Interview with EJ Jackson

When did you first start writing?
Probably in the mid-late seventies, when I set up a social group for 'Star Trek' fans in my home town of Aldershot. My very first story, I cringe to remember, was called 'The Berengarian Dragon' ... it was, um, not that good, looking back on it; but we all have to start somewhere!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The creative freedom it represents. Having conceived, created and distributed fan magazines in the past, designing and creating newsletters and so on, I love the idea that I can oversee it all.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The moment when a character comes alive on the page, and tells me what he/she wants to do - I'll never forget the first time that happened (it was a Doctor Who fan-fic, and it was an original character I had created (not a Mary-Sue, I hasten to add!) and I remember staring at the words I had just written and thinking, 'Really?'
Who are your favorite authors?
I knew that one would come up! There are so many... in no particular order:

Barbara Erskine ('Lady of Hay' was my favourite book for many years), Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Philip K Dick, Gary Gibson, Harry Bingham, Eloise Millar, Barbara Rogan, Mark Billingham, Jo Nesbo, Michael Marshall Smith, Dostoevsky, S J Watson, Gillian Flynn, Douglas Adams, Russell T Davies, Patricia Cornwell, Ray Bradbury, Redmond Szell... and I'm sure I've forgotten loads.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Well, there's paying the bills... and looking forward to writing next line... I don't make my living from writing yet, but if and when I do, it would still be a combination of those two!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading - always reading - I have a Kindle, but I love 'real' books as well; I watch a lot of drama on Television (not reality TV or game shows); I love music (listening to it, not creating it), and the theatre. I'm one of those people who likes to be in the front two rows, so that you can see the sweat... it's the next best thing to the total immersion of picking up a book. I have a group of girl-friends and we organise theatre trips from time to time - if we can make it a weekend away, so much the better. Chips in Sheffield after a play, then back to a hotel to natter a bit more - lovely!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Quite often, it's from links on Twitter - but sometimes I'll read about them in the press, or someone will recommend a book. And because I don't live in a massive library, I will always look for an ebook version first.
What is your writing process?
Well... traditionally I've been a 'pantser' - that is, I'll have an idea, maybe a theme, or a line of dialogue or a scene will pop into my head, inspired by all sorts of things, and I'll just start writing and see where it takes me. That's what I did with 'All Our Tomorrows', and it got me to 104,000 words... but the downside, as I discovered when I began taking creative writing courses, is that you can write yourself into a corner by doing it that way. So for my next project, 'Who Killed Maggie Wren?', I'm determined to be a bit more organised - do the research before I start writing, map out a rough story board, create proper backgrounds for each character... and only then will I start writing. But it all starts -as I'm sure it does for every writer- with an idea, which rolls along like a stone, gathering moss and what-have-you.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I think it was 'The Magic Faraway Tree' - I loved the idea that you could climb into a hole in a tree trunk and end up somewhere completely different. I suppose I've been climbing into holes ever since...
How do you approach cover design?
I love to play around with graphic design - it helps me to find the 'look' of the story, if that makes sense - but when it comes to publishing my work, I'd rather give the commission to a talented professional, and if it is someone trying to get their work known, so much the better! Harry Saxon created a marvellous cover for 'The Journey' and I'm very happy with it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In no particular order of preference:

1. Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine - because the main character does what we all do when we pick up a book - she goes into someone else's head, and has adventures and experiences she wouldn't otherwise have had. I just couldn't put it down - probably read it in a weekend.
2. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - because it made me laugh in 1979 when I first read it, and it still makes me laugh today. I think Douglas Adams was a genius - and he was so funny precisely because all the social comment disguised as humour was just so spot on. We are all Arthur Dent, railing at the local council and having trouble with Thursdays, aren't we?
3. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov - the idea that an artificially constructed intelligence could attain sentience and a conscience thrilled me then, and still thrills me now.
4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky - because even though Raskolnikov is a murderer, you are totally drawn into his world (even though the style of writing is so different to what we're used to today) and although you rightly hate what he did, you can feel for his desperation, understand his fear, and admire his courage when he takes his punishment.
5. 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' by Philip K Dick - what does it mean to be human? Replicants, Cylons... they are almost the science-fiction equivalent of slaves, aren't they? I rooted for Roy Batty the same way I root for the cylons, the slaves, and all indigenous people who are sidelined and mis-treated, whether by their creators or by a more aggressive population. I was always on the side of the 'red indian' and now I'm on the side of the replicant.

And I've just realised that four of those five have been dramatised - only 'Lady of Hay' hasn't (as far as I know)... now there's an interesting thought!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle Fire
What do you read for pleasure?
Thrillers, mysteries, police procedural, contemporary women's fiction and, of course, science-fiction - anything, really, that has characters I can care about and a story to keep me turning the pages. If I can achieve that in my own books, I'll be happy!
What are you working on next?
Well, I'm still working on 'All Our Tomorrows’, but I have also started researching and making notes for my next novel, 'Who Killed Maggie Wren?'. Its first title was ‘Jeewanu’, which is Sanskrit for 'particles of life'. It was inspired by an article I read in the Telegraph in September 2013, about the discovery of alien DNA on microscopic particles of meteorite dust in the atmosphere above Cheshire, England. I'm very excited about it, but need to pace myself because I have a lot of research to do before I can start writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
A young mother loses her husband and small daughter in a horrific car smash. She recovers (outwardly, at least) and moves on, marrying again and having another child; but because the driver of the other vehicle mysteriously disappeared, she has never had full closure. She is over-protective, and is in danger of losing her second husband... she was badly affected by what happened.

When her second daughter, a bright graduate who is researching a genetic cure for a deadly disease called Progeria, disappears, and the police link it to the earlier crash which killed her first husband and daughter, she decides to find out who is targeting her daughters - and why.

‘All Our Tomorrows’ is science-fiction story in a contemporary setting, and I think asks a number of moral and ethical questions which will resonate with any parent.
What can you tell us about your first published work?
'The Journey and Other Short Stories' is the first of my work to be published. It contains three stories, and I hope it will be a taster which leaves readers wanting more!

The first, 'The Journey', is an adaptation of my first original story, originally titled 'All Our Yesterdays', in which a young widow wakes from an underground train accident to find that the world around her has changed in a horrible way. 'The Journey' was the starting point for 'All Our Tomorrows' in which my main character's daughter from her second marriage is kidnapped - why this has happened is very much to do with what the daughter is researching, and how the results of her research will affect future generations. It's science fiction, but I hope with a very human heart.

'Gideon's Road' is almost a fiction-within-a-fiction - when you eventually read 'All Our Tomorrows' you will understand what I mean!

'I Think You Knew My Father' was inspired by the news that scientists are now considering the first base on Mars - and of course by so many science fiction novels. 'The Martian Chronicles' by Ray Bradbury was one of my favourite books (which reminds me, I haven't read it in a very long time!) and the idea of the first journalist to land on Mars being someone who shouldn't really have been there wouldn't leave me alone.
Published 2014-07-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Journey and other Short Stories - a debut collection of tales with a science-fiction twist
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 21,950. Language: English. Published: July 27, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
'The Journey' - Young widow Eva and fellow traveller Tom find a devastated London; 'Gideon's Road' - A cold, lonely road,a man without a name or a past, finds help from an unexpected source; 'I Think You Knew My Father' - a dishonest journalist gets more than he bargained for. 'Gideon's Road' - He woke to find himself lying in the ditch of a deserted country road. He can't remember his