Author Showcase Feature with Book Excellence Award Winner Judy Jackson
Book Title: SEXTET
How did you know you wanted to be an author? I had been writing cookbooks for some time, but then I began to research a true story and realized I wanted to make it into a novel. So that was my first fiction book, The Camel Trail. It still had some food references so it won a Food Literature prize. The process of writing was the best experience of my working life, so that’s when I discovered I wanted to be an author.
What is your advice for aspiring authors? If you had to do it again, what would you have done differently? Never give up. If you have an idea and commitment to the writing, you will produce that novel. Make your day structured: set aside time when you will do nothing else but write. Don’t go out to lunch or coffees with friends, just keep writing. Then, when you submit your book for publication, don’t be put off by rejection. Writers have to be resilient. The very best of them have been rejected before they finally became successful.
Do you have any writing rituals or practices? I like to get up early and start the day with a cup of tea at my desk. This is when I go over what I have written the previous day. It nearly always looks better in the morning, after I’ve done some corrections. Then I have breakfast at about 9.30am, keep writing till lunch and then take a break. It’s a good idea to go for a walk, so you can think about your characters and plot.
Another important thing is to be ruthless about email: don’t keep stopping to read texts or emails. Try to do it only two or three times a day. Try to read a bit in the evenings: learning from good writers is both encouraging and depressing, but it’s valuable to understand how it should be done. Hopefully you’ll get to reproduce some of it in your own work.
What message do you want readers to remember? It’s said that everyone has a novel in them. Certainly everyone knows stories: about their own lives or about people they have met. But putting that down on paper is not as easy as it seems. If you decide to self publish, be meticulous about grammar, layout and appearance. Go over and over your text, till it is the best it can be. And then get someone else to give you a dispassionate view.
I am delighted to hear from anyone who wants to talk about my novels or my food writing.