I had the chance to interview novelist Jamie Ayres! That’s right… the Jamie Ayres! Besides being super funny and sweet (and a little crazy… in the best kind of way), she’s the talented author of her debut novel 18 Things. In this interview, you get a taste of the wonder that is Jamie. To learn more about her, her process, and her work, visit her blog or her author page.
Okay, here we go!
1. Tell us your secret. What’s the Jamie Ayres writing process like? Walk us through from beginning to end.
Okay, I have a horrible confession to make. The Jamie Ayres writing process is a hot mess! I’m a pantser, not a plotter. I hide in dark corners of my room, listen for the muse to speak, then write down what ‘they’ tell me. I usually don’t even know the ending until I’m there! I don’t recommend this process as it’s highly unorganized. Do I get any points for filling in an outline after I’m done to make sure I don’t have any plot holes?
2. How have the people you’ve met and the places you’ve been influenced 18 Things? Is there anywhere or anything else you’ve drawn inspiration from?
There’s a quote by Emerson that sates, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn from him.” Pretty much every person I’ve met in my thirty-three years lives in the voices in my head and inspires me in some way. The greatest influence for the bucket list part of the story came from my cousin’s son and his battle with cancer, even though my MC doesn’t have cancer. She loses her best friend to a lightning strike and her therapist suggests she write a life list of 18 Things to do that year she’s turning 18. I really did have a friend struck by lightning when I was in middle school. He was in his driveway testing a fishing pole; thankfully, he lived!
3. What’s it like working on a sequel? Is it what you expected?
Working on a sequel has its ups and down. On the up side, I get to continue writing for the characters I absolutely love. On the downside, as I’ve already demonstrated, I’m not an organized person. My attention span is like a fruit fly on crack, so keeping track of everything for a trilogy has stretched me. If you write a sequel, I recommend reading your previous book again before starting and taking copious notes. Also, it’s a challenge to find time to market my first book while writing the next, since I also have a full-time teaching job and two kids of my own at home (three if you cant my hubs, and most of the time, I do!). If I write a series again, I will write them all before releasing any of them so I can devote more time to marketing. Marketing is an ugly, but very necessary beast, and it shows when you can’t do it. This would be why I sold hundreds of copies in the 90 days after 18 Things came out, then only 61 copies in the last month. I was just too busy with the last month of school to do much marketing.
You want to know the harsh reality though? According to BEA, 92% of debut novels don’t sell more than 100 copies. It’s a tough business—you have to be determined and in it for the long haul to see any real sales, and you usually have to publish multiple copies to build your brand to write full-time. Only about 5 % of authors truly ‘make it.’ Right now, I’m faking it till I make it J
4. Describe to us your ‘aha moment.’ When did you know you were meant to be a writer?
In sixth grade, I had a teacher, Mrs. Williams, who really believed in me. She always read my work aloud as an example to the class and was the one to recommend me for Advanced Language Arts the following year. It was probably the first positive feedback from an adult in my life in a while, so that encouraged me. And I realized writing was a great outlet for everything going on with me. Man, I wish I still had my diaries from those days. How great would it be to use for a ‘My Retro Diary’ blog?! I’m sure I’d pee myself LOL at those entries now . . . not that it happens often, I mean, more after childbirth. *coughs* You’ll see what I mean soon enough, T!
5. What’s the one thing you’d want an up-and-comer to know? Have you used this advice in your own life?
Write from your heart. There’s a reason God puts certain things on our soul, and we need to listen to those promptings. I’ve had to take the profit motive off the table to keep writing. With the money I’ve made since the book debuted on January 24th, I still wouldn’t be able to scrap together one mortgage payment! Depressing, isn’t it? But because of the talents God has given me, I’m looking at my book as a gift to the world to empower people and see where God leads me. If I wanted more money, I could easily score a part-time job waiting tables at the Outback and make more money in a week than I have in the past 4 months. Instead, I’m being obedient with my talents and stepping out in faith. Jackie Robinson said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” In the beginning, unless you’re some freak of nature who has instant best-seller status (and keeping my fingers crossed that you are), you’ll have to gage your success on how your book has inspired others. My fan mail is what keeps me going right now. Even if I touched just one person with my message, then it’s worth it! Hopefully though, when the series is complete, the sales will follow.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions so insightfully, Ms. Author. We wish you luck and blessings with both 18 Things and the upcoming 18 Truths. Trust me, everyone, you don’t want to miss out on this inspiring story.
And if you haven’t taken a look at Core, you’re going to make me cry! So pick up both Jamie’s and my novels!! Make us both smile 🙂