I've developed special powers, which I don't get to keep, to battle the ultimate source of evil, which can never be destroyed. And the man of my dreams just moved two thousand miles away.
Not exactly what I'd had in mind for my junior year.
Ashlyn Woods has just transferred to one of the most beautiful campuses on the west coast, where she can't wait to start her life over as a normal college student. But her plans take an unexpected turn when she discovers that she is a Soterian: a person who develops amazing powers when the balance of good and evil shifts too far in evil's favor.
Soon she and the other Soterians are studying martial arts and learning to use their powers to prevent California from being plunged into chaos. But they quickly discover that they're up against a much more dangerous enemy than they anticipated.
And when Ashlyn meets Kai, a devastatingly gorgeous guitar player, she realises she must sacrifice more than she ever imagined.----------------------------------
S: Thank you so much for coming to chat with us today Jacquelyn, it's great to have you here!
JW: It's great to be here!
S: Can you tell us about yourself?
JW: I have a million hobbies, but writing, both fiction and non-fiction, is my favorite thing. My day job is writing technical manuals and online-help systems for a software company, which is geeky and challenging and fun all at the same time. But of all the creative writing I've done (screenplays, children's stories, poetry), writing young adult novels is the best thing there is.
S: It mentions in your biography that you enjoy martial arts in your spare time. I really enjoyed finding out about some of the different types of martial arts you mentioned in Rising Shadow, most of them were ones I've not heard of before! Which types do you practise?
JW: Martial arts are so much fun. I studied Tae Kwon Do many years ago, then did Hapkido, and am now studying Kuk Sool Won. They all have similarities: learning to kick, punch, and defend yourself. But Kuk Sool Won is great because we also learn how to use pressure points on your opponent, we learn to fall and roll, and we also get to work with weapons--staffs, nunchucks, and (my favorite) sword.
S: You're obviously a very active person as another thing you have in common with Ashlyn is taking part in triathlons. Where do you find the time?
JW: The problem with me is that I have a million interests and am always taking up a new hobby. I get very enthusiastic about just about everything I get involved in, so I'm always overbooking myself. I've found that I can't really train for triathlons and do martial arts at the same time AND write novels, so I'm taking a break from triathlons right now while I'm working on my black belt. But I'm getting really antsy to start training for triathlons again, so I don't think I'll be able to stay away for long.
S: I love to find out what sort of music my favorite authors like. Do you have a sound track you listen to when you're writing? What kind of music do you listen to when you want to relax?
JW: I don't usually put on music, but sometimes songs will start playing in my head when I write. When I wrote the scene where Ashlyn is totally depressed and hitting bottom, "Into Dust" by Mazzie Star started going through my head. I ended up putting on the CD and listening to that song over and over while I worked on that scene until my family yelled at me to turn it off. I have pretty eclectic taste, so it's hard to say what my favorites are, but the artists I keep coming back to over and over are Alanis Morissette, 10,000 Maniacs, Finger Eleven, Pink Floyd, Indigo Girls, Radiohead, REM, and Ayub Ogada. My favorite song of all time is the cello and piano version of Fratres by Arvo Part.
S: What is your writing routine - where & when do you write?
JW: I write at my dining room table, right in the center of the house. I find that if you try to look for a quiet time/place to write, you'll never write, so I've learned to write with lots of activity and noise around me. I used to write on the train every day on my commute. It was a great place to write, because I could tune everything out and lose myself in the story. I actually modeled Jesse, one of my favorite characters, after this hilarious guy I overheard talking on the train
S: Do you have any advice for would-be authors?
JW: Do a little bit every day. Don't wait until you "have time," because you never will. If you write a page a day, in a year you'll have written a novel. And most importantly, don't edit yourself as you write--that comes later. Even if I know something I'm writing is crap, I write it anyway, because sometimes I have to write the crap scene to get it out of my head to make room for the good scene to come out. But then, once I've finished writing, I spend many months editing and rewriting. I wrote Rising Shadow in nine weeks and then spent nine months editing it. So just write a little every day, check your inner critic at the door, and promise yourself you'll edit meticulously later.
S: Rising Shadow is the first self published novel I've read & I was wondering what made you decide to go down that route?
JW: I'm too impatient for traditional publishing. Now that print-on-demand publishing is so advanced, I don't see any reason to wait around by the phone for months for an agent to accept me so I can then wait around for a publisher to want my book so I can then wait two years to have my book published and STILL have to do all my own marketing and publicity anyway. That model just isn't a good fit with my personality. I do work with editors, and for my second book I hired a cover designer, so I'm still doing the things necessary to create a high-quality book. I just didn't have to wait for years and years to get it into the hands of readers, which was my main goal. I'm not setting out to write a best-seller; I'm setting out to tell a great story. So self-publishing has worked out perfectly for me.
S: I love the fact that The Soterians can never truely defeat evil & can only bring the world back into balance - this makes the story so much more realistic. I also found it interesting that when they restore the balance they will lose their special powers. How did you come up with these ideas?
JW: It's always annoyed me that the resolution in most stories is that the bad guy dies in the end. How does that prepare us for life, where we often have to deal with someone unbearable day in and day out at school or work or home? So when I got the idea for the Soterians (which just basically dropped out of the sky one day as a convergence of several interests I had at the time, including martial arts, genetics, and the online game City of Heroes), it occurred to me that it would be really cool if you could develop special powers because of a genetic marker that gets triggered when evil starts rising, but even more cool is the idea that the powers would fade once you restored the balance. I love this idea, because it creates a lot of inner conflict for the characters that they don't even know they're experiencing, and it also puts the emphasis on finding your true powers, such as moving past your fears and learning to love yourself, which are powers you never have to give up.
S: Can you tell us a little more about the next book in The Soterians series Merger?
JW: Merger picks up right where Rising Shadow left off. This time, instead of politicians, the evil is a corporate merger that puts an entire town out of work, and a terrible secret that puts the Soterians to a much greater test than they've had to face so far. At the same time, Ashlyn and Kai's relationship starts hitting some bumps, and because Candace graduates, Ashlyn and Rebecca get a new roommate who is, um, challenging. So the main theme in Merger is navigating relationships--both on an individual and corporate level--and the choices we make along the way.
S: Do you have any new projects on the go?
JW: Oh boy, I keep getting all these new ideas! But I've promised myself that I'm finishing the Soterians series before I do anything else. I've finished the first draft of book three, and I've got outlines and some scenes written for books four and five. The story is just pouring out of me, but I think it'll keep me busy for at least a couple more years. After that, I'd love to work on screenplays for the series.
S: I'd like to say a massive thank you to Jacquelyn for taking the time to visit us today. It's been great fun chatting to you & I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. I can't wait for Merger to come out!!
JW: Thanks, Sarah! It's been great fun. I think bloggers are the best thing that ever happened to books, because it's the perfect way for readers with specific interests to learn about books they'd actually like to read. So thank you so much for the time you put into reviewing and sharing your favorites with your followers!
You can find Jacquelyn online at the Soterians Website, her Blog or on Facebook