What inspired you to write your debut novel, “As They Hunt: An Eating Sarah Novella”?
The novella itself was primarily created out of an understanding of effective marketing. Eating Sarah was going to be published in the near future, and since I was a nobody who was more-or-less thrust into the world of indie publishing, I figured a story I consistently updated would be a good way to spread the word.
As for Eating Sarah itself, there were a number of inspirations. Around the time I wrote it, I was coming to terms with the fact that the religion I'd followed my entire life directly conflicted with many of my personal beliefs. I found myself drawn to questions of conscience and why people behaved the way they did. During this soul searching, I came across "Eat Randy" by Julian Smith, and all of a sudden I was absorbed with questions of what would drive a person to consume another human.
Why did you choose the path of Self-Publishing?
I'd like to say that I didn't feel the need for gate keepers and that I felt savvy enough to branch off and start my career on my own, but my reasons aren't quite that admirable. In truth, I was majorly struggling with confidence in my writing. I was working a job I hated, and all my life the only thing I'd been told I was any good at was writing. My believe if my abilities to succeed at becoming published faltered, and I was ready to scrap the whole idea of ever publishing a thing.
On Twitter, however, I happened to see a tweet about a pitch contest. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I entered. In the end, a now-defunct publisher approached me and offered to take a look at my book, and the rest is history.
Do you have any advice for other writers looking to pursue Self-Publishing?
My biggest piece of advice is to publish from a place of strength. Expect that you'll fail, but also be damned sure that you didn't fail due to your own shortcomings. You need to be sure that the book you've written is the best it can be. While you should always strive to improve with each book, don't publish something you wouldn't still be proud of ten years down the road. Put in your dues, find beta readers, hire an editor, and give this your all.
What inspired you to become an author & has it always been your dream?
I've always loved writing, and being an author just felt like the only direction my life could possibly take that would lead to any personal fulfillment. Honestly, however, it was Katytastic on Youtube that really pushed me to think about this seriously. I found her way back in 2011 when she only had around 30 subscribers, but even then her love of writing was contagious. Her enthusiasm was unseen from the people I personally knew, and it was at that point that I figured I should truly give this writing thing a shot.
Where’s your favorite space to write?
I'm a cliche. My favorite spot is a Starbucks that's attached to Indigo Books. I tend to keep myself off the Internet there, and looking at all of the other published books really puts me in a good mind space.
What are your top 5 must haves for a writing space?
Well there's the obvious necessities like a laptop to write on and some coffee to drink. Other than that, as long as I have music, I can write pretty much anywhere.
I suppose if we're really stuck on this whole 5 business, then I also require the place to be somewhat private as I'm known to make very odd expressions as I type. The fifth would be... fingers, I guess? You can't really write if you're missing fingers.
What is your favourite Season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall)? Is your creativity and writing pursuits affected by the season?
My favourite season is Fall. I love that it's getting colder, so I have an excuse to sit inside and drink hot beverages all day. It's also home to NaNoWriMo, which was a huge part of my writing career and will hopefully continue to be. Since I write a lot of dark fiction, the symbolism of the inevitability of the death that Winter will bring really helps me get in the right place.
How many hours a day do you write?
I'd like to say there was a set amount, but there isn't. When I'm in the middle of a book, I'll aim to write at least 1,000 words per day. Depending on how a writing session goes, that can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Of course, if it's going well, I won't stop there, so it really depends on how I'm feeling.
Are you a Plotter, a Pantser or a Plantser?
I'm a pantser through and through, but I'm working to change that. I've run into issues where I have to overhaul major aspects of my books because I didn't have a clear idea of how everything fit together. I'm trying my hand at plotting, but I've had no real breakthroughs with that as of yet, so we'll see if I relapse into old habits.
Because I have a pretty Type-A personality, I’m always curious about other peoples scheduling methods. Do you use a schedule to plan out your life / writing & if so, do you use paper or electronic planning?
The only schedule I keep is that I'll try to write at least once a day if I can. If I try to schedule times to work on my book, I will be physically unable to in that timeslot. I don't work well with rigid schedules, and scheduling writing time ends up making the whole thing feel like a chore.
What is your favorite part about the writing process?
Definitely writing the first draft. There's no expectation of the work at this point, whereas with editing, if you're not making it better, you're doing something wrong. Drafting really lets me get to know my characters and escape from the world.
That said, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy editing. When I get into the right mindset, editing can be more satisfying that drafting, but overall I think I enjoy the first draft the most.
What is your least favorite part about the writing process?
I really dislike planning. It feels so detached from the characters and scenes in my head that I get restless pretty quickly... though, honestly, that's probably just laziness on my part.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
If we're talking first drafts, I can usually bang one out in about two months. This depends on the book, however, but it works as a rule of thumb.
What’s your biggest internal obstacle in getting your writing done?
Self doubt. I second-guess my abilities on a nearly constant basis, and while I don't think I'm a total hack, I'm also aware that there's so much for me to learn about the storytelling process.
What’s your biggest external obstacle in getting your writing done?
Having a job takes the number one spot here. Knowing that I'm spending 8+ hours a day working on things that aren't remotely related to my passions really drains my energy and motivation to write.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don't believe writer's block exists. Sure, you might not always know what comes next in your story, but if you have the ability to type words on a page, you aren't blocked.
Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
A little of both. When I'm writing a scene I'm excited about, there's a palpable energy that fills me up. At the same time, I find those are usually the emotional scenes, and if I don't pace myself, I can become quite drained by these scenes.
Best piece of advice for other writers?
Don't compare your writing to finished books. Those books have gone through countless revisions and edits, and yours is just starting out. Generally, the first book someone publishes isn't anywhere close to the first they've written, so keep writing the kind of book you'd want to read, and you'll get there.
Outside of this--and this is far more circumstantial--don't trust people who over-promise. Trust your gut, and don't let fantasies of success cloud your judgement.
What is your Favorite quote about writing?
“It's hard to walk when your legs are wobbly, but you learned. It's hard to write when your words are wobbly, but you'll learn.” - Ksenia Anske
Which authors are your biggest inspirations?
Victoria Schwab's books have everything I love, and her characters are top notch. Whenever I need inspiration for something fantastical, I'll turn to her.
For contemporary, you can't do better than Rainbow Rowell and Adam Silvera.
And if we're talking pure emotion, Ksenia Anske is my go-to. She's a self-published author who gives away all of her stuff for free. She also writes kickass books, and getting to read about her process is infinitely helpful.
What are you currently working on now?
I've been on a bit of a hiatus since January of this year. Without going into too-much detail, I wrote a book as part of a contract that more-or-less killed my joy of writing. I've been taking this time to figure out what I truly want out of writing and what kind of career I want to follow in relation to it.
The excitement for writing is returning, and I'm currently working on an outline for a fantasy novel I've been wanting to write for the past few years. Hopefully I'll have more to share on that in 2018.
Connect with Jaret
Twitter : @Jaret_Martens