Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An Interview With Jacqui Jacoby

Tired of hearing me whine about bumps in the road to publication? Cool. Let's take a break and interview a fellow author. Today's guest is Jacqui Jacoby who I met four years ago at the Desert Rose conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. When not toiling over her novels, Jacqui conducts workshops and writes articles for RWA's Romance Writers Report. Although we couldn't be more different in terms of what we write, we share a love of Mai Tai's which, after all, takes precedence, no?

So, without further ado (hold your applause till the end, please), let's welcome Jacqui to Randy Writes Romance.

Jacqui: Hey Randy, thanks for letting me to come and chat on your blog! I’ve been reading it for years, and even though you revealed my infamous toe-nail secret at the Dallas 2007 RWA Conference –complete with photos-- Randy Writes Romance is one of my favorite blogs, so it’s an honor to be here.

Randy: Great suck-up, Jacqui. Let's get down to business. I understand you have an affinity for writing kick-ass heroines. Tell us how you create characters who are larger-than-life yet multi-dimensional and emotionally appealing.

Jacqui: I do generally write about tough chicks. There's just something about a heroine who rides in to save the day that makes me all warm and fuzzy!! I mean, don't get me wrong, I love a good hero to stand beside her, and I do know that it takes an extremely self-assured man to be there for a tough chick, but to me that just makes him all the more lovable.

I create them the same way I create any lead character in a book. I get to know them. I spend months and months with them in my head, hearing their voices, seeing them in the situations they get themselves into. At some point, usually right before I start a new book, I'll fill out a detailed bio-sheet that covers everything from what kind of key chain they carry and what their handwriting looks like to whether they've ever been in love. When I'm done, I know them better than I know my dearest friends.

It’s about this point that I toss them into a story and see what happens!! Since my poor unsuspecting characters have no idea what's in store for them, seeing how they react is a lot of fun.

Randy: So, you're more of a pantser than a plotter, I gather. What sparks the initial idea for your books? A title? A character? A premise?

Jacqui: I think it was Stephen King who said in his book On Writing that he liked hanging out with other writers because they never asked him where he got his ideas. *g* Like a lot of writers, I don’t really know where I get mine. I think usually I see a person who sticks in my brain. I let them hang out in my head for awhile – maybe a few months, maybe a few years – and then I start to get to know them and they start to tell me a story. I never feel as if I am writing a book, but rather reporting on what these characters are doing. It’s their story and they are telling me where to go and what to do.

Randy: Geez. I wish my characters would do that. So, okay. You've got the characters and an initial idea--how do you translate that into a book?

Jacqui: One page at a time. Like any long term project, it is one small step at a time. Once my characters start arguing back, I know they're ready to be tossed into whatever situation awaits them. I usually have a general idea of what a story is going to be like, so I know where the character's starting point is and then I just work with them, one day at a time, one page at a time, moving forward until we both get to our destination.

Randy: Hey, quit making it sound so easy, dammit. Plus, I happen to know you’re an active mom and wife, a student of martial arts, you're taking TWO foreign languages at a time--in short, you're a HUGE multi-tasker. How do you make time in your schedule for writing? Describe a typical day in the life of Jacqui Jacobi.

Jacqui: Writing is my job. Like any active mom who works full time, I have to plan accordingly. I start each day knowing what needs to be done on my writing – in today’s case, I'm working on the first draft of a paranormal – and I work the rest of the day's events or crises around that. And there will be crises. There are always crises – LOL. I took a Franklin Covey class years ago where they had me keep track of all my time for two weeks. During those two weeks I discovered that there was about two hours a day of unscheduled events --places I had to run to, kids who needed to go someplace, something that had to be picked up that wasn’t planned for. By starting each day already knowing to plan for those lost two hours, I'm able to get to the end of the day without that wiped out feeling of “Oh my God, where did the day go?”

Randy: Gee, what you need is a course in "Randy's Ways to Procastinate" but we'll save that topic for another time. Last question since I know you're probably busy getting ready to go kick someone's ass. Anyway, complete this sentence: At this point in my writing career, the one thing I wish I’d known in the beginning is: ...

Jacqui: I wish I had known it wasn’t going to be an overnight ride. I don’t regret that it has taken me so long to achieve what I set out to achieve, but I did have to learn the hard way that this was the trip I would be on. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains and yelled in joy from the top; but I’ve also fallen into quite a few holes and maybe a few pits that made me just want to cry. Each experience has made me grow, both as a writer and a person and I wouldn’t trade them out at this point in my life for anything. However, I do wish someone would have warned me how hard a ride this was going to be ... and then ... maybe ...just maybe I would have believed them. Though it’s doubtful!!

Randy: Amen to the overnight ride bit. And ditto on the holes and pits--I've visited a few myself.

Well, thanks for stopping by today, Jacqui. And folks--go check out Jacqui's website here.


Anonymous said...

Hi there--

Great interview! There are plenty of holes and pitfalls along the way, but there are times to celebrate, too. I just received a call from my agent. TRUST ME has hit the NYTimes!!!! I'm thrilled!!

Just so you don't give up--it's taken me ten years to hit the list from the time I sold my first book (almost to the day). It's definitely not a quick thing for most people, but the journey is half the fun.

TRUST ME, On Sale Now!

Randy said...

Oooh...mega congrats, Brenda! And thanks for stopping by!