My last interview for 2018 is with Patricia M Jackson, author of romance books, including the House of Donato Series. Thank you, Patricia, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
About Patricia M Jackson
Patricia M Jackson writes romance novels with a mixture of realism and fiction. Sometimes they are comedies or could be classified as suspenseful. Often they’re a mixture of both. Her House of Donato Series features a group of new adults finding love in a turbulent world. She also writes novellas and short stories on occasion. She’s a member of several writer groups, including Northern Lights Writers, a chapter of the RWA. You can find her living in the Minneapolis area with her husband and geriatric dog, Charlie.
What’s the name of the book you’re here to talk about?
Henrietta: Book #1 in the House of Donato Series
Tell us a bit about your book
Tom and Etta have a problem. They’ve kissed passionately but don’t remember it. They are both starting life over, she, as a writer in grad school and he, as a former hockey player, after a career-ending injury. But is anyone ever completely free of their past?
Tom and Etta create a bond formed from friendship, but it may not be possible to start anew with baggage from the past and no clear vision of the future. Will people from the past always come looking for you when you least expect it? Etta finds the courage to move forward in her great-grandmother’s example. It might already be too late.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
They’re very important. Etta is a shortened version of Henrietta, and that name comes from a real woman in my family of that name. Part of the book is based on her real-life story. Tom Donato is a great Italian name for a very Italian guy and there are actually two hockey players who have very similar names: Dom Toninato, who played for the UMD Bulldogs until this past year and Ryan Donato, who plays for Boston College. I hadn’t heard of either of these guys before I picked the Donato name. I guess I picked a really good Italian hockey name. I like ethnic names.
Give us an insight into your main character. What makes them unique?
Etta, oh Etta. She’s kind of a mess at the start of the book, starting her life over and vowing she’s going to put her past behind and live a different kind of life. It takes her all of ten minutes to do something stupid and get herself back into a compromising position. We all do that and this time she comes out of it for the better, having met a wonderful guy. The question is, will she let her past ruin her future? Many of us come close to letting that happen too. Etta is very believable and that’s why she’s a great character. She does things, makes choices that all of us make every day and through no fault of her own ends up in trouble. In the end, her strength and smarts and fortitude get her almost through the toughest of circumstances, but even she needs help. We all need help to get through our struggles and Etta is smart enough to learn that family and friends are who you should turn to for help. I really love Etta and wish she were real.
Where do your ideas come from?
For Henrietta, my idea for a book started with the real-life story of the great-grandmother in the story. Her story has heartache and resilience at its heart, which is a great story, but not enough to wrap a book around (or maybe it is enough). I wanted to tell her story, but in a way that was modernized with something more contemporary, so I pulled in a great-granddaughter with the same name. She had to have her own unique story, so I pulled from a recent news story about an athletic director who had sexually harassed women and pushed the story further to create a series and on and on it went. The stories dwelled in my head for a long time and I was grateful to get them on paper and out of my head.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I do have trailers for my first two books, Henrietta and Isabella. I like them because I’m a musical person and music enhances so much of life. If you’d like to see them, they are on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqkc_prCRxbX-F5O_RJzu1A
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to be happily retired from my day-job and writing full-time while traveling with my hubby to see all the wonderful places I’ve never had time to see. I’ll have twenty more books out and be fabulously rich. Maybe there will be a movie made of one of my books. Oh, now it’s just dreaming, isn’t it? I’d be happy just to be retired and still writing every day.
Have you always liked to write?
Yes. Well, I’ve always liked telling stories. I haven’t always gotten them put down on paper, but I’ve always pondered stories in my head. When I was in junior high I wrote a very short story/speech about a disturbed young girl and performed it as “original oratory” and did very well. I learned then that I had a knack for creating plots and characters but didn’t do anything with it for decades. One day the stories just had to come out.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
Yes, I read the reviews. When they’re good and say such amazing things about my writing, I’m often surprised and don’t know what to say. When they’re bad, the same is true. Both come from a place where I have very little influence, the reader’s perspective. I mean, we all read from where we are, with our past experiences coloring our world, so each person brings their own set of taste and preferences. If I wrote that struck someone’s fancy, that’s great. If I didn’t, I’m sorry, but I wrote the book I wanted to read and if you didn’t like I am sorry. I don’t respond to reviews either way because they’re a reader’s opinion and they’re entitled to their opinion.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Marketing. I stink at it. It’s like a giant commercial for yourself, and I’ve never been good flaunting my positive attributes. I don’t think I have enough ego for sales. I am not a salesy, smarmy person at all. My father was a salesman, and every time I try to make my marketing more aggressive, I feel like I’m using one of his lines. I just hate marketing and pushing my books, but that’s how books get read so, it’s a double-edged sword.
How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a book?
Somewhere between six to eight weeks. I write a little bit at a time, plan things extremely well before I start so I know where I’m heading and let it fly. I write very fast, so it doesn’t take long to get a rough draft done at all. Cleaning it up afterward takes forever.
What are you working on now?
I’m drafting a young adult paranormal romance series that came to me in a dream. It’s nice when story just pops up halfway plotted for you like that.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Gabriel risked a look back into the stillness of the gloomy forest and saw it, the glimpse of light on steel. It was his prophecy after all. His pursuers had changed up their tactics and were moving in for the kill. They wanted it tight and up-close and personal, and Gabriel saw it, the telltale sign. The vulture swooped through the forest, crying out as it descended toward him. This was the moment he’d seen, and he knew what this sign meant. There was no point in fighting it anymore.
He turned his eyes up toward God and pleaded for his baby girl. God help her! Then he raised his arms to the sky, awaiting the final action that would be his undoing. It was exactly as it had been in his vision and he never saw the knife.
Why should a potential reader buy your book(s)?
Escape. I work very hard to keep things interesting in my books, to allow the reader just a moment of escape from their day-to-day life. Hopefully you’ll want to keep turning the page to see what happens next.
Where did your love of books come from?
My mother. She could read an entire novel in one day with no problem. It was hard to keep her in books. I don’t read like that, but she instilled a love of reading for escape in all of her kids.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
Yes, I do. I’ve been a programmer/data analyst for twenty-five years in lots of different industries, including banking and marketing and, for the past eleven years, health insurance. On most weekdays I put my energies into efforts for a leading health insurance company trying to help millions of Americans live healthier lives.
Available formats: ebook, paperback and audiobook