Hi, folks! Today, we’re hosting a quick Q&A with author Jennifer Macaire. Click here to check out her Amazon page or read on to find out what we talked about…
Hi, Jennifer! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your work.
Hi Dane, thank you for inviting me! I’m a bit of a gypsy – been moving around all my life, so I don’t have any roots. I suppose if I add up the years, I’ll have spent most of my time in France, my adopted country. I was born in Kingston, NY, and lived in Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, Florida, England, France and Argentina, and I spent some time wandering around Europe. My husband is French, so we decided to settle here to educate our children, which didn’t turn out too badly. I started writing when I ran out of paint. I’m an art school graduate and mostly painted on our travels. One day, stuck in the pampa three hours away from any town, I dug up a yellow lined notepad and some pens and started a story. I found I loved using words to paint stories and started writing magazine articles about life as a polo wife, then sold some short stories. I started a short story one day and it turned into a novel, then a seven book series (the Time for Alexander series). It’s a time travel (my characters seem to be addicted to voyages) series and it was picked up by a lovely publisher, Accent Press. The first book, The Road to Alexander, is out now. It doesn’t fit into any genre – it sort of lopes across history, sci-fi, fantasy and romance with its tongue stuck out, poking fun at Ashley the modern woman who is so sure she’s superior to those primitive ancient Greeks. Then there’s Alexander the Great, who just can’t help being great, Aristotle, whose idea of teaching is hitting his pupils over the head with a stick, and Barsine – Alexander’s first wife, who is a one-woman Olympic sports’ committee. But it still makes me cry in parts, so I guess it’s pretty good.
Which gives you more satisfaction – to write a first draft, or to finish the last round of editing?
The first draft – definitely. I love the rough bones of a story sticking out, waiting to be trimmed and polished. There is something raw and energetic about a first draft, clumsy – like a teenager, full of pimples and bad habits (repeated words, dangling participles, misplaced modifiers…)! But also full of so much promise!
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
Anywhere – dreams, the news, things I see, things I hear. I’m easy to inspire.
Pick a random piece of writing that you worked on ages ago and that never saw the light of day. Now tell us about it!
Oh my gosh – I’m fifteen and my best friend is sixteen, we’re in school passing notes back and forth. We’re bored, restless, full of wild ideas – and we decide to write a story together told from two viewpoints. We called it The Jocks and the Bards and we wrote it all year long, stitching the chapters together, drawing the characters, using up at least ten notebooks. I have no idea what happened to that book. It was about two teenage girls trying to fit into the “cool crowd”. My character was the jock – she was hung up on sports and she was anorexic, and she was crazy about the captain of the football team who didn’t even know her name. My friend’s character was an artist and a dreamer. She wanted to go to the prom but her parents were so strict they never let her out of the house. Everything in the book was very dark and depressing. I think everyone dies in the end. Typical teenager stuff.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, can you tell us about it?
No, I just write when I can. I have two part time jobs, so writing, unfortunately, happens when I have the time for it. Not very often, I’m afraid. I was hoping to make a living with my art or writing, but I’m too cartesian. What’s funny about that word is that in France, it simply means you have your feet on the ground. In English, it seems to mean that we hope that studying the world will give us unchangeable knowledge of ourselves and the world.
What was the last book that you read and what did you think of it?
The last, very last was Dragon of Ash & Stars: The Autobiography of a Night Dragon by H. Leighton Dickson. It was fabulous. I just finished it last night, so I’m still caught in its web. Good books catch me like that, and I feel like part of their world. I’m going to write a review for it – I always try to put up a word of thanks to authors for their books. It takes no time, and I, as an author, appreciate it.
Who are some of your favourite unsigned and indie authors?
I read voraciously – and just about anything – but my fave books are sci-fi and historical fiction and so I have a vast pool of indie authors to choose from. But you want favorites, so here are just a few: Vera Nazarian, Tricia McGill (historical and time travel novels), Jodi Taylor, Sahara Kelly, Debbie Palonen, Tom Piccirilli, Juliet Waldron, Meredith Whitford and Charles Colyott. Plus I saw some of your work and was impressed. I’ve downloaded one of your books, so I’m looking forward to reading it!
What’s the best bit of writing advice that you’ve ever received?
When in doubt – leave it out. Seriously. Just cut it out. You have no idea how much dead wood I trim when I’m editing. If I start fiddling with a phrase, it’s usually because it does nothing for the story. Ask yourself these questions: Does it advance the storyline? Is it important later on? Does it tell something vital about the characters? If not, leave it out.
What’s it like working with Accent Press? Tell us a little bit about your journey together.
I found Accent Press through Jodi Taylor – I’d been hooked on her St Mary’s series. My mother had read the first one and said I’d love it because it was time travel. Well, I read the series and loved it, and about that time was looking for a forever home for my Time for Alexander series – and thought Accent Press might like it. I wrote a cover letter where I absolutely laid it on thick about how I loved Jodi’s books and how I thought Accent Press was amazing and how I thought my book would be happy there, etc etc., and I sent it off with sample chapters…and you know what? I’d sent it to the wrong publisher. See, this is part of the joys of dyslexia. I sent it to a different publisher – nearly the same name – but not Accent. They wrote a frosty note back saying they were not interested and I was heartbroken, until I saw I’d goofed the name. So off went the note again, like an overexcited puppy, and Accent wrote back asking to read the full manuscript and the rest was just waiting and chewing my fingernails and trying not to care very much, until they said “yes”, and of course I jumped up and down (literally – I get enthusiastic like that). But I’m still a newbie – haven’t been with them long. So far, so good. They’re very easy to work with. I’m not the kind of author that wants to have their hand held all the time, and I don’t need emails every day. I like the fact that they are flexible about editing – I saw some errors I failed to correct in book I, so asked for the doc back to correct them and there was no problem.
How do you get the word out about your work?
I blog, I Facebook, I Instagram and tweet. It’s not easy. I’m pretty sure promotion isn’t in my blood – I’m terrible at it. I do try though. I review other authors’ books because that’s a huge help (for promoting). You get quotes that way, people can read reviews and get more info on the book. I’m better at promoting other people’s work than my own – it’s how I was raised. You know, “Stop showing off. Don’t toot your own horn. Sit down and be quiet!” So I try to work with people – other writers for example – and collaborate on reading and promoting each other’s’ work. I’m picky, but if I don’t like something I won’t write a bad review, I’ll always try to find something good to say about it because everyone has different taste. Mostly, I guess, I post on Medium (my blogs and reviews), Facebook and my blog, of course. I have taken some paid ads out and did a giveaway, etc. I can’t tell if they worked yet because it’s too soon. I tried to calculate that I’d spend not more than $75 per book on promotion. That’s actually quite a chunk out of my salary, so if I don’t see a good return, I won’t do the same for future books. This is all new for me, so I’m feeling my way around.
Thanks again to Jennifer Macaire for stopping by SocialBookshelves.com. Be sure to check out her books on Amazon and to follow SocialBookshelves.com on Facebook and Twitter for further updates. I’ll see you soon!