Today, I'm so excited to have bestselling author Jools Sinclair visit my blog! Jools is the author of the epic 44 series - a 13-book series that has been described by readers as heartbreaking, beautiful, unforgettable and edge-of-your-seat thrilling. She recently published the final book in the series, and has been kind enough to stop by my blog to talk about it.
In addition, I'm lucky to be able to say that Jools is a good friend of mine, and this year, we will be co-authoring a brand new cozy mystery series together! The first book is entitled Ginger of the West: A Broomfield Bay Cozy Mystery, and like it sounds, it will be a paranormal witch cozy. The first in this brand new series will be out this late spring/early summer, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, please enjoy this interview with one of my very favorite authors!
Thanks for being here, Jools!
Hi, Meg! I love all your books so much and am very honored to be here on your blog. Thank you SO very much for inviting me over for a chat!
What was it like to write the final book of the 44 series?
It was hard and emotional and wow am I happy that it’s done. The hard part was that I knew where I wanted to go, but didn’t have all the answers yet. It took a while to hammer out the plot, and then I had to weave three different storylines into 48,000 words. And then of course, the even harder part was the end, when I had to say goodbye.
Why did you decide to finish the series at Book 13?
As I was writing Book 11, the idea of wrapping up the series kept nudging me, so by the end of that book, I knew what I had to do. From that point on, it was a matter of timing and plot, which brought the books to 13.
As you read through all of your book reviews on Amazon, it’s hard not to notice the number of people that you’ve made cry with your books over the years (myself included!) Why do you think your books have touched readers on such an emotional level?
I’m not really sure except that I know how much I cry when writing some of those turbulent scenes. Truth be told, I love hearing that a reader was crying! I know then that I hit the mark, and I also know that they are part of the tribe. Hearing about all those tears makes me feel like I’m not alone. I always feel that those emotional scenes are very Muse-infused. :)
How did you first get into writing about the paranormal side of things?
I’ve loved the paranormal since I was a kid with a library card. For most of my life, I’ve read (or watched) stories about ghosts, Near Death Experiences (which my grandfather had) psychics, witches, magic and any and all things that go bump in the night. Looking back, I guess it’s not such a surprise that I write about such things now.
Bend, the real Central Oregon town where most of the books take place, plays such a prominent role throughout the series. Why did you select Bend for the setting, and what does it represent to your main character, Abby Craig?
For a long time I wanted to write a story about a young woman on a Hero’s Journey. Bend, with all its weather and beauty, seemed the perfect setting for such a quest. Well, I suppose it’s a bit of an ode to the small city I love. I lived in Bend for 12 years (currently I’m on an extended road trip but still have my house there), and I think it’s such a cool, special place. The scenery is amazing, surrounded by mountains with a strong scent of pines and junipers floating in the air. There are lakes and rivers and deep blue skies. It’s a city full of sun and snow. And if you love the outdoors, it’s nothing short of Heaven, offering hiking, kayaking, camping, snowshoeing, skiing, and biking.
Bend for Abby is home, and everything that means.
There are so many rich and wonderful characters in the 44 series. Who has been your favorite to write and why?
Aw, thanks, Meg! David Norton is my favorite to write, because he’s so goofy and fun and his scenes make me laugh. Usually, by the time he shows up, the story needs him to lighten things up a bit!
Will David Norton ever reappear in any of your future books?
Of course! I just have to open up the Grey Goose and he’ll be there, ready!
The first book in the 44 series has a twist that literally knocks your socks off. What’s the secret to writing a good twist?
:) Distraction. And lots and lots and lots of thinking.
Whiskey Rain was an excellent one-book spin off from the 44 series featuring Abby’s sister Kate. Will there be more books about Kate in the future?
Yes, yes, yes! The next Kate Craig is coming out soon.
Abby Craig worked as a barista for a lot of the series: How do you take your coffee, Jools?
Hahaha!! It depends on whether or not I’m on on my eating program or not. If not, lots of half and half. If so, a dash of coconut oil. Either way, it has to be excellent coffee, with a Starbucks brew at the top of my wishlist.
In a perfect world where everybody is in the same, er… dimension, would you be Team Jesse or Team Ty?
Well, although I love both Jesse and Ty, in a perfect world Jesse and Abby would have stayed together, so there would have never been Ty and Abby. So, looking at it that way, I suppose I would pick Team Jesse.
You’ve written these books over the course of five years. That’s a big chunk of time to be with one main character and story. What has been the most memorable thing about writing the 44 series?
True story, it is such a long time.
The most memorable thing over the years have been the feelings. The love and respect I’ve felt in the books for all the different characters, the happiness I’ve felt when a plot or twist has worked out or something special happens to one of them. The sadness that is inevitable both in terms of plots (there are always a lot of murders and death when ghosts are involved) and in terms of my own struggles in getting the stories on paper.
Writing the Forty-Four series has been an intense journey, and I’ve learned so much about myself. And the kind of things you learn on those kind of journeys are usually never easy or simple.
After the tenth book in the series, you took the story in a radically different direction. What was behind your decision to
change things up so dramatically, and just how much guts did it take to do that?
I made the decision to veer off track suddenly because 1) I needed to shake things up as I was getting a bit bored, and 2) I had always planned on doing a full circle back with the series and had to get back to a certain character in a dramatic way. But you are right, it took some guts to change things up. I was worried about the shift because suddenly and abruptly the reader finds himself on a very different road. I knew that while some might be excited, others might roll their eyes and bow out of the series. But honestly, the bottom line for me always about following the muse. I listen when she shows up, and follow where she leads.
What do you think the secret is to being a successful author?
I think the secret of any success involves two things: Loving what you do, and working hard at it. Then you will be successful. You will produce something unique and creative and it will add beauty to the universe. Does that mean that you will you make a million dollars with your creation? Well, no. For that, you will need to bring in some business expertise, find your market, and have lots of luck.
I like to tell “the kids” (I go to classrooms sometimes and talk about writing) that there is always a place in the world to shine for those with true passion and a strong work ethic.
What do you see as the biggest difference between Abby Craig at the end of Book 1 and Abby Craig at the end of Book 13?
She’s grown up and matured. And best of all, she has finally found her place in the world. :)
Jools Sinclair is the author of the bestselling 44 series. She is currently working on her next supernatural mystery series.
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