A Few Secrets

I am visiting over at Jacqueline Ward's blog today! Be sure to stop by and say hi and! check out a few of my writing secrets in her excellent segment What, When, Where?

Hope you're all enjoying the summer. Happy readings!

And BIG thanks to Jacqueline for having me over! 

A Peek Into Your Life J.A. Christy

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

I was hooked by the cover of  J.A. Christy book, which is coming out as an eBook this week thanks to the folks at Elsewhen Press. So, I went to see what a SmartYellow was. What did the title mean? or all that yellow??? Her book sounds like something I'll enjoy :)  I'm looking forward to reading it and was excited to find out more about this upcoming author, so naturally, I invited her over for a little peek into her life.

To find out more about this story, check out the premise HERE.

Thank you so much for stopping by J.A.! I know this is a busy and exciting week for you. Congrats on the new release!

Where did you get the idea for SmartYellow?
I got the idea from a TV series starring Rob Bryson and Steve Coogan called The Trip. It started with a conversation between them about surviving or living. I was interested in the difference between people's experiences of simply living day to day with little ambition and meaning compared with others who live life to the full. Also, what social dynamics make these two states better or worse, something explored in SmartYellow and, in many ways, through SmartYellow. At the time, I was researching thought experiments and I was very interested in Schrodinger's Cat and the question of decoherence, both of which feature in the novel in unexpected ways.

Around the same time there were riots in Manchester, where I live, and a spotlight on how groups of disenchanted young people (and some older ones) had taken action. There were many articles about social control, and I just took that one step further. So the idea was really fragmented until the main character Kat came into being and I was able to filter them through her life. 

Is there a message you try to pass on while writing? Or a theme that emerges naturally?
I always start with a central theme and a core idea, as well as finding out what the characters want, before I start writing. I'm a great believer in idea gestation and I've found that once the idea is ready to be written it's fairly formed. I enjoy reading novels that have a central message, novels that have depth, and I hope that the subtext of SmartYellow concerning social inequity comes through.

Sometimes an overarching theme emerges and sometimes a story is just someone's story. I don't try to force it beyond my original loosely formed ideas.

What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on a second speculative fiction novel and a crime novel. I'm
one of those lucky people who can multi task and switch gears easily. The speculative fiction novel is in the gestation stage, with me waking very early and scribbling notes and calling my own answering machine with ideas! The crime novel is in the editing stage and I am working on it with my agent. I've got a couple of short stories on the go, but these can take between a week and a year to complete When I'm not writing novels I'm writing screenplays - nothing serious as yet but watch this space. 

What book would you recommend as "this is a book every writer should read”?
For me there are two, each with a fantastic message. The first is Scarlett Thomas' 'Monkeys with Typewriters'. The thing that sets this book aside is the chapters on seed words and themes, and on how to organise ideas. The second is John Yorke's 'Into the Woods'. While a lot of it concerns screenwriting and script structure, I had a real light-bulb moment about 'show and tell' whilst reading this book. 

I think writing books are invaluable, as are writing communities. It's so easy fall into the trap of complacency and feeling that art matters over structure and it took me a long time to realise that the structure of the story is the container for the magic of the art.

Is there a particular genre, target audience or age group you write for? Why?
I write crime fiction and speculative fiction for adults. I started out attempting to write chick-lit, but every novel I wrote ended up dark, with someone dead, or thick with 'issues'! When I started submitting my work to agents some of them commented that perhaps I should consider writing in the crime genre instead. As a psychologist I am interested in the criminal mind and the social dynamics of crime and war and I've developed this into a novel about women on the peripherals of modern warfare.

Speculative fiction has emerged out of my love of speculative novels. As a child, I read Alan Garner and I was enchanted. I carried on reading speculative fiction as my science career developed and I became more interested in 'what if's' and different worlds? Speculative fiction comes from a different part of me than crime fiction - perhaps my heart.

Tell us about something you've done that you're proud of. 
I've got an MBE! I am not a Royalist and my politics are to the left, but when I was recognised for my work with vulnerable people I was proud of myself and all the people I work with. I was really surprised when I got the letter as I had no idea who had nominated me. I realised that it would position me to help even more people and it was a unique experience to go to Buckingham Palace to accept it. It really humbled me to meet the exceptional people who were there and to hear their stories. I didn't trip up but I did shed a tear!

What do you do for a living?
I've worked as a barmaid, an auditor, a dancer, an accountant and as a cashier in a garage! I've even worked in a BT canteen when I was sent there in error by a temp agency, which didn't work out so well as I am not good with food! In the end I got a PhD in psychology and I work as a health psychologist and as a CEO for a national charity. I also do some freelance work around workplace communications - including storytelling - and health dynamics. 

Although I have been writing all my life, it was around seven years ago I started to work professionally as a writer. I love writing, but I also love my day job and the two sit together quite nicely.

Thank you so much for stopping by! It was great getting to peek into your life. And!! best of luck with the new release this week! 

To check out more about J.A., visit her at her hangouts: 
Twitter: @smartyellowtm
Blog: www.smartyellowtm.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JacquelineAChristy