Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Interview with writer Sandra J. Jackson

Writer Sandra J. Jackson joins me today to chat a bit about her new sci-fi suspense, Playing in the Rain.

Sandra J. Jackson was born in Montreal, Quebec but has lived in Ontario for close to 34 years. The last 31 in a rural setting in Eastern Ontario with her husband and children.

A graduate of a 3-year Graphic Design program, being creative has always been Sandra’s passion. Over the years she has enjoyed creating works of art for her family and friends. Her children, however, brought out the storyteller inside when Sandra told them bedtime stories. Her wild imagination lent itself to new and exciting ideas.

As her children grew and the storytelling faded, Sandra’s desire to write blossomed. Fed by her personal experiences, she began writing. As she wrote, her confidence grew and so did her courage. Sandra began sharing her ideas, even volunteering to write articles for her son’s hockey team for publication in the local paper.

An avid reader of many genres, Sandra’s writing does not fall into any specific category. However, her goal is to create stories that pull readers into the book and make them feel as though they are a part of the story.

With several stories in various stages of completion, Sandra made a decision. Armed with her experience of travelling to the east coast, her wholehearted belief in soulmates, and the draw she has always felt for the UK, she completed her first manuscript.

Sandra’s debut novel, Promised Soul, was originally released in 2015 by her former publisher. A short story, Not Worth Saving, was published in New Zenith Magazine’s 2016 fall issue. Her second novel, Playing in the Rain - Book 1 of the Escape Series, released in September 2017 also by the same former publisher. In October 2017, her short-story, China Doll, took second prize in a newspaper contest for Halloween stories. She holds a professional membership with the Canadian Author Association and is a member of Writers’ Ink.

Sandra is currently working on editing Book 2 and 3 of the Escape Series, her first trilogy.

Welcome, Sandra. Please tell us about your current release.
Playing in the Rain is the first book of The Escape Series – a trilogy. It is the story of a young woman who begins to wake from a drug induced hypnosis. She has no idea where she is or who she is. But as her memories slowly start to return, she realizes that she needs to escape.

Playing in the Rain won the 2018 Golden Quill Book Award for SciFi

When the effects of a hypnosis inducing drug fade, April slowly begins a conscious awakening. Memories of her past are unclear and she has no recollection of her identity or her whereabouts.

As the days slip by, April realizes there is more to life than existing when she is introduced to an occupant who does just that—her sister. The more she learns about her environment the more she wants to escape.

Will April remember her past, her sister? Will she have the courage to leave? And if she does, where will she go?

Experience through April’s eyes her struggle to remember and her determination to escape in this sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, suspense story.

What inspired you to write this book?
I don’t think I can pinpoint what inspired the book. It was an idea that came to me and I started writing. However, the very first draft of Playing in the Rain was a stand alone novel with a much darker plot line. I decided to change it and make it a post-apocalyptic sci-fi. To do this I added about twelve chapters ahead of the original beginning. Then I revised what I’d originally wrote to work with the new plot. My characters also aged a few years in the revised version.

Excerpt from Playing in the Rain:
Moments or hours later there was no telling which, my eyes sprung open to the darkened room. I stretched my arms above my head, but a sharp pinch in my shoulder caused me to pull them back down to my side. My hands absently plucked at the cushioned surface underneath me. I rolled the small bits of soft material between my fingers and dropped them on the floor. B2’s quiet and even breaths lulled me into a state of relaxation. My arms and legs grew heavy and sunk further into the cushion beneath me. I was about to cross into unconsciousness, but a low groan pulled me back. The sound of a rustling sheet and smacking lips disturbed the quiet dark surrounding me. “B2!” I whispered. “Are you awake?” I turned my head to the right and stared out to where I imagined her lying beside me.
She groaned again, a little louder than before.
“Is that a yes?”
“Hmmm!” she mumbled. “I w-was having a g-good –”
“Sh!” I placed my finger on my lips, even though I knew B2 couldn’t see my gesture. I turned my head away and stared up at the dark above me.
“What?” she whispered.
“Do you hear that?” My thoughts were fuzzy and unsure. I concentrated on the silence. Am I hearing things?
“I d-don’t hear anything. Let me g-go back to sleep.” B2 stammered with a somewhat cranky voice. I imagined her crossing her arms and stomping her foot. The corners of my lips pulled into a smile, but it was fleeting as my focus returned to the sound I was sure I’d heard. The crease in my brow deepened.
I rolled my eyes. “Listen!” My words were sharp. I closed my eyelids and inhaled, held it, and then allowed it to rush out through my pursed lips. “It sounded…” I searched my memory and tried to recall the sound I was sure my ears picked out in the dark, “like rain.” The blackness closed in around us, and we waited in silence for a sound we hadn’t heard in… How long had it been? Months – years?
“What’s –”
“Sh!” I silenced B2 once again. She shuffled beside me. Even in the dark, I understood she’d rolled away.
Finally, there was a delicate tapping overhead. At first, it was a few light beats, a random collection of taps. Within seconds, it settled into a rhythmic pattern. I was sure it was rain.
“I knew it. It is rain.” I smiled and sat up, my hands behind me for support. My delight did not last long. Where the hell are we? My eyebrows pulled together, and my smile turned into a frown.
“Rain?” B2’s voice whispered. She shuffled once again; her hand brushed the back of mine as she sat up beside me.
I searched my memory for the last time I’d seen rain. Visions from my strange dream of the dried grass came to mind. There was a bizarre feeling, almost an understanding, that it had been a long time. If I knew how long we’d been at C.E.C.I.L., then I’d have a bit of an idea, but my memories were still foggy.
At that moment there was nothing else I wanted more than to see the rain, to feel it wash over my head and down my face as it fell from the sky. My mind tried again to sort through the stored memories I managed to conjure. Unfortunately, they were not clear, and I could not gather any accurate details.
The dream interrupted my thoughts and brought with it visions of cool, soft, green grass. I reveled in the memory. Real grass under my bare feet, my toes curled at the thought. Almost in the same instant, the grass turned to brown, sharp blades. C.E.C.I.L.’s Astroturf flashed in my mind. Grass – that was another thing I longed for, even the brown, crunchy kind.

What exciting story are you working on next?
At the moment I a finishing the final revisions/editing of Book 2 of the Escape Series and then will send it to my publisher. Then I will begin editing Book 3.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I first considered myself a writer when I finished my first manuscript. But I think that consideration was more for me. I didn’t consider myself a true writer until my first book was published.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I would like to write full-time but unfortunately, I do not. I work full-time as a Finance Assistant for a large security guard company. I find time for writing in the evenings and on weekends and whenever I have time off. It’s kind of like having two full-time jobs.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I guess I would have to say my interesting writing quirk is that my stories always begin with the ending and the title of the book before I write the beginning. If I know how it’s going to end then I can work out the details on how to get the story to the ending.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be many things, a doctor, zoologist, artist, author, but I never imagined working in finance. I sucked at math.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would just like to say thank you to my readers for your support. It is truly appreciated.


Amazon book links: Promised Soul | Playing in the Rain

Thanks for joining me today, Sandra.


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Sandra J. Jackson said...

Thank you, Lisa. I had fun answering your questions.