Interview with Jessica Scoullar

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up around Ocean Grove and Geelong, at the other end of the Great Ocean Road to where the book is set. I love watching the ocean and love the landscape of the Great Ocean Road, though not so keen on swimming in it. I wrote what I knew, a small tourist town.
As for why I chose Fantasy, I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book and it was invariably Fantasy. I have always loved the idea of other worlds and magic so that is what I wrote about.
When did you first start writing?
I have always wanted to be an author, though everyone advised me it was impractical and financially unsustainable. This particular series I started when I was about sixteen and initially it was just for interest. My sister was my first fan, she would read what I did and then hand it back with the words, 'it's good, write more'. A great encouragement. I didn't really think about preparing it for publication until I took time of work for illness in 2009 (and had a large and overwhelming thesis to avoid writing). For some reason I thought writing fiction would be easier than writing scientific papers. Ha!
What's the story behind your latest book?
It started out quite simply with the question of why most children seem to go through a phase of believing there were monsters under the bed. That led to the idea of Robbie's kidnapping and Amy going through the vortex to another world. After that my love of epic fantasy took over and it was not long before I had multiple realms, a magic system, political and religious systems and far more characters than any book should decently contain. I thought it would be one book, intending to end it with Dave and Robbie being rescued and the kids returning home. Then it became three books, but the story kept going so it became five, then seven and now looks like being nine. It was to be Amy's story but as the story grew it became clear that she was not the hero. Yareph was introduced to solve the problem of getting the boys out of the College. I intended for him to appear for perhaps two paragraphs and then disappear again. It is a weird name but I figured it wouldn't matter as he was just a minor character. By the time I realised it was his story it was too late to change. That was his name now and I couldn't change it. His part grew and his age dropped until he became the character he is now. It is really a coming of age story, following Yareph's quest to find himself and come to terms with his conflicting loves for those around him.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was intending to go the traditional publishing route, but then my aunt dragged me to a Romance Writers of Australia conference when they came to Perth (where I was living at the time). I attended a panel on self-publishing vs traditional and came to the conclusion that the self-publishing route was the best one for me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Not knowing where the story is going and the wonder of it when the story just appears on the page as if it has a life of his own. Getting to know your characters as if they are real people for their characters grow and develop as the story progresses and not always in ways you would expect. A new idea, a different event can suddenly lead the story down a very different path. It is an act of discovery coming from your own mind which I find amazing.
What are you working on next?
I will be on this series for a good while. Book 2 is on the final draft and book 3 is coming together though still quite bitsy. I do have a vague idea for another series, a slightly darker fantasy with more of a sci-fi bend but it is no more than concepts at this stage. I am going to finish this series first.
Who are your favorite authors?
List too long to mention but I will pick my top five:
Terry Pratchett - unbelievably clever and witty man. I have every book ever written by him, some I have bought multiple times. I love the way he uses humour to tackle some very difficult themes. He manages to be funny without ever being shallow.
C.S Lewis - Lewis is probably the author who has influenced me the most as a writer, though I prefer his non-fiction to his fiction works. Dry humour coupled with a sharp intellect. His words just click with me.
J.R.R Tolkien - Can't go past Lord of the Rings. When I was nine my dad read The Hobbit to my sister and me every night for a few months. It was my first introduction to epic fantasy and I was hooked.
Bill Bryson - Another very funny and brilliant man. His 'Mother Tongue' is a must read for anyone interested in the history of English. He manages to tackle some very academic topics but always maintains a conversational and easy to follow style and a razor wit. His books have had me fascinated by topics that under any other circumstances I would have considered deathly dull, but now know to be full of unexpected interest.
Theodore Dalrymple - A very interesting social philosopher. His books examine what he believes to be the start of the collapse of western culture. Interesting but heavy and depressing. Nevertheless I have bought every book of his I can find and can't put them down.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Breakfast. Love my food, probably a bit too much.
How do you approach cover design?
I set up a competition on freelancer.com to find a cover artist who would be able to make a cover with a theme that would be carried across the whole series. Denis was the winner of the competition and he has done a wonderful job. Link to hire him can be found on my website.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I do love my Kindle, can't go past that, though I find myself using my ipad for convenience sake.
Published 2016-05-02.
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Books by This Author

A Swirl of Purple
Price: $4.99 USD. (Free!) Words: 138,670. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Amy’s little brother Robbie has been kidnapped by a monster. No-one believes her except her best friend Sarah and arch-rival Paul whose brother is also missing. The three form a reluctant alliance to find the missing boys. The plan was simple. Follow the monster through the purple swirly thing. Fight the monster. Rescue the boys. But things don’t go quite according to plan.