Have you read Jessie McSpadden books?
Welcome to my interview with Jessie McSpadden where she talks about her book and incredible writing journey.
Hi Jessie! Please introduce yourself and share 5 fun facts!
I’m Jessie McSpadden, so good to meet you! Oh I have many fun facts that make up the crazy wild pathway of my life to get to where I am now.
I grew up in San Diego and went to school to be a CG Visual Effects artist. I wanted to create dinosaurs and dragons for features and television. Really be a part of the fantasy world I’d grown to love through Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Jurassic Park. After moving to Los Angeles I had no job and no money. Only a case of wine, my puppy, and laptop to keep me company. I started to write short stories for fun to pass the time in unemployment. Within a few years my short stories turned into the desire to write longer novellas.
My first book Praetorian Rising started from a dream I had one night. I was listening to Muse before bed. I popped out of bed and scratched out this incredible scene with a bad ass heroine and her struggle to overcome an oppressive High King. The next day, I wrote a scene that would start my obsession with this story. The world of Cydonia and the Kingdom of Aspera. Through all this I pushed my way into the feature/tv world in Los Angeles. I’m now currently a TV Producer by day and an author in all minutes in-between.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I think for me it wasn’t something I consciously thought about, I just always DID write. When I was eleven years old, I asked my parents for a laptop for my birthday. I wanted to be able to write stories when I wasn’t at home. Now, I had no idea how much a laptop was but I asked for one regardless.
Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have that kind of money. I got lucky on my fifteenth birthday and my uncle made me a BRICK of a laptop. It was almost like carrying around a 20lbs. briefcase but I LOVED that thing. Honestly, I think I have always been an avid dreamer and I love creating new worlds. I can’t say there was a single inspiration to lead me to writing. Rather a constant obsession to get the stories in my head out onto a page.
Tell us about your Praetorian Rising Series!
Praetorian Rising is the first of a four book series. I think my book description captures the mood and tone of this series and where I plan to take the story and these characters moving forward:
In a shattered reality filled with questions and secrets, the terrifying truth may not be who she is, but what.
Camille Scipio awakens one morning remembering nothing of her life. The sword and bow feel like old friends as she eases into the safety and comfort of Sierra Village. Able to gut a squirrel in two seconds and hunt in the forest past curfew, she’s devastated when a mysterious beast attacks the village and mortally wounds the family she’s grown to love. The family she failed to protect.
Now, fleeing for her life, and hunted by the tyrannical High King of Aspera, Camille finds herself at a crossroad. Led by genetically superior assassins known as Praetorians, Camille struggles to understand her role in the new reality she’s forced into. As her horrific memories threaten to consume her, Camille must make a choice: join the Rogue rebellion or seek revenge against those who wronged her. Can she defeat the demons within and fight for freedom? Or will she slip into the darkness of her past?
What were the biggest challenges writing the series?
My biggest challenge was the editing process and figuring out how to go about it. It took me a total of eight years to work through my first book to get it to the point to publish and book 2 is going much faster. With editing, I didn’t really know how to go about it but my editor really helped me figure it out. I found that getting through a solid first draft and having my editor review it for overall plot hole correction as well as general theme, mood, and character development was the best way to start.
I found she helped me work through some story structure issues pulling me toward a more solid manuscript in general. Once I had her notes on my first draft, I went through and did a second and third pass before sending it back to her for a more details editing/grammatical sentence structure editing pass. It was the hardest thing for me to figure out in this whole thing but also the most rewarding in the end.
What were the most notable victories?
Figuring out how to PUBLISH ON MY OWN! I think going about getting a book published traditionally is commendable indeed but figuring out how to do this on your own is a HUGE achievement. Self-publishing doesn’t stop at the publishing part. Just because the book is written doesn’t mean you are done, oh no, you just started!
My biggest victory to date is having people who don’t know me and have no connection to me read my book because they find it interesting. That is when you find the truth in your work as well as know that you have reached outside of your circle of support. It’s a great feeling!
What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned in your writing career?
Don’t listen to the troll reviews, but DO take in the honest and critical critiques from those that have taken the time to offer it. Just because someone doesn’t like your style or your story doesn’t mean you are a bad writer, it means you weren’t for them. It took a while to understand that. Sometimes honest negative critiques can offer you the most in finding how to tailor your writing and overall style to your readers.
How were your experiences with the first book different from the second book?
Well the first book I had no idea what I was doing at all. I wasn’t even planning on writing a book I just thought I was messing around with a story in my head. It wasn’t until my first book was over 300k words that I realized perhaps I needed to write more than one. And beyond that it turned into a full blown series.
Book 2 I feel like I know my characters, I know the story and I understand the motives behind my antagonist and protagonist. There is less guessing in book 2, and yet it feels a bit harder too. With less guessing means I need to delve into each mindset to ensure I am true to the characters without breaking out of their roles. That can be hard, but the challenge is so worth the time it takes to do it right.
What were the biggest challenges publishing your books?
Figuring out that I didn’t want to go Traditional. I was at war with myself for a while, but then I realized that I didn’t want to wait on someone else to allow me to live my dream. I took the dive into Indie and I don’t believe for this series that I will go a different route.
The most fun parts of the process?
WRITING! Once you get into it and you can make writing a habit, it is SO fun to see what I’ve accomplished. I find myself giggling at the characters conversation, and getting excited when I find a slick opportunity for foreshadowing that the readers will love to discover. Writing can be fun, and I feel like most often it’s the best part of this lifestyle.
How do you relate to the characters in your books?
I mostly relate to my main character, Camille Scipio. Most people tell you to write what you know, and for me it was a process of finding myself when I started writing this series. Camille goes on a path to figure out who she is and what she is capable of while struggling with the emotional obstacles of life. I can relate to that very much!
How are you different?
In a lot of ways, I do feel I am not as aggressive and outgoing as my lead character. It’s fun to write being that outgoing, a secret little desire of mine to be more like Camille. At least, in the first book. No spoilers but you know, there are ups and downs with all characters and there are some things that Camille decides to do that ANY reader will be screaming at her on the other side of the book, “STOP CAMILLE, NO DON’T DO IT!” I love that about characters like these in Praetorian Rising. They have flaws, some I relate to and some I don’t, but I think it’s what makes them more realistic and easy to love.
What is your favourite part about writing in this genre?
Fantasy is AMAZING. I can make up whatever I want to make up, and yet even within a fantasy world you build in the social structures of every day life because that is what makes a society function. There is politics, social classes, emotional and physical struggles, etc. Fantasy is like writing a non-fictional story but with creatures, religions, and social structures that exist nowhere but in my mind. Hopefully others will obsess over this world as much as I do!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors in this genre?
WRITE! The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to write. Everyday. You are a writer if you write, simple as that. The only way you get better is to do it more often.
Any last thoughts to share about Jessie McSpadden and your books with your readers?
Book 2 is in the editing process now, and I am hoping to reveal the title in the next few months. The goal is to publish Book 2 by end of 2021. It’s quite an aggressive goal since Praetorian Rising was published in July, 2019 but it’s doable. Nose to the page my friends, and I will get this second book out for you!
Thank you so much Jessie McSpadden for talking to us about your series and exciting journey through writing. Stay in touch with Jessie on her website!
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