Interview with Jamie Gann

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
As a teenager, I was fed up with the glossy un-realism of romances, so decided to write my own. It was written in pen on paper, and I was terrified that someone might find it and read it, so I wrote it all in French. That, alone, was probably enough to completely obscure its meaning, as I later found that the French I'd learned in high school was incomprehensible to French-speaking people.

I remember what happened to it, too: in a fit of paranoia, I read it one last time, tore the paper into bite-size squares, and flushed them all down the toilet. On the scale of things, it wasn't even that racy.
What is your writing process?
Over the years, I've settled into a pattern: I pull together some imagery that I want to visualize into a coherent plot and write a bullshit outline. Then I write the story from beginning to end, usually betraying my outline. After that, I don't touch it for at least a week, to let it settle, to think about whether it has rising momentum or is just a bag of images. Do the characters' actions and development make sense? That sort of thing.

If all is well, I re-type the whole thing, even if I end up keeping every word of every paragraph. Re-typing forces me to think about the story at a slow pace: copy-pasting paragraphs from the original into the revised version would let me gloss over things that should be changed. Usually this introduces major changes, and I have to keep a file of notes about names and facts, to make sure that the new version is consistent with itself.

After that, I go back and comb through it *again*, reading it for typos and word cadence (often reading aloud). I make a lot of individual-word changes at this stage, but the events are pretty much fixed. Sometimes, I disagree with Word's red squiggly underlines, but I make sure I can back up my choices. Web searches are a good way to check the spellings of colloquial words and slang.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
iPad. It's important to have a big screen.

Actually, I do prefer print books when I can get them, though not for the "feel of the pages" and "smell of the binding" reasons Luddites give. I like to read books in the bathtub, and there's no way I'm bringing a $500 device that's mostly battery into the water with me.

Consider this a call to inventors: we need bathtub-friendly e-readers!
Describe your desk
A metal fold-out table that I try to keep clear of clutter. It's mostly covered with wires, as I have the power strip, ethernet, and track-ball mouse all ready to plug into my laptop. There's a cat-climbing tree (the kind that's covered in bits of carpeting) next to the desk, though Samwise prefers to sit in the space in front of my keyboard (annoying!). The sun is a bit of a problem in the afternoon— I need to cover more windows.

Actually, I do most of my writing on the bus, commuting to and from work.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm one of the (very few?) authors who would turn down a traditional publishing offer in favor of posting books for free. I understood the point of the publishing industry when there was a costly book-making process involved, and I would understand it now if the publishers and agents would promote the author's book. That's hard work, and it requires initiation into a whole social world that I know little about. I would want help there if I could get it.

However, it's my understanding (from reading blogs, Writer's Magazine, etc.) that even in traditional publishing, the author has to self-promote. In the words of Benedict Cumberbatch, "What's the point of you?"

So that's why I prefer self-publishing. Why free? I know that the cost of books has very little to do with their value: I'd gladly pay $5 a book for 20 books to find one that I really like. That one is worth the whole $100 to me. The other 19 were false leads, but worth it to find the one. From the reader's point of view, a charge of $0.99 or $2.99 is more a hassle of finding a payment option than anything else, and pales in comparison to the value of the time you spend reading. That's a cost I can't lower, so I eliminate the one that I can.

Also, I have a job and am well paid. What I want more than anything is feedback on my writing— please write a review!
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's actually a culmination of many short mermaid transformation stories, which I've been writing for years, trying to get the sensations just right. Most of these were too short: she changes and ack! Never seen again. It bothered me that there was no motion to these stories— they didn't go anywhere.

Then about a year ago, I had this idea that the transformation could be mental as well as physical if it's not once and for all, but two people swapping tails and legs. The story could have forward motion if we don't know one of them, don't know her intent— the intellectual part of the story is finding that out and forming an opinion of her. There would be a kind of Freaky Friday effect in finding out what the other's life is like, by walking in her shoes (so to speak), and there could also be a kind of LadyHawke effect, where they can never be together because they can't move freely in the same world at once.

So I went to work.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The finished work. Looking at it and realizing, "Yeah, that's the way it has to be. It could only have ended that way." Finding spots of poetry among the prose that I didn't intend, but fits the context very well, like three stressed syllables at the end of a sentence that suggests finality.

I understand why the Greeks believed in Muses— it's hard to take credit for what I find on the page. It came from... somewhere else.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I wish I knew. I'd love for someone to point me to a good way to discover ebooks.

When I walk into the library, into the traditionally published market, I'm overwhelmed with choices. I won't like 99% of what's on the shelves, but with librarians' recommendations and keeping an eye out for leads, I can eventually find something good.

With ebooks, the problem of discovery is much harder. There are so many more books to evaluate and none of them are famous. Good ones are surely out there, but how do you find them? I'd love to know.
Published 2017-05-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Becoming Mermaids
Price: Free! Words: 34,100. Language: American English. Published: March 28, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
What would it be like to turn into a mermaid? To feel the same blood flow in your fingers as in the tips of your tail? Samantha wasn't expecting to find out when she rescued what she thought was a drowning woman, only to have the tides turned. And she certainly wasn't prepared for the depth of the changes as she sank deeper— and more irreversibly— into the mermaid's world.