Today I have an interview with the local author S.J. Garrett. She has published several novels, including her latest book in the 3rd District Series, The Carmichael File. She previously published novels under the name Etta Jean.
Me: So let’s start at the beginning. Why did you start writing?
S.J.: Technically, I started because my ninth grade teacher made me. I honestly had no desire to write before that, though I was always a story-teller. I got addicted after that, however, and it just became more and more important to me until it was as essential as breathing. I started as a fanfiction author and then, when my skills improved, I moved to creating my own worlds.
Me: When and what made you decide to become a published author?
S.J.: It had never really crossed my mind that that was an option until I had people start asking me why I hadn’t been published. Published authors were in a completely different world as far as I was concerned. The idea that I could maybe make money doing what I loved? Mind.blown. I started submitting the manuscript for one of my novels about fourteen years ago. It took ten years before someone finally took a chance on me, and I have not regretted that decade of rejections at all.
Me: What was it like when you got your first rejection letter?
S.J.: Strangely, not that debilitating. I am a terrible pessimist in many ways. I went into the submission process with a realistic view of how hard/terrible the industry is, and so I wasn’t expecting everyone to love me out the gate. As nice as that would be. Hehe. It took many, many years before the rejections began to truly wear on me. I was on the cusp of giving up entirely when I got accepted. I guess things really do happen for a reason!
Me: I’ve read most of your books and you literally create new worlds, I’ve noticed. Even to an extent in your 3rd District series. Do you plan on writing any novels in the “real” world?
S.J.: If you mean “non-paranormal” or “non-fantasy” by “real” world, it’s always a possibility! Life is so mundane for me that I escape by creating worlds where magic is real, but if the right characters and setting come along, who knows what might happen? There’s a one-shot book sitting in the extremely early stages of conception that thus far hasn’t brought in anything paranormal, but that could always change. Seems like every time I try to find a conflict for characters to solve, someone decides that a fireball is the most direct route…
Me: If you had to pick a maximum of two genres for your books, what would those be?
S.J.: Fantasy and romance. Even my paranormal is fantastical, and romance is always one of the main components of anything I write–even in the middle of epic wars.
Me: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
S.J.: Shut up and write. Sounds mean, but it’s true. Almost every time someone has said to me “I want to write a book”, it comes qualified with “but I don’t have time” or “I’m not any good.” Well, you won’t GET good unless you practice–just like any other skill out there–and even if you only write for five minutes a week, eventually that sucker is going to be finished. It doesn’t matter if it is terrible and only your eyes ever see it: YOU DID IT. You totally wrote a book. And if you find you loved the process, well, keep doing it!
Me: Alright. Thank you for your time.
S.J.: Anytime! Thanks for having me.