I “met” Jane Ann through a wonderful online collective, Wordsmith Studio, following Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge of 2012.
Though I knew that many of us were writers, I had no idea Jane Ann was working on a science fiction novel. Last fall, she was even up in Sudbury, giving a reading at the Sudbury Public Library, which, because I was out of town, I had to miss.
I also had to miss her Twitterview with mutual friend Lori Sailiata for Hawaii Content Management (#HiCM), though I read the Storify afterward 🙂
Now that her novel is coming out in instalments, I decided I simply had to find out more about this virtual friend and fellow Canadian author.
Without further ado, here she is: Jane Ann McLachlan!
Hi Melanie. We’ll have to meet when I’m in Sudbury in September for Cinefest. My parents were both originally northern Ontarians, although I was born in Toronto and grew up in Newmarket, a small town near Toronto, Canada. I taught at Conestoga College until a few years ago, when I decided to write full-time, although I still teach a couple of evening courses a year. I have written two college textbooks, published by Pearson/Prentice Hall, a science fiction e-book on Amazon called Walls of Wind http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HNXOG98 , and my collection of short stories, Connections, which came out last fall, published by Pandora Press. My website is http://www.janeannmclachlan.com
WG: Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Jane Ann!
You are a writer of diverse talents. You’ve written two textbooks on professional ethics, a collection of inspirational short stories, and now a science fiction novel. I also understand you write historical fiction as well. How do all of your writerly personae intermingle, or do they?
JAM: I read extensively and enjoy a lot of different genres, so writing in different genres feels natural to me. But it didn’t always. I had to learn to accept the genre a story idea came to me in. I started writing science fiction, which I have always read, when I heard of a medieval superstition that really grabbed my imagination. An editor at Tor loved the idea, and liked my writing, and seriously considered it. He didn’t buy the book, but he gave me some excellent advice—he told me to re-write it as a medieval novel. I had to do a lot of research and reading in that genre (at that time I’d only read a few historical fiction authors) before I felt qualified to write historical fiction, but I’m pleased with the result. The Sorrow Stone is currently on offer with my agent. I guess I’m not a quick learner, because about the same time, I went through a traumatic event, and I tried to write it up as fiction. But it just kept dying on the page, until I gave in and wrote it as memoir. Impact: A Memoir of PTSD is now also with my agent. Now, I listen to the story and let it tell me which genre it needs to be written in.
WG: What is the origin story of J.A. McLachlan, author?
JAM: When people ask me, what made you start writing? I say, “I learned to read.” The first story I remember writing was a picture book, way back when that’s what I was still reading. It was about a pony, and I remember practicing for months to learn how to draw a horse. After that, I switched to poetry. I have a number of poems about dogs and horses my mom saved. They rhyme and they scan, but I wasn’t into very deep themes at age 8. 🙂
WG: Focusing on your fiction, what attracts you to each of the genres you write in (inspirational, historical, and speculative)?
JAM: I like a good story, with intriguing characters that are changed by their experiences in the novel, and an interesting “high concept” theme. Moral and philosophical quandaries really interest me, as well as a plot that keeps me guessing. These elements can be found in many genres.
WG: I’m a total process geek. I love to find out how people work their art and craft. Would you care to share anything about your writing process?
JAM: I need complete silence when I write, and NO interruptions. I write best when I’m all alone at home for hours, and I write on a laptop that is not connected to the internet (I have a separate computer in another room for that.) I start with a rough outline and let the characters alter it as I go. I would like to be a total plotter—that’s how I wrote my textbooks, with a very detailed outline for every chapter—but fiction, like life, just doesn’t work that way. Stuff happens, and you have to adapt. Fiction (and life) can be a pain that way. 🙂
WG: With respect to Walls of Wind, why have you opted for publication in instalments?
JAM: It’s all about knowing your market. E-books do better in novella form, at low prices, for a number of reasons. It seems most people who read e-books like something they can read fairly quickly. If they want more, they’ll buy the next one. And since I’m an unknown author, readers are more willing to try me out if it’s not going to cost them much in time or money— Walls of Wind Part I is 4 chapters long and sells for .99c. I want people to be able to try it, because Walls of Wind is the best thing I’ve written, and I’m pretty confident anyone who likes science fiction and reads Part I will want to read the rest. Oh, and the link is: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HNXOG98
But here’s an offer for your readers. Right now, book reviews of Walls of Wind are worth more to me than royalties, so anyone who will write a review on Amazon or GoodReads (or best of all, on both) for me—whatever they think of the book—I’d be happy to send them Part I for free. Just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WG: What’s next for you?
JAM: Right now, I’m editing Part III of Walls of Wind —Part II goes live on Feb. 1; Part III on March 1; and the complete trilogy, for those who want a longer read, in e-book form and in print, will be available on April 2. I’m also currently setting up a number of talks and readings in the US and Canada for Connections and will be doing the same for Walls of Wind when I have the print book. And while all that is going on, I have my next historical fiction novel—which takes place during the Third Crusade—AND a YA science fiction novel, both hollering around in my head trying to get out, so I’ll be writing them this year.
Thanks for a great interview and break a pencil in your future writing endeavours!
About Walls of Wind:
What if males and females were completely different species from each other?
Walls of Wind explores this question and its ramifications on a world in which males and females are two different, equally intelligent species: Ghen and Bria. They are interdependent and reproductively symbiotic, although physically, emotionally and mentally they have little in common. Or so they believe, until their city-state is threatened by increasing internal conflict and a terrifying external predator that has invaded the forests beyond their walls. A handful of Ghen and Bria struggle desperately to find a solution before their civilization is destroyed.
Walls of Wind combines anthropological speculation with the tragedy, suspense and triumph of individual characters who struggle to overcome external threats as well as their own internal fears and prejudices.
Read Part I of Walls of Wind: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HNXOG98 Look for Part II on February 1st, 2014.