celebrity-filled life so often shown in movies. It’s a job like a plumber, or a farmer: I go back day after day, and get the words down with a lot of labor.
What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The publishing industry can be pretty brutal on a sensitive soul. Publishing is a business like any other, and yet its product is subjective art, and so how does combining the two make success? It’s a mystery, both to those inside and outside the publishing world. There are no formulas, and no real repeatable patterns, especially with all the publishing options and changes that have rocked the industry for the last few years. A huge challenge is getting noticed among the din, and getting read.
How do you deal with your fan base?
I don’t really think of myself has having fans; more like fellow readers with whom I can share my love of stories. We all have something to say, and something to share. I share with words, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do so, and to have my words, hopefully, touch someone.
Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
…I’m a gamer, when I have time for it! I was one of the first kids on the block to get Pong (for Christmas, about a hundred years ago) and I’ve enjoyed video games ever since.
Anything else we should know?
I have lots of exciting projects on the way! In addition to Book Three of the Leland Dragon Series, I’m also writing a steampunk fantasy novel. I’ve written a feature length paranormal thriller screenplay, as well as several short film screenplays based on my published stories. I also edited a special issue of the dark fiction magazine Shroud, due out in the coming weeks.
Jackie Gamber is the award-winning author of many short stories, screenplays, and novels, including “Redheart” and “Sela”, Books One and Two of the Leland Dragon Series. For more information about Jackie and her mosaic mind, visit http://www.jackiegamber.com
And meet Jackie elsewhere on the world wide web at: