Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Novel Lady Interviews Author Vivien Jackson

Hello Readers!  I’m here today with author Vivien Jackson! 

I have to tell you that I just finished reading WANTED AND WIRED, Book 1 of this series and I completely understand why it was selected as an Amazon Best Book of 2017 in the romance category and was named as one of the 2018 Romance Writers of America® RITA® Finalists in the Paranormal Romance category.  Such a great book!  You can find out more about this super Sci-Fi novel in my review.

Pour yourself another cup of coffee... or glass of wine, depending on what time of day you're reading this, and let's find out a bit about this amazing author!

Scherry:  Hi Vivien!  I was so excited to hear that you will be at the Coastal Magic Convention in Daytona Beach in February as one of Coastal Magic’s Featured Authors.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Your family?  Any pets?

Vivien:  I’m a big ol’ geek in a family full of ‘em. One of our favorite things to do together is play games – board games, video games, tabletop RPGs, the works. We went to PAX South a few years ago, and whoa! Like Christmas. Folks who’ve played Shadowrun will definitely find echoes in Wanted and Wired. 

We also have two permanent small furries – Chihuahuas Lily and Tahiti – and a couple of frequent canine and feline guests at Casa Jackson. Here are my two weirdos.

Scherry:  Ohmigosh! Lily and Tahiti are adorable!  Just look at those little faces! 

Are you originally from Austin, Texas?  What brought you there?

Vivien:  I’m originally from Houston, but when I went to Austin for college I sort of … stayed there. I hear lots of people do, there’s no shame in it. Austin is a pretty groovy town.

Scherry:  How do you balance home life and your life as a writer?

Vivien:  Well, that is the trick, isn’t it? I still haven’t figured that out. Most of my writing is  jammed into kids-out-of-the-house time, which happens on the regular during school but is something of a premium in summer. I’m not getting much done right now!

Scherry:  WANTED AND WIRED was quite intense and action-packed.  How did you come up with that story line?  And those characters?

Vivien:  I love how it turned into a hair-on-fire wild ride, but it sure didn’t start that way. I have a degree in literature, so I set out to write a near-future cautionary dystopia about bigotry. (Yawn.) But I couldn’t maintain my serious very long, apparently, and then the hot-sex happened and oh look a cat and … the story got out of hand. Also, it’s my first novel, so I was figuring out what I was doing as we went along. I guess you could say it evolved.

Scherry:  I was surprised when I discovered this was your debut novel.  It seemed much more like it was written by a seasoned writer.  Great job!  What did you edit out of this book?

Vivien:  I had originally wanted to do an ongoing series about the adventures of Mari and Heron and their adorable little sexy group of bandits, but when we decided to restructure the series so that each book would feature a new couple and their HEA, I had to rework the ending of Wanted and Wired and completely ditch the epilogue and the half-drafted next book. At first I mourned a little for what almost was, but then I got to know Kellen and Angela a little better and now am so happy they got their own book in PERFECT GRAVITY.

Scherry:  Do you have any inspirational items on your desk or wherever you write?  Pictures, figurines, guns, robotics?

Vivien:  I write whenever and wherever I can snatch a moment of privacy, so… not really? When I’m feeling low, I have a digital collage of encouraging feedback emails and awards and stuff, and I’ll put that on my computer as its wallpaper to remind myself that I don’t suck at this.

Scherry:  You definitely do not suck at this!  Ever go on writing retreats with a few writing buddies?  If so, where would you go and who would you be with?

Vivien:  I’ve gone on several retreats with my local Austin RWA chapter, but I have to confess those are mostly social events for me. I’m a private writer. I like to closet myself away from the rest of the world and completely subsume reality into the fiction. That’s my happy, productive place.

Scherry:  If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Vivien:  A co-worker once took a three-month vacation in a remote village in northern Scotland. I remember thinking that sounded sort of like heaven.

Scherry:  What’s the funniest typo you’ve ever written?

Vivien:  I wish I could remember, because I’m sure there have been howlers, but my internal sense of shame has edited those out of my brain.

Scherry:  What is your favorite word, and why?

Vivien:  Forever, because it’s implicitly laden with so much joy and so much heartache. It’s a million questions and what-ifs in a single word.

Scherry:  How long did it take you to write your first book?  Did the second go more quickly or did it take longer?

Vivien:  Wanted and Wired took… four years? Five? Even though the initial draft went swiftly, I was pecking at it for a looooong time as I learned how to be a writer. But when we signed the contract with a publisher, I promised to turn over the next two books in the series within a year, and I hadn’t started either of them. Perfect Gravity was on time, and I was three weeks late with the second (the third book in the series, Chloe’s book). That year was amazing and exhausting and magic and I will never do that to myself or my family again.

Scherry:  What do you do when you’re not writing?  Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

Vivien:  No guilt! I play a lot of games. Like, a lot. My favorites are the single-player story-driven RPG videogames, like Dragon Age and Fallout. I have a secret strategy for kicking ass at the board game Settlers of Catan (not telling!), and I once won a prize for role-playing a vampire at a con. Every week, the hubs and I log on and play an MMORPG with friends who’ve been playing with us since World of Warcraft was in beta. So, yes, games. And I read and write fanfic, of course.

Scherry:  Which writers inspire you?

Vivien:  Mary Balogh’s Regencies made me want to write romance. John Keats’s hand-written manuscripts convinced me that revision isn’t a sign of weakness or lack of talent. Sherry Thomas’s historicals taught me that romances can be complicated and layered. Gabriel Garcia Marquez inspired me to play with linear structure and magic. Haruki Murakami showed me the beauty within the bizarre. J. R. R. Tolkien planted beauty and pathos in my brain. Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and The Diamond Age made me want to write a story not just about taking over the world but about a female character leading the way.

Scherry:  What are the upsides and downsides of being an author?

Vivien:  The upside is I get to tell stories. The downside is I have to sell them.

Scherry:  What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

Vivien:  This last spring, I was pretty low, pretty sure I didn’t belong here in authorland. And then I got a phone call informing me that my debut novel was a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist. Talk about validation. I cried for most of that day. It was just so overwhelming, the notion that my peers had read my book and thought I’d done an okay job.

Scherry:  Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers?

Vivien:  Don’t make your goals so big and so beyond your control that you’re constantly dealing with a sense of failure. Make smaller, achievable goals. And really, in this business, the only goal you have complete control over is finishing the book. So write books. Lots of them. That’s where the magic is.

Scherry:  So, say you got arrested.  What’s the most likely reason the cops are carting you off to jail?  And who would be with you?

Vivien:  Whatever shenanigans we got up to, my amazing critique partners would ensure we would never be caught.

Scherry:  Great answer!  Tell us about your most embarrassing bookish experience.

Vivien:  Every time I send a pitch or a draft out to another person to view is the most embarrassing moment for me. It never gets easier to share.

Scherry:  What type of books do you enjoy in your downtime? 

Vivien:  I love science fiction romance and paranormal romance, but when I’m writing I have to read elsewhere. My brain just needs that outside-the-genre input. I read a lot of popular science books, thrillers, historical romance, nonfiction history, and science fiction.

Scherry:  What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Vivien:  Eep! Well, I judged for the RITA and PRISM contests (not in my own category!), so I’ve read some pretty incredible books … that I can’t talk about. Just check out the finalists for those contests; you’ll find some goodies.

Scherry:  Who are some of your favorite authors?

Vivien:  I don’t have a whole lot of auto-buy writers, but these guys get my click-finger working every time: Sherry Thomas, Darynda Jones, John Scalzi, Brandon Sanderson, Haruki Murakami, Jodi Picoult, Beverly Jenkins, Michio Kaku, Dean Koontz, Rebecca Royce, Kit Rocha, Farrah Rochon. Erm, the list goes on. So maybe it is a whole lot. lol

Scherry:  What is next for you?  Do you have any scheduled upcoming book signings, releases or works in progress?

Vivien:  I will be hosting a table at the Buns & Roses literacy event in Dallas in October, and then next February/March I’ll be at Coastal Magic in Daytona Beach (my first time! I’m so looking forward to this! I have reason to believe that Coastal Magic is my people).

In terms of releases, the third and book in my Wanted and Wired series is complete and ready to go, but I will be self-publishing it and have no idea what I’m doing! So, I guess you can look for that as soon as I can educate myself on how to do this indie thing and get contractors lined up. Also, she needs a title. *gulp*

Scherry:  So, if you are a fan in the Dallas area, be sure to find Vivien at Buns & Roses.  And definitely come to see her in Daytona Beach at Coastal Magic 2019.  

Vivien, thank you for being with us here at The Novel Lady.  I am looking forward to seeing you at Coastal Magic in February!  

Hey Readers!  If you want to learn more about Vivien Jackson or want to contact her, here's where to find her!

Facebook: I have a reader group! Viv’s Vortex of Readers and Space Vodka:
Twitter: @Vivien_Jackson

#CMCon19, #VivienJackson, #Wanted&Wired


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