February 27, 2016
Today I am pleased to interview Jaq C. Reed, author of The Ungoverned.
CTC: Hello, thank you for spending time answering questions for my readers. So, let’s get started.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
JCR: As a child I reveled in telling stories. After I went to college, I unsuccessfully tried to write screenplays, Then I got a job and settled into a routine. After that I became a mother and life got so busy! I didn’t think of writing very often after that, though I still wove stories for the kids. After my relationship ended, my life came to a very low point. I had never been so dependent on family and friends and I spiraled into a depression. I would go through the motions of efficiency but at night I just laid there and felt sorry for myself. I couldn’t live like that anymore. Writing became an escape and a distraction and an obsession again. I met people, I widened my circle of contacts and all of a sudden I felt like I had this piece of life again, that I existed beyond motherhood, the daily grind, and past that failed relationship. After being immersed in the community of writers I suddenly knew this was where I wanted to live my life. So maybe I always had a inkling I liked to write, I didn’t know with certainty until I was 34.
CTC: How long does it take you to write a book?
JCR: The rough draft of both my novels took me around 4 months. Editing and rewrites take another 3 or 4 months. I would like to be getting 2 novels a year out, but at the moment it seems to take a year.
CTC: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
JCR: I have written two, and am into the followup to The Ungoverned currently. The most recent piece is with my editor and should be out for publication in April. It’s probably my favorite but also I have no idea how it will be received. It breaks some rules, and colors outside of the lines a lot more than The Ungoverned did. I’ll be on pins and needles to see how it is received but good or bad it is my baby and I will love her for always.
CTC: What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
JCR: I write when the kids are in school, I sit and try to forget about everything else I need to do. I sprint with other writers, and sometimes I will just fall into a flow and nothing else exists for that time. And other times I sit for hours and stare at the screen trying to think of the next course of action for the story.
CTC: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
JCR: I don’t think I have one! I get zoned out, and if I am fully immersed in a story, my head can stay in that world for days. My house gets pretty messy then, and dinners usually aren’t that great.
CTC: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
JCR: I usually borrow the 6pm news headlines. Something I see will irk me, and I will write that into a story. With The Ungoverned it was the fact that we are losing our right to know what is in our food, and companies reluctance to label things. I take the things that gnaw at me, and then I try to wind a very human story around the issue, the issue takes a backseat then to my characters, and it is up to the reader to draw the correlations of what has happened in the story, to what is relevant to our lives today. I am at heart an environmentalist, my writing usually falls into a category of Cli-Fi. The stories are wrapped around environmental catastrophes.
CTC: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
JCR: I was 34.
CTC: What does your family think of your writing?
JCR: My teenager loves it, although she tells me she feels more pressure in English class to be creative. My youngest kids will ask what I’m doing then get upset I’m not writing a story for them. I’ve promised them a book but I found out writing for children isn’t as easy as I thought it would be!
CTC: Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
JCR: Just write. Keep writing. Give yourself a daily word count. Sooner or later those words will add up to a book. We can fix the words and polish them, but we can’t fix a blank page. I heard that advice once, and it’s stuck with me. I can’t remember who said it, so those words aren’t mine, but the advice is what I tell myself. The other thing that has helped me is, learn to accept criticism, grow a thick skin. Embrace critiques like a gift, trust your beta readers, they aren’t there to be mean, and they are your audience. I have a never ending amount of gratitude for my betas, they help me see things from the angle of the reader.
CTC: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
JCR: Sometimes I will get an email, and it always surprises me. When I hear from readers its usually because I’ve struck a cord with them via the story. Those emails make everything worth while. To feel like you’ve successfully conveyed something. The strangest feeling I had as a new author was, I was at a book sale, and someone came up to me and started gushing about my book and was so thrilled to meet me and that she loved the book. I was new, and my sales weren’t that great so I was blown away, it was a little bit surreal to realize that people out there were reading my work and enjoying it and also a little bit terrifying.
CTC: Do you like to create books for adults?
JCR: The books I create are stories that I first tell myself. They are what I would like to read. I’m not a hundred percent positive if I write for older teens or adults. I get readership from both, but I find it is adult women that enjoy the novel better.
CTC: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
JCR: I wanted to save the world, be a vet, write stories. I wanted to do a lot of things, and in a way I’ve found that now in my thirties, your childhood dreams really do have a way of creeping back up on you. It’s a shame that sometimes we let those dreams die away.
CTC: Is there anything else that you would like for the audience to know?
JCR: It’s important that both writers and readers in the indie market support each other. I am practicing paying it forward, it’s important to view others not as competition but as comrades, and to build each other up. To readers if you find an indie writer you like, tell others! We don’t have huge budgets and word of mouth can change the world for a writer. And if you take the time to leave a review, you have no idea how much you are helping us.
CTC: You can find Jaq’s book here:
You can follow her here:
Ara is Code Yellow.
In a world of assignment, there is no choice. Ara lives, works, and breathes under the rule of the Governance. It’s a race against time, as every minute is counted down off her clock of life.