My desk is L-shaped and is set up with a desktop computer, lamp, a few books relating to my current project, and a notepad and pen. In direct view, I have a plaque with an Emily Dickinson quote: Dwell in Possibility.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Born and raised in California's San Joaquin Valley, I learned early that a good cotton crop would buy us our most prized possessions--shoes and books.
As each workday ended, my father retreated to the bunkhouse to write magazine stories and articles. Alongside him was my mother, a newspaper journalist. I was an avid reader from an early age. In fact, our farmhouse had floor to ceiling bookcases filled with about 5,000 books, and I was allowed to read any book I wanted.
One of my favorite things was to climb our apricot tree with a book and read. Perched atop forked limbs, I read The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, Call of the Wild, Lord of the Rings, The Time Machine, and so many more.
Now that I've had my first novel published, I think back: My childhood dream was to be a writer … and I am so afraid to open my eyes.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It is May 1932 and life in the timbered rise and fall of Western Arkansas has just gotten harder for sixteen-year-old Sooze Williams. With debt mounting and both friends and family fleeing, Sooze is determined to "do the right thing." She promises her heart to a well-to-do man believing true love is just another loss along the way.
But when her uncle is murdered and family is accused of the crime, Sooze vows not to be beaten. Is salvation within her grasp by relying solely on truth, or is it in the security of her intended’s money? Sooze must decide before it’s too late.
What kind of research did you do for the trial portion of this book?
I wanted this book to be a genuine, authentic representation of small town life in the 1930s, so I actually spent more than 15 years researching and writing it. Part of my research included personal interviews and letters from folks who lived during that time. But as far as the trial is concerned, I spent many, many months researching the facts and experiences of real life cases that occurred during the same time frame, like the Scopes Trial, the Sweet Trial, and the trial of the Scottsboro Boys, among others. I studied actual trial excerpts, the summations, plus newspaper and personal eyewitness accounts to frame up a realistic trial for SHADOW OF THE HAWK.
What are you working on next?
I have recently finished writing a middle-grade fantasy set in the Southwest, tentatively titled The Talisman. It is currently under publisher's review. I am also putting the finishing touches on another middle-grade fantasy which I hope to start marketing soon. After that comes the writing of a New Adult novel set in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love reading historical fiction, so I have current day favorites as well as older ones. John Steinbeck and Harper Lee had a writing style that kept me glued to their pages. I still read and re-read their work. Current favorites are W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear and Lucia St. Clair Robson. Outside the historical fiction genre, I love John Grisham, especially his Ford County stories--all of them!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life! I own a tiny bit of Texas land, so every morning inspiration lands on my doorstep. And I have two dogs who explore the terrain with me when stumbling blocks are thrown onto my writing path.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to garden, vegetables, not flowers. That's only because the whitetail deer eat most flowering plants. I grow rosemary everywhere, not only because it smells and tastes heavenly, but the deer won't touch it! I also read a lot and play with my dogs.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I do! Tipton Elementary announced a school-wide American Legion essay contest—not divided by grade levels—so I picked up my pencil and blank page and went to my father for guidance. "Write what you know," he said. At my age, cotton-farming was king. This essay became my first writing award, being bested only by my older sister.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My preferred reading device is a Kindle Fire. For many, many years, I was a staunch rebel insisting on reading only print books. However, there were too many good stories only available in ebook format. Once I began reading on a Kindle, I realized that I could increase font size, background colors, etc. which made reading so much easier on the eyes! And I love having the ability to download and read instantly.
What do your fans mean to you?
Goodness! If only I had a few! SHADOW OF THE HAWK is my debut novel. I would love to hear from readers. My website is: www.KSJones.com
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