Today on the blog, I am going to interview a great author, very talented artist and a good friend of mine…though we’ve never met in person! Jessica Williams and I met through the Dragon’s Rocketship a couple years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch through my leaving social media and my blog hack and destruction. Well, she has a new book out, so it’s time for an interview!
So, can you please tell the audience about yourself?
Sure! I’m a stay-at-home mom with three crazy kids and seven completely insane cats…all indoors. Before that (once upon a time), I was a graphic designer and illustrator that actually got paid for my work. I gave that up to be a full-time mom and haven’t looked back. Luckily, that led me into spending more time doing something that I never thought I’d love so much – writing!
When did you start writing? What motivates you to do so? What inspires your writing?
Technically, I suppose I started writing back in high school, which I won’t tell you how long ago that was. But it was pretty terrible stuff, all hand written and beyond cliche. I got more serious about it in college. I’m not sure what motivates me other than really enjoying giving a character a life and purpose. But inspiration would definitely come from all the fantasy movies and books I’ve experienced. I also get a lot of inspiration from my artwork and include many of them in my writing.
Imagia…this is the world you have created. Please tell us a little bit about this magical place?
Well, let’s see. It’s a world that was born of the imagination from children in the real world (Earth). As the world grew, so did the lore and wild ways of the land. It is a place meant to give a child a true adventure while their parents are none the wiser. As they grow, their adventure becomes nothing more than a memory of a dream. At least, this is what it was meant to be…until darkness tainted its purpose.
The Gathering is the second book in the Gateway to Imagia series. Without giving too much away, can you give the reader a idea what they have in store with this great book?
Hmm…well that’s tough. In the first book, the main character, Sam, was only ten years old. This book takes place several years after the first with Sam as a teenager with powers that he struggles dealing with. It’s a bit darker than the first one, in my opinion, with the first one being lighter fantasy. I’d say it’s more mature than book one, but that’s what growing up is like. Only, most teenagers can’t destroy large buildings with their minds.
Sam Little is the main character, I’d like to ask Sam a few questions. Sam, what is your favorite aspect of Imagia and why?
That’s easy. My friends. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not when I’m there. They all know me really well…more than anyone back home. And my Guardian, Yetews? Yeah…he’s pretty awesome. You should meet him sometime.
Another question for Sam; when you imagine something, where does that come from? Is it simply something you create, or do you take bits and pieces from other things you’ve seen, experienced? Quite simply, how do you imagine?
Um…well…I don’t think I can really explain it very well. But I guess…well…as things are happening, I just have to picture what I want to create in my mind and really believe that it’s there and then suddenly…it is. But I have limits. I can’t imagine food for some reason. It’s annoying. Because I really miss pizza.
Okay, Jessica…fun question. If you could imagine one thing and add it to the world we live in, what would it be? A new animal? A new invention? A new location?
Oh goodness! Definitely a new animal. Now the question is, how would I choose? I’d love to imagine a creature that can translate everything that animals say so that I could speak to them. That would either be really fun, or end terribly. And I’d probably never eat meat again!
You are also an illustrator. Can you tell us about your illustrations? Were you an illustrator before you were a writer?
I actually started drawing very early and loved it. I never ever thought “Hey, I’m totally going to be a writer one day.” But I did think I’d go somewhere with my art…which is probably why I went to school and got my B.F.A in graphic design and illustration. My illustration is mostly fantasy and photo-realism. I love drawing animals (horses are one of my favorites). But leave me alone with my imagination and I can come up with tons of crazy creatures!
The internet is an amazing thing. It can bring people that live on opposite sides of the world, or just a few states over, together. We became friends through a great FB group. Tell me, how have you used social media in your writing?
Unsuccessfully. Ha! Is that an appropriate answer? Truthfully, I’m terrible with the social media gig. Partly it’s because I’m still stuck in the 1980’s when social media didn’t exist. I can barely operate my phone on a good day. I try, but don’t have much success with it. Maybe when I’m a famous millionaire writer that will change.
A second part to the above question involves promotion. Are they any things you have tried that worked for promoting your books? Anything that didn’t work?
The only promoting I’ve really done that worked wasn’t online. I did a program with elementary aged students at a school. I gave a presentation and sent postcards to anyone who read my books. As word spread in the school, I actually sold more books than I ever did through an online promotion or anything like that. Being friendly with librarians helps them promote for you. Postcards were fun to do, but unfortunately I have giant stacks of them left over and nothing to do with them. Something that didn’t work? My facebook page. I don’t think I’ve gotten one new sale from that at all. But I keep trying!
What are your plans for the future? Anything you can tell us about?
I’m working on the third book to the Imagia series and also a series of short stories that would be a companion piece to the trilogy. I also write and illustrate childrens books. I have two published and am working on a new one about fire safety with a dragon called Oliver. I’m hopeful to get in contact with our local firestation and use the book as a way to raise money for firefighters.
And finally, the big question I ask to end every interview. It’s very cliché, but I have to ask it. What advice would you give a young (or old) author/artist out there just starting out?
Don’t get stuck on the big picture or a big paycheck. If you’ve touched one mind with whatever you’ve created – art or writing – then you’re successful. If you consistently ask yourself, “What if people don’t like it?”, then you’re going to start hating what you do and give up. Create because you enjoy it, not to please everyone. Because you can never ever please everyone. Also, have another writer or illustrator friend that you can count on to read your stuff and visa versa. I’ve noticed that it helps keep you from hating your stuff and giving up altogether. Maybe like a creative accountability partner, for lack of a better term. (Thanks for all your help by the way, Mike!)
Jessica, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. We wish you great success on your new book, and in the future.
Thanks for having me! It’s always a pleasure!
If you want to follow Jessica, please click on the links below.