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Interview: Jack Chaucer

Hey guys!

So I did a little interview with the amazing Jack Chaucer, author of Streaks of Blue and Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble. I hope you enjoy. Don't forget to join the giveaway for Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble! :)

1. When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

I think it was in third or fourth grade. I remember coming up with my own fictional story over a weekend and presenting it to the teacher like a little suck-up for extra credit. I don’t really remember what it was about, likely a haunted house or something, but I do remember getting a rush out of conjuring something up like that. I went on to become a sports writer for a living. Now I’m a news editor who moonlights as a novelist.

2. Why did you decide to write a sequel to Streaks of Blue?

I guess I was amazed by the reaction to Streaks, and how many readers loved the story and loved Nikki. It also was interesting how other people found her completely annoying, a sentiment that actually comes up in “Nikki Blue.” I was definitely done with the topic of school shootings, outside of further exploring what led Thomas to go down that road, but I wanted to continue Nikki’s story and see where she went next. It was quite challenging to dream up a whole new arc for her, but I think it worked.

3. What are your favorite writing spots?

I have a blue reclining chair. That’s where I always handwrite the entire first draft. I can’t come up with the initial story while I’m sitting at the computer. I’ll handwrite a scene and that inevitably gets my mind swirling with possibilities for the next scene and beyond. I’m always writing notes here, there and everywhere when ideas pop up. My best ideas usually come to me while I’m driving around, taking a shower or sometimes after I’ve had a couple of drinks. That’s actually how I came up with the idea for Adam tricking Nikki into taking LSD in “Streaks.”

4. What is the best advice you've ever been given?

The only difference between a professional writer and an amateur writer is the professional writer never quit. In other words, keep working at it long enough through all those highs and lows, and you just might become a pro. I also read Stephen King’s book, “On Writing,” and took to heart his suggestion to write what you know (i.e. write about where you work, which I did in “Nikki Blue”) and report back. People love to read about what other people do for a living, he says. Of course, it helps to make the plot more exciting than usual if possible, but sometimes reality is better than fiction, so it’s a good launching point.

5. What inspired you to write the Nikki Blue series?

Unfortunately, the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, not far from where I live and work, inspired “Streaks of Blue.” It did not, however, inspire the series. I don’t think I envisioned a series at all, not until well after I wrote “Streaks.” Eventually, I just got the creative urge to keep going with Nikki’s life. She seemed like a pretty interesting character with a heck of a teenage back story, so why not push her forward and see what happens. I tried to make the plot for “Nikki Blue” more about her relationships and as relevant as possible to what’s going on in the world today. Some early reviewers have said Nikki Blue is too out of left field or too sci-fi, but I disagree. The sham of Scientology (I read Lawrence Wright’s fascinating book “Going Clear” well before the documentary came out on HBO this year) is all over the news these days. It’s remarkable how many highly functioning people got sucked in by a religion fabricated in the mind of a sci-fi author (L. Ron Hubbard) and endured years and years of hell rather than defect. Sci-fi became very real for those people, many of whom were totally brainwashed, physically abused, blackballed, harassed and separated from their families. And for those who think Mars is sci-fi, there are plenty of people already signing up to go (the Mars One project plans to start a colony there in the mid 2020s), plenty of people training to go and there will be a race to colonize that planet sooner rather than later. We already have most of the technology to go to Mars. All it takes is some money, some drive and a few brave souls. Private companies with deep pockets (see The Bridge Group, H2O Corp.) will lead the way because governments like the U.S. have chickened out and/or blown all their resources on fighting wars.

6. Is there any advice you'd like to give future writers.

Strap on some courage. Writing is for the brave. You have to just go for it and take chances. There will be doubts every step of the way and you just have to push through them and keep your eye on the prize: creating something out of nothing that entertains and inspires and moves people to a whole range of emotions. The writing process itself is very hard. The emotional roller coaster of what you think of your own writing project as it unfolds can swing from the best novel ever written to a piece of trash on a day-to-day basis. It’s crazy. And that’s before you even have the balls to let someone else read it, review it and love it/skewer it. I’m completely crazy because, outside of a proofreader, I don’t let ANYONE read my novels before I send them out to the world. I don’t want beta readers. And I definitely don’t want my wife to read my novels either until they’re already done. Too much second-guessing and backseat editing would kill the whole thing for me. Jack Chaucer likes to walk the creative plank alone and face the consequences, whatever they may be.



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