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Literary Libations: Chatting With Author Troy Jackson

A few weeks ago, a writer by the name of Troy Jackson was kind enough to run an interview with me on his blog, and I got a lot of positive feedback from said appearance. Since it’s really not that difficult to get me to like you—all you have to do is give the impression that you like me and think I’m fabulous in some way—I promised to return the favour and have Troy over here as a guest on Jaded Elegance.



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Yes, yes, I do interview male authors once in a while. ;P In fact, Troy’s writing couldn’t be more out of the realm of what I typically write and/or read, being that he’s a sci-fi lover who writes supernatural fiction with a historical element. However, with all the friends I know from different geek-related events, and DragonCon, I’m certain that more than a few people I know will find his work far more compelling than the stuff I usually write about.

Ironically, I’m posting this interview quite early because tomorrow I’ll be accompanying The Guy I Am Currently Dating to the Atlanta Browncoats gathering (a monthly brunch meeting for people who have a love of the show “Firefly” and generally all things sci-fi. Nobody there will ever talk to me about a single show I watch on a regular basis. *laughs* :P ) So, once again, Universe, you have perfect timing.

In addition to his proud geek status, outstanding writing abilities, and interesting personality, one of the things you have to find endearing about Troy Jackson is his snarky sense of humour. Well, if you’re me, you have to find it endearing. I’d like to think if you’re reading this, we share the same level of respect for snarky humour.

That being said, I present this week’s willing victim for this lovely little feature. By the time you read this, I’ll likely be half-awake and having a Bloody Mary. For maximum enjoyment, may I suggest you do the same?


1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

Troy Jackson — aspiring author and father. I was born in Grand Rapids, MI, but moved to the Atlanta, GA area when I was 3. I have lived there ever since.

I began writing when I was very young, but “professionally” I’d say the last couple of years. I am currently working on my second novel of The Elementals series.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What genre do you write, and who do you consider your ideal reader? What is it about your writing that makes it stand out from the pack?

My debut novel, The Elementals, was released in October of 2012. In a nutshell it is a fictional tale that uses actual historical events that occurred in ancient China some 2200 years ago. I simply add my own supernatural twist to a time period that very few know about. If action, fantasy, supernatural, historical fiction, or historical fantasy is your thing, than this might be for you! Many of my novels in the future will likely fall into similar categories. The ideal reader I would say is, of course, one who enjoys that sort of sub-genres, but it is also meant for ages 13+. There is nothing gratuitous in it, but some of the actions scenes can be a little…descriptive?

As for what makes my writing stand out from the pack… I have always enjoyed history, but found it rather dull as far as how it is written. So I felt it could use a little… spicing up! Even after I finish this trilogy (yes, I plan on there being three books in this series), I’ll be doing similar things in the future.

 

3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.

History. Soothing music. Powerful movies and TV series. Gripping novels.

The Elementals was born out of a single scene that would replay in my head over and over and over again a few years back. It ends up being the very first chapter in the book. From there I tied it to a historical figure that I learned about back in a college history class, and built the story around him. The First Emperor of China is little-known in the United States, but he is truly a fascinating figure.

4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

Being new to the industry I knew that it was a major uphill battle to try and find a traditional/trade publisher. But I tried for about 8 months. Being an impatient person I did not want to wait any longer, so after rejection letter #20 I decided to go the self-publishing route.

The benefits of going the self-publishing route would certainly include the ease of it all. The company I went with, Virtual Bookworm, was very responsive, answering my many amateurish questions with a smile. They also put everything together for me and I had to do very little during the process. When I finally got a hardcover and paperback copy of my novel in my hands I was impressed. The quality was something that I was a little worried about, but they did a superb, professional job. I would be proud to have it sitting next to others in a Barnes and Noble bookstore somewhere in the world.

The drawbacks would be what most authors run across when they go this route. First, it is money out of your pocket. Money you may never see again, because it is such a difficult market to get your foot into. People don’t realize that VERY few authors ever really “hit the big time” and make a decent living out of writing. I decided to do it right from the very beginning and I hired my own graphic artist to create the book cover, which I am very happy with, and have numerous compliments on. But that is not cheap, either. Also, and it is an absolute must I believe, but I hired an editor and she did her best to tear it up to help build my novel into a readable story. That is also not cheap. Outside of that, as far as the publisher I chose is concerned, I think the only complaint I would have is that they did very little marketing for me. I have had to do about 98% of the marketing, and that is not something I am accustomed to. But I am learning!

One other thing I thought of is the stigma attached to a self-published novel. Because ANYONE can self-publish a novel, there has been a glutton of terrible novels out there over the years, and given some of the good, legitimate self-published authors a bad rap. It’s a huge hurdle that I am having to overcome, but I am confident I will!

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?

Troy Jackson — in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe

Sorry, that’s my corny attempt at humor. Hey, my four-year-old finds me funny….sometimes!

No, as I mentioned before I would say I began to “professionally” write a couple of years ago. After reading and doing a great deal of research on how the whole process goes, what sort of pitfalls to avoid, etc. I put together a vision of exactly what I was going to do, from start to finish. And it ended up happening almost exactly how I envisioned it. And yes, The Elementals is my first publication.

6) What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the creative process?

The most challenging thing would be finding the time and not getting so easily distracted. I laugh at myself often, saying that I have “writer’s ADD”. I might begin writing, and then my wife, my dogs, my daughter, something on TV, some dorky computer game, or many other things distract me.

7) What is the part of the process that comes the most naturally to you?

The actual writing. Or I should say the first draft. I picture the scene playing in my head like a movie scene, and then begin to write it. I can fill in the blanks later if I need more description.

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

Robert Jordan, author of the greatest fantasy series of all-time (in my humble opinion), The Wheel of Time. Unfortunately, Mr. Jordan passed away in 2007 and we will never again hear further tales.

9) All writers face rejection at some point. What is your most memorable (either in terms of a painful lesson or funny anecdote) experience that came about through rejection? What did you take away from that experience?

Nearly all rejection letters that I received (and what I read from other authors out there that got similar replies) were form letters. “Thank you for submitting your novel, Mr. Jackson, blah blah blah, but it was not for me.” Or perhaps “I could not do it justice.” Unlike some authors, I don’t get mad. I learn from it. I understand that agents and publishers receive THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of queries every year, and they have very little time to grab what they feel is the cream of the crop. Besides, an agent has to be very careful, because it is their neck on the line, their reputation on the line, when they peddle an author’s work to a publisher. So you really have to stand out and have something very marketable. Even the best authors out there will tell you they were rejected dozens, if not hundreds of times before they ever found someone to take them on.

10) If there were one thing you’d like to improve about your life or your writing at this point in time, what would it be? Ultimately, where do you see yourself with your writing further down the line?

Quit being so distracted. In the near future, the next couple of years I plan on completing The Elementals trilogy. After that, I have a dozen other ideas for novels that I would like to put pen to paper on.


11) You maintain a blog where, among other things, you interview other authors about their creative experiences. What have you learned through doing this? Has getting to know other authors and listening to their stories helped you improve as a writer, or feel more inspired?

My blog is housed on my main website at: http://www.tempestworks.com. I have seen other authors and bloggers interview authors and other members of the industry, and I thought it would be a fantastic way to meet others with similar aspirations. Learning from others’ experiences, I feel, is a great way to improve my own writing.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Virgo

13) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.


Website/blog

Goodreads

The Elementals on AMAZON

The Elementals on Barnes and Noble

Facebook

Twitter

Thank you for having me!



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I’d like to thank my fabulous guest, Troy Jackson, for stopping by to chat about all things literary, and his well-reviewed publication. He really is a wonderful indication of the positive direction in which the indie publishing scene is headed, one focused on more imaginative and higher quality works, rather than the desire to sell poorly edited 99 cent Kindle books. It has been a pleasure to speak with someone intelligent and insightful, and I hope many of you–especially those who love sci-fi and fantasy– will take the time to read his work. Also, do take the time to explore Troy’s blog, as both the aesthetic appeal and content are certain to draw you in.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all next Sunday, where we’ll have a change of pace, and our guest author will be composing a post especially for this segment rather than doing a traditional interview.

Are you an author or other creative being who’d like to be featured on my Sunday Literary Libations corner in some fashion? Don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail at ladyguenevere@gmail.com

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