Interview with Jacci Turner

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the “east bay” region of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, and although I've spent the last thirty years in Reno, Nevada, I still work a lot in the east bay. One of the ways the east bay has influenced my writing includes its diverse population. In The Birthright Series: The Cage, The Bar and The Lamb, a multi-ethnic cast of characters is central to the development of the story. People ask me about that and I say, "That is the world I live and work in, so that is the world I write about." Of course, when I write ethnic characters, I ask my friends from that ethnicity to give me feedback, and I often have to make changes based on their feedback.

Reno is featured as a setting in all of my current books as I am most familiar with it. And, I was born in Idaho and spent many wonderful days on my Grandma's farm, which is the setting in The Finding Home Series.
When did you first start writing?
My early career was in story-telling. I used to charge neighborhood kids a nickel to come see the plays I'd written. I was five years old. From there I went into middle and high school drama and even majored in Theater in College. But, community theater is very time consuming and I'd always written on the side. I decided to write more seriously five years ago, and now I’ve published four books; the fifth is with my editor.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, Bending Willow, is middle grade fiction. It is about two orphaned sisters who have to cross state lines while avoiding the AMBER ALERT! They are searching for a father who doesn't know they exist. Bending Willow is the first book in The Finding Home Series. I was happily surprised when I was called by the Head Nevada State Librarian who told me Bending Willow was chosen to represent Nevada at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. in September of this year! I think they chose it because the girls in the story go through the desert arts festival, Burning Man, and that is a very “Nevada” setting. I first wrote Bending Willow when my friends said, "Why can't someone write a strong female lead for my girls’ age?" It put the seed in my mind and I was off!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is great because it allows you to change the price or give books away for free. It has wonderful free resources to help you learn how to be an indie author, and tips on marketing. I love the coupon feature that allows me to give free books away. I use it to thank those who were beta readers for me or were helpful in getting my book out. Smashwords gets my books out in many formats and instantly connects me to a lot of distributors. Mark's List helped me find my cover designer too.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think the greatest joy of writing for me is when the characters take over the book and I feel like I'm taking dictation. This happens now and then and it tickles me!

I also love talking to school children about my books. I spoke at a high-risk middle school last year that was very ethnically diverse. They were such an interested audience and asked, "How do you know our stories? How do you know about our lives?" This was a very humbling experience.

A mystical part of this answer is that writing renews my soul. I don't find it a draining practice, but rather very life giving.
What is your writing process?
I ponder things long before I write them. I write only on Tuesdays because that is my day off. I have a job I love and I so at this point, I keep my writing to one day a week. Whenever I would go to a writing conference, speakers would say something like, "Writer's write! You must get up at four A.M. and write for three hours each morning." Well, that never worked for me. But, writing on Tuesday's does work for me. I've written five books in five years and that is a good pace for me. People ask, "How can you write so many books?" I say, "I write young adult books; they're short! "
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
When I was little I wasn't much of a reader. My best friend Julia was horse crazy and turned me on to horse books. From there I was sold! Then I found mysteries. I loved, The Boxcar Children series. I still read books for kids because they are some of the best: Anne of Green Gables, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Hatchet, The Giver... I could go on and on. I love to read and I always have a few books going at any time at home, and in my car.
How do you approach cover design?
This is one place I messed up when I first published The Birthright Series. I chose solid color, single-image covers because I liked the covers of The Hunger Game books. But, later I went and sat in the young adult section of the library. I realized that all of the covers for non-fantasy type books, had people on them. I redesigned my covers with people on them and I really like them better. The problem is they appeal more to girls now than to boys, so I wish I could have both.

The middle grade section of the library tells a different story. Those books all have illustrated covers. I made a choice to use pictures of real people in The Finding Home series even though it is middle grade fiction, because I don't know any illustrators. I don't think it has hurt me because these books appeal to older kids too. They are low reading level, high interest books.
How does your faith influence your writing?
My faith has a huge influence in my writing. Many people, including many authors of young adult fiction, seem to have a rather depressing view of the world. I work with Christian college students and they give me hope for the world. I know we have real issues in our world and my books don't skip over those. My books talk frankly about sex trafficking, child abuse, cutting and other important issues, but they are not dark or depressing. My books all have a "hopeful" quality. I am motivated to tell good stories that lead people to "hope." I am an author who is a Christian, rather than a Christian Author. My books do not push anything on people because I don't find that approach winsome or engaging. I don't enjoy reading books like that myself. So, if you enjoy reading books that have hope, you will enjoy my books, no matter your spiritual background.
At the end of your life, what do you hope your books will accomplish?
I do have a desire for my books to influence social change. Whether it's becoming more informed about sex trafficking, finding resources for child abuse, or learning about people who are different than you. I want my books to help people look at the world in a new way. My readers might try an inter-racial friendship for the first time, or know that their longing to belong to a family is normal, healthy longing. I hope my books are fun, interesting and entertaining too, but I hope for something more. I hope my books inspire risk taking, and faith in a good God, and hope in people. I hope that my books are provocative in the best sense of that word.
Published 2013-09-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Snapped
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 41,150. Language: English. Published: May 17, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Social Issues, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Drama
(4.00 from 1 review)
Cade Waters is by far the most popular guy at Sierra High School. Why then has he suddenly noticed Ari, a freshman nobody? As Ari finds herself falling for Cade, his requests become more intimate and personal. Follow Ari as she navigates budding romance, tough decisions, betrayal, and a trip to an island in this young adult story of growing up the hard way.
Willow's Roundup
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 25,500. Language: English. Published: February 19, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Adoption
When Javier and River help with the spring cattle drive, Riley feels like the rope in a tug-of-war between two dogs. She can't wait for summer vacation and the long-awaited visit to Nana's farm, where there’s nothing to worry about besides relaxing and having fun with Nana. But things never turn out the way Riley expects, and this summer is no different.
Willow's Ride
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 27,330. Language: English. Published: January 31, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Adoption
Spring in central Idaho means birthing season on a cattle ranch and with Grandpa sick and Delly pregnant, Riley is up to her knees in mud, blood, and babies. She’s rapidly finding out that growing up isn’t easy. To top it off, her new friend isn’t making life any easier.
Shipwrecked
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 22,960. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
Join the adventure as Jillie and Ruby navigate a mysterious island where they must battle wild animals, crazy weather and creepy people, while searching for the girls’ parents. When no one is who they say, and nothing is as it seems, family is all you can trust.
Finding Willow
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 20,170. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Siblings, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Alternative Family
At long last, Riley and Mia have reached Riley’s father's ranch. But when things start to go horribly wrong, Riley starts to wonder if this new family is really going to work out and they still don’t know if Mia can be adopted by Riley's new family. Come along as Riley and Mia struggle through more surprising twists and turns to discover if they have finally found their forever family.
Stretching Willow
Series: The Finding Home, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 24,790. Language: English. Published: December 10, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Siblings
Riley and Mia suffer crushing disappointment when they learn they won't be able to go live with their father…yet. Staying at Nana's farm seems like a wonderful solution until they learn they have to go to school and Riley receives another heart-rending shock. Join Riley and Mia in their continued adventure as they face new challenges, make new friends, and get downright stretched!
Bending Willow
Series: The Finding Home, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 28,830. Language: English. Published: June 2, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Siblings, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Alternative Family
(5.00 from 1 review)
When Riley finds her grandmother dead, she knows her world is about to collapse. Determined to find the father she knows only by an address, Riley and Mia take off on a journey with so many twists and turns Riley begins to doubt they’ll ever find a real home. She ignores the question that keeps popping into her mind–if they do find her father, will he even want them? Or will he send them away?
The Lamb
Series: The Birthright, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 26,480. Language: English. Published: September 20, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Mystery & Detective
Tyrell and Tiffany are back in the last book of The Birthright Series. Ty and Tiff want to be together, but their relationship seems doomed from the start. Now Ty is having disturbing dreams again, and Tiff’s new friend, Lorna, just might be crazy. Join Ty, Tiff, and their friends as they try to untangle this strange web of clues before it’s too late for … The Lamb.
The Bar
Series: The Birthright, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 32,230. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Mystery & Detective, Fiction » African American fiction » Mystery & detective
With Dawna’s court date against the sex traffickers approaching, her younger sister, Emily, has a chip on her shoulder as high as Mt. Rose. When Dawna moved to Reno, she left Emily all alone to face the gossip of their small hometown. Suddenly Emily is thrust into a bigger problem when she finds Loyalton’s most popular cheerleader on the floor of the school bathroom semi-conscious.