Without further ado, here is the interview:
Ailsa: First of all, could you tell us a bit about your journey to publication, getting an agent etc? Did you ever have doubts about or trouble getting published?
Jaye Wells: I started writing fiction about four years ago. I took a writing class at a local community college and started my first book there. Red-Headed Stepchild was the third book I completed. I found my agent through the traditional route--by querying, sending a partial (50 pages of of the manuscript) and then a full. He read the full overnight and offered the next day. About a month later, after some revisions, he sent it out to several editors. About a week and a half later, there was an auction and I ended up signing a three-book deal with Orbit.
I don't think any writer goes through the path to publication without doubts. It's kind of part of the deal. It doesn't end once you get published either. Even published writers deal with rejection--either from editors or fans. The hardest part is to keep writing anyway. You have to have nerves of steel in this business.
A: Woah, so that was pretty quick once you queried that agent! That's great! Plotter or pantser? If you're a pantser, how far ahead do you plan things?
JW: I'm kind of both and neither. ;) My process is confusing even to me. But generally, I start out with a situation and a few scenes. Once I figure out what the story's about, I plot it out all the scenes, leaving myself enough room to pants it as I go. That sounds a lot easier than it is.
A: Do you use beta readers, or have a trusted critique partner who's with you all the way, or does it very with each project?
JW: I have beta readers who read the manuscript once I've done a couple good passes. They catch the high level story and character issues and I fix them. I've used critique groups before, but I found having someone read an almost-finished product is more effective for the way I write.
A: Did you make any rookie mistakes while you were submitting that you can look back on now and laugh about?
JW: Oh yes. One particular issue happened with a query letter. I'd seen a male agent speak at a writing event, and when I queried him I went on and on about how I saw him speak. It wasn't until after I sent the query that I realized I'd addressed the letter to "Mrs. (Agent's last name)." Not surprisingly I never heard back from him.
A: Oh no! Did you query widely, or were you targeting specific people/agencies?
JW: I'd queried a couple of projects before I submitted RHSC, so I had detailed notes on which ones seemed receptive, which ones got back in a timely manner, etc. From that list and further research, I queried about fifteen agents for the book. So I queried quite a few agents, but they were chosen for specific reasons.
A: Sabina was a fun character to read about - how much is she, or are any of the other characters, like you?
JW: All of my characters are like me in some way. Sabina's personality is probably most like mine, but there are some major differences and area where she's more exaggerated. I'm probably best described as a combination of Sabina and Giguhl. Yes, I understand this brings my sanity into question, but I'm okay with that.
A: Lol! Related to that, who was your favourite character, and who did you love to write about most?
JW: Obviously, I love Sabina because it's her story I'm telling. She's such a complex character to write. But I probably have most fun writing Giguhl. He gets the best lines and gives me a break from the heavy stuff Sabina's going through.
A: Can you tell us a bit about The Mage In Black? I'm really hoping for lots more Adam!
JW: The Mage in Black is much more magic-focused than Red-headed Stepchild, and it takes place in New York. Sabina's struggling to deal with the stragne mage culture and come to terms with the fall out from the betrayal of the first book. Giguhl gets involved in a special club and might find a love interest of his own. As for Adam, well, let's just say things there might be a few wrinkles coming in that relationship.
A: Argh! You're making me even more impatient for that book. Maybe I just shouldn't have asked. Finally, then, I know you have some great advice for writers on your blog. Could you share a couple of the most important things here for us?
JW: That's a toughie. I've got four years worth of unsolicited advice on that thing. ;) For aspiring writers, I recently listed my top ten tips for when you're just starting out. It's here: Click
A: Thank you very much for answering our questions!
Jaye's website can be found here, along with her blog.
Please leave a comment if you enjoyed the interview, or if you have any other questions for Jaye!
Also, remember that you still have time to enter our contest! See the post below this one for details.