Hi everyone. Today, I am interviewing Elaine Jackson, author of The Journey And Other Short Stories, an anthology of three short stories. I read the synopsis of each and think this book has something for everyone. With that said, let’s get started.
Welcome Elaine, to my little closet in cyberspace. Thanks for agreeing to this interview hope you don’t mind the crowded space. Okay, let’s get started. Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: I live in Camberley, Surrey in the UK. I’m married with a son at University. I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember, always had my nose in a book (even at my own birthday party – it was the latest in the ‘Silver Brumby’ series, I was probably about eleven years old, and I’d been desperate to read it for months), and I suppose I’ve always wanted to write, too – it just took me a quarter of a century to get to a point in my life where I decided to make it a priority and just go for it.
Q: The Journey and other short stories is an anthology. Why did you decide to use this sort of format?
A: I had been writing my first novel for going on two years, and also kept coming up with ideas for shorter stories as I was writing. As a break from the main project, I wrote several shorter stories, and decided to publish those first – hoping to build up a reader base I suppose, and get my name ‘out there’.
Q: In the first story, entitled The Journey, there is a catastrophic event. Without revealing too much, what’s this story about?
A: It’s about a young widow who has more or less closed down after the death of her husband and baby son. She’s trying to move on but although she’s working, she’s kind of just existing, waiting for the pain of her loss to go away. When she meets Tom during an accident on the London Underground, and they emerge to find the city deserted in the wake of a catastrophic event, she suddenly has new priorities… this short story is what inspired me to write my first full-length novel, working title ‘All Our Tomorrows’ – but during the course of the first and second drafts the theme, premise and plot all evolved to a point where I realized that the original short story could almost be a stand-alone. So I did some polishing and re-editing, and this is the titular story of the collection.
Q: The second story, entitled Gideon’s Road, the plot seems real interesting. Without giving away too much, what is this story about?
A: ‘Gideon’s Road’ is about a man who wakes up in a ditch on a deserted country road – he’s weak and ill, he has no memory of who he is or where he is – or how he came to be there. He is taken in by an elderly widow and slowly recovers. He takes the name ‘Gideon’ and gradually accepts the reality of the world he finds himself in, but he knows there has to be more… there’s possibly a full-length novel in this premise too, if I ever get around to developing it!
Q: The third installment of this trilogy is entitled, I think You Knew My Father. Again, without revealing too much, what is this tale about?
A: This story is about a dishonest journalist who uses underhand methods to secure his place on the first manned mission to Mars – and what consequences unfold as a result.
Q: Of the three tales, which is your favorite?
A: I think it has to be ‘The Journey’ – partly because it was my first, and partly because the premise has so many possible permutations. I can’t say too much about that because I’d be giving away too much about ‘All Our Tomorrows’, but all the ideas fill me with excitement – I want to write them all!
Q: Of the three, which was the hardest to write?
A: Again that would have to be ‘The Journey’ I think – mainly because of all the possible ways the initial premise could go – alternate reality, time-travel, dystopian or post-apocalyptic … I settled on one of those for ‘The Journey’, ‘All Our Tomorrows’ has another… and maybe there’s even another book to be written about the others!
Q: Which character did you enjoy writing?
A: I enjoyed writing them all, to be honest – they’re all so different, but they all find themselves faced with situations they find frightening or inexplicable, and they all deal with it in different ways.
Q: Which character was the hardest to create?
A: Without a doubt, that would be Eva in ‘The Journey’ – finding the right balance for her was hard! She’s been a widow for a year at an awfully young age – how should she behave, would she be ready for another relationship or not, how would her priorities change in the environment that she suddenly finds herself in…in my first draft she was way too passive. Hopefully she is now a well-rounded character with whom readers will be able to identify.
Q: What is your favorite genre and why?
A: Science-fiction/Paranormal, most definitely! I’ve been reading the genre and enjoying Sci-fi TV Dramas and films for as long as I can remember. It started with shows like ‘Captain Scarlet’ and ‘Star Trek’ and continues today with ‘Paradox’, ‘Flashforward’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (the re-boot) and of course the best of them all, ‘Doctor Who’, which I love. The premise (a mad alien in a blue box who can go anywhere in space and time) is just so brilliant. I’ve read and loved all the classics, ‘Dune’, ‘I, Robot’, ‘Stranger in A Strange Land’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ and so on, but I don’t really write ‘hard’ science fiction (alien planets, space battles, intergalactic exploration) – I prefer to delve into the more ‘home-grown’ variety, often in a more every-day and contemporary setting, where ordinary people find themselves caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I also love to read crime/detective stories, so if I can combine the two…
Q: Do you plan to continue writing anthologies or will you be working on a novel?
A: I’ve no doubt that there will be more anthologies to come, but my next two projects are novels – ‘All Our Tomorrows’ (elements of time-travel and genetic science gone wrong, themes of loss and betrayal) and ‘Who Killed Maggie Wren?’ (murder/mystery/science-fiction).
Q: In the first story, it seems to deal with a dystrophic theme. Where did you get the inspiration to write it?
A: That’s quite difficult to answer without giving too much away! I suppose the obvious answer would be ‘War of The Worlds’, initially – but ‘The Journey’ is not really about alien invasion…
Q: The second is more like an alternate life. Where did you get the inspiration to write it?
A: That idea came simply out of an image, and the words ‘Gideon’s Road’ – who is Gideon, and what is his story? I often begin with a title and then explore possible scenarios. There is also a tie-in with ‘All Our Tomorrows’, but I can’t say too much about that right now!
Q: The third, a futuristic adventure. Where did you get the inspiration to write it?
A: I wondered what might be a big journalistic payday in this very accessible world we have today, and will have in the near future – reporters used to accompany expeditions, sending back reports overland, which readers back home would eventually get to hear about in the papers. Then you had the telegraph, which speeded the process up a bit! Nowadays, with the global communication network, anyone can report anything as it happens, there are few big, exclusive ‘scoops’ anymore -but when you’re the only journalist 249 million miles from home, and communication opportunities are limited, it’s going to make a pretty good book deal. Add in a hint of underhand behavior by said journalist to get the gig, and something unexpected en route…
Q: Based on your experience, what advice would you give new writers?
A: I’ve been writing a very short time compared to some, so I’m by no means an authority, but I’d say the most important advice would be: ‘Don’t give up!’ If you have a story (or stories) you want to tell, you will find a way. Try to get honest and respectful feedback on your work from other writers, and learn to give the same back (this is an important part of becoming a writer, because you can learn so much by seeing what works or doesn’t work for other people – it’s scary at first but if you’re honest and respectful then it works) – maybe join a writer’s group in your area (if there isn’t one, start it yourself!) or find a writing community online. Take a creative writing course if you can afford it, or pay a professional to critique your MS. Write something every day, even if you never use it – someone told me that the writing brain is like a muscle and you have to keep it in shape, and I think that’s true. And if you find yourself thinking that someone else will surely have already written your story, remember that you can give a roomful of writers the same premise or theme and they will all come up with something slightly different…all equally valid. So, go for it!
Okay, that wraps up this interview with Elaine. Please visit her website and blog as well as the website where her book is available. Thanks!!
Available at Amazon UK Only:
Author’s websites, blog and twitter: