Interview with Jaq D. Hawkins

Published 2013-10-09.
Describe your desk
Computer, desk assessories, pile of notes and a cat calendar with my appointments on it.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I had a rather transient childhood. I spent much of it in the US, especially California, though my home has always been England.
When did you first start writing?
When I was six years old I started to write my first autobiography in pencil on scraps of notepaper. Pity I didn't keep it up as it would have made for an interesting chronicle.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm just about to release the third in the Goblin series. The trilogy has taken us through sequential generations in a post-apocalyptic world that has become mock-feudal for the surviving humans, but is complicated by the discovery of a race of goblins who have always lived beneath the cities of men. In the third volume, Power of the Dance, there is an uneasy truce between humans and goblins that depends on the goblins staying out of sight so that they can be forgotten again. Only there are some who have befriended the magicians who rule the human society, and the re-emergence of a rare species of winged-goblins who enjoy the freedom of flying with the dragons puts that truce in jeopardy.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Observing publishing trends. I've been traditionally published since the 1990's, but as I have an established presence in the Mind, Body, Spirit category where I did my early books and have seen the fiction market transmuting into a new form, I decided it was time to take control of my own material.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has made it incredibly easy to achieve distribution in a variety of markets. It's nice to watch as new distribution channels are added to the system and to know how much time and work that's saving me.
What do your fans mean to you?
I'm always a little embarrassed by the word 'fans'. I've had a lot of really sweet messages from people who have enjoyed my books over the years and many of them have become friends, at least on the Internet. I share something with a reader when they enjoy one of my books, even if I don't always know about it. It's sort of like when you are at an event with friends who share your interests and all dress up for it or something, so that there is that strong sense of connection. I may not always know them, but we have shared something intimate when they experience a world that I've created.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Reading the story as I write and discovering what my characters are going to do next. I also enjoy working out what would be expected to happen next and doing something entirely different, just to keep it from becoming predictable..
What are you working on next?
Technically I'm working on more Mind, Body, Spirit material to bring that side of my writing into the digital age. Specifically I'm writing a book about Ganesha, although I have plans for several more books in this category.

However, fiction keeps drawing me in. I have a couple of chapters written for a science fiction story that involves a moon colony, though there is a unique aspect to the story that I'm not ready to reveal as yet.

I have a waiting list of projects, so there's always something to work on 'next'.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are many.

In Fantasy: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Roger Zelazny, Anne McCaffrey, George RR Martin

Historic Fiction: Susan Kay, Christian Jacq, Edward Rutherfurd

Science Fiction: Ray Bradbury

Mind, Body, Spirit: Austin Osman Spare, Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, Phil Hine, Ray Sherwin

Science: Brian Cox, Albert Einstein (really, reading his stuff is more than informative, it's entertaining)

History: Marcel Brion

Also in fiction is Anne Rice, once classified as Horror but some of her best stuff isn't in that genre and the lines between genres have been re-defined in recent years.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The sun. Seriously, I'm a morning person and a ray of sunlight through the curtains is like a signal to me that it's time to get up and get something done. Starting with feeding the cats of course.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Filmmaking. It's a special form of insanity that once you're exposed to it, sticks to you and won't let you stop. I'm hoping that someday I can retire to just writing scripts, but I have projects that need to be done before I can do that.

Other than that, I love reading and walking (not at the same time), and even leave the house sometimes and go out to events. Concerts rate highly, but I also love museums and all sorts of experiences.

I used to go on adventures as well, but I'm slowing down and getting more writing done these days.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
In various ways. My reading time is limited so I've become very picky. I glance at recommendations from people I know and read samples to see if it interests me. I've stopped taking notice of what's popular as much of it is young adult and that generally doesn't satisfy me. My daughter is probably my best Fantasy book finder. We have similar taste and she has introduced me to some good books, and I've shared some of my own discoveries with her as well.

With everybody self-marketing these days, it isn't hard to hear about books. It's the selection process and weeding through to find the gems that takes most effort.
What is your writing process?
Get up in morning, sit down at computer, write. I've usually decided what project I'm going to work on the night before, so I don't get hung up on details and just open the appropriate file. I like that first morning half-somnulent state for writing. The sub-conscious is still active and bringing ideas out of the dreamtime state, plus I'm fresh and rested in the mornings.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter. It taught me the value of assessing a situation and doing what you have to do to proceed rather than giving up.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm a Photoshop addict. I usually have ideas barraging me for an appropriate cover almost as soon as I decide a plot. Some books still on my future projects list already have covers.

With some I've called in one of two artists whose work I really like, then designed the cover around their image. I can't draw at all.
What do you read for pleasure?
Fantasy, science fiction, Historic Fiction, some types of Horror, generally leaning towards the supernatural. I won't read about serial killers and such. I also enjoy a lot of non-fiction, often in the History category.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
At present I'm using a desktop reader. I've been considering a proper e-reader so that I can sit comfortably to read rather than at my desk, but I haven't made a final decision on that yet.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Getting samples out. I find that if people read a snippet of something and like it, you get the author/reader match that works. I avoid spamming and only recommend my own books to people who show an interest in the sort of Fantasy that I write.

I've never marketed the Mind, Body, Spirit books, but they've done just fine with whatever my publisher was doing. All I've seen were adverts in appropriate magazines, so I think the subject matter and my reputation have done the most.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

The Glittering Dark: and Other Stories of the Goblin World
Price: Free! Words: 9,960. Language: English. Published: March 21, 2015 by Golbin Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(3.00 from 1 review)
Dark Fantasy story of a post-apocalyptic encounter with ancient creatures of legend. From the collection Meat for the Storytelling: Stories of the goblin world.
Power of the Dance
Series: The Goblin series. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 88,530. Language: British English. Published: August 5, 2014 by Golbin Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Spiritual & metaphysical
Khemael is a creature of beauty and grace with a mostly human appearance. His love of stretching his leather-like wings and flying freely in the world of men brings far too much attention to the existence of the goblins. Haghuf knows that the inevitable responsibility will fall to him to destroy Khemael who, in the world of the humans, would be called his grandson.
Of Words and Water - 2014
Series: Of Words and Water, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 65,110. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2014 by Words and Water group. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author, Fiction » Anthologies » Poetry - multi-author
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
A new collection of short stories, poems and non-fiction from the talented members of the international Words and Water Group. This very high quality work, with topics ranging from a single drop of water to planetary annexation, is donated freely for you to enjoy. We hope to encourage support of WaterAid; donations, of any amount, can be made on the Group’s JustGiving page.
Of Words and Water - 2013
Series: Of Words and Water, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 57,530. Language: English. Published: June 28, 2013 by Words and Water group. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author, Fiction » Anthologies » Poetry - multi-author
(4.92 from 13 reviews)
Published in support of WaterAid, this delightful selection of short stories and poems has a cohesive theme of water. Donated by an international group of top class authors, there are many styles of writing which will each, in its own way, entertain you. Song lyrics and a poem were donated by renowned folk singer, musician and activist Peggy Seeger,
The Wake of the Dragon: A Steampunk Adventure
Price: $3.49 USD. Words: 78,900. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2012 by Golbin Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk, Fiction » Alternative history
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
James Dudley dreams of adventure, but no amount of secret fantasy will drag him from the security of a steady job as Mr Wyatt's clerk. That is until Mr Wyatt sends him on a clandestine assignment that will take him to the opium capitol of the country and aboard ship with airship pirates.
Demoniac Dance
Series: The Goblin series. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 83,080. Language: English. Published: April 15, 2012 by Golbin Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
A young girl flees her home and an unwanted marriage. Desperation takes her to the riverside, the site where as a toddler she was patted kindly by the goblin who had befriended Count Anton. Driven by a premonition that she belongs with the people across the river, she soon meets the children of Magicians...and of goblins.
Dance of the Goblins
Series: The Goblin series. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 90,170. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2012 by Golbin Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
At the centre of goblin society is The Dance, the spiritual exaltation of life itself which is central to the goblins' existence. In the human world above, life is austere and goblins only a myth. When Count Anton is drawn into the rhythm of The Dance, a clash between two worlds is about to begin...