Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | June 17, 2011

Meet a Husband And Wife Writing team, Melanie and Brian Jackson

Today, we have a husband and wife team who write together and as individuals. Their approaches are  different, although they’ve collaborated on books. Let’s let them tell us how that works. We’ll begin with Melanie.

T. Hello, please tell us a bit about your background.

M. My husband and I live in the foothills of California where my grandparents had an apple ranch back in the day. Besides writing, I like gardening, study Gaelic and volunteer at an animal shelter.

T. When did you start writing?

M. My first poem was published when I was seven. But the disease I call ‘writeritis’ began as soon as I could read and understood that there were people who created books.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor? Tell us about him/her.

M. My grandfathers– one was a poet and one wrote nonfiction. They (and everyone else in the family) were supportive of my intention of being a novelist.

T. Please tell us about your current book; genre and blurb.

M. Right now I am working on another Chloe Boston mystery. This Halloween story is called The Great Pumpkin Caper. It’s a cozy mystery set in a small town in Washington State.

T. Do you have a sequel or prequel in mind or in progress?

M. Always. Both cozy series (Chloe and Butterscotch Jones) have voracious readerships. The pleasure of writing for an appreciative audience keeps the pumps primed.

T. What are your writing habits? Are you an outliner or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

M. Seat of the pants. My husband, with whom I have written several novels, is an outliner. This could have been a showstopper, but we’ve made it work. A combination of the two works best for mysteries. For romance or paranormal/urban fantasy, I find that letting characters surprise me works better, if the old seat is getting thin from the wear and tear.

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing?

M. The future is bright, especially for writers who are getting in early and building an audience. Later there will be millions of voices and it will be harder to be found by new readers in the online tumult.

T. Anything else to share?

M. I am the most blessed of people in being able to do what I love for a living and every day I say thanks for gifts I’ve been given and for the readers who have found me. It might not have happened if I had not had the early encouragement of family and later the full support of my spouse, Brian Jackson.

T. Thank you for sharing.

M. And thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

Now lets let Brian answer the same questions

T. Hello, please give us a bit of your background.

B. Hi, Tom, I’m Brian Jackson. I’m a writer. I was born in Los Angeles in the middle of the last century and have always wanted to be a writer. After decades spent working in the computer industry, in Silicon Valley, I retired early and got a chance to pursue that dream.

I am now a self-published author of fantasy, romance, and horror fiction.

I live in the beautiful California foothills with my wife, Melanie Jackson, Alpine the dog, and Snowy the cat.

I recently joined the Independent Author’s Network (IAN) for help in promoting my work. My page there is http://bit.ly/kUaCyz

T. When did you start writing?

B. Most writers will probably tell you they’ve been writing all their lives, and I’m no exception. I started young and in high school, submitted major tomes in response to every creative writing assignment.

Working as a software developer for Cisco Systems, I became known as the only engineer around who could write. So, I did a lot of technical writing at work.

I didn’t start writing fiction seriously until five years ago when I took a creative writing course at my local community college. The class taught me little about writing, but did force me to start writing. The bulk of my short story collection, Dead of Night, which is only $0.99 in ebook form, came from that class experience.

Since then I’ve published nine novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor? Tell us about him/her.

B. Yes, but I don’t remember her name. In college I was forced to take bonehead English (classes for those who received bad grades in high school). The class focused on writing well-structured topic sentences and paragraphs. I learned a lot about the mechanics of writing from that class and that teacher.

Of course, my wife and fellow author, Melanie Jackson, is and will always be my writing partner and mentor.

Oh, and I learned how to type in junior high school from another strict woman teacher. That’s proven useful as well.

T. Please tell us about your current book; genre and blurb.

B. The book I’m currently working on is called Meat Hook. It’s my second horror novel, not another romance. Through it, I’m trying to write a classic small-town, monstrous- beast- from -legends-of old, returned from the grave for revenge, type of story.

The following is a teaser.

In the sleepy little hamlet of Forest Pines, something is about to wake. The Harvest Festival is taking place and something is hungry for revenge. People are telling the old legends again, especially the legend of the pathetic creature they called Meat Hook. Now the Meat Hook is back, and Sheriff Wendell Briggs must face an extraordinary evil with the help of little more than a ragtag army of misfits.

Hey, that was good. Let me write that down somewhere…

T. Do you have a sequel or prequel in mind or in progress?

B. No, Tom. I think that Meat Hook will be the definitive telling of the story. Of course, if the first one sells well, keep an eye out for Meat Hook XXII: Son of the Revenge of Meat Hook.

T. What are your writing habits? Are you an outliner or do you write “by the seat of your pants?

B. In a word: bad. I write in the morning and afternoon. I have to write so often because I’m very inefficient while I am writing. I get interrupted a lot because in addition to being a writer, I’m the publisher; cover designer, and web page developer for both of us. I’m also the primary social networker and editor contact person. And then there’s life. There’s a lot going on and I love it.

I like to work from a fairly detailed plot outline. The characters develop themselves, if they live that long, during the writing of the story.

My wife writes by the seat of her pants. Let’s just say that it’s interesting writing together.

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing?

B. Is it corny to say that the future of digital publishing is here today? If you’ve ever wanted to be a published author, there is no better time than today to strike. The ebook revolution is occurring much faster than anyone predicted. This has provided freedom from the New York publishers and made everyone a potential author. And, the authors that strike early will be in a position to potentially be chart toppers tomorrow.

So, if you’ve had little success getting published, like I have, self-publish yourself. Get out there and get your feet wet, now. Visit my blog at http://brianjjaxn.wordpress.com for a growing list of posts related to writing and self-publishing.

T. Anything else to share?

B. Yes, Tom. I’d like to thank the @DahgMahn for guiding me to the Independent Author’s Network (IAN), and I’d like to thank the IAN for leading me to you.

My website at http://www.brianjjaxn.com  and contains  a list of my books and contact information.

T. Thank you both for visiting.

B. Thank you, Tom. It’s been nice chatting with you.

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