Tell me more about yourself:
Hello! My name is Jacqueline Davis, and I'm a writer and teacher. I play the drums (used to be in a punk rock band and now play for my church). I love traveling and had the opportunity to write for two magazines about a trip on the Appalachian Trail. I've lived in two countries and have settled in Indiana, a very peaceful place.
Tell me more about your debut novel, can you share an excerpt?
Disorder is historical fiction, set in Victorian London. It follows the life of Katherine Whittemore, daughter of an asylum doctor. She is encouraged to visit Bethlem Royal Hospital, infamous London asylum, and she begins falling for an older doctor, even as those close to her warn against him. He has secrets, dark ones, and soon Katherine discovers he's not the only one. She suspects something is amiss in her home, a house she must now save, and wonders if it may mirror Bethlem in ways she hadn't before imagined.
The fire crackled and spat, yet Katherine Whittemore couldn’t shake the chill creeping through her. A flaming spark arched across the hearth, nearly singeing the edge of her skirt. She batted the small, glowing orb into ash with a gloved hand and resumed her uncomfortable position in the chair across from Mr. Bertram Snead. His massive desk, stacked high with tax and property accounts, stood between them.
Kat adjusted her hips on the cold wood of the chair. She sat under the taunting glare of ceiling-high shelves crammed with books, which were flanked by equally dusty windows in the office. The room seemed to be growing smaller the longer she waited. Mr. Snead’s eyes roamed over the sheet of paper his thick fingers clutched. A clock ticked. His heavy breathing grew louder with each passing minute.
He finally grunted and raised his eyes above the page, pinning her with them. “You certainly must be aware of what I shall say in this matter, and yet here you are, sitting before me with what I would assume is expectation.”
He placed the sheet of paper on the desk, finding space among the rubbish, and slid his chair back across the wood floor. The screech jolted her. He rounded the desk as he slicked his thinning hair to the side. He placed a hip on the edge of the desk, causing a small waterfall of paperwork to cascade slowly down one side of a stack of papers.
Mr. Snead pulled two fingers down the sides of his mouth, stroking his mustache. “How very odd that you come here today. Alone, no less.”
He looked beyond her as if expecting someone to appear.
“A pretty young woman, such as yourself, must certainly feel the need of a chaperone, if only to protect herself from the wiles of men.” A slow grin snaked up the side of his face.
What inspired you to be an author?
I never sought to be an author. A story idea came to me in 2011 and wouldn't leave me alone. I felt the urge to write it, to see where it would go. That journey ignited a fire within me to write. Now I am addicted to writing!
How many stories have you written?
Two complete novels. Disorder is published. Its sequel will be published this Fall. I am currently researching the third book in the series. I am also about one third of the way finished with an unrelated novel, this time in women's fiction. And then I have about a dozen other ideas, just begging to be written, one inspired by a recent trip to a ranch in South Dakota.
Is writing your full time profession? If not, what else do you do and how do you manage both jobs?
I teach special education full-time. I also am the theater director at a local high school. I stay pretty busy! I write when I can. I'm under the impression that people make time for what's important to them. Writing is important to me, so I make time for it. It also helps that my day job has vacations built into the year, plus occasional snow days! These give me time to focus intently on writing.
What is your writing process?
When an idea comes to me, I think about it for quite some time. I then research events related to it (since I primarily write historical fiction). These research facts lead to scenes I want to include in my story. I then think some more. I feel like a majority of my writing experience is formulated in my mind. When I reach a place that I feel I have enough to give a skeletal shape, I write each scene out on a notecard. I then put these notecards in order on a bulletin board, giving myself space to add more cards or rearrange them.
Why is research so important for writing?
Research is VITAL to historical fiction and important to all writing. Readers are smart. They know when authors are making things up. Readers are also learners. It is fun to learn about other times and places.
What is the craziest thing you've had to research?
All sorts of things! The history of Bethlem Royal Hospital is rife with stories, some haunting, some of torture. Doctors used to "treat" patients in horrifying ways, practices that gave them the title "mad doctors." It is sad to see how patients were once viewed and treated.
How do you create the world you are writing in?
I learn everything I can about it. I read books, blogs, articles, everything I can find. I also google map places and find old maps. I read historical novels as well. I surround myself in it. I then try to make it come alive through the senses: sight, smell, feel, etc.
How do you pull us in with amazing characters?
I begin with a spreadsheet of my characters that includes physical features, birthdays, fears, goals, desires, etc. I then allow the characters to develop as I write. Often I finish a first draft and realize a particular character's reactions or actions at the start of the story are not who they truly are. So, I revise, making the characters consistent, but also leaving room for growth, for that must happen. I also make sure each character has at least one flaw. To be believable, they need to function as humans do: with strengths and weaknesses.
What authors inspire you to write?
I am inspired by authors who make it happen amidst a busy life. I love a good, dark setting, love stories, books where I learn something. I love being swept away by a story, and I long to give that to others.
What are your top five tips for aspiring authors?
1. Read a ton! Reading makes you a better writer. A lot of my writing is inspired by what I learn while reading other authors' works.
2. Try your hand at different types of writing (informational, story-telling, etc) to see what flows the best and which you like the most.
3. Study the craft of writing. Learn all you can about how to write.
4. Get your first book, article, etc. edited by someone who knows what they're talking about. You'll learn a lot from this!
5. Don't give up. The journey of writing can have its ups and downs. Don't give up during the hard times. If you are writing, call yourself a writer because you are!
Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you go?
Just keep going! Work hard, don't give up. You can do it!
About Jacqueline Davis:
Jacqueline Davis is a teacher and writer from Indiana. She loves to travel and document her adventures. Her work can be seen in Backpacker and AT Journeys. With a degree in psychology, she is fascinated by the human mind and extensively researched mental illness and the history of Bethlem before beginning her Bedlam Series. Loving all things related to books, she reads at every chance. She loves getting absolutely lost in books and spends her days spreading this love to her students. Disorder is her first novel.
What authors inspire your writing? Leave your answer in the comments!
Thanks everyone for stopping by!