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An Interview with Jamie Jackson

Happy Friday! Today, we bring you an interview with SFF indie author Jamie Jackson all about her six-book-and-counting series, Adventures of a Villain-Leaning Humanoid, as well as her two compelling retellings. Find out where Jamie's inspirations began and what she's planning to publish next here!


Hi Jamie, thank you for joining us! First of all, please tell us about yourself.

I am an author of books! I’ve got three feral children, three badly behaved dogs (it used to only be two but the third one came into our lives when he was abandoned in a parking lot so he’s ours now), I’ve been married to my incredibly supportive husband for 14 years now but we’ve actually been together for 21. We went to the same high school and he used to sing to me in the mornings by the lockers to try and cheer me up because I always looked sad/grumpy. (Yes, I am living a real life romance novel).

We would love to hear about your six-book series, Adventures of a Villain-Leaning Humanoid, and what inspired you to write it. 

I’ve always loved superheroes, and so I had this idea of a woman whose power was fear and what that would look like just kind of bouncing around in my head. But honestly it was watching the Mandalorian that inspired me to get back into writing.

Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? Which, if any, do you identify with most and why? 

Oh, goodness, the cast of characters gets pretty large by book six, so I think I’ll stick to the initial three. Meg, who is the main character, is unapologetically powerful, a little bit ruthless, definitely morally grey, sarcastic and dramatic, but overall is a relatively loyal person once you’ve earned her trust. Greg is the love interest, steadfast, little bit of a cinnamon roll, very protective of the people he loves, has some of that touch her and die gene. Virgil (who is actually my favorite character don’t tell Ranger), is like Batman, but better (please note this is definitely my biased opinion). He’s a telekinetic with a whole lot of secrets and has a tendency to blackmail people in power so he can get away with his hero antics. He’s also old enough to know better and loves classic cars.

This sci-fi/fantasy series features superheroes and powers! What was the process like behind building this exciting setting, and was it influenced by any places or stories in particular?

It’s hard not to pick something that wasn’t an inspiration! This series pulls from Greek mythology, superheroes in pop culture, Stars War, Star Trek, even R. L. Stine’s Fear Street series was an inspiration (there’s a whole lot of elements of horror in all my writing). And my process is quite literally make it up as I go along, the characters are driving this bus a whole lot more than I am.

Speaking of superheroes, do you have a favourite outside of your own universe? (Ivy is a huge Scarlet Witch fan and Rach will forever adore The Winter Soldier).

Wait, just one? Because I love Batman, Deadpool, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Spiderman, Wolverine, I can keep going (I think, don’t put me on the spot my brain will just go blank)

What initially drew you to SFF and what do you love most about writing in this genre?

Star Wars! I watched the movies so many times as a kid, and also of course, all the reading. I’m not sure I read anything growing up that didn’t have at least fantasy elements in it. Also a young lover of horror like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Will there be more books in the series, and what might readers expect going forward?

I have a total of twelve written for the series, so six more to release over the next three years. I might do a couple of offshoots/spinoffs for other characters from the series but I don’t have a firm plan on that.

As well as Meg’s story, you also have two retellings available: Bound to the Fate of Kings is inspired by Macbeth, while The Sparrow and the Oak Tree explores Tristan and Isolde. Tell us more about these two novels!

So, The Sparrow and the Oak Tree wasn’t supposed to be a love story. Initially I set out to write a fantasy horror, and well, I kept the zombies but the whole thing became a bit more cozy and whole lot more romantic. As for Bound to the Fate of Kings I wanted a story that focused on the witches, because in the original play they show up for one scene, you only see one of them the second time and that was it. I wanted to know more about them and why they would give Macbeth the information they gave him. Plus magic. 

What made you decide to retell these stories in particular, and how do they transform from the original works? 

Well The Sparrow and the Oak Tree keeps certain elements from the original tale, Tristan’s illness, the idea that Isolde is the only one who can save him, the journey through a sea (of the undead), her deliverance to a king, obviously the forbidden romance between the two, but it adds in zombies, Tristan’s illness is a curse, there’s a twist on the Fae, and of course everyone’s favorite interfering horse, Horse.

For Bound to the Fate of Kings, it follows the witches, one in particular, and Macbeth becomes kind of a bit part in his own play, the man who thinks he’s destined to be king when all he’s fated for is to die while occupying an ill begotten throne. The witches themselves are based on the three fates from Greek mythology and their names are pulled from those as well.

These books also include romance! What are your favourite romantic tropes, and do any make an appearance in these retellings?

I appear to have a thing for the kidnapping trope, since it happens so often in my books. Technically Tristan kidnaps Isolde. Greg kind of sort of kidnaps Meg (in his defense he was trying to protect her from, you know, dying). I also like only one bed and its brethren (only one tent, only one cave, only one horse, etc.)

Did you find any challenges while writing your series and/or retellings? How did you overcome them?

I would say the challenges was just time. Having time to do the writing, the editing, while also working, taking care of kids and a house. And that you just kind of make it work? You find the time, you set up a schedule. Some days are better than others, some days you don’t get to write at all, and others you get to sit down and slam out 5000 words.

We’d love a hint about any of your current projects! Anything that might surprise your readers?

So I’m working on a Gothic horror about a pair of psychic siblings sent to investigate the disappearance of a woman who’s been missing for seven years. That one is currently with beta readers so we’ll see what happens with it next. And I’m also working on a dark fantasy retelling of Swan Lake.

What made you decide to self-publish as opposed to more traditional routes, and what have you learned about indie publishing along the way?

A good portion of it was about control. I choose which editor I work with, I choose what happens to the story especially over the long term with something like a series, I choose the cover art.

What I’ve learned about indie publishing along the way is, this stuff is hard. You’ve got to wear so many different hats. All your own marketing, all the legwork. I do enjoy the whole thing overall, but it is time consuming and exhausting. And if I go anywhere other than just the self-publishing route it would be with a small press where I feel they care about the story being the best it can be and not whether it hits certain marketable tropes.

Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, or games you’re enjoying at the moment? Any recommendations for our audience? Bonus points if it includes sapphics!

Currently I’ve been rewatching old episodes of Monk, but also Blown Away. I love seeing what the artists make. I’ll comfort watch Nailed It and Great British Baking Show instead of choosing to watch something new. I think with all the projects I’ve got going on at once by the end of the day my brain is just static and I can’t focus on anything that isn’t familiar. But I am so, so open to any shows y’all can recommend because they will immediately go on my to watch list when I’ve got some mental space back.

About Jamie

Jamie lives with her husband, three feral children and two badly behaved dogs.

Her favorite pastimes are watching too many documentaries, reading any and all genres she can get her hands on, and when she remembers to get the ingredients, baking.

She has BAs in English and Theatre, her favorite part of which was working backstage on traveling Broadway productions.

You can follow her on Twitter via @VillainLeaning.


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