I found a YA book series called “44” that I really enjoy and so I wrote to the author Jools Sinclair to let her know.  It’s one of the perks we enjoy in the world today…having the technology to contact an author almost instantly!  Nowadays you can “friend” them on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter, email them directly or subscribe to their websites and blogs.  I love the connectedness of it all.  Well, at least sometimes I do!

So anyway, after reading 44 Book 3 in the series (by the way, Book 1 is FREE!), I contacted Jools and asked her if she’d be willing to do an interview.  She said, “Yes”!!  Even though she’s busy with the recent publication of Book 4 and all the hoopla involved with that AND she’s working on Book 5, she still took some precious time to answer my questions.

Before we get into the interview, I’d just like to give a bit of background on the “44” series.  It begins when seventeen-year-old Abby Craig plunges into an ice-covered lake and drowns.  She is declared dead and for 44 whole minutes remains thusly.  But then, miraculously, she wakes up and the world as she knew it is different to her.  She can’t see colors, memories have been erased, and her friends all hate her.  The love of her life, Jesse, is acting strange and as if that isn’t all bad enough, she begins to have visions of a killer.  Her life, Abby soon comes to realize, is changed forever.

Seriously, as you get into the books, you really come to care for poor Abby and are intrigued by the characters surrounding her.  It’s a decent series and I hope Jools has many more stories for Abby to endure!

I’ve always been intrigued by people who have “come back to life” after suffering through a period of death.  It surely must be life-altering.  Many people who have done so seem to develop psychic skills or spiritual connections they hadn’t experienced before their “death”.  This is really a topic right up my alley.  And because of that, I just HAD to contact Jools again and get to know her better.

So, without further ado, here’s her interview! (Gosh, a poet and didn’t know it…sorry, couldn’t resist).

Jools:  Deb, first off thank you SO much for inviting me to your fantastic blog. It is an honor to be here!

Me: Thank YOU, Jools, for agreeing to the interview!! So tell us, what inspired you to write the “44” book series?

Jools:  I’ve always been interested in stories about psychic abilities, whether it’s a novel or TV show or article or movie. I love those type of stories and I’m sure that everything I’ve read and watched over the years has inspired me in one way or another.

Another huge inspiration is living here in Bend, Oregon. Bend is such a great and interesting town. It’s a little off the radar and full of eclectic people and surrounded by lush, natural beauty. I knew it would make a great setting for a novel and a series and had wanted to write about it for a few years, even before I started the series.

And finally, I guess having a few paranormal events happen in my life probably fueled my interest in writing about such things.

Me: What kind of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite?

Jools: Honestly, it would be hard to choose a favorite. I’m an avid reader and read in all genres (except Sci Fi!). But I will say that Ernest Hemingway has always been a huge inspiration. A few years ago I had a “Hemingway Summer,” and read all his books and short stories. I love his style, which is stark and blunt, and I love how he experienced life to the fullest and then wrote about those experiences. One of my very favorite books is Old Man and the Sea, which I reread every few years.

I love short stories too, and am a huge fan of Ron Carlson, Amy Tan, Stephen King, Antonia Nelson to name just a few. I also love mysteries and thrillers and non-fiction as well. Of course, a good ghost story is always exciting!

Me: Totally agree with you about the ghost stories, they sure can be exciting! What is your favorite movie and/or TV show?

Jools:  I love movies and have to admit that I watch a lot of them! Usually you can find me in front of my large HD TV late at night after I’ve closed the lap top and my eyes are aching and blurry from writing all day!

My taste is pretty eclectic and I’m all over the board, depending on my mood. Some nights I’m like Abby in that I want to watch old black and white movies, like Out of the Past, Ten Little Indians, Casablanca, The Stranger. But I also love Hannibal,  Gosford Park, and The Godfather. And, of course, I especially love ghost stories, with the 1989 BBC version of The Woman in Black topping my list.

There are also some amazing TV series out there too…Madmen, Justified, Game of Thrones. I’m also into Downton Abby these days, which I mention in Book Four.

Me:  I totally love Downton Abby!  Granted, it’s not spooky, but it’s epic and a great depiction of the aristocracy in an era gone by and those that served them. But let’s get back to you! How many books do you hope to write in this series?

Jools: I’m not too sure. As long as I feel there still is a fresh energy in the series and a story to tell, I’ll just keep writing them. I love the characters and what’s happening, so I’ll go as long as it feels right. I feel that there’s probably enough there for a few more years.

Me: That’s awesome to hear! I’m quite excited to read more of Abby’s adventures.  So, why did you pick the location you did for your books?

I was born in Los Angeles, raised in the San Fernando Valley, and then lived in the Portland area for a while. So when I finally got to Bend, it was incredible. I walked outside and saw seven snowy mountains in the distance. You can go kayaking on the river before breakfast, hike on a trail in town on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s just an entirely different way of living and I love it.

The small city is pretty cool as well. So I thought, why not add a little bit of a paranormal to a story based here? Plus, I like to write what I know. I know Bend pretty well now. It helps a lot living here.

Me: I think it’s great that your stories take place in your home town.  I’m doing the same thing now with my own Tess Schafer, Medium series (an idea totally inspired by you, by the way!). So, what do the “locals” think of your books?

Jools: I’ve heard from a few fans who love the books and I was invited on the local morning show, Good Morning Central Oregon, and was interviewed. The host, Kristi Miller, was amazing and a fan and once I got over my nervousness, it was a blast! So I would have to say it’s been great so far!

Me: How totally cool to have a local television show recognize you for what you are doing!  That must have been an awesome experience! So tell us, Jools, do you believe in ghosts?

Jools: You bet I do! But I’m like Abby…I keep my eyes down and make sure they don’t catch me staring at them! And I really, really believe in them about one in the morning, walking through the dark living room to the kitchen for a midnight snack! Yikes! Sometimes I just give up on the snack plan if the goose bumps get too intense.

Me:  I do wonder sometimes if writing about ghosts conjures them up.  It sure enough seems that way on occasion!  Obviously ghosts scare you, does anything else?

Jools:  Rattlesnakes, paddling in a canoe on a large lake in the wind, grizzly bears, and sharks when I’m trying to relax in tropical waters. My list used to be much longer, but I’ve learned that it’s important to move past my fear so I’ve cut down on a few of them.

Me:  That’s really pretty cool that you are cutting down on your fears.  I think it’s something many of us need to work on…fear can really have a stranglehold on our lives sometimes.  You’ve just released Book 4 in your series and you say on your blog Jools Sinclair that you are working on Book 5.  Just how often do you write?

Jools:  Well, pretty close to every day. I do take about two weeks off after I’ve finished a book, but even then I’m thinking about the next story. Since I’m working on 44 Book Five now, with a release date of August 1, I will be at the computer every day for a lot of hours until it’s published.

As the book unfolds, the hours I write each day increase. The first few weeks I’m writing maybe only 4 hours a day. Then it’s 5 or 6. And then, during the last few weeks before publication, I go into an insane mode where I’m writing and editing from morning until night. It’s a crazy time, but quite magical, because in those last few weeks I literally never leave the story or the characters. I wake up, start writing, and stop late into the night. And no matter what I do for the rest of the time, the characters and scenes don’t stop talking to me. I’m right there with them until publication.

Me:  Yeah, a writer’s life can be all-consuming! What advice would you give to the fledgling writers hoping to publish, or the newbie writers struggling to get their books noticed?

Jools:  Follow your bliss. It’s the best advice I’ve ever heard (Joseph Campbell) and it applies to everything, including becoming a successful author.

If you’re a writer, make sure you love doing it, that it calls to you from the depths of a dark night, that there is no choice whether you write the story in your head or not. That you shake when you write those emotional scenes. That you feel something very special, very intense, very satisfying deep down after putting in a long day with your words.

If those things are happening for you, if you are following your bliss by writing your stories, then you’re already there. No advice needed.

Me:  Great advice!  Truer words are not often spoken!  So, I’m quite curious, what do you do in your spare time?

Jools: I love to cook, eat great food, watch my favorite international soccer teams play (Go, Barcelona!), watch movies, go to concerts, hike up in the mountains in the summer and snowshoe through forests during winter, kayak and canoe down rivers and across lakes. I love traveling, and love the Southwest and hiking in red rock country. I also love going to Europe and even though I don’t get there as much as I would like to, I am obsessed with reading blogs about Florence and Paris and Barcelona and always have a plan for returning in the works.

But lately, spare time is hard to come by so most everything I just mentioned is on the back burner! But that’s okay since it feels incredible to be doing what I love and I’m so very appreciative that I get to write for a living!

Me: Those all sound like very nice activities!  Especially the cooking and eating great food! (smile)  I’ve been to Barcelona, Paris and Florence (while serving in the military) and all three cities are beautiful.  I too hope to return again someday. Thank you so much, Jools, for stopping by for a chat!  I look forward to all your future writing projects.  You ever have a yen to visit again, please let me know.  You are always welcome. 

Jools:  Thank you SO much, Deb, for inviting me to visit your amazing blog! I think you’ve got quite a special hometown too and love how you’re writing about it!

So that concludes my chat with Jools.  She sounds like an amazing person, doesn’t she?  You can visit her blog Jools Sinclair  and/or follow her on Twitter: Jools Sinclair.  Feel free to leave a question or comment!  I’m sure Jools would love to hear from you.  I know that I would!  Until next time, blessings to all and Peace Out!