This month I have the privilege of chatting with Jocelynn Babcock, author of the paranormal mystery series MANTIC, paranormal novella series SE*MANTIC, and paranormal mystery RO*MANTIC.
What would you guess from her photo? Is she romantic, musical and a bit shy? There’s some mystery there, I’d say.
Jocelynn will tell you she created books with her grandma’s yarn as a child and grew up to marry an engineer (as all writers do). She lives in the Channeled Scablands – had to look that up! – where the fine line between sanity and not is an outlet for idle hands.
So, Jocelynn, let’s get to the questions. Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I read every day.
Snooping around a bit, I discovered a whole long list of your ‘likes’ – everything from Plato and Shakespeare through such masters as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austen, Mark Twain and Paulo Coelho. But then also fantasy writers like JRR Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.
If I’m not reading a rough draft of my own, then my Kindle is filled with paranormal and fantasy stories. My favorite books are historical fiction about women who behaved badly.
Women who behaved badly? Is that why you like Simone de Beauvoir and Ahlem Mosteghanemi? Their books can hardly be called historical fiction.
Well, let’s call them revolutionary trailblazers.
OK. Among your favourites I also found and some with a spiritual slant, such as Thomas Merton, C. S. Lewis and Max Lucado – authors I have also read with pleasure.
There’s a fine line between the spiritual realm and fantasy.
What about your own writing. How do you set about it? Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’m a pantser now.
But you have K.M. Weiland among your likes! What would she say to that?
I spent a year plotting my first book, then sat down and wrote something completely different. What a waste of time plotting was to me. What I do is: write scene cards and character profiles and let them talk to me.
That’s a nice idea. I’ve also been surprised by what some of my characters get up to.
You have already published – how many books?
Two – since a couple of weeks!
And they are?
Earlier this year I published The Eyes of March – Book 1 of the MANTIC series.
Tell us a bit about it.
It’s a psychic murder mystery: Valena is the only link to stop the serial killer pursuing her, but she is afraid of her dark truth and surrenders to amnesia.
Surrenders to amnesia? How did you come up with that idea?
I was returning from a ritual theater I wrote, and doing homework in the car the day it was due. The assignment was a short story based on irony. I wanted to write about a psychic and asked my husband, “What’s ironic about a psychic?” He said, “What if she has amnesia?”
An engineer’s answer!
Maybe. But it was the prompt I needed. Then just last month I published SEMANTIC: A Collection of Wyrd Sister Stories – fifteen standalone psychic stories about five women from diverse backgrounds, in a single book.
How did you publish these books and why did you choose that path?
I chose to go indie because I want to hold onto the creative right to explore some uncomfortableness that traditional publishers may frown on. They tend to market very similarly structured stories for the masses, and my books don’t fit their categories.
What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Are there any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors?
There are several books on the subject. I’ve read most of them and took notes for what I felt would work best for me. They say it takes six months for the public to forget an author …
That’s a sobering thought!
Yes. The problem is, we can’t write books that fast! So the key is to find creative ways to remind everyone you are still writing and that the next best work is on its way.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
If I can give anyone advice, I’d say: set a budget! It’s so easy to give out $20 here and $20 there, but suddenly you realize it adds up quick.
Thanks very much for your ‘confessions’, Jocelynn, and best wishes for your future sales and your next best works.