Meet the Author: J.P. Jackson
It’s been quite a while since I’m had an author interview on my site, and I’m glad to bring you another one today!
Today I’m having a digital sit-down with J.P. Jackson, fantasy and paranormal author.
Now, I will admit that I don’t know too much about J.P. Jackson, but he’s always been in the peripherals since I know a few authors from Ninestar Press like M.D. Neu and Thea McAlistair.
J.P. is making Jaunts & Haunts history with the longest interview yet, so I hope you enjoy this extended get to know you session!
Alright, let’s get started shall we? 3… 2… 1!
J.P. Jackson is an award-winning author of dark urban fantasy, paranormal, and even paranormal romance stories, but regardless of the genre, they always feature LGBTQ main characters.
J.P. works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.
At night, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shapeshifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. His husband of 23 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summonings and regularly lines the doorway with iron shavings and salt crystals. Imps are most definitely not house-trainable. Ghosts appear at the most inopportune times, and the Fae are known for regular visits where a glass of wine is exchanged for a good ole story or two. Although the husband doesn’t know it, Canela and Jalisco, the two Chihuahuas, are in cahoots with the spell casting.
J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive traveling and believe it or not, knitting.
Hi J.P., thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing (pick one to answer below).
Walking through the forest, you unearth a magical relic that could give you and your friend’s superhuman abilities. The tradeoff: demons will hunt you down to the death to steal your powers. What do you do?
Wait…Demons? I’m in.
I put the thing on. It’s beautiful, yet makes me feel uneasy. My two friends that came along on the hike don’t like it. They beg me to take it off. It’s not long until the first demon appears.
By sheer luck, and total ineptitude, the three of us suddenly find ourselves in a struggling battle where we are running away from the beast, and yet, every time we turn to face it, we display our newfound abilities.
By total chance, we kill the fiend.
And although my pals haven’t been able to see the demon, they watch in horror as the demon’s essence is absorbed by the relic.
I take the talisman off. The days and weeks following, the three of us hunt down information and find out…
The magical relic is an amulet, a small carved trinket made from the frontal bone of a long dead necromancer. The bone has been whittled into the shape of the Tree of Knowledge, although the size of it would still fit in the palm of your hand. The trunk of the tree has complex sigil carvings. Once donned, the amulet brings the bearer two abilities:
1.) The ability to see demons
3.) Any other 4 people within a 6 foot radius also randomly get
But here’s the thing…demons will only take on damage when 3 different elements hit them at once. But only the bearer of the necklace can see the demons. However, once a demon is sent packing back to hell, the amulet gains one more type of power…
And then we learn there are 4 other amulets…I have the Earth, and we begin the search to find. Water, Fire, Air and Spirit.
And….go! (I think there’s a book in here…)
Oh wow, this is definitely a first. I don’t think someone’s had such a strong reaction to my first question like this before. Well I’m glad I could help you get the creative juices flowing. Write this story idea down, it’s really entertaining!
J.P. and the Writing Process
For starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.
J.P.: I really enjoy Urban Fantasy and Paranormal stories. I can’t really see myself writing anything else. There’s got to be some kind of fantastical, magical and beastly elements. Magic is all around us, if only seen by some, and not others. It’s there. I want everyone who reads my stories to see that magic in all its splendor, the good, and the bad.
I also tend to write anti-heroes, or flawed characters. Folks who are morally grey. None of us are perfect, so it only makes sense to create characters who resemble us. And I would say all of my writing would fall into the darker side of things. Even the book I just finished. I started out trying to write an M/M Paranormal Romance and it really ended up as a dark Urban Fantasy book with sex in it.
But the most important part for me – my main characters will always be members from the LGBTQ+ community. When I was growing up I couldn’t find any books where guys like me were the heroes. I need to have that. I need to read stories where the main characters are from my community.
And then I realized after getting my first book published, and having non LGBTQ+ folks tell me how much they loved it, the rest of the world needs to see the LGBTQ+ community as heroes too.
Jonny: Fantasy and Paranormal genre is where it’s at! You’ll get no objections from me. I agree with you on worldbuilding. I don’t want to see a world that’s anything like what we live in. I want something different, something dark and freaking fantastic. Those are the worlds I live for.
Oh yeah, all characters have to be at least somewhat flawed, otherwise they’d all be robots (or maybe Murderbots?). I also agree with you on darker fiction and its allure. Even though I plan on writing in a wide variety of genres, my stories always have a tinge of darkness to them. Maybe it’s just us. *shrugs* But I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Yes, I’m all about the gay characters! I am gay myself, and always love to find a strong LGBT character in a book. That’s a big part of the allure with NineStarPress and the books they publish.
How do you find inspiration to write/blog?
J.P.: I horde pictures. I have a Pinterest account (https://www.pinterest.ca/jacksonbear88/) where I stash thousands of images. Any image that sparks an idea or grabs my interest gets saved. I have categories for Characters, Demons, Fae, Witches & Warlocks, Angels, Ghosts, Magic, Magical Things, Scenes, and Writing Tips.
I also love watching shows that feed my imagination. Shows like Supernatural, The Magicians, Good Omens, American Gods, Charmed (the original series), The Strain, etc. etc. I find watching these give me great ideas.
Music is huge too. I love all kinds of genres, but when I listen to dark and haunting songs, that signals ideas too. Artists like Ruelle, Fleurie, Florence and the Machine, Enya, Sara McLachlan, Loreena McKennitt, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, these folks all get the juices going. There are so many more…
And I read. I read upward of 40 to 50 books a year. I love reading other people’s stories and seeing how they weave together a good magic system or how they tackle world building.
Whenever an idea strikes that won’t leave me alone, I go hunt out pictures, and store them in folders on my computer that express how the story feels to me. I select songs from my library and make a playlist for the project and listen to that over and over as I write the story. I also keep journals where I’ll store notes and sometimes print and paste the pictures that go with the story.
There are SO many stories stuck in my head.
Jonny: Oh nice! I do look at pinterest, but it never occurred to me to store photos there. I’ve gotta get on that!
Yes, I’m all about the shows, and you listed a couple of my favorites. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Charmed in my life. 10,20,30 times? I couldn’t tell you. The Magicians is ahmazing, and I loved the books too!
I’m also eclectic with music, but usually listen to ambient nowadays for writing creativity.
You know, I’ve only been blogging for about a year, but ever since I’ve read a good 40-50 books and I always want more now. I’m an addict!
Sounds like you have a great base of inspiration to draw from.
What kind of setting do you write/blog in most times?
J.P.: We recently downsized and now live in a 1200ft2 condo. In the spare room I have a writing desk. On my desk there are little statues of dragons and gargoyles, bears and gemstones, a magic wand, a voodoo doll, and a couple of bobbleheads.
I typically tend to write at night, and I’ll have my headphones on while working through a chapter.
I also find I’m far more productive in the fall. Living in northern Canada, our daylight hours shrink as we approach the winter solstice. It’s not daylight until 8:30am and gets dark around 4:30pm. That’s a lot of darkness for me to settle into and get creative.
Jonny: I’m very jealous. I just have a desk in my room, nothing too special. I definitely need some iconic pieces to decorate with.
I write in little spurts in the morning, around noon, and after work. I don’t really have a specific time where the writing juices are strongest, it just kind of evens out in the long haul.
Though I will say if there’s ever a snow day and I can clearly see the snow coming down outside my window the writing has always been very strong on those days, as seldom as they occur.
I always find it interesting how authors and bloggers alike lead multiple lives. What is your dayjob? Do you enjoy it?
J.P.: During the day I work for our provincial healthcare organization – so it’s a government job. I work in IT, and I configure the electronic charting system our physicians use throughout our hospitals across the province. I often work side by side with doctors in order to determine how they do their work in order to mimic it in the system. It’s very challenging, often very rewarding, but always high stress with tight timelines.
Our recent pandemic has been hell on our front line staff, and for those of us who support them in the background, it’s been just as stressful.
But I do enjoy it. I love watching physicians as they are caring for patients. They are amazing individuals and I get a sense of accomplishment knowing that what I do behind the scenes is helping care for those in need.
Jonny: Oh wow, that’s interesting. I’m glad that your job is rewarding knowing that you are ultimately helping support the physicians that care for patients. That’s got to be a great feeling.
I work in finance for a legal firm, so while the work can be a tad dry and monotonous, I am good at it and proud of myself. I’m in a very specialized role, so I can say that my job is unique and quite uncommon.
As a writer/blogger, what kind of goals do you set for yourself? How do you achieve them?
J.P.: You know, I really don’t set goals for myself. Writing for me is a hobby. It’s something I enjoy doing, and it’s a stress relief. Getting lost in the worlds I create is fun and it takes me out of the drudgery of daily life. So, I write when I feel like it.
Having said that, I’m also fairly task oriented. So once I start a project, I tend to follow it through to the end. My husband tells me I get a bit obsessive, and chase things down like a dog with a bone, often to the exclusion of everything else. He often has to grab me and say, “Okay, enough for today, there are other people in the world who love you.”
Jonny: As authors, we each have our own way of doing things, and I like your perspective. I don’t necessarily set very tight goals for myself, as I’ve learned with time that I can’t be so hard on myself. It just doesn’t work for me.
That being said, I do still work hard when I’m on a writing project, which is pretty much constant at this point, but I share your view. It’s a hobby, not a job. I like going into my dark little worlds and escaping reality as much as I can.
Haha, your husband is a good man! It’s hard to maintain that balance, and sometimes we need the ones around us to remind us to come back to reality.
How long have you been writing/blogging?
J.P.: Not as long as some may think. Remember this is a hobby for me, and wasn’t something that I really started doing with any regularity until I was in my 40’s. I took one creative writing class in University many years ago. At the time, my program was Applied Anthropology and my professor in my writing class really tried hard to get me to change my major to Writing.
Funny, now that I think back on that, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had done that.
Jonny: Oh nice! I must’ve switched my major at least 5-10 times.
Yeah, most authors I know haven’t started off writing very early, but I guess that depends on your definition of early.
My professor in music appreciation loved my creative works inspired through the music we listened to and suggested I write screenplays.
I also wonder what life would’ve been like had I approached writing earlier, but I’m also glad I didn’t start writing until I had a fair amount of life experience.
What is your favorite part of writing/blogging?
J.P.: Origin stories. I love creating the beginnings of things. Worlds, magic systems, monsters and demons. I get lost in that creation.
I struggle with the continuation of the story. Right now I have three books that are the beginning of long stories. I have general ideas where I want them all to go, but struggle to get the second book created. I’m currently working on that.
Jonny: That’s crazy, me too! My favorite part is the creation process. The characters, their upbringing and current situation. The crazy obstacles and enemies ahead of them. I love every minute of it.
I find the beginning and ending of any book I plan out to come easily to me, but the middle is the WORST. Omg it’s like wading through a pit of molasses sometimes.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
J.P.: Well, I just (like last week) finished a new manuscript. It’s called Summoned and is about a fellow who desperately wants to be part of the supernatural world. When he gets his wish, he finds out that it’s not all sunshine and roses, and he ends up in the middle of a feud between werewolves and witches and Fae.
But I’m also about 25,000 words into the sequel to Magic or Die, and while we are currently sitting in self-isolation for our COVID-19 pandemic, I’m working hard at trying to finish this as well.
Jonny: Congratulations! Summoned sounds right up my alley. Definitely let me know when it’s out! I’m glad you’re continuing your journey with Magic or Die. That’s the one of yours I’m dying to read the most, so that’s some very good news for me that the adventure doesn’t end with the first book.
If you could give advice to new writers/bloggers, what would you say?
J.P.: Write. Write as much as you can, whenever you can. Creative Writing is a skill that requires a lot of practice to get right. I’m still working on my craft, and I have a long way to go. I don’t think anyone immediately sits down and writes a masterpiece. You really have to spend years putting words to paper (or screen) in order to get a feel and expertise for grammar, technical rules, developing characters and worlds, and then finding that element that sets your writing apart from others.
I also believe that if you’re going to be a successful writer, you have to be a voracious reader. Reading is your research. By reading all the different kinds of books that are out there, you get a sense of when writing is at its best, and worst. You need to see how authors of all genres put together literary award winners, and then also the stories that are the other end. There are good and bad works out there. Read them all.
Jonny: Yep, yep. These points are usually what I tell others to do as well, so I’ll just keep nodding my head enthusiastically. Reading supplies the juice, writing every day uses the juice. Rinse. Repeat.
What do you find most challenging about writing/blogging?
J.P.: Finding the time! I have lots of stories in my head, or ideas, and I’d love nothing more than to be able to explore them all. But I have a dayjob, a husband, friends, dogs, chores, and other hobbies I enjoy, and so all of those things demand time in my life too. (Although not as much in quarantine world!)
Jonny: Oh I hear you there. Time is the most valuable resource honestly. With all our normal life stuff combined with our reading and writing stuff, it’s a miracle anybody gets anything done.
The quarantine has thankfully slowed things down a bit, but I still find myself pretty stacked with things to do. It’s almost like I traded my physical life for a virtual one.
When did you first consider yourself a writer/blogger?
J.P.: It’s still very hard for me to accept the fact that I’m an author! I still am regularly and genuinely surprised when others contact me after reading a book of mine and tell me how much they loved it. That’s very gratifying, and yet scary too.
It’s weird. I just don’t really see myself as ‘a writer’, or ‘an author’, and yet, here I am.
I don’t know, I’m just lil’ ole me.
Jonny: I’m right there with you. It’s always so humbling to see that someone has reviewed your book. Your love child is getting seen in the world. It’s crazy!
Describe your writing style.
J.P.:More panster than plotter. In other words I tend to let my imagination take me where it wants to go. At least I find that’s easier to do when you’re writing the first book of anything. Now that I’m concentrating on creating the second book for three different series I’ve started, I find I have to keep careful track of notes and dropped hints and concepts from the first book, in order to tie the second book in to the first successfully. So I’m starting to do more plotting.
But I will always be dark. I like the gruesome, the gory, and the taboo. I’m quite sure not all see my writing that way, but that’s how it feels to me.
I keep thinking to myself that I need to go deeper. I need to make it darker. I’m working on that.
I’m more of a plotter than panster, though I have embraced that improvising will happen in my writing here and there. I don’t like to start writing until the movie in my mind is vivid and full of detail.
Oh yeah, second books are most definitely harder than the first. I’m in the middle of one myself. You have to ensure everything ties together while exploring more of the world you created just as well as you did the first time.
I agree with you on the dark stuff. To me, my stuff has a very dark tinge to it, but I’m not sure all will see it that way. It’s in the eye of the beholder.
What is the hardest lesson you had to learn as a writer/blogger?
J.P.: Reviews. Oh my god. I really, really, really want people to love my stories as much as I do. Of course I had to learn that’s not going to be the case. Some will read them and like them. Some will love them, others will downright hate them. I read every single review I can find. I have to temper it though, and it has taken me a while to be able to read them and then let it slide off my back when the reader didn’t like the story.
Jonny: I know, and that can be the hardest thing, accepting everyone’s differing opinions. I’ve gotten better at distancing myself from my reviews. I only check every month or so, and I’ve developed a funny new way of dealing with the negative reviews. I blow a raspberry. You heard me! I blow a raspberry as loud as I can then shrug it off and go do something else. It’s quirky, but it helps me deal.
Not including family, who supported your efforts to become a published author?
J.P.: I am very fortunate to have a super supportive husband. I also have an amazing group of beta readers who are brutally honest with me, and help me craft great stories. I couldn’t really do what I do without them. I also am extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing editors. All hail the editors. They are gods.
Jonny: Yes, it’s all about the support group! I have close friends and fellow authors that are constantly lifting me up whenever I feel down, and I try to do the same for them whenever I can.
Who was your first publisher and what did you learn from them?
J.P.: My first and only publisher has been NineStar Press. I cannot say enough good things about them. They’ve always been extremely supportive, kind, gracious, patient and they only publish stories with LGBTQ+ main characters, which is everything I strive for. I need there to be more books in this world that have people like me as the heroes and anti-heroes. NineStar really delivers on that, and they accept fiction books in every genre. So I know I can find Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, etc. etc. List goes on and on.
What did I learn from them? How to be a better author. The owner Raevyn is always helpful, will always listen, and is super supportive. The rest of the authors there are an incredible resource for networking. So many of them help to promote your work (and I try and promote them too), but they also act as sounding boards, and because we are a diverse and geographically dispersed group, they often collectively have fantastic advice.
Jonny: You’re not wrong. I’m very familiar with NineStar’s site and have several personal friends that have been published through them. I always picture NineStar as a well-knit family.
Super happy that you have a great support structure through your publisher. This is what a publisher should be like!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
J.P.: I’ve written three so far, and a good way into number four. This is really hard because you’re asking me to choose between my children! I like them all for very different reasons. But I think I’d have to say that Magic or Die is probably my favorite. I found it really easy to write, and the characters for me are still, to this day, real people.
Jonny: Very nice, congrats! Quite the accomplishment. I’m glad I picked your favorite. 🙂
I’ve technically written three books as well, only one being published. I’m editing my sequel to Reaper and my unpublished manuscript for The Gifted Chronicles I will shop for a home with a publisher once I’m done with the Reaper sequel.
What do you think makes a good story?
J.P.: Well-developed stories that create a deeply textured world that maintains the rules of its own paradigm. I don’t really care what the rules are for your world, just make damn good and sure that you maintain those rules.
I love intricate storylines with real characters. We’re all flawed people. Make sure your main character isn’t so perfect they are unbelievable.
Similarly, I hate lazy writing. Statements like “Suddenly, everything in his life seemed to just work out!” Nothing is like that in real life. I want struggle. I want pain. I want misfortune, and then show me how the character’s lives start coming back together.
Jonny: Haha, I have to agree with you on all these points. Well said! I like strong and diverse characters, a killer plot with plenty of action or at least things happening, and the first few pages have GOT to be fire or I’m not interested.
How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
J.P.: Hours and hours and hours. But it doesn’t stop at the beginning of the book. Every time I write something down that could be fact checked, I do it! I make damn good and sure it’s real, or at least realistic.
I read a story once where the characters were in Calgary – a city about three hours away from me. In this story, the folks were ski instructors. Okay, Banff, where there’s skiing, is about another three hours away from Calgary. Not in this book. They walked out of their homes and onto the ski slopes. That ruined the entire book for me. I knew better. And it would have been such a simple research on the net.
Jonny: So true! I typically tend to pick stories that don’t require too much intensive research, but there is always research that happens, especially while writing for the most random things you don’t even consider to be research. I will legit stop writing for a minute and search something up if I have a doubt in my mind or want to know more about something.
That’s really sad that happened with that story you mentioned. We all have to make sure our books make a certain amount of sense, and if it doesn’t, that’s going to send the readers running for the hills.
How do you select the names of your characters?
J.P.: With great consideration. I research the names to see if they have meaning behind them. I ensure that they are ethnically correct. I also select character names I’ve never used before, and I create biographies and back stories for all of them.
Jonny: And thank you for doing so! I am also pretty picky about my characters and their names and it usually takes several sessions of research before I settle on one that jives with me.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
J.P.: See above. I absolutely do. Every single one of them. Sometimes, I don’t deal too well with the bad ones. I’m learning how to walk away from them and allow people to have their own say. The ones that really get me though, are the reviews that make me wonder if they’ve ever even read the whole book – where the things they’ve said are so inaccurate to what happened in the story, you have to wonder.
Either way, I’ve learned to read them, take note of them, then walk away, and continue to write how I want, and what I want. I enjoy it when readers have been swept away by my writing, but I learn new skills, and hone my writing abilities from my editors and my beta readers.
Jonny: The good, the bad, it all takes getting used to, but all you can do is thank people for the positive ones and move on from the negative ones. Definitely easier said than done for sure.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
J.P.: JP Jackson isn’t my ‘real’ name. But it’s close.
So, I guess the answer is yes?
Jonny: Technically yeah, haha. While a pseudonym isn’t really for me, I totally understand why someone would use one.
Fun Facts About J.P.
Could you tell us a couple fun facts about you?
J.P.: I hybridize African Violets and I absolutely detest beets. Cannot eat them.
Jonny: Ah, I have a black thumb, so keep those beauts away from me. Haha, I like that you brought up beets. In my sequel, Gregory has this thing with beets and you just reminded me of that. Freakin’ beets, man. Blech!
What’s your favorite place that you’ve travelled to?
J.P.: I am very fortunate to have travelled around the world. I have several places on this planet that I’ve found beyond extraordinary but for different reasons.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – for its people
London, England – for the pubs
Paris, France – for a lazy afternoon with a bottle of wine and a cheese board watching the world go by
Seminyak, Bali – for the culture
New Orleans, Louisiana – for its famous southern hospitality
Santorini, Greece – for sheer beauty
That’s just some. But we have a trip to South African planned for December 2020 (hopefully), so I imagine this list will grow.
Jonny: One word. JEALOUS. I’ve been making up for lack of travel in my 20’s and hope to explore more of the US and rest of the world. My faves to date are Seattle and Denver, though small cities have grown on me too. There’s something nice about being a bit rural for a change.
Are pineapples on pizza blasphemy or no?
J.P.: Absolutely not! Bring on the Hawaiian Pizza! It’s actually my favorite.
Jonny: I can’t do it. There’s just something about the sweet and savory mixed in that makes me cringe.
If you had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
J.P.: Sushi, but I could happily name a dozen other items. I love food.
Jonny: Oh goodness, I love sushi too! Anything asian really. Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. I love it all.
If you could choose to be any supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
J.P.: Toss up. Demon or Werewolf. I think it’s the shift into being something other than human. As fantastic biologically as we are, giving human-like qualities to something that also has supernatural abilities is an intoxicating temptation.
Jonny: Nice choice! I’m feeling witch/warlock today. I think it would be amazing to cast spells and call upon the spirits.
If you could meet anyone who ever lived, past or present, who would that be?
J.P.: I have a list that could be a whole other blog post. But here’s two:
Hugh Jackman – because he is the most beautiful man ever.
Whoopi Goldberg – there are so many stories there, and I’d love to have lunch and just sit back, and listen.
Jonny: Nice picks!
I’d probably pick Ewan McGregor. He’s so dreamy! #1 movie crush of all time. Either him or Nicole Kidman. She’s sooo talented!
What are your favorite tv shows and movies?
J.P.: Supernatural, True Blood, The Magicians, Survivor and So You Think You Can Dance for TV shows. Movies…oh boy, believe it or not The Sound of Music. But I also loved Coco. Really anything that has magic or creatures or thing with wings I’m down for. The Witcher on Netflix was amazing. Lost in Space was as well. I’m currently making my way through Good Omens and I love it. And I have a host of other supernatural shows I love to watch.
Jonny: Lots of good stuff you listed!
My faves for series are True Blood, The Magicians, and Nailed It (a recent obsession, I’m spiraling out of control!). As far as movies, a recent fave of mine has been Doctor Sleep. Talk about book to film adaptation greatness! I loved every second of it.
What kind of music touches your soul?
J.P.: Anything that is haunting. Check out Ruelle, and of course, Sarah MacLachlan.
Jonny: You know I already know about Sarah MacLachlan. Oh, Ruelle sounds like my kinda girl. I have this huge Halloween Playlist on YouTube and she would fit right in!
I’m very eclectic, but my poisons are anything that souds like Halloween to me, dark ambient, 80’s, 90’s, or techno (yep, I said it. I love techno circa late 90’s early 00’s!)
Marvel or DC?
J.P.: Marvel – Xmen, all the way.
Jonny: *squeals* Me too! Ever since I was a kid in the 90’s I’ve been reading the X-Men comics! I can never love anything in the comic universe more than those. *gazes dreamily into the distance*
Who are your favorite writers?
J.P.: A list far too long. I could tell you some fantastically famous authors, because they are wonderful writers, but I’ll tell you some of the best LGBTQ+ fiction I’ve read have been from M.D. Neu, Brandon Witt, Glen Quigley, E.M. Hamill, and Rick R Reed.
Jonny: Right? Thank you for summing it up. Recent favorites over the past year have been KA Applegate, Teri Polen, Victoria E. Schwab, and Emerald Dodge.
What are you reading now?
J.P.: The last book in the Cassie Tam series by Matt Doyle, “Half-Light” and it’s fantastic!
Jonny: Hmm, I’ve never heard of that. I’ll have to check it out. I’m reading Thornhill by Pam Smy. It’s my second buddy read!
What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
J.P.: Hands down, paranormal and urban fantasy. I need that magical element in my stories.
Jonny: Heck yes! I love anything Fantasy, Scifi, Horror in general, but specifically anything that is packed with magic is right up my alley.
If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
J.P.: My husband and I have a list. Right now though, it will be our trip this December (hopefully) to South Africa for a safari.
Jonny: Nice! Believe me, I understand. Every day in this quarantine I am daydreaming of going somewhere far away. Crossing my fingers for both of us!
Star Wars or Star Trek? OR Doctor Who?
J.P.: Star Trek. Although I also love Star Wars. To be honest, I’ve never watched Doctor Who.
Jonny: I was raised by Trekkies, so Star Trek is always going to win (especially TNG). Star Wars is cool, I’ve just been really disappointed with the last few movies. Although, The Mandalorian was exceptional!
I love Doctor Who, but they killed my need for it after Tenant left. Who knows, I may pick it back up someday, but I doubt it. Timey wimey.
If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?
J.P.: Oak. I love the shape of the leaves, I find acorns unusually fascinating, and magically, the tree represents strength, stability, health, potency and good luck.
Jonny: Oh, I didn’t know that. Very interesting. I wouldn’t really care as long as I was a beautiful tree. Make me one of those giant redwoods. They’re majestic.
What did you read as a kid? What stuck with you the most?
J.P.: Everything. My parents had a hard time keeping me in books. But I think Judy Blume’s stories were probably my favorite. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret – they’re all really good classics.
Jonny: Interesting choices! I’ve actually never read any of those. I didn’t read the most as a kid, I was all over the place. But I did read Animorphs and Goosebumps, and I vaguely recall reading Hank the Cowdog.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
J.P.: The Darkest Corners of His Mind
Jonny: Ooo, me likey! For me I’d say The Unreality of Jonny since I’m always seeking an escape.
What has been your most bizarre life experience?
J.P.: Oh, I have several. All of them supernatural. One time I was staying at a friend’s place and we all woke up in the middle of the night at the same time after a horrifying nightmare, that were remarkably similar and yet each somewhat personalized only to open our eyes and see shadow people scattered throughout the house. There were clusters of them standing over each of our beds, studying us.
It was terrifying.
Jonny: Oh wow, you and I definitely need to swap stories then. I had this meditation go horribly wrong this one time. Mental scars, I’m telling you!
What do you think would be a fitting epitaph on your gravestone?
J.P.: Wait! I wasn’t done.
Jonny: Mine would be a very street epitaph. “Well, this blows.”
If you could be any superhero, who would you be?
J.P.: Wolverine. It’s the attitude and the claws.
Jonny: Yes, more X-Men references! I’d be Iceman. He’s always been my favorite.
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
J.P: It’s okay to be who you are.
Jonny: Love it. I would tell myself to stop caring what other people think.
What were you like in high school?
J.P.: Misunderstood, a little odd, and definitely dark – but desperately trying to hang with the cool people…until about half way through grade 10 when I realized they were assholes and I didn’t need those kinds of friends.
Jonny: This sounds a lot like some of my experiences in grade school, though I mainly went through that in middle school (aka the nightmare years). In high school I was pretty preppy on the surface but definitely depressed/dark underneath. I was going through a lot of stuff back then on top of being gay. Oi vey!
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
J.P.: Can we create something darker than black? How about Pitch?
Jonny: The most amazing shade of plum. Because purple is the color for royalty, didn’t you know? :p
J.P. and His Works
Tell us about your new book.
J.P: Well, I already mentioned it above. It’s another dark Urban Fantasy story about a first generation born East Indian guy named Dev who desperately wants to have some kind of supernatural ability, and be immersed into the Shadow Realm.
He gets his wish, and quite inadvertently drags his best friend along for the nightmare ride. Dev ends up with all his wishes coming true which turns out to be a mixed bag of both good and bad things.
The tag line of the book is “Be careful what you wish for.”
Jonny: I’m very excited about this development for you!
How did you come up with the title for this book?
J.P.: The work is called Summoned, but I had a really hard time naming the book, and then when this came to me, I wasn’t completely comfortable with it. I’m still not sure I am. But it works. In the story, Dev purchases a summoning board that is designed to summon his desires.
He goes through the ritual to do just that, and then all hell breaks loose.
Jonny: I think given the main plot of your book, this is quite the fitting title. It can be hard to title a work, but this seems perfect.
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
J.P.: I ended up with a picture of a really handsome guy that appeared to me to be of East Indian descent, and all of sudden I ended up with an idea…that just grew…and then the characters became interwoven and they wouldn’t be quiet. So I had to write it.
This is more stand alone, but there are a handful of characters listed in the novel and I have designs on writing more stories about those characters. Dev and Tully (the two main characters from Summoned) will continue to appear throughout the other books, but they won’t be the main focus.
Jonny: Isn’t it nice when inspiration hits you based off of something like a picture and ends up being something so much more? I hope you do continue this idea into other books!
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
J.P.: The magic. It’s always about the magic.
Jonny: Couldn’t agree more.
Do you have a favorite character in your new book? Why are they your favorite?
J.P.: Dev’s best friend is Cam. Cam is flippant and spontaneous and gets everyone in huge amounts of trouble. And yet, he’s adorable and loveable and in the end, really wants nothing more than the absolute best possible life for his friend Dev.
Jonny: I try not to have favorites, but sometimes you just do. I don’t have a fave for Reaper between Gregory and Trent, but for my unpublished novel The Gifted Chronicles I definitely do.
What did you find was the hardest part about writing this book?
J.P.: The sex. I was so uncomfortable writing it. But my Beta Readers seemed to think I did a good job. I always swore I’d never write scenes like that, and yet, here I am.
Jonny: That’s totally understandable. I usually choose to not get into many details regarding sex since I usually write YA, but I’ve tried before and it felt very difficult for me.
How much of your book is based on your own experiences or those of someone you know?
J.P.: There are tiny tidbits of my own personal experiences in all of my books. It’s pulling on those life lessons that I think makes a book more interesting and helps to give them all flavor and texture. But no individual would ever be able to pull out the details from the story that truly belonged to my life. And I never write characters based off of friends.
Jonny: Awesome! I think we as authors pull at least smaller tidbits of ourselves into our works. I have written friends into books, but they evolved into their own characters over time to where they hardly resemble my friends in the long run.
What kind of research went into writing your book?
J.P.: Tons. It always does. Everything from magical properties of certain elements in the book, to various runes and their symbolism and meaning, to East Indian culture, names and food dishes. As I said above, if there’s a spot where a fact could be questioned, I’ve usually looked it up and researched it.
Granted, I may take some artistic license with some things, the foundation of knowledge on the fact is definitely there.
Jonny: Understandable. Like I mentioned earlier, I do plenty of research where needed, but usually end up writing something set in modern times so that the research isn’t completely overwhelming. It just depends on the story really.
What criteria did you use when selecting the cover for your book?
J.P.: The nice thing about belonging to a publishing house – we have an in-house cover artist that does the covers for us. We have some input, but usually we fill out a form and then the cover artist takes that away and comes up with amazing designs.
As much as readers shouldn’t “Judge a book by its cover,” we all do it.
Covers are really important. And in my opinion, the skill involved in creating a beautiful, intriguing and eye-catching cover art for your book is miles away from being able to write a story. Some people may have both, but I’m quite happy to sit back and let someone else do this for me.
Jonny: I’m glad you’re happy with your publisher’s cover designing skills.
I like to have more of a foothold in that part of the creative process and am not sure how flexible I would be if I went through a traditional publisher. I love great covers, and for every single work I want a stellar cover that will draw readers in.
Was there a message in your book that you were trying to convey?
J.P.: Nope. Not really. There’s probably a few messages in there. Be true to yourself. Be careful what you wish for. Hero worship isn’t always a positive thing. But for the most part, I hope it’s a fun story with some sexy fun, and some darkness.
Jonny: I get it. I usually don’t go out of my way to have a message in a book. If there’s several in there, cool. If not, enjoy the story. It’s all about the story for me.
If your book would be made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
J.P.: Oh goodness. I have no idea. I have pictures that I used for the main characters. I understand some of them are models, but in general I don’t really know who they are, and I like to keep it that way. The image I found spoke to me and told me a story. Sometimes finding out about who the person is in the image detracts from that.
Here are the images I used.
The bearded blond is Byron Radcliff – professor and High Priest
The scruffy dude with the leather jacket is the best friend and trouble maker – Cam Habersham
The black and white image is the main character – Devid Khandelwal
And the red head is Toliver Mack (Tully) – the love interest and witch
Jonny: Wow, these are some hunks! I like your picks. I tend to do some picture searches for my characters just so the image in my mind is very clear.
What other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
J.P.: Within the next couple of months, the audiobook version of Magic or Die will be available for public consumption. And the narrator, Robbie Molinari is absolutely fantastic. I have referred to listening to his voice as eating chocolate. It’s deep and smooth and delicious.
I should be ready to submit Blood and Sacrifice (Inner Demons #2) to the publisher before summer holidays…and then I think I’m going to take a little break and concentrate heavily on the plot for Nephilim, Book Two of the Apocalypse (sequel to my debut novel, Daimonion, Book One of the Apocalypse). That one has been a long time in coming. The ideas are not fully formed yet, so I need to take some creative juices and focus my efforts are fully realizing how that story will continue.
Then once I’m done that, Cursed is the next book in the Magus Malefica series (the book after Summoned), and it will focus around Cam.
Lots going on.
Jonny: All of this sounds really great! I’m glad you’re staying busy and working on those projects. Excited to see where things go for you!
Alright, our time is up, sir. One last quick question. Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events, and special offers?
J.P.: I sure do! Come on down to https://jpjacksonwrites.wordpress.com/ and you can see snippets from all of my books, get updates on what I’m working on, as well as book reviews and promotions.
But I always love hearing from readers. Come find me at any of these, and don’t be shy. Say “hi!”
Jonny: Thanks for joining us today!
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with J.P. Jackson. I had a great time chatting it up with him, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about J.P. and his work, he can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
Social Media Links
NineStar Press: https://ninestarpress.com/authors/j-p-jackson/
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