Q&A with Jane Bailey
Where were you born?
I was born in San Francisco, and I grew up mostly in a foggy little town called Pacifica. We had a great festival every year called the Fog Fest, and we had these awesome little coffee shops right on the pier where I used to get what’s called a Black And White Hot Chocolate as a kid. It was a great place to grow up.
What were you like in school?
I was a bossy little know-it-all, honestly. I was really smart, but I didn’t have many friends. I was known for getting into fist-fights a few times, that was fun -- nobody expects little girls to hit each other after a certain age. I used to get in trouble for reading in class, too, after I finished all my work. Later I learned that if I wrote stories instead, it looked like I was working, so I wouldn’t get in trouble.
What writers inspired you as a kid?
I used to read a lot of Tamora Pierce, like basically everything she’s ever written. I read a lot of Diane Duane as well, and Gail Carson Levine. Anything with a woman on the cover really. I outgrew the YA section pretty early, so I also read a lot of Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov. Basically the whole fantasy/sci-fi section at my little town library.
What are your current favorite authors?
I’ve got a major author-crush on Brandon Sanderson right now. I’m also a fan of George R. R. Martin, like everyone else on the planet. And your low fantasy staples: Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Simon Greene, Dan Wells... I read a lot, it’s hard to keep track of how many great books there are out there, especially on Kindle where you can devour them like popcorn.
What inspired your debut novel, Wolfbound?
A lot of things at once, really, pretty much like everything else in life. I was living in the UK for a year when I wrote the book, and it’s based partially in that; that’s what’s behind the decision to base the book in Salford, where I lived. I was having a lot of mobility issues at the time, which later turned out to be due to Fibromyalgia mixed with some mild Arthritis. At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong, and it made it a scary thing, so I wrote about a protagonist who knew what was wrong but still had the same sort of symptoms I was having. I had a friend in Salford named Charlotte who was the basis for Marie. Finally, I had recently read the Twilight books, so I wanted to do a paranormal romance with my own sort of feel to it.
What drew you to low fantasy in particular?
I love writing fantasy. I’ve always loved exploring how magic changes a person, how it affects the way you deal with the world and how you see things. You can do the same thing with science fiction as well -- how does the advanced technology change the world? But I’m a bit of a perfectionist as well. If I wrote science fiction I’d want it to be really hard science fiction, where everything is well-explained; if I wrote high fantasy, I’d spend so much time worldbuilding and not much time writing. I want to tell stories that focus mostly on the characters, not on the magic or the science or the world. Someday I’ll learn how to do both, I think, but for me it’s always character first.
I noticed there’s a lot of LGBT representation in your books. Would you say your books have an agenda?
I wouldn’t say an agenda, exactly. I am a very character-focused author. I write books that have people in them, people that interest me; the only real agenda I have is to say, LGBT people exist and have stories that are interesting to me, probably because I’m bisexual myself. I guess that’s an agenda these days, but I just focus on telling good stories with complex characters in them.
What made you decide to become an author?
I’ve always been writing, ever since I was little. I am always coming up with stories and telling them to other people; even at my dayjob, when I talk about usability in software I’m telling a story about a user using the interface. So for me, being an author, publishing these stories, is a way to tell them to more and more people, to bring a bit of my imagined world into their lives. If I tell a story that entertains people for a few hours, then I’ve succeeded.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
Definitely! I try not to let it stop me. Sometimes it’s a sign that a project I’m working on is just not ready yet; putting it aside, letting it gestate a little longer in my mind, often loosens that right up. In those cases, I try to work on something else instead, to keep my momentum going. Other times it’s a sign I’m not taking care of myself enough; I’ll go eat something, play some games, and come back to it a few hours later, and I’ll be in much better shape to write. But yes, I get writer’s block fairly often.
What is your process for writing? Do you have a routine?
I always have to have music. Music helps me focus, and it helps me get into the right mood for the scene; it’s easier to write a scene if I am feeling something akin to what the characters are going through. Other than that, I just have to minimize distractions. I close all my chat windows, sometimes I’ll go to a coffee shop if it’s too distracting being at home. Starting and stopping repeatedly is the death of writing.
I see you are self-published. Do you do everything yourself?
No way! I pay for images, like the cover designs or the interior images for The Hunt, because I’m not much of an artist. I also have been known to pay for editing services and advertising. My wonderful best friend Barry is responsible for alpha-reading, marketing strategy, and general advice as well.
What are you working on currently?
I’m working on the first draft of Bloodlust, the sequel to Wolfbound; this book will focus on Marie, Eileen’s best friend, and what’s going on in her life immediately after Wolfbound. In the near-term I’m planning a third book to cap off that series, and a sequel to The Hunt as well. Longer-term, I’d like to do a longer novel or two set in a Steampunk version of America. And maybe some other secret projects as well ;)