I am going to have to admit that I am such a SQUEE girl when it comes to this author. I discovered her 44 series from a friend (thanks Win) and now I am a major fan. When I found out that she would actually sit down and do an interview with me, I was so nervous. What if she thought I was getting too personal, what if she hated the questions, what if she would regret doing this, what if………..well you get the gist. I am happy to report that none of that was worth worrying over. Jools is an absolute delight, and we had an amazing conversation. Sit back, read, and relax, it was all good.
Jools Sinclair is the author of the 44 series, which has been downloaded by more than half a million readers. Like her main character, Sinclair lives in Bend, Oregon, where she is currently working on the next installment in the series.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, received my undergraduate degree from UCLA, and went back to school years later for my Masters in Teaching. I’ve been a full-time mother, a car detailer, an elementary school teacher, and an instructor at a community college (in writing).
I’ve also always been a freelance writer, writing columns that have appeared in various publications over the years. My work has been in the Los Angeles Times, The Daily News, and the Seattle Times. I used to regularly attend the Taos Writers Conference, taking short stories there to workshop. It was there that one of these stories was nominated for inclusion in the Best New American Writers anthology (although it didn’t make the final cut).
For the last two years, I’ve been a professional writer, working full-time as an Indie author/publisher.
This is the most important question of all. What is your favorite coffee beverage? (If you don’t drink coffee *shudder*, then tell me your favorite beverage)?
Totally agree that this is the most important question.
As a lover of all things Italian, I will answer this way: Cappuccino in the morning and espresso all day long. However, when not roaming the streets of Florence and instead stuck downstairs in my writing cave, I’m awfully fond of Komodo Dragon coffee from Starbucks brewed to perfection, all day long.
How many books have you written in your lifetime?
I’m on my tenth book right now (due out soon). Nine of the books are in the 44 series.
How did you get the idea for your book 44 series?
Three things started the series in motion: First off, when I was working on my first book (a rather light-hearted kid’s story about vampires) I heard a line in my head one morning as I was taking a shower. “I know I’m lucky.” I knew it was from a new character, one I had yet to meet, a young woman who was extremely sad, confused and lost. This character was a teenager and I could feel that she had gone through a significant trauma of some sort. Like Faulkner, I try and “listen to the voices,” so after I dried myself off, I ran and wrote down that first Abby Craig line and the rest soon followed.
Second, I’ve always had a passion for good ghost stories and am thrilled to be writing in the genre.
And finally I wanted to write about Bend.
It’s a cool and funky little city in central Oregon and I thought it would make a great setting for a book. I moved here with my family from Portland (and before that Los Angeles) and have always loved the beauty of the place. I’m often out hiking, kayaking, and snowshoeing. I love the weather here, the different types of people, the thriving beer industry. Also, Bend is still pretty much under-the-radar which I like too.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
I’m optimistic that I can get my pessimistic tendencies under control.
Have you written any other genre besides paranormal romance?
In my early days as a writer, I did a little freelancing, mostly writing columns for newspapers. I also wrote serious short literary fiction.
Do you have any children?
I do! Two daughters, both smarter, prettier, and sassier than me.
Tell me the ONE character in your books that is the most like you. You can only pick ONE, no cheating!
Hahaha!!! Well, if I’m not allowed to cheat, then I’ll fess up and go with David. I think our humor is similar and he’s probably one of the most light-hearted of the crew. I love his jokes and sense of humor…I’m not quite at his level (I can’t drink like he does), but he continues to be my inspiration! Plus he’s reaching for Hollywood and I admire his ambition. He tends to dip high and low, which I can completely relate to when I’m deep in the waters of creating.
How do you pick character names?
For the main characters, they’ve come to me on their own. Abby, Kate, Jesse, Ty, and David, and Nathaniel all just showed up one day, telling me who they were. But for the others who come in for a particular story, I get a little help from both Mr. Jools J and my daughter right before publication. Until then, I usually will use a name like “John” or “Jason” as a placeholder throughout the drafts.
Names are important, and have to be right. When I’m writing the drafts, I’m not usually in that mindset. I’m focused and rolling and trying to get the story down. I don’t want to stop to think about the details then.
Are covers important in the e-book era? If so, why?
Yes, indeed! Covers are so important, especially in this new age of publishing. An Indie author is always trying to attract new readers, and the cover is the first step in that process. There are millions of books out there, and it’s up to the cover to stop those wandering eyes, and get some attention. The cover should stop them, the title should make them pause, and the description needs to seal the deal. And of course, a great story will continue the relationship.
Have you ever been recognized in person as an author?
Gee gads, no! That might involve putting a real picture on my website or submitting to a local newspaper interview. I like to hide (I guess this is very not like David, now that I think about it). Probably not the best marketing strategy, but I’m okay with it for now.
Can we have a picture of you to post with this interview? (just kidding)
Ha, Ha! OK, sure… it’s in the mail.
What is your favorite hobby unrelated to reading/writing.
Traveling anywhere and eating great food.
I also love cooking and am a pretty decent amateur chef in the kitchen. Traveling and cooking all at once? Hot Damn. I’m in Joseph Campbell Bliss.
Have you ever made a FLOP dish? Details please.
Yes, but it’s too hard to limit it to one. I’m probably my own biggest critic and have to remind myself that cooking is an art and like Hannibal’s mom always told him, “it’s good to try new things.” One dish I flopped at (many times actually) was cooking a perfect roasted chicken. Sounds so damn simple, and yet… When it’s done right, it’s sublime. Anything else, a flop. It took me forever to get right, and I did it with the help of Alice Waters via her excellent book.
And there have been many others! I’ve done my share of macaroons without feet, too-crunchy risotto, and this last Thanksgiving I goofed up on the gratin, serving these amazing flavors with thin slices of barely-cooked potatoes.
But I make some pretty good stuff too, according to the fam.
You mention you are an amateur chef. What is your signature dish? (can you tell I am watching Hell’s Kitchen)
Gnocchi with a gorgonzola walnut sherry cream sauce.
Tell me the most dangerous thing you have ever done.
Canoeing across a huge lake during high winds in the Canadian wilderness. Some of those lakes are monsters, and there are times in a three week trip that you can find yourself far from shore. You don’t want to be out in the middle of a giant lake with the wind kicking up and big black waves rolling into you. That’s what happened and it was very, very scary. The kind of memory that shoots chills right through me still if I pause upon it for too long.
Hmmm…no wonder I write about dark rivers and lakes and water…
When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself an author?
When I wrote it in on my taxes, about two years ago.
What do you wear when you write?
Comfort! (And it’s good that I don’t open my front door). On Tuesdays, just cuz, sometimes I’ll glam it up with a glittery ring.
As an Indie writer, how do you promote your books?
My marketing plan now is a combination of things I do and things that are on my to-do list. Things I do: give out the first book in the series for free, good covers, unique titles, I participate in all platforms (Amazon, BN, Apple, Kobo), interact with fans, and participate in BookBub (as often as I can) and BookSends campaigns. It’s been a great strategy, but things are always changing in this biz and I’m always open to adjusting. Facebook, Twitter, more blog posts, maybe GoodReads, giveaways, and speaking at conferences are all on my “to do” list.
Name a US city that you have never been to, that you would like to visit.
Boston! I’m excited because we’ll be heading that way in the spring of 2015 (Mr. Jools recently qualified for the Boston Marathon, so it’s an awesome excuse to go.) I’m going to go ahead and mention that New Orleans is also a city I would love to visit.
Congratulations to Mr. Jools, that is a very serious accomplishment. I am a runner and would have loved to run the Boston Marathon…..in my much younger days.
Describe your personality in one word.
Daring, Adventurous, visionary, dreamer, fun, relaxed, oh, wait….You said one! Haha. No, anyway, most of these things are the things I strive to be (especially that relaxed one). I chase after them in the night like Matthew McConaghey chasing his hero.
You cheated, but I am going to let it slide since I loved your answer.
Ask your husband to describe your personality in one word.
Hmmm. I really love this idea, but he’s one of those super honest guys, so I’ll have to mail in that answer (along with my picture).
Last question (I promise), when you were a little girl, what career did you dream for yourself?
Writer. It was the dragon story I wrote when I was five or six that cemented it into my psyche, I suppose. The teacher loved it and I remember being so excited that I called my grandmother and read it to her (after my reading it to my parents). Really, since then, it’s been my dream, although it took me a while to get here.
I guess we are done for now. I am actually a little sad. I have had a wonderful time getting to know you. I am really looking forward to your next 44 book. Best of luck to you, and please keep in touch. Thanks for a great interview.
For more, visit Jools’ website.