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Interview with Jacky Dahlhaus

Jacky D

 

I was born in Australia and grew up in The Netherlands. I checked out Adelaide, the city of my birth, for half a year after high school, before studying in The Netherlands to become a veterinarian. After a short career in the UK and a move to Perth, Western Australia with my husband, I changed to an even shorter career as a high school science teacher. I worked for a few years as an office manager at a (sub)marine naval base before giving up on employed work. Dedicating my time to my children and exploring various hobbies, I finally found my niche in writing. I now live in a Victorian Schoolhouse in Scotland with my family. This is the place where writing became my passion.

Kate is a young woman who just graduated as a science teacher and gets a job at a high school in Bullsbrook, an idyllic country town in Maine, US. As she settles in, she meets Sue, a bubbly Mississippi girl who happens to be the new English teacher, and Charlie, who is a dwarf, ten years her senior, and the new Arts teacher. The three bond immediately and spend much of their free time together.

When a virus breaks out, which turns people into photo-phobic blood-suckers, and life in Bullsbrook is no longer safe, the three decided to hide from the imminent danger at a campground not far from Bullsbrook. They hope to stay under the radar while the army deals with the threat. They think they are safe at the campground until one night, they are attacked by suckers.

Kate has to run for her life, loses her friends, and is caught. One of the suckers, Caleb, shows a particular interest in Kate and the feeling is mutual. But as soon as light comes over the horizon, Caleb disappears without fulfilling his promise to make Kate a sucker as well. Lost and forlorn, Kate is picked up by her sister Julie, who runs an all-girl sucker pack.

During Kate’s precarious predicament, you’ll feel her struggle as she tries to make sense of her feelings of love for a perfect stranger, you’ll hope she makes the right choices as she tries to deal with amorous advances of a good friend she doesn’t want to lose, and you’ll be shocked by the betrayal of a person close to Kate.

 

1. You are living in your latest novel, where are you living and what is it like?
I live in Bullsbrook, Maine, US. It is a beautiful place, especially during the fall when the leaves turn and all the colors around you are beautiful. People say hello to each other in the streets, and gardens are kept beautiful. It is a medium-sized country town where one can enjoy all the modern comforts of a city but still have the feeling of living in the country.
2. You are your most recent Protagonist, what do you like doing for fun, and what do you hate doing and why?
I like spending time with my children. I love watching them grow up, becoming responsible and accepted citizens of our community (which is what I’ve been fighting for these past years; being a blood-sucker isn’t always accepted still ).
I don’t like driving in the rain. It gives me tunnel vision.
As an Author
1. Where do you get your ideas?
I have very vivid dreams, my mind wanders in all sorts of directions while doing monotonous chores (showering, ironing), and I also get ideas from music lyrics. It is amazing how many song lyrics apply to vampires 
2. What motivates you to write?
My mind needs to be busy. If I don’t write, it goes into a downward spiral, and I get depressed. I’ve been struggling with depression for a long time. Writing gets me out of bed. I love the fact that when you write, you can go anywhere you want, with anybody of your choosing, however long you want, and do whatever you want. All without leaving your home!
3. How many hours a week do you spend writing?
I can’t say for sure, so let’s call it more-than-full-time. If I’m not behind my computer, I’m either at my writers club or doing something with my film club. When watching TV at night with my family, I’m still on my phone Tweeting with writers and RT-ing their book tweets.
4. Best thing about writing.
See question 2.
5. What are your favorite books or sites you go to for writing tips/advice.
I couldn’t be where I am today without my buddies at One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Group on Facebook. Whenever I have a question, I go there and always get an answer. Next to this, I love the information available on Pinterest.
6. How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies. The first book I wrote in a fortnight (which surprised me big time!), the second in a month, the third in one-and-a-half months. So it seems to take longer all the time . It’s the editing that takes forever. I’m still editing my first book…
7. Have you ever cut anything form your book and why?
Yes! I wrote the first two books in chronological order. This meant that it took forever to get the action part. I cut all the bits before the action out and put parts of it in as flashbacks. I still had so much backstory left from book 1, that I made it into a Prequel (with some new text). I still have a lot of cut outs from book 2 and will use that as exclusive material for my newsletter subscribers.
8. Least favorite thing about writing?
I don’t have a ‘least favorite thing about writing.’ It’s the promotion after the writing that I don’t like. I like the interaction with people, but I hate the continuous promotion of myself. I’m a ‘you don’t want it? Okay, I won’t bother you again’ type of person. I hate spam and spamming.
9. The most important things a writer should spend money on?
Learning the craft of writing, a professional book cover, and publicity. Note I said publicity and not advertising. I heard a publicist mention that it’s publicity that sells books, not advertisement. So that’s what I’ll be trying in the future.
10. Least important things a writer should spend money on?
Courses offered on the internet. They cost a lot of money and they don’t offer that much value. There is an awful lot of information available for free on the internet. You’ve just got to look for it.
11. Biggest writing distractions?
Social media! Like I said, I love the interaction with people, and I get very distracted by my phone beeping all the time. I can’t, however, make myself turn it off 
12. How do you measure your success as a writer?
I’d like to say by the amount of books I sell, but that would mean I suck as a writer. I’m doing something wrong in the selling department, but I have yet to figure out what. I have a few reviews from people I don’t know, giving me five stars and saying how much they loved my stories. That’s what I do it for. If only one person liked my book, I think I was successful. I just wished I could make more people happy.
13. What advice would you give yourself if you were starting the writing journey again?
That’s a tough one. I’d say, learn to write proper English first (as it isn’t my first language). Then I wouldn’t have to go back and edit it again and again. I’d also say ‘get an editor to do the editing for you,’ but I still don’t have an editor, so I don’t know if I can say that.

As a reader
1. What is your favorite genre(s)? Tell us more about why you love them?
My favorite genre is fantasy. I love getting away from this world with its wars, hate, and cruelty. When you dive into a fantasy story, there’s wars, hate, and cruelty too, but at least I know it’s not real.
2. Have you ever skipped something important to stay home and read a book?
Not that I recall per se. There have been many nights I missed out on a few hours of sleep, though 
3. What is your favorite book quote?
It’s the quote from Douglas Adams: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
4. Do you prefer a real book or a kindle / electronic device?
Although I haven’t bought a printed book in years and read all my books nowadays on my phone/tablet, I prefer holding a real book. There’s something special about seeing how much you’ve read at the end of the day and putting your bookmark between the pages 
5. Favorite book hero and /or villain and why?
It’ll have to be Lessa from Anne McAffrey’s Dragonflight. She’s my hearo as she’s a strong, intelligent woman who rides a dragon. What more could one want?
6. My most influential book(s)?
That would have to be Urshurak by The Brothers Hildebrandt and Jerry Nichols. It was the first fantasy book I read and I was immediately sold. Next to this, I have almost all of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett and the Pern Chronicals by Anne McAffrey. I love a bit of romance and humor in a book. That’s what I aim for in my books.
7. Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?
I’ve just finished reading Sister Witch, The Life of Moll Dyer by David W. Thompson. It is a lovely story about a young woman who is, after being raped, shipped to America to save the family name. The story has hints of the paranormal throughout, but is most of all a detailed account of what live was like in the eighteenth century. It is a well-written, romanticized story, based on local myth and facts.
8. If you could have a signed copy of a book, by an author, (living or dead) who would it be and why?
I have one of my books signed by Terry Pratchett (whom I met during a book store signing in Perth, Australia). I’d love to have my Dragonflight copy signed by Anne McAffrey or my Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy signed by Douglas Adams.

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