Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interview with J.M. Cornwell, fiction and non-fiction writer

Welcome, Jackie Cornwell, aka J.M. Cornwell, to Reviews and Interviews!

Let's warm up with a little introductory information.

Where are you from? That's not an easy question to answer. I was born in Columbus, Ohio, but I'm from a lot of places: Germany, Panama, and 46 of the 50 states.

Do you write full-time? Yes and I also work full time.

Can you tell us a little bit about your non-writing job? I am a medical transcriptionist for a network of acute care hospitals in New York and New Jersey, which is the long version. The short version is that I type operative reports. I've been doing it for about 25 years, which sounds like a long time even to me, but, with the advent of the Internet and home computers, I am able to work at home, which gives me more time to procrastinate on writing by worrying about laundry, dishes and cleaning the house.

What made you decide to tackle the genres you write in? I started out writing nonfiction because I had, and still have, a lot of questions. It's the same reason I write fiction. I don't stick to any one genre and let the characters lead me where they want to go. I get them started and they do the rest of the work.

Now we’ll focus a bit on your published writing.

Please tell us about your current release. Past Imperfect is about a woman in a near fatal accident that required a lot of plastic surgery to her face, giving her a new identity. She decides to go back and convince her ex-boyfriend that they are right for each other, but it isn't as easy as pushing characters around in a novel; she's a writer. Her best friend, and handyman, John Logan, who knows about her plans for Adrian Cahill, decides she's making a mistake and can't see what's right in front of her so, he lets Diana Palmer know that she has another choice.

What inspired you to write this novel? I had just broken up with someone who said I wasn't his soul mate and yet when he described his soul mate it was the same way he described me. I decided to write a different ending to our story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? It's the same message that ends The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy's revelation. Sometimes your heart's desire is right in front of you.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I chose a very narrow point of view and focused on Diana, so the only thing I'd consider changing is getting more into Adrian's and Logan's thoughts.

What kind of research do you do to make your novel(s) realistic? It depends on the novel. With Past Imperfect there wasn't much to research because I had lived and dreamed most of the book. I have flown planes and I'm a writer. I've known men like Adrian and Logan and I've been to almost all the places in the book, with the exception of Kelly's Island. For that, I did a lot of reading and looked at thousands of pictures and then talked to people who had been there. The rest of the places in the story are places I know intimately.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? I have two novels that will be published in 2010. Among Women is about a woman who is put in jail for someone else's crime and gets lost in the system for six weeks. She considers most women silly and not worth knowing and is locked in with over 50 women, so it's a nightmare from many angles. She connects with her own voice and in turns gives the women a voice.

The other novel is called Whitecastle Hearts and is a twist on Jekyll, Hyde, and Jack the Ripper. The one thing that has always been missing from the story of Jekyll and Hyde is motivation, so I provided it by finding the motivation in a woman named Delilah Makepeace and Victorian morality. The dates that Hyde appeared in the original story were almost identical to the times The Ripper killed, so it seemed like a natural connection.

I'm also working on a post-apocalyptic vampire story and more stories for the Chicken Soup and Cup of Comfort anthologies. So many stories and so little time.

What ways have you found effective for promoting your books? I'm a novice when it comes to promoting my books, so I hired a publicist. I know my limits and I don't have a lot of time, so I put promotions in the hands of someone who knows more than I do, Linda Barnett-Johnson.

And now for a few fun questions.

When and why did you begin writing? When I was eight years old and living in Panama. Drunk on Homer and Edgar Rice Burroughs and having an active imagination, I wanted to create my own stories and put make my dreams real. My first book was about a little girl lost in the jungle who finds a lost city.

What have you read for fun lately? I read a lot of books for reviews, but the most fun I've had is reading a story by a fellow writer, Mary Ann Peden-Coviello about a wealthy southern family who resurrected their grandmother to find out where she hid her money. The voice and the situation were wonderful even though the story was very short. Even though I had to review Green by Ted Dekker, I thoroughly enjoyed it and rushed through it as quickly as possible to find out what would happen next.

Besides writing, what do you do for fun? What are your hobbies? Well, I used to cross stitch and draw and paint portraits, but I haven't had much time for that. My favorite way to have fun is to write letters to friends, the kind with fountain pen and paper and envelopes and stamps, and to watch movies. I don't watch television and gave up cable because it took too much time away from writing, but I do love watching movies, especially those that are based on novels and short stories. Other than that, I am a licensed amateur radio operator, ham radio, and a sometime gardener.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I'm not sure how to answer that. I've been told my stories seem very real to people and they feel like they're actually there because my descriptions are so vivid. I do use all the senses when creating scenes and I love being able to tie in little tidbits of information from history and personal experience.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Do you want them in order? A writer and a ballerina at the age of eight, a Supreme Court Justice, a world traveler and a writer. Three out of five isn't bad.

And to wrap up…

Is there anything else that you would like to share with the audience? Past Imperfect was contracted by two publishers before L&L Dreamspell published it. The first publisher quit publishing three months before my novel debuted. Two weeks after the contract was signed, the second publisher decided she didn't like the book after all and wasn't going to honor the contract. Six months later I had another publisher and crossed my fingers, which makes it very difficult to type. L&L Dreamspell followed through and the proof is between the covers.

Do you have a website where writers can learn more about you and your writing? I keep a blog where I write about whatever comes into my head called Cabin Dreams at It's a mix of personal observations, all the forbidden social subjects (sex, politics, and religion), using tarot cards to help create stories and characters, and the occasional grammar column that has moved to Suite 101.

How can people to get in touch with you? I'm easy to find through Cabin Dreams or just by emailing me at

Thank you for your time with this interview. It's been fun. I wish you luck with your writing endeavors. Thank you for inviting me to talk about my favorite subject. No, not me, writing.


Loretta Wheeler said...

I enjoyed reading about your books and your life:) I found them all very interesting...loved the comment about the Jack the Ripper/Hyde piece, and found the story about resurrecting a grandmother to find hidden valuables very intriguing!
I've added your blog to my favorite's list and intend to drop by periodically:)
Excellent interview!

Anonymous said...

Hello Jackie,

I enjoyed your comments very much. I am excited about your upcoming books. You know I loved Past Imperfect. I can't wait for your other two to be out this year. Don't ever stop doing what you are doing.


This was a terrific interview. Thank you.

Jacklyn Cornwell said...


There's a lot more to my life, but I'm saving that for future books. Thank you for reading and bookmarking my blog. I hope you find a little something interesting. Don't be afraid to comment.


Jacklyn Cornwell said...


Looks like my other two books won't hit until spring 2010, but at least they're still coming out and there may be more interesting things to blog about in the near future. There is no way I'd ever quit writing, whether I publish any more books or not.