Today I’d like to introduce Hugo Jackson, author of the fantasy novel Legacy. He also does a significant portion of the marketing for Inspired Quill Press, so I’m thrilled to be presenting his take on both writing and marketing.
Please give Hugo a warm welcome.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your novel, Legacy?
Legacy is the story of Faria Phiraco, a resonator: one who manipulates elements using crystals from the moon. It is an ancient and extraordinary power which she and her father, the Emperor of Xayall, guard with their lives.
When the Dhraka, an aggressive race of red-scaled dragons, discover a mysterious relic from the mythical aeons-lost city of Nazreal, they lay siege to Faria’s peaceful city, desperate to tear secrets from her and gain control of the power she possesses.With her father missing, Faria has to rely on her own strength to brave the world tha attacks her at every turn. Friends and guardians rally by her to help save her father and reveal the mysteries of the ruined city, while the dark legacy of an ancient cataclysm wraps its claws around her fate… and her past. She soon realises that this is not the beginning, nor anywhere near the end. A titanic war spanning hundreds of years unfolds around her, one that could yet cost the lives of everyone on Eeres.
2. When did you know you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
Well, I’ve enjoyed telling stories for years and years. Even when I was as young as three, I’d construct stories that my older sister would draw out for me, and I’d consistently reimagine various TV shows that I’d watch because, invariably, I wouldn’t like the principle character. Once I graduated from writing fanfictions and began telling my own stories, the first of which I actually developed being Legacy, I knew that it was a story I wanted to share. I have a real passion for my characters and the kinds of stories I know I wanted to see when I was younger. I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t want to share something that means so much to them.
3. Why did you choose to write YA?
I think Young Adult fiction has one of the broadest scopes of style. It’s almost universal, but without being either basic or ridiculously explicit. I discovered some of my favourite adventures in books, TV, anime, movies, etc when I was in my teens, and I would love to know my books could conjure the same inspiration in others. It’s also a chance to create fantasy worlds that don’t have to explain themselves, but yet have a darkness that children’s books don’t. You have an amazing balance between realism and idealism, fantasy and reality, and humour and darkness. It’s one of the few genres that can cover everything but still be so unique at the same time.
I’ve always found the idea of a purely ‘adult’ book to be very unforgiving, but that could just be a complex of mine. Either way, it’s harder to convince an adult of another reality, because often they’ve been in their own for too long. Suspension of disbelief is that much more difficult. Young adults have ambition and idealism and darkness and fears, so fantasies in either direction come so much more easily. More importantly, they haven’t been told as often that the world is a barren and hopeless place. It’s the perfect time to show them that it isn’t, and is still worth fighting for.
4. Can you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?
Typically I write a skeletal outline of the main events of the story first, then add in details between the ‘bones’ and flesh those out independently. Sometimes those won’t need additional work, but if they do I’ll keep breaking down the scenes fractally until I can write them out in prose. It helps me reduce plot holes significantly and make sure there are valid reasons for everything that happens. I hate having things happen arbitrarily so I’m always checking my characters’ motivations and making sure the progression is as tight as possible.
5. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?
Ironically, starting at any given point is what I find most tricky. Especially if I’ve had a break or I’m not feeling confident, pushing myself to get the words out of my head and onto the page is very hard. Writing is such a mental workout that when the words aren’t doing justice to the picture in your head it can begin that demotivational spiral to inactivity. Generally I try to ignore how I feel about it and push forward to progress, even if all I get down is the dialogue. I work exclusively on a computer, so the ability to edit is a great comfort, knowing I can come back and change it at any time. Purging old, unsatisfactory words is a great catharsis.
6. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Editing is great. I get to go through, knowing I’ve already finished, and just add depth to everything, or touch up pacing. I can make a scene faster or slower or completely change a character’s motivation. It’s a fantastic way of exploring the world you’ve built, and it’s where I get most excited for unleashing it on the world.
7. You also help with the marketing of Inspired Quill Press as a whole. How do you balance that with your own writing and other commitments?
Haha, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t forgotten about this interview a few times over the last week with everything I’ve had to do! So some days are easier than others. Typically because all of my work is done at a computer I’m able to jump windows between the two. I’ll try to touch on both at least once each on any given day, but it depends on how many releases and projects Inspired Quill has going on. I have a fairly tenuous attention span, so having a lot of projects to jump between (including costume construction and voice acting) actually helps my productivity. The more I do, the more motivated I am.
8. If you could only read books by one author for the rest of your life, who would you choose and why?
Garth Nix. He’s never written anything that I’ve been able to put down voluntarily. Shade’s Children was absolutely gripping and Sabriel is one of the best adventures I’ve ever read.
9. If you had the opportunity to give an aspiring author just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t ever stop. There will never be a piece of writing you’ll make that will please everyone, but there will be someone out there to whom your book will be the best thing they’ve ever read, and will be their favourite book of all time. Live and write for the people like you, who you want to give your stories to.
10. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?
I’m currently editing Legacy’s sequel, Fracture, to be released at some point in the future, as well as the third and fourth books in the Resonance Tetralogy. Everything else I have in development somewhere (among these are a Steampunk series and another action series starring a werewolf and a Chinese water dragon), but it’ll be some time before they surface.
Hugo Jackson is an author with Inspired Quill. He was born in Chichester, England, where he studied performing arts and worked in hospitals, and also bashed people’s heads in as part of the Raven Tor Living History group. He now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. His first fantasy novel, ‘Legacy’ is available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. You can find him at www.hugojackson.com.
Do you have more questions for Hugo? Feel free to ask them in the comments section below!