Interview with Jayelle Cochran

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on Long Island in New York. My high school, Sewanhaka, had an amazing English teacher who encouraged me to write. Her lessons taught me a lot about creative writing and finding influence wherever you are. Sometimes she would play a short amount of music, and then ask us to write a story based on what we felt or thought of while listening. It's probably one of the best writing exercises that I learned while in Sewanhaka, and something that I sometimes will do when I need a change in pace, or something to practice with.
When did you first start writing?
When I was about 12 years old I started writing poetry. I was a very depressed child, and writing helped me to release some of the emotional pain that had built up inside of me. Since then, writing has always been very therapeutic. It doesn't matter if I'm writing in my journal or working on a story, ever since I was a preteen I have used writing to help me cope with any stress in my life. As far as novels are concerned, I didn't start working on that until I was about 28 years old. Before that it was either short stories or poetry. The Supernatural Uprising Novels were started in 2012 and the first one, Sadie's War, was published in 2014.
What's the story behind your latest book?
When I wrote Sadie's War, I was actually trying to find a way to cope with my addiction to role playing games. A friend and I would create fantastic stories through a sort of freeform role playing (ie. we didn't use a particular game system or dice). After we had stopped for a while, I found myself itching for more. So, I created characters and a world in the same manner that my friend and I would for our games. Two of the characters, Fester and Sal, were actually taken from one of our campaigns.

Before I began writing, I decided to work on my character's backgrounds. Fester and Sal I already knew because of the game we played (actually, Fester's reaction to Sal stems from her betrayal in that game,). When I wrote Sadie's background, I was surprised at how much abuse I had given her. I almost changed it but decided to leave it alone.

Then, one day I was daydreaming about my characters and imagined what it would be like for Sadie living on the streets. A scene popped into my head and I felt the urge to write it down. Before I knew it, I had written the first chapter. After that, I just kept on writing. I did the same thing that my friend and I would do while role playing. I had no outline, and created a story that was more realistic than if I had drawn out an outline. The characters felt well rounded, and the story seemed to flow in a way that kept with how a story should work. I kept a gentle eye on the word count, using 100K as my goal and making sure that there were plot twists and whatnot at the appropriate times (ie. something at 1/3, 1/4, 1/2, etc). Honestly, I had no idea what the story was actually about until I was half way through. I didn't know the ending until 2 chapters before it. Even some of the characters (namely Michael, Chloe, and Kronos) weren't fully developed until I wrote about them. (Michael was supposed to be 9 in the beginning, and Chloe was supposed to be 21 and taking care of everyone...I didn't know Michael's power until he used it. Kronos wasn't even thought of until one of Sal's "Boys" had mentioned him).

As a result, I found a fun (and for me, a very unusual) way of writing. As of this moment (2/27/14) I can't wait to start on the second novel. I'm going to write it in the same way I wrote Sadie's War. I have no idea what will happen in the novel, and I'm excited to find out!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
At first, I had dreamed of a publishing house picking up my book. However, the more I learned about the publishing industry, the more I realized that using a publishing house wasn't for me. I want complete control over my stories, their covers, and the titles. I want to be able to decide everything, and not have someone say "change it or else:. Truthfully, I don't know if that's an accurate portrayal of a publisher, and i didn't want to spend years trying to get one to find out.

In the end, I realized that self publishing was for me. I now view the big time publishers as my competition and I am attempting to make my novels just as good, or better, than what they produce. Because of this, I made sure my cover looked professional (with my own art), and hired an editor. I've put a lot of work into Sadie's War and I believe the end result was well worth it.

Can I make a living this way? Only time will tell. Taking on the task of author and publisher is a difficult one, and I have a lot of obstacles in my way. In the end, however, I am determined to give my readers the best novels that I can possibly offer them. The writing is for me, the hard work I spend on editing, publishing, and promoting my book is for my readers.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing itself is the greatest joy. Because I don't use an outline, I experience my stories in a similar manner as those who read them. I don't know what's going to happen, outside of my daydreams that is. Usually, I only know what will happen in the next scene, and the rest of the story is a great mystery.

I love it! Though, it can be addictive too. :D
What do your fans mean to you?
I'm still new to publishing and don't have many fans at the moment. However, my fans that I do have, and those who I may have in the future, mean everything to me. Without loyal readers, my books have no value. They are given value by those who read and love them. Without fans, my books are only for me and I want them to be for everyone. The idea that I can create something that others will love fills me with so much joy that I cannot find the words to express my feelings.
What are you working on next?
The next novel in the Supernatural Uprising Series is going to be about Tara, a supernatural spy who works for the underground movement, aka SUM. Yeah, it's not the greatest acronym and may change by the time the story is finished. While Sadie's book introduced elements such as supernaturals, PSI (the government agency that captures and experiments on supernaturals), and showed the beginning of the war, Tara's book will hopefully show you more about Sal and the movement.

Each book in this series has a different main character. The series is about Sal. Her story is told through the perceptions of those who come in contact with her during this war.

I can't wait!
Who are your favorite authors?
Laurell K. Hamilton is my most favorite author. Her books and characters are captivating and I love reading her novels (both of her series are great). I am also a fan of Lindsey Sands, who also has a different main character for the novels in her series. I also love Stephen King, a man who definitely has an amazing imagination.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My children. We are a military family, and my husband is usually already at work by the time my children and I wake up. If he's not at work, then he's on deployment. So, much of the parenting is left to me. I don't mind, though I can't wait for my husband to retire!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Playing video games mostly. My greatest addiction is gaming. I love MMO RPGs (multiplayer online games with a role playing feel). Currently my favorite is Star Wars The Old Republic.

When I'm not gaming or writing, I'm hanging out with my kids (which sometimes includes gaming), or going to various doctor appointments (some for me, some for my children).
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have to admit, I love browsing the free books. Most of them are by fellow indie authors and after I read them I try to give a good review (if I can...reviews should be honest in my opinion). If not that, then I try to give some sort of constructive crit to the author. I don't feel like I'm in competition with my fellow authors. I am in competition with the big name publishers. So, I have no problem helping another author to improve their work. We are all in this together.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Honestly, no. Most of my written stories have been lost in the many moves I have made over the years. The rest were lost to viruses on my computer or a computer that completely crashed. I was able to recover some of the novels that I started about a decade ago, and it was fun to read them again. I plan on finishing them at some point.

Out of the stories I've found that I thought I lost, the earliest one is loosely based off of another roleplaying character. Granted, both characters are very different, but there are similarities, some of which were the inspiration for the story. I actually had created an entire universe for that story, and hope to finish it sometime soon (maybe when the series I'm working on has a few more books to it).
What is your writing process?
It's sometimes difficult for me to explain my process since I don't write in the traditional way (ex. I don't use an outline, and I have very little planned when I sit down to my computer). I will try though, because it's a lot of fun to write this way.

First, I start by creating characters. I do this by daydreaming that my characters are all hanging out and talking about their lives. Sometimes I am one of the characters, sometimes I'm not. I'll even daydream that I'm interviewing the main character to get a good feel for his/her personality and background.

Then I create a setting. Is the world modern, medieval, futuristic, post-apocalyptic? What sort of government is in place? What is the social structure? Does magic exist? If so, how does the average person react to magic? Is there more than one species of sentient beings (ie. elves, dwarves, aliens, Gods, etc)? If so, how to they interact with each other? What is the social structure like? Again, all of this comes out while I'm daydreaming.

Eventually, my daydreams will lead me to a scene that I just have to write. The urge is strong, and prose starts to form in my head. That is when I sit at my computer and I just write. I view the world through the perceptions of my main character. Sometimes I will view it through the eyes of the other characters so that I know how they will react to a situation.

My writing is literally groups of daydreams strung together with prose. I'll daydream a scene, write it, and then daydream some more. Then I try to find a way to connect the daydreams by filling in the missing information and situations that lead to whatever happened in the daydream. This is why I never know what my story is about until I am about half way done, and don't know how it will end until I reach that part.

That's not to say that there is no planning with my writing. Because I want my novels to have a 100K word count, I use that as my basis. As I write, I check the word count to make sure that there are plot points and twists at the appropriate points. I'm always surprised when it happens and I didn't plan it. I just check and see that I was right on schedule, then smile and continue writing.

Also, I prefer for each chapter to have two daydreams and passages in-between that connects them. Think of the daydreams as scenes where something is happening, and the connection as the space between them. Naturally, this doesn't always happen. But, I like how the story flows when it does.

Sadie's War took 3 months to write the rough draft. Writing is the easy part for me. It's editing where the real work begins (using Sadie's War as an example again, I spent 10 months editing and then another 2 months editing with an editor).
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I began reading books when I was in elementary school. I don't remember the first story I read, but I do remember some of them. There was one story that a teacher read to my class in 2nd grade that somehow stayed with me. It was about aliens who landed on the side of a busy freeway. The story showed what the aliens thought about our people based on what they saw. It was very interesting and taught me a lot about perceptions. I realized then, at such an early age, that people only see what you show them. I also learned that people don't always understand what it is that you show them, and they may get the "wrong" idea.

Now that I think of it, I believe that this story had a larger impact than I had originally thought. The series I'm writing now is based on perception. Sal's story is told through the perceptions of those she comes in contact with. But, this didn't only influence my writing. I have also spent a large portion of my adult life learning how to understand the perceptions of those who are different from myself. My children are both special needs, and I'm always trying to figure out how their minds work so that I can hep them.

Now I wish I knew the name of that short story my 2nd grade teacher read.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is an art form. There is no doubt about that. So, I approach it as such. I design my own covers, using photo-manipulation techniques and graphic design. It's important for me that the cover not only catch the attention of a future reader, but also that it is done artistically. That means that the flow of the the words in connection with the art behind them has to be just right. I will literally spend a month on the cover of my novel before I am anywhere near happy with it. :) Yes, I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times. But, art is as much fun for me as writing and I enjoy every second of it.
What genres do you read for pleasure?
I love paranormal romances, high fantasy, and science fiction. The more imagination combined with reality that the author displays, the more I love the story. I don't really like fantasy and science fiction novels that are so fantastical that they are completely unrealistic. There has to be some amount of reality to the story or I lose interest.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a nook and I love it. It's my first e-reader/tablet that I've had. As much as I love it though, it will never completely replace paper books for me. But, it definitely is convenient when I'm traveling! I also use it to help me edit my stories while sitting in waiting rooms. :D
Describe your desk
I don't have one. My desk in my lap, or an old plastic toddler table in my garage. I have in there a couch, some decorations, and that small table to put my laptop on. Mostly, I write wherever I am and my lap is quite often my only desk.
Published 2014-02-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Sarah's Nightmare: A Supernatural Uprising Novel: Book 3
Series: Supernatural Uprising Novels. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 97,160. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
On the run from brainwashed terrorists, a young woman learns that her nightmares are more than mere dreams.
Tara's Escape: A Supernatural Uprising Novel: Book 2
Series: Supernatural Uprising Novels. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 140,810. Language: English. Published: November 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
Marked for death since birth for the power she wields, a psychic spy learns that freedom is an illusion worth fighting for. Each book in this series may be read together or as a stand-alone.
Sadie's War: A Supernatural Uprising Novel: Book 1
Series: Supernatural Uprising Novels. Price: Free! Words: 126,300. Language: English. Published: February 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
(4.00)
A blind traumatized teen learns of love and inadvertently becomes the catalyst for a revolution. Each book in this series may be read together or as a stand-alone.