Monday, September 19, 2011

[Interview] Jess C. Scott

Jess C Scott is a short story writer, a novelist and a poet. She lives in Maine in the United States.

Her work includes the blog novel, EyeLeash (jessINK, 2011); the collection of erotic short stories, 4:Play (jessINK, 2011) and the novel, The Other Side of Life (jessINK, 2011).

In this interview, Jess C Scott talks about her writing:

Do you write everyday?

I don’t write everyday, though I try my best.

I like writing by hand (at least initially), especially when I’m planning things out before a first draft ... there’s just something about seeing the words appear in ink on paper that beats typing (despite the efficiency and convenience of the latter).

If I’m working on a story, it ends when I feel it’s complete (everything has to be “tied together,” there must be some form of resolution, etc.). By that time, I’m usually mostly focused on the next writing project.

I like to challenge myself as an artist and keep improving that way. Stagnating is bad because I think I’d be regurgitating material, if I allowed myself to put in less effort.

How many books have you written so far?

I’ve written novels, anthologies, short stories, and poetry, so here’s a selection. They are all published under jessINK, my burgeoning publishing empire that's committed to producing "authentic, original work ... rather than the same old re-packaged mass-market pulp" (review by Bibrary Book Lust).
  • EyeLeash: A Blog Novel (2009). EyeLeash captures self-discovery in the 2000s, and showcases the colorful, intricate drama in two youths’ relentless search for themselves—and what’s really in their hearts.
  • 4:Play — A contemporary cocktail of erotic short stories (2009). With a scope and style that is fresh and compelling, 4:Play dives into the depths of navigating gender, sexuality, and the lines of desire.
  • The Other Side of Life (2011) . Book #1 (The Other Side of Life): A thieving duo’s world turns upside down when an Elven rogue uncovers the heinous dealings of a megacorporation.
  • And more @ jessink.com/books_genre.htm
What is your latest book about?

My latest book is a non-pornographic BDSM-themed anthology. It’s taken me slightly longer than I expected to finish it (was aiming for a May 2011 deadline; probably will be finished in August 2011). It’s part of my Primal Scream anthology, my second collection of erotic short stories.

On the mainstream, non-erotic side, my latest book is the first installment in an urban fantasy series featuring cyberpunk elves (January 2011). That one probably took at least a year to write (while I was completing my bachelor’s degree).

I’ve self-published my novels since mid-2009. I enjoy the speed and efficiency of indie publishing and see it as a tremendous opportunity for writers everywhere.

Disadvantages include the necessity for constant multi-tasking (I handle the book design, writing, editing, publishing, web design, marketing, publicity, accounting — basically everything, at the moment).

I deal with it all by understanding that this is something I chose to do, that I want to do, and that I’m capable of doing.

Which were the most difficult aspects of the work you put into the books?

I’ll talk about Primal Scream since it’s a pretty big anthology that spans several genres/styles (erotic fiction, erotic literature, “factual fiction” and “contemporary fiction with erotic elements”).

I think the BDSM-themed collection was the most difficult (as I suspected), because of the subtle implicit route I decided to take.

I’ve always felt that BDSM can be a very intimate form of love and affection, a perspective which is heavily compromised when BDSM is presented in a purely pornographic form.

I’ve nothing against porn on the whole, but when people start thinking that pornography is real sex (when it technically isn’t — it’s a business that generates money from graphic depictions of sexual fantasies which stimulate arousal) and how sex should really be all the time ... that’s when I try to do something with my work, to present a more relevant, down-to-earth, insightful perspective on love/life/sex.

Sexuality is a core component of humanity. It should be respected (as it was in ancient times), not feared, exploited, or repressed.

Which aspects of the work did you enjoy most?

Masochistic as this might sound, I enjoyed working through the difficult aspects of the project. As an old saying goes: “There’s no glory without sacrifice.”

What sets Primal Scream apart from other things you've written?

 It’s a little more sophisticated than my earlier work (which was more raw and “in-your-face” at points). It covers less ground in terms of genre, but covers more ground in the internal lives of the characters involved (I think).

In what way is it similar to the others?

The focus is still on the characters and the storyline. That’s the basic thing I never stray too faraway from.

I’ll next be working on an anthology titled Naked Heat (an incubus/succubus-themed anthology). It’ll be an interesting and unique take on the “paranormal romance” genre (one third of it is complete).

After that, I aim to complete the other two parts of my Cyberpunk Elven Trilogy. I’ll consider it an achievement if that one’s completed over 2012.

So far, what would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Generating an income from my writing. Seeing the dream materialize so that it’s not just a fantasy I play out in my mind, but the life I have always worked towards securing.

When did you start writing?

 I used to write lots of fantasy-themed short stories as a kid. I began to take the craft more seriously when I wrote my first poem (around nine years old; there was a creative writing type course at school). I journalled a lot throughout my teenage years, and someone requested an erotic story from me when I turned eighteen. I started writing my first proper full-length novel when I was around twenty years old.

How would you describe your writing?

Non-conformist and authentic. I don’t tend to follow trends or formulas. I usually aim to write something honest and relevant.

I don’t think I have a specific audience in mind (in terms of a commercial genre label, as is used for marketing/advertising purposes). I always try to include universal themes to appeal to a wide audience (across genders, age groups, lifestyles, etc.).

I think I’ve always been aware of “certain things in the world” which the mainstream media tends not to cover thoroughly or truthfully enough. I’ve never wanted to narrow down my target audience so “it’d be easier to target/market towards a specific niche audience.” That being said, I am aware of the business aspects of publishing, so I do both alternative and mainstream writing (to strengthen my brand on the whole).

Which authors influenced you most?

I think the authors that influence me the most are the ones that I love and hate the most (I’m very intense... no grey areas... when it comes to passion!). I’ve read and love many classic works (books by Vladimir Nabokov, Anais Nin, Roald Dahl, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, etc.), and I’ve read material that I’ve found really superficial and/or shallow.

I try to emulate what I like, and be somewhat of a diametric opposite to what I loathe, and am confident that someone somewhere in the world will appreciate what I do.

How have your own personal experiences influenced your writing?

Hugely! I used to journal voraciously through my teenage years — I recorded every single detail of every thought and feeling down. I journal less nowadays, but I continue to spend a lot of time on the whole self-discovery and self-understanding concept. The things I think about, am frustrated about, wish to see addressed in the world, are all direct influences on my writing.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

One of my main concerns is balancing artistic vision with commercialism (the financial aspect, so that I don’t end up a perpetually starving artist existing in complete obscurity).

It’s a delicate balance, and can sometimes be fraught with wildly differing views of opinion and sentiment (in my personal experience). I usually deal with it by keeping things real — by taking a good, hard look at myself to do my best to align my personal goals with business goals. I like having both personal/artistic integrity and business ethics. I can’t ignore one at the expense of the other.

One of my biggest challenges is cultivating patience (haha). I have a tendency to expect results for my efforts, fast. I can get grouchy or discouraged if things don’t happen as quickly as I’d like. I try to deal with it by telling myself that I am wasting time and energy by fretting about things I cannot control.

I used to draw a lot and meditate during my late teen years, which did help calm my mind down ... I should probably schedule some time for those activities once again.

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