Today I’m talking to Jessica Grace Coleman, an English author who has written a paranormal mystery series, as well as other works. Welcome Jessica, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.
My name is Jessica Grace Coleman, I live in a small village in the heart of England, and I’ve recently started self-publishing my own novels and short story collections on Amazon as ebooks and paperbacks. I’ve released three novels in the ‘Little Forest’ paranormal mystery series: ‘The Former World’, ‘Memento Mori’ and ‘The Exalted’, as well as my first collection of short stories, ‘Grown By The Wicked Moon’. I also run Darker Times Fiction, which is host to several monthly writing competitions, and Rock Pulse, which is an online music zine featuring reviews and interviews with various bands and artists. Basically, I’m interested in anything to do with writing!
You sound awfully busy with everything that you’ve got going on! Tell us about your writing process?
With novels, I can’t start writing until I’ve planned them meticulously. These plans usually end up running to about 20,000 words in length (about one fifth of my usual novel lengths), so it takes a lot of time, but it’s so worth it. When I wrote my first novel, ‘The Former World’, I didn’t have a solid plan to begin with, and it got incredibly confusing every time I decided to change something in the plot or add a new character. Since I’ve started planning each of my books scene by scene in great detail, I find it a lot easier and quicker to write the full novel. With regards to actually writing the novel, all I need is some peace and quiet and copious amounts of tea.
That certainly is a lot of planning! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
I mainly write horror and mystery stories, as I think scaring people is one of the hardest things to do, whether it be in a book or in a film. However, I think the hardest thing to do is make people laugh, so if I were to venture into any other genre, I’d love to have a go at comedy. I am planning on writing a non-fiction book on the amusing and strange experiences I’ve had while travelling around the world, so I’ll be challenging myself with trying to make it humorous for a wide range of readers. We’ll see in a few months if I manage to do it or not!
Oh, that sounds intriguing! What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?
Stephen King – The Shining: It was the first King book I ever read, I hadn’t seen the film, and I was relatively young at the time. It just immediately had an influence on me; I found both the setting and the deterioration of Jack’s mind fascinating. A couple of King’s novels are set in Colorado, and I lived there for a year as part of my University course, so I made sure to visit the hotel in Estes Park which inspired King to write the book. Brilliant.
Jostein Gaarder – The Solitaire Mystery: I love many of Gaarder’s books, but I think The Solitaire Mystery is my favourite. It still has his trademark philosophical themes, but in a much more accessible way than, say, Sophie’s World. Gaarder’s work always makes you think, and it’s just written so beautifully.
Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club: I have to say that I watched the film (which is one of my favourite movies) before I read the book, and I love them both. The dialogue is just so great, and it’s a testament to Palahniuk that the screenplay for the film lifted a lot of the lines straight out of the book without changing them.
Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games: Not exactly an original answer, but I love the Hunger Games trilogy so much. What matters most to me when reading is the ‘can’t-put-it-down’ factor. Even if a book isn’t written in a particular style that you like (although Collins definitely does have a style I like), I think the single most important thing is how much of a page-turner it is. I read the whole trilogy in a weekend and felt pretty annoyed afterwards that there wasn’t more to read! The sign of a truly great writer.
Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol: I love Christmas, and what’s more Christmassy than Ebenezer Scrooge? This has obviously been adapted into films so many times that a lot of people know the lines off by heart, and I love the idea of a writer’s words lasting long after his death. I can’t really say much about Dickens that hasn’t already been said by thousands of other people, but his ability to create memorable characters and meaningful, beautiful dialogue is really inspirational.
Great choices! If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?
I always find this a really difficult question, as a writer always has an idea in their head of what their characters look like, and generally you try hard not to picture them as celebrities or actors. I’ve said in the past that Karen Gillan would be a good actress for the lead character Beth Powers in the Little Forest series, as she not only has the right coloured hair but has experience of acting as a normal girl in a completely abnormal situation. I also think Jennifer Lawrence is a brilliant actress and would be perfect for Beth. As for the main men in the books, I really wouldn’t know, although I’ve been told that Robert Sheehan would make a good Connor Maguire.
What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
Probably do a highly embarrassing celebratory dance in my pyjamas! Then I think a drink with friends would have to be arranged. OK, quite a few drinks!
Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?
Not really any vices, but I can develop bad procrastination habits sometimes when trying to get a novel finished. I would blame the internet and its many distractions for this, but without the internet I wouldn’t be able to self-publish!
Tell what you do when you’re not writing?
At the moment, I’m job hunting – which, as everyone knows, takes up a large chunk of time. Apart from that, I run monthly writing competitions at Darker Times Fiction as well as a couple of other websites that need updating regularly. When I’m not doing anything internet-based, I’m usually reading or watching films.
Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.
From Carnival Masquerade (Little Forest 4)
The idea of control is a strange thing.
Authority, manipulation, power: all of these words conjure up a wide array of concepts, ranging from the mundane (the authority of school teachers), to the slightly odd (scientists making people conform just because they’re wearing a white coat), to the just plain bizarre (cult leaders brainwashing hundreds of people – believe me, it happens; I’ve had first hand experience).
As a gazer – one who sees dead people – and as someone whose surname is ‘Powers’, you’d think I’d be able to hold my own, be able to exercise at least some authority over people, or at least over the dead. Well, you’d be wrong.
I have no control whatsoever over spectres or when they decide to appear to me; I can just about summon one of them every so often, but I can’t send them away. They have control over me. In turn, the portals they use to get from the Former World to the Modern World (our world), have control over them. It’s a sinister kind of food chain – or power chain, if you will – and I’m at the very bottom.
So who’s at the top?
Great excerpt! Thank you Jessica!
Now let’s take a look at the first book in the Little Forest series, The Former World…
Twenty-one year old Beth Powers is fed up with living in the tiny, gossip-fuelled village of Little Forest and resolves to escape to London with best friend, Veronica Summers.That is, until the body of Beth’s colleague Emma Harris is found in the nearby woods, setting off the small community’s well-oiled rumour mill. Beth soon finds herself in the middle of a bizarre village conspiracy: was Emma’s death really accidental? Why are Beth’s nearest and dearest cutting her out of their lives? And what does it all have to do with the conveniently-timed arrival of handsome new resident, Connor Maguire? With the help of new ally Will Wolseley, Beth delves into the village’s sinister secrets and uncovers a terrifying truth about herself that could change her life forever. Will Beth decide to leave her childhood home for good? And, more importantly, will Little Forest let her go?
Don’t forget to join me next week when I interview Marissa Carmel!