This week's Speculative Fiction Writer is Moonlit author, Jadie Jones. She's a star writer and awesome friend, and it was an honour to interview her for this week's post.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing?
Hi Ellie! Hello, everyone! My name is Jadie Jones, and I am Georgia born and raised. I left for a few years, sure I’d never come back, but that red clay called me home. I have to squeeze in time to write between being a mother of a very busy two year old, and two other jobs. I work as a trainer at a horse farm, and I handle online development for small businesses. I usually write between 8pm-12am.
Q: On your blog you describe yourself as diving head first into the world of publishing. Now that you have a book coming out (congratulations!) would you say you’re learning to swim?
What a great question! The world of publishing still feels like an ocean, but I’m finding my rhythm. I might have even gained some sibilance of a compass, depending on the day. I felt a little blind going through the pre-release steps, but my publisher paired me with an amazing editor, who answered every question I had (and there were many.) Now I feel very prepared for the process with the sequel.
Q: Your debut novel Moonlit comes out on April 16th. Tell us about it.
I’m so excited and so nervous! It’s a strange feeling to watch a dream come true. Moonlit has been described as an intersection between The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Hunger Games. Farm girl Tanzy Hightower is a prisoner of grief over her father’s death, which she feels responsible for. She’s determined to hold the farm together in his absence. One night ride changes everything, and nearly costs Tanzy her life. She loses all of the blood in her body, and it’s replaced by something very… unique. An ancient darkness begins to manifest in Tanzy’s new life. In fact, the only thing more dangerous than Tanzy is who else knows exactly what she can do.
Q: Would you like to share an excerpt with us?
I would love to! In this excerpt, Tanzy is still in the hospital following a near-death experience. Her new friend, Vanessa, notices something very unusual:
“Somehow I don’t think that happened during your accident,” Vanessa says and reaches toward my sternum. I instinctively cover the necklace with my hand but she touches the skin just underneath. “Unless you got that before.”
“That.” She traces three small interlocking circles that are scarred into my skin like a brand. The raised mark is still a fresh red.
“No. That wasn’t there before,” I answer in a strangled whisper. “What do you think it means? What’s happening to me?” The adrenaline coursing through my veins demands me to move, but my nerves flat-line and root me to the spot.
“I don’t know. I think it’s glowing.” Vanessa stares at the mark.
“Maybe it will go away.” I cover it with my hands.
“Maybe,” she agrees. But she sounds skeptical. “Can I see something?”
“Sure.” I drop my hands, expecting her to move closer, but she quickly crosses the room and flips the light switch.
“Oh, Tanzy. You are not going to believe this,” she gasps as soon as the light goes out.
“I can’t describe it. You’re going to have to see it for yourself.” Vanessa motions me over to the mirror. With a slow and careful hand, she lifts the bottom of the sheet that covers the glass.
The scar looks like it’s glowing. Alive, even. The hot pink brand brightens and dims in time with my pulse. I trace it with my finger tip.
“It’s hot,” I say more to myself. Too hot. I can barely maintain steady contact with it. The overwhelming heat returns and begins to spread throughout my body. I dizzily take a step for the window.
“I’ve got to get this thing open,” I say, and search the frame for any kind of latch.
The instant the moonlight touches the scar it cools off. I let out a sigh of relief and rest my forehead against the cold window pane.
The sensation of someone watching drills a hole into my bare skin. I glimpse down at the courtyard below and lock eyes with Lucas. He stands like a statue in the center of the lawn. I stifle a gasp and press my hand against the glass.
What are you doing here? I thought you were all in my head.
“Tanzy! What if someone sees you?” Vanessa hisses from behind me.
I whirl to face her and back against the window so she can’t see past me. I don’t know whether or not he’s really there, and if she doesn’t see him and I do, I’m going to completely lose it.
“I forgot that I didn’t have a shirt on,” I mumble, covering myself with my hands. It takes every bit of self-control I have not to glance back out of the window.
Q: That is a stunning cover. Who did it and how involved were you in the creation process?
I actually wasn’t involved at all – so I can take no credit for it! My editing team revealed the cover and title to me as a surprise. Steve Novak designed it. Isn’t he brilliant? The horses emerging from water is from a dream that Tanzy has, and that every image on the cover is derived from something in the story, which I absolutely love about it. I have a poster-size version in my office.
Q: Moonlit is being published by WiDo Publishing. What would be the key piece of advice you would offer someone seeking a publisher?
It is imperative you get someone else’s eyes on your work before you submit to an agent or publisher. As writers, we are too close to our work. Our minds fill in the gaps we may have left in the story. Find someone you trust who preferably enjoys reading the genre you’re writing, and beg them to tear your manuscript apart. I was very reluctant to do exactly this for a long time. I finally sent it to an old high school friend I hadn’t talked to in years. She’d been my editor for the school paper, and I knew she’d tell it to me straight. Boy, did she. But her feedback was invaluable, and actually changed the course of the story. Yes, it meant a COMPLETE rewrite, but the story was so much better for it.
Q: What are your writing plans post-Moonlit publication?
My main objective is to complete revisions on the sequel and submit it to my publisher as quickly as possible. I don’t want a lot of lag time between Moonlit and book two because I don’t want to make readers wait. I also have signings and events scheduled for the summer, and I’m really excited to meet readers and other authors.
Q: Now for the compulsory random question: do you have a favourite letter of the alphabet and, if so, why?
Probably the letter “M,” because it’s what my friends and family call my daughter. And she’s one of my very favourite things in the world.
Eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that can’t be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods.
When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn’t.
But why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself?
Moonlit will be published by WiDo Publishing on April 16th, but you can purchase both the Kindle and paperback versions at a discounted rate from Amazon and Barnes and Noble this week.
Thank you, Jadie. I must admit I'm in awe of your time management. To be able to find the time to write with a young family and two jobs takes real discipline.
I will be back on Monday, when author and musician Jessica Bell will be joining me.