Interview with M. Jamison Kingsley

When did you first start writing?
I remember scrawling my first real novel at the tender age of eight... it was on loose leaf paper at my mother's house in the Hamptons. I had pages everywhere on the dining room table, but numbered so I wouldn't lose track. It thrilled me to see how much I'd written, over a hundred pages before I finally concluded the story. Before that I spent my days in school creating miniature books for my dolls to read on scraps of paper. I can't remember anything exciting me more than words.
Describe your desk
A desk is a luxury I prefer to leave behind! I'm usually writing at wrought iron cafe tables or sans-furniture of any kind on a sprawled blanket near the ocean. Laptops are optional, and I do a great deal of writing by hand in my treasured mint green recycled leather notebook. I did my time in the realm of swivel chairs and LCD eye strain! My new way of writing the day away is a lot more sustainable.
What is your writing process?
The muse comes to me without warning and without mercy. I have to close myself off immediately after if I choose to engage, and begin writing the part of the story that hit me first. When I surface for air, I consider the consequences: the outline, for instance. I often book a plane ticket shortly after to travel to the place where I believe this muse will be surrounded with perspective. Finally, I'm no Hemingway, but I'd be lying if I said a few glasses of mezcal don't help me dance a more intimate dance with said muse.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love yoga, particularly Kundalini, which has unblocked a massive creative river in me that helps me write my last two books to completion. In the Caribbean it's hard to do yoga midday because of the heat, so I keep my practice strictly before and after the sun is in the sky. I love travel and I do a lot of it to keep my character palette fresh. You could say that all of my great muses came to me while I was exploring South and Central America, Mexico and parts of Asia... Sometimes I have to tame the part of me that wants to write about everyone I meet, so I can be present as I experience other cultures and make new friends.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The cathartic reality of the exorcised muse on that last page, when the book is finished.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My morning routine is so delicious, nothing could keep me in bed! I step outside onto my balcony with a cup of strong, black coffee and watch the sun come up over the Caribbean waters. I let the breeze toss my messy bed head of hair around and breathe in the cool air. Usually I devour a massive fruit bowl and then grab my notebook before walking down to the beach to start scrawling some life onto its pages. When I remind myself that this is my life... I almost can't believe it. But creativity wouldn't flow through me any other way.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Purely on recommendation. I try to stay off the internet until it's time to publish, because information overload has poisoned me in my past life, and my creative writing is too sacred to allow that to happen again. For this reason, it's a little bit difficult to get in touch with me...
How do you approach cover design?
There are brilliant folks who don't spend all day writing on the beach that should be in charge of that... and I happily hire them to do so.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Get off the internet once in a while. Get into some real books (Kindle is okay too). Get off the top ten lists of how to be a writer and just be a writer. Write every single day without the intention of creating anything incredible. You will learn your craft and hone your style by application, not through research or simply thinking about it. Forget the rules, forget the credentials, forget the outcome and just write.
What are you working on next?
It's a juicy, juicy tale... one that has pulled a lot of heart strings of my own and required a trip to the San Blas islands to carve into a real living, breathing thing. But I can't reveal it just yet!
Published 2016-02-13.
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