S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, adrenaline junkie, and New York Times best-selling author of Wintersong and Shadowsong. A southern California native, she now lives in North Carolina. Jae-Jones will be delivering the opening keynote for the upcoming Orlando Book Festival, an annual celebration of books including author panel discussions, writing workshops and book signings held at the Orlando Public Library on April 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Staff member Sarah F. had the opportunity to ask JJ about their experiences in writing.
Sarah Fisk: What first sparked your interest in writing?
S. Jae-Jones: I was an only child for most of my childhood (my brother was born when I was 10) with parents who worked full-time, so I often ended up creating stories and play pretend scenarios to keep myself occupied. Eventually, these pretend scenarios became so complicated that I started writing them down to keep them straight, and I think I’ve been a writer ever since.
SF: You’re also an artist. How does your art intersect with your writing?
JJ: I think the creative impulse is the same across all artistic disciplines; the method is the same, even if the medium is different. I have something in my head that I want to execute in some tangible way. Sometimes I sketch my characters to help me write, but more as a means for me to get to know them in dimensions other than voices in my head.
SF: What is your favorite part of writing books/being an author?
JJ: All of it and none of it at once? The best part of writing is the act of writing itself. The worst part of writing is the act of writing itself. It is simultaneously the most fun and the most difficult job I’ve ever had.
SF: Do you have any writing quirks, superstitions or obsessions?
JJ: Not particularly, although every book I’ve written has been fueled by iced coffee and Twizzlers.
SF: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever researched for a book?
JJ: I am a Ravenclaw, so I exist in a constant state of passive research, haha. More often than not, it’s what I’m researching that inspires a story, not the other way around.
SF: What do you do when you’re not writing or reading?
JJ: I try to find other creative hobbies that let me refill the well. I draw and make visual art, and I also take photographs. I play instruments and sing, and I also sometimes just let myself be a lump on the couch. Admittedly, writing is not always the healthiest lifestyle, so I’ve recently gotten into cycling to hopefully counteract some of that.
SF: What is your one essential piece of advice for aspiring authors?
JJ: Tenacity is key. The ability to pick yourself up and keep going when you fall is the one thing all authors have in common.
SF: What is the most important book you’ve ever read and why?
JJ: Hmmm, what does “important” mean to me? I’m not entirely sure, so I will go with the most emotionally resonant, in which case, it will forever and always be the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.